Flip through the Broncos' 2015 schedule one game at a time with looks at each team's feature players.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** Every schedule comes with its own ups and downs, but John Elway sees some big positives with the Broncos' 2015 schedule, which was released on Tuesday.
From opening the season at home to a later bye week to closing the season on a homestand, the Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager noted some of the benefits of this season's layout. On the other side of that, he picked out the early road stretches as possible tough spots, as well as the general difficulty of the schedule.
"Obviously we've got to get off to a quick start with four out of our first six on the road," Elway said. "But to open at home will help, and then a short week that following week, I think overall it's a—for having to play seven playoff teams—it's a decent schedule."
Among other things, opening at home against Baltimore will pit Head Coach Gary Kubiak against his former team, for whom he was the offensive coordinator. Though Elway couldn't speak to that as he's never been with any other team than the Broncos, he did say Kubiak could have the advantage of knowing the players well already.
"Gary's got a lot of relationships in Baltimore; they had a tremendous year there last year with him at the helm of the offense," Elway added. "It's always probably good for him to see the guys that he coached with last year but also knows them a little bit, too. So we'll have our hands full and plus, he knows them pretty well, so it'll be a good start."
Though that immediately leads into a short week, a prime-time matchup on the road against Kansas City that begins a stretch of games with four in five on the road, Elway said it's not scary but opens a great opportunity for the team.
"If we can get off to a good start and win those games, I think it sets us ahead because we finish with three out of four at home," he said. "And so once we get in the playoff hunt and be able to stay at home, it will help. So I think if we can get through that and get through it OK, then we'll be in good shape."
One of the major benefits of this year over the previous season's schedule is the later bye week coming in Week 7 as opposed to Week 4 in 2014.
"It helps," Elway began. "I think by pushing it further back, you usually have more bumps and bruises by then, so I think it falls at a better time for us this year."
The Broncos' NFC division adventures take them through the NFC North, with premier games against the Lions and the Packers in prime time, and matchups against the Bears and Vikings, who are looking to rebound.
"There are some good games on the schedule," Elway said, breaking down the outlook. "Chicago being one of them with John [Fox] and the success that he had here, so having to go there—it's later, it'll be a bit chilly there in Chicago—but always a tough place to play. I think we've got Green Bay coming here, which is a rematch of, I like to look at it, of the '98 Super Bowl, which will be good having Aaron Rodgers coming in here and being able to play them on Sunday night will be a great game for our fans."
Moving forward, he said that the schedule release lets Kubiak and the staff begin planning for the season, looking at how they might adjust for the ebbs and flows of the season.
"...Once we get the dates down and the times, I think that's when Gary and his staff starts working on scheduling and trying to get that all put together, so I'm sure as soon as it came out they started working on that," Elways said. "That's part of finally knowing where and when and who we're going to play."