Football season is nearly upon us and so I've created some short threads on the Chargers' 2022 Opponents to bolster discussion about those teams (and hopefully generate SOME EXCITEMENT!)
A thread on the Denver Broncos, the Chargers’ 2022 opponent in Week 6 (at Chargers) & Week 18 (at Broncos).
1. The winds of change have swept through Denver this offseason at all organisational levels: from QB to Head Coach to ownership. A 7-10 showing from defensive savant, Vic Fangio, didn’t cut it. He was shown the door at season's end having compiled a 19-30 record during his tenure.
2. The first major move by the Donkeys was to hire first-time HC and former GB/Jax OC, Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett grew up around the NFL (his father, Paul, having coached with the great Bill Walsh in SF from ’83-’85). With his affable demeanour, he may resonate with players more strongly than the surly Fangio did.
3. The second, and arguably more important move, was to trade two 1sts, two 2nds, a 5th, Drew Lock, Shelby Harris and Noah Fant for Mr Unlimited himself, QB Russell Carrington Wilson (of course that’s his middle name…)
4. Coming off a 25 TD 6 INT campaign from 14 games in 2021, DangerRuss will be motivated to prove the naysayers wrong. Injuries have taken their toll on him in recent years and, now 33yo, Wilson may need to change aspects of the way he’s played during a Hall of Fame worthy career to thrive again - in particular how long he holds the ball. The Broncos have clearly bought what Russ is selling to them, and have now extended his 2-year contract by an additional 5 years in a deal worth $245 million, of which $165 million is guaranteed. As kevdiego has said elsewhere, this puts his total pay for the next seven seasons at $296 million and takes him through to his age 41 season (if the deal is performed).
5. Surrounded by a strong supporting cast on offense, Wilson is every chance to climb back up the QB rankings in 2022. But to reach the top, he’ll need Jeudy/Sutton/Hamler to overcome the various injury, maturity and mental health issues that have plagued them.
6. Hackett’s scheme is relatively QB friendly (with a focus on outside zone runs and a sprinkling of more traditional west coast concepts) and Denver’s running game/OL should take some pressure off Russell so that he is not ‘forced to cook".
7. On the other side of the ball, the vaunted Denver defense of years past hasn't entirely left the building. The presence of sophomore Patrick Surtain and blue-chip safety Justin Simmons ensures there are some pieces for new DC Ejiro Evero to work with in the secondary.
8. A key determinant in Denver's success may be whether Chubb/Gregory can match the production of some of the AFC West’s other Edge stars (Mack/Bosa/Crosby/Jones). Chubb/Gregory have combined to play only 91 of a possible 178 games in their careers to date, and 37 sacks.
9. That said, the Broncos ranked 10th last season for Total Pressures on Defense (25.9% of downs) and 3rd for Points Allowed (322). They have traditionally given the Chargers problems, even while their team has been plagued by sub-standard QB play. And now they have Mr Unlimited.
10. I expect the Broncos to be a difficult draw in 2022, especially at Mile High, but the Chargers will be hoping to go 2-0. I'd probably take 1-1 provided in exchange Russ promises never again to utter that trite phrase, "Let’s Ride" . Would you?⚡️