ENGLEWOOD, Colorado — As he makes the rounds at various training camps across the NFL, Senior NFL Reporter Albert Breer of Sport Illustrated visited the UCHealth Training Center on Thursday to check out the Broncos.
We sat down with Breer during practice to discuss his thoughts on how the Broncos fare in the AFC West, what Russell Wilson brings to the team, players he believes could have outstanding campaigns this year, and more.
What are your expectations for the Broncos this season?
“I kind of feel the same way about all the teams in the AFC West. There’s promise in all of them, and the margin of error is going to be very small in the division. I think a lot of that will depend on who stays healthy, who has some youngsters who develop. I think it’s relatively close. I think going and getting [Wilson] was a statement about where the Broncos think they are and how close they think they are to competing for a championship. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where all four Western teams make the playoffs, so it’s going to be very interesting how that plays out. I think with all four of these teams, you need to see them in that context, with the exception of maybe the Chiefs just because of everything they’ve already accomplished.”
Where do you think the Broncos will position themselves in the AFC West, if you had to guess?
“I honestly think the Chiefs are [a cut up] because of the quarterback, because of the coach, because they’ve proven so much. I have Brandon Staley going into Year 2, while the Broncos and Raiders have new coaches. But I think it will be super competitive. I know it’s a great answer.
What are you hearing in the league about how things are coming together for the Broncos?
“Having talked to people about the list here, there’s a good feeling for a lot of the guys here… I think there’s obviously a lot of respect for [general manager] George [Paton] and the work he’s done in Minnesota all these years. I think they were able to stabilize it, and they have a lot to prove… The Super Bowl was the last playoff game they played, so obviously there’s a lot to prove here, but there’s a lot of reasons for that. time, I just see going and getting [Wilson] – you don’t do it unless you think you’re close.”
What do you think would constitute a good season for Russell Wilson?
“[A] Pro Bowl is kind of arbitrary… I think putting the Broncos in the playoffs. And I think getting the most out of the young players around him. I think a lot of what he wanted was to have an offense that was built around of him and that would allow him to test some things, like, ‘How much more can I do than I already have?’ I think a lot of this is going to come down to, obviously, Tim Patrick is hurt right now, but what’s Courtland Sutton like? What’s Jerry Jeudy like? What’s KJ Hamler like? To me, those things are really important.
“It’s almost like when Peyton [Manning] got here in 2012, and I was here for a lot of that. I remember how Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker were one thing before that, and then you saw a whole different level in these guys. time Peyton gets here. I think a lot of that will be based on a) getting to the playoffs and b) how much more you’re getting from the young wide receivers you have around you.”
What do you think head coach Nathaniel Hackett brings to this organization?
“Lots of juice. Knowing him for a while, I think there’s a great passion for football there. It’s kind of a cliché to say that a lot of teams are trying to be the Microsoft of football, or the Apple of football, but I think there will be an open flow of I think getting [offensive coordinator Justin] Outten to come with him from Green Bay was great, and getting [defensive coordinator] Ejiro [Evero] because you have a lot of symmetry in the team, guys who know each other. going to help create what [Hackett’s] wants to create here, which is just an open flow of ideas, and I think it should become a very innovative place.”
Guys like Pat Surtain II and Justin Simmons had great years last year, Bradley Chubb is healthy again. How good do you think the defense can be this year?
“My question with the defense is really based on losing [former coach] Vic [Fangio]. [Evero] very well thought out in the entire NFL, but there aren’t three or four defensive coaches in football that are more respected for what they are. do to get the most out of the players they have and build a unit that is really productive and difficult to play. You talk to offensive coaches, it’s the most challenging schedule to face. [Evero] will bring some of that because he was with [ex- Rams defensive coordinator and current Chargers head coach] Staley and learned from him in Los Angeles, but I think there’s this natural question: were some guys playing a little over their heads because [Fangio] is such a good defensive coach? that’s where the question will be. You have talent there, no doubt. Can [Evero] make the most of it as [Fangio] was able, because [Fangio’s] track record is obviously very strong.”
Are there any guys on the team that you look forward to outstanding seasons from?
“It’s a simple answer, but [I’m] turning to the young receivers, Jeudy and Hamler. I certainly think [Wilson’s] ability to get the ball on the field should help someone like Hamler. And then Javonte Williams. I didn’t want to put that in him, but I actually predicted last year that [Colts running back] Jonathan Taylor would win the running title. It was because you saw a little bit of what he could be as a rookie, and there was so much more to him. sit here and say that Javonte Williams might win the running title, but I think he has a chance to become one of the top ten running backs this year. Another name to watch. Everyone sees all the bizarre things Pat Surtain can do. do, and I would hesitate to call him a standout guy because I think everyone already knows how good he is.”