View Full Version : Seven Reasons the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl Window Remains Wide Open

Bronco Rob
01-31-2013, 07:06 PM
Peyton Manning

Sure, Manning still is on the wrong side of 35 - and heading the other way - but it was easy to forget that the 2012 season was his first in Denver and first action overall after undergoing four neck surgeries during a 16-month layoff.

He was playing in a new city with new coaches and receivers in a new environment -- playing the majority of his games outdoors for the first time -- and despite all of that, Manning posted the second-best numbers of his 15-year career in completions (400), yards (4,659), TD passes (37) and passer rating (105.8).

Imagine how much better Manning will be after 6 more months of nerve regeneration in his neck and a full offseason and training camp cementing his rapport with his now-familiar coaches and teammates.

Aligned stars

Despite the read-option rage and the trendy new breed of running quarterbacks, the air remains the preferred method of travel in NFL games.

Consider the league hit all-time highs in passing attempts (17,788) and completions (10,833) in 2012, and those resulted in more single-season yards (118,418) and TD passes (757) than any campaign since, well, there's been an NFL.

And if it's more of a passing league than ever, it only stands to reason that the four most important responsibilities on the field, respectively, belong to the guy who throws the passes, the guy who protects the passer's blind side, the guys who rush the passer and the guys who cover the passer's top targets.

Last time we checked, the Broncos possessed Pro Bowlers -- as well as some all-pros and future Hall-of-Famers -- at each of those four positions: QB (Manning), left tackle (Ryan Clady), defensive end/outside linebacker (Elvis Dumervil and Miller) and cornerback (Champ Bailey).

Perfect blend

To get to the top in the NFL, you need the experience and wisdom of the veterans sprinkled among the athleticism and stamina of the youngsters.

With an average starter's age of 26.47 years in 2012 - which ranked 22nd among the league's 32 teams - the Broncos had the ideal blend this past season, and that figures to be the case again next year with young studs such as Miller (entering his third season), receiver Demaryius Thomas (fourth) and guard Zane Beadles (fourth) complementing vets Manning and Bailey (16th for both).

Cap room

Starting out with upward of $18.5 million in 2013 salary-cap space, the Broncos are in relatively solid shape.

Half of that will likely - and should - go toward a new deal for Clady, but there's plenty of room for other signings and fortifications, especially if Manning is willing to adjust his team-high cap figure in a franchise-friendly gesture.

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