Despite a fiery 3-0 start to the season, the Denver Broncos are quickly regressing to their old form. They’re winless in their last four games, which more accurately aligns with their string of consecutive losing seasons dating back to 2017.
While the lack of production from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been the primary complaint in Denver, the team’s defense is quietly proving to be a bigger problem than initially perceived.
The Broncos front office has invested significant assets into their defense over the past few seasons. Signing Kyle Fuller to a $9.5 million free-agent deal, signing Ronald Darby to a $30 million free-agent deal, and drafting Patrick Surtain in the first round are just a few recent examples of Denver aggressively investing into the defensive side of the ball.
The defense performing below expectations is not something Denver was prepared for.
The Denver Broncos’ defense isn’t living up to the hype
For the sake of context, the Broncos’ defense is by no means bad compared to the rest of the NFL. They rank middle of the pack or slightly above average in most readily referenced team defense metrics.
However, the Broncos didn’t construct their roster to field a slightly above-average defense. They were expecting to have one of the best defenses in the NFL, especially in the secondary.
Their turnover percentage is a statistic that jumps out at you when evaluating why Denver’s defense is failing to live up to the hype. Only 8% of all opposing drives are ending in a turnover, which is good for 10th worst in the NFL. This is not an acceptable number for a team that’s invested significant draft capital and cap space into the secondary.
Kyle Fuller is catching the blame
Following their Week 6 loss at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio decided to start playing the blame game.
At the top of his list was high-profile signing Kyle Fuller. After barely playing against the Raiders, Fuller was flat-out benched during the team’s Week 7 loss against the Cleveland Browns. Fuller was deemed a significant acquisition for the Broncos this past offseason (one-year/$9.5 million). Now, he’s riding the pine.
There’s been brief speculation that Denver could trade Fuller at the upcoming deadline. However, it’s hard to imagine a team willing to assume the rest of Fuller’s salary, considering he can’t even get on the field for Denver’s underwhelming secondary.
Fuller looks like a bust of a signing, to put it bluntly.
The Broncos front office keeps making poor decisions
The Fuller signing is the latest instance of incompetence from the Denver front office. However, their unusual tactics have been plaguing the team’s on-field product for a few years now.
From drafting Drew Lock to trading for Teddy Bridgewater to passing on Justin Fields in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Broncos’ failure to find a franchise quarterback is by far their biggest issue. After that, it’s been a string of odd free agency moves and poor roster management that’s kept them in the dark since the glory days of Peyton Manning.
The Broncos can easily blame Fuller, and a few other players, for their four-game losing streak. However, eventually, a finger needs to be pointed toward the team’s struggling front office. They’re the real culprits here.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.