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Denver Broncos position breakdown:
Will the special teams finally be special?

Ian St. Clair Avatar
July 13, 2015

So much of the talk has focused on the offense and defense.

How will Peyton Manning get along in a new, completely different offense with a new head coach and offensive coordinator?

How will the Denver Broncos fix the offensive line? Will Von Miller know what to do when he’s not asked to cover tight ends or slot receivers? How will Chris Harris, Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby get along not playing 45 yards off receivers?

What you haven’t heard much about is how new Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak will fix the rancid special teams. You can include John Elway in that as well.

They took the first step by hiring Joe DeCamillis. He’s a major upgrade over Jeff Rodgers, who John Fox took with him to Halas Hall. Sorry, Bears fans.

Think about it: the highlight of the Broncos special teams the last four years is Trindon Holliday getting blown up by a punter. That’s how atrocious the Denver special teams have been under Fox and Rodgers.

The good news: Denver’s special teams will become one of the better units in the NFL this season.

Why? Because of DeCamillis. What he brings to Denver’s special teams as the new coordinator cannot be ignored.

Wade Phillips is his typical self. And if you aren’t fired up about what he and his staff will do with the Broncos defense there is something wrong with you. The man knows how to coach defense and create great defenses. The unit Phillips has now has the potential to be special.

Fans should be stoked to see what Dennison does with the Broncos offense. How a linebacker in the NFL (for Denver) became an offensive coordinator is a story unto itself. Paired with Kubiak, the two will bring balance and confidence that no matter the defense the Broncos face, they will have success.

But the addition of DeCamillis is just as crucial to the success of this team.

What makes all of this even better is DeCamillis is home. The veteran special teams coordinator grew up in Arvada. DeCamillis’ parents and two brothers still live here. He got his coaching start in Denver with Dan Reeves, who just so happens to be his father in-law.

DeCamillis has shown he’s a guy who is leveled, down to Earth and loves what he does – we’ve seen that in the months he’s been back at Dove Valley. He knows what it means to be a member of the Broncos since he grew up rooting for them. At his introductory news conference, he told the story of the Orange Crush and the first Super Bowl in Denver history. DeCamillis talked about how difficult it was seeing the Broncos win the second Super Bowl against him and the Atlanta Falcons.

That proves once again Broncos Country is not just a phrase or place, it’s a way of life.

Kubiak, Dennison, Phillips and all of the rest are huge additions for Denver. But don’t discount or overlook DeCamillis.

One thing is for certain this season: Denver will not have two kickers on its roster. The Broncos will either stick with one or the other or find a guy who can do both. There is no sense in keeping two kickers on your roster. Keep both Connor Barth and Brandon McManus through training camp and let them earn that one spot. Make it clear: May the best man win, as cliche as it is.

The new coaching staff has made it clear this offseason it wants competition at every position. They want the players to earn their spots and time on the field – regardless of where they were drafted or come from.

That brings up Britton Colquitt.

The Broncos punter hasn’t been terrible but he hasn’t been good either. DeCamillis and this team need Colquitt to become one of the better punters in the NFL again. His production hasn’t lived up to the monster cap number he has –  $3.75 million. Perhaps DeCamillis will help his punter find his touch again.

In terms of the return game, DeCamillis should give Jordan Norwood strong consideration. He is coming off an injury, but before he did he was poised to get the job. Norwood should be even more motivated to get the job this season. To prove what he did during training camp and the preseason was no fluke.

You know under DeCamillis the kick, punt coverage and return game will improve. No longer will the highlight of the Broncos specials teams be a returner getting blown up by a punter.

DeCamillis will have his guys in the right spot, and play fast, mean and tough. To succeed on special teams, you need that mindset. You will not get beat, and you will do whatever it takes to make the play (think Terrell Davis in Tokyo).

The last four years, the Broncos didn’t have that. They weren’t anywhere close to that. It was as if that phase of the game didn’t matter … minus a few fluke plays from Holliday. “Oh, look, another huge return.” “Oh, look, another missed assignment.” “Oh, look, another returner blown up by the punter.”

The expectation is that when games are in Denver, the Broncos have a kicker who boots every kickoff out of the endzone. On the road, if the kick gets returned, the opponents don’t start on their, at least, 35-yard line.

For the first time in four years, Broncos Country has reason to feel excitement over the special teams. The first step came when DeCamillis was hired.

At least now the Broncos can end up on the right side of blowing up a returner … maybe even with their punter.

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