The Broncos welcomed the San Francisco 49ers to UCHealth Training Center on Wednesday for the first of two joint practices.
USA Today NFL writer and Sirius XM host Tom Pelissero has been covering the NFL since 2003. He stopped by the Broncos training camp this week to get a look at the reigning Super Bowl champions and took a few minutes to offer his thoughts on the 2016 Broncos.
What are your expectations for this year for this team?
Well, they're the defending Super Bowl champions, so I think with that comes with a lot of expectations. If I'm sizing up the identity of the team, [they're] three-deep at corner[back] in the league, and they still have a really dangerous pass rush. If you can do those two things, you can put a lot of stress on opposing offenses, and they showed that throughout the course of last season. What I'm most interested to see is the level of balance that they are able to achieve, because quite frankly, I don't think it's any secret that they won the Super Bowl with less than ideal quarterback play. I don't think Demaryius Thomas had his best season. I don't think C.J. Anderson had his best season. The offensive line should be better. You'd think Thomas is going to be better. You'd think if Anderson can stay healthy, he's going to be better. If you can find out of these three guys a quarterback – or quarterbacks, if it's anything like last year – they'll be pretty good again.
How does the defense get better?
Well they were No. 1 in virtually every statistical category, right? It's a high bar. You lose Malik Jackson off this team. You lose Danny Trevathan. I don't think anybody can blame those guys for going and getting paid, but I think it's the continued development. You've still got some younger football players in that group.
What are thoughts on the quarterback situation?
My exposure is limited to seeing them out here one day today, but starting with [Mark] Sanchez, talking to Mark, I was impressed with the rhythm and the timing and the tempo of the offense when he was out there in Chicago the other night. That's not an easy thing to build your first time out. I think we have a good idea of who Mark is at this point. He's played a lot of football games in the league. I think if I were drawing up the safest option -- in terms of knowing where the ceiling and floor are – that's probably Mark.
[Trevor] Siemian, seeing him throw out here, he's kind of a narrow-framed guy. A lot of times you'll see those guys will end up having big wind-ups, they have to put a lot into it. His is a very natural release. He can flick it. [Look] at that ball he threw across the field to Jordan Norwood down the sideline. That's a big-time pass. I thought that he looked good out here.
And then Paxton Lynch, a guy I got to know a little bit before the draft going down there to Memphis, having barbecue with him and his roommates. He's a goofy dude and an unbelievable, huge, physical, fast athlete with a big arm. This is what I've said over and over: I think it's way less important who the quarterback is in Week 1 than in Week 17. And I would not be surprised at all if it's a different guy, because Kubiak showed last year that he's not afraid to do the hard thing. The easy thing last year would've been to either leave Peyton Manning in, leave Osweiler in or not make the change in Week 17. There were a lot of ways he could've taken the easy outcome for everybody, and he didn't. He took kind of the tough road there. When you have a quarterback coming out of a very simplistic system, simple play call, he has a lot to learn in terms of the verbiage, the processing, what he's looking at. All that stuff is totally different than what he was doing in college. Is he going to be ready Week 1? Probably not. But is he ready Week 8, Week 12, somewhere down the line? I think that's going to be a constant evaluation. And again, they showed a year ago, they're not afraid to carry that all the way through and make a change.