With training camp now less than two weeks away, NFL.com's Adam Rank has finally come to the Broncos in his "State of the Franchise" series evaluating where each NFL team stands heading into the season.
Over the course of the article, Rank identifies key players to know, projects a team MVP for year, takes a brief look at the schedule's biggest games and tries to answer the team's biggest questions.
Rank, who admits he's a Russell Wilson fan and says "I'm not sure he gets the kind of love he deserves," doesn't have any surprises in store for team MVP.
"Three out of the last four quarterbacks to change teams after recording 250-plus touchdowns with their initial team have gone on to win the Super Bowl," Rank writes. "The lone exception? Ex-Charger Philip Rivers, which should be super funny to Broncos fans. If you're wondering, Wilson threw 292 scoring strikes in Seattle."
Wilson, of course, joins a Broncos team that's loaded at receiver, and that makes Rank's biggest question about whether they can feed each one of them.
"Figuring out how to feed multiple capable receivers -- including studs [Courtland] Sutton and [Jerry] Jeudy, plus Tim Patrick, who logged 50-plus catches, 700-plus receiving yards and five-plus TD catches in each of the last two seasons but kind of gets overshadowed sometimes -- is a nice problem to have," Rank writes. "And it's not a new challenge for Wilson, who knew how to distribute the ball to players like Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf in Seattle. Three of the past five Seahawks seasons featured multiple players scoring eight-plus receiving TDs: Metcalf and Lockett did it in 2021 and 2020, and Baldwin and Jimmy Graham did it in 2017. And it's not like Wilson was even asked to throw all that much."
But the answer to the larger looming question — what would a successful 2022 season look like for Denver — is not quite so complicated: "Reestablish themselves as real contenders."
"Giving up multiple first-round picks and established players for someone like Russell Wilson is a championship move, the kind of thing one does to compete for the Lombardi Trophy, not just the division title," Rank writes. "But for a Broncos team that has finished in the bottom half of the AFC West five times since winning Super Bowl 50, returning to the postseason is a realistic goal at this point. After all, Peyton Manning didn't win a Super Bowl in his first season in Denver. Wilson is (hopefully) going to be there for a long time."
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Speaking of Manning, could Wilson follow in his footsteps and win MVP honors after coming to Denver? In evaluating potential 2022 MVP candidates based off previous cases, Bill Barnwell writes that it might be a bit difficult in his first season, but the precedent is there.
"This one's a stretch, if only because Manning had his spectacular season in his second year with the Broncos, while we're projecting Wilson to win MVP in his debut campaign with Denver after a blockbuster trade in March," Barnwell writes. "Just as Manning was able to elevate a group with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas into one of the league's most devastating passing attacks, though, Wilson will get to throw to Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick."