Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Denver Broncos Community!

“We’re here to stay": The future of the Denver Broncos is now

Zac Stevens Avatar
December 3, 2018

The future has arrived for the Denver Broncos.

Minutes following the 2018 NFL Draft in the spring, John Elway and his staff were given high praise for the class of rookies they had coming to the Mile High City.

Fast forward five months, during the team’s Week 10 bye week, the hype on the rookie draft class — including undrafted phenom Phillip Lindsay — was blowing the roof off the initial high expectations put on them, despite the team sitting at 3-6.

At the time, the future was bright.

Fast forward to Sunday, just three weeks later, and the narrative has drastically changed.

Sitting at 6-6, riding a three-game win streak, the 2018 Denver Broncos season is bright, thanks in large part to the young guns who continue to annihilate any doubts of their makeup.

Forget about the future; the future is now.

“We have good depth with our roster, even though it’s young, we have some [young] guys that can play. They are just waiting for a chance. Right now they are getting their chances,” Vance Joseph said with a nervous chuckle following his team’s 24-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys playing. We’ve got 22 young guys on this roster that’s helping us.”

Sunday in Cincinnati — Joseph’s old stomping grounds — was a prime example of not only how impactful the young players are on the Broncos team, but how important they will be as the team fights for a spot in the playoffs.

While the Broncos are receiving contributions all over the field from the young core, none have been as astonishing as No. 30. No one in the entire NFL has blown the doors off the expectations surrounding them like the phenomenon known as Lindsay.

Sunday was no different.

“He’s just out of this world,” Von Miller said about the undrafted rookie. “He’s a great running back, great teammate. It’s really no surprise to me because I’ve seen it time and time again. I can see it… He’s going to be great. He’s going to be great for us.”

Lindsay carved the Bengals’ defense, going for a career-high 157 rushing yards on a career-high 8.3 yards per carry and tying a career-high two touchdowns, including a 65-yard touchdown in which he left everyone on the field watching his brown locks of love bounce their way into the end zone.

“I don’t know what else to say about him, except I think the league knows about him and opponents know about him and key in on stopping him,” the veteran Case Keenum said in amazement. “He’s having a heck of a year. He got to be in the Rookie of the Year category, Pro Bowl, all that stuff. He deserves all of that.”

Fellow rookie Courtland Sutton, who had a mighty fine day himself, said the Colorado native is “playing out of his mind right now.”

Only Saquon Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft has more rushing yards as a rookie than the undrafted product out of Colorado. Lindsay’s 6.1 yards per carry on the season blows Barkley’s 4.9 average out of the water.

“He’s getting to the second level with speed, which is hard to tackle a back like that when he’s not touched at the first level,” Joseph said, continuing to pile on the praise for the humble rookie. “He’s been impressive. His maturity, his mentality, each week how tough he is. It’s been very impressive.”

Domata Peko even chimed in with seven simple words on the rookie, “I’m so happy he’s on our team.”

But the 5-foot-8 Lindsay is only one piece of the Broncos’ delicious rookie pie chart.

As Lindsay led the team in rushing, his fellow rookie Courtland Sutton led the team in receiving, putting up four catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.

“Courtland’s better each week. We know what he can do,” Joseph stated matter-of-factly. “With the 50-50 balls, with him, it’s 70-30. He’s finally showing, when he’s one-on-one and the ball is in the air, he’s probably going to win most of them. That’s what we thought he was going to be. He’s got to continue to do that obviously and help us make big plays in the pass game.”

Courtland would disagree with his head coach.

Following his 30-yard jump-ball touchdown reception, the big-play receiver said anytime the ball is in the air he feels like he has a “really good” chance of making a play. He put his chances at 80-20, maybe even 90-10 on jump balls.

“Games like this, people should expect,” the second-round pick said.

“It’s more of the same,” Keenum said. “He deserves a lot of attention because he’s a really good player. As seen today, you just have to get it close, and he makes some big plays for us, especially on third downs. It’s fun throwing him the ball today.”

On the other side of the ball, the production, and expectations are the exact same, starting with the No. 5-overall pick, Bradley Chubb.

Taking on a bigger role with Shaq Barrett’s injury, Chubb filled up the stat sheet as expected, racking up two quarterbacks hits along with nearly a perfect play for a pass rusher as he accounted for a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery all in one play.

Through 12 games, Chubb has racked up 10 sacks, only one-and-a-half shy of Von Miller’s 11.5 he had his rookie season.

Oh, don’t forget about the Wadmania sweeping Broncos Country thanks to the play of Colby Wadman, or as Joseph called him after the game “the punter” when announcing who he awarded game balls to.

In six punts, Wadman nailed the Bengals inside the 20-yard line four times and added bombs of 58 and 56 yards.

None of this was a surprise, however, as all of these players are starters.

But on Sunday, the Broncos were forced to find out about some of their other young players.

After Chris Harris Jr. fractured his fibula on the final play of the team’s first defensive series, rookie third-round pick Isaac Yiadom was thrust into the team’s No. 2 corner position and played at a “high level,” according to the head coach.

With Harris’ injury sidelining the team’s star corner until at least the playoffs, Yiadom will have a starter-type role moving forward either as the No. 2 or No. 3 corner depending on Tramaine Brock’s availability.

Just as Harris left the game due to injury, the Broncos lost starting rookie inside linebacker Josey Jewell to a left ankle sprain. Although that position was already young starting a rookie, second-year player Joseph Jones stepped in.

“He’s really a [special] teamer for us, but he went in the game and operated. He ran and hit and covered. Keishawn [Bierria’s] ready to play, too,” Joseph said, pointing to another rookie. “Next guy up. We have no excuses, and our opponents won’t care much, right? So we don’t care about it.”

And right now the Broncos shouldn’t care if they are playing rookies and young players, because those players are not only playing at a high level, they are one of the main reasons the team has won three-straight games.

For another week, the Broncos’ offensive line was awarded a game ball for carrying the team to a 6.4 yards per carry average and only allowing two sacks. Three of the five starting lineman, Garett Bolles, Connor McGovern and Elijah Wilkinson, are all on rookie contracts.

“We’ve lost our three interior leaders on the O-line, and we haven’t flinched. We won’t flinch now,” Joseph said about the remarkable play of the line.

In Denver’s remarkable season turnaround, they’ve leaned heavily on their rookies. Now, sitting one game back of the playoffs with four remaining, they’ll continue that exact same formula.

“We weren’t just brought here to sit in the back seat. We have a lot of things we can contribute to the team. I feel like a lot of us are doing that,” Sutton said following the team’s win on Sunday. “We’re here for a reason, and we’re here to stay.”

Lindsay chimed in with his confidence in the young ballers, adding, “There’s no time for a rookie wall.”

Of course, the talented rookie class believes in themselves, but the buy-in is much more than just the rookies themselves.

“I know it’s cliche to say next man up, but we have a lot of great rookies that are going to have to play well to keep us on the wave that we are riding,” Miller said, without hesitation.

Forget about how promising the future can be with this talented young Broncos.

It’s already here.


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?