In the past four years the Denver Broncos could easily define their recruitment tactics with one simple word: sustainability.
They already had a 'check' in order on the chessboard after one Super Bowl visit and all they needed were the pawns. The ability to sustain was more than practical with Peyton Manning navigating the ship.
However, since the announcement of his retirement at the beginning of March, we have seen the Broncos make some radical decisions during free agency that have left many wondering what John Elway and Gary Kubiak are cooking in the Mile High City.
No longer is sustainability the key to the success of the defending Super Bowl champions.
“We’ve had some things go on," Kubiak said. "But it’s like a lot of spots on our roster and I’ve told the players, we’re going to need everybody and everybody’s going to have a hand in it."
The theme going into 2016 for the Broncos is definitely going to be adaptability.
Adaptability — it is a trait that most fortune 500 companies find crucial in recruiting candidates and the Broncos are following in that business mindset and ideology in 2016.
They are searching for players who are flexible enough to work through the challenging issues that are likely to present themselves with all of the changes Denver will see this season.
The Broncos are eager to counter what took place early in the season last year, as Manning, Kubiak, and Brock Osweiler danced a dramatic tango. Luckily, the defense was able to play a critical role in making up for those offensive growing pains and in 2016 the Broncos are looking to make their offense match that effort and start the season strong.
The need for consistency is haunting both Elway and Kubiak as they find themselves in the realization that the defending Super Bowl champions are not coming back in 2016. The 2015-2016 Denver Broncos no longer exist — that’s the cold hard truth. They now find themselves tasked with the need to find the solution that will make them playoff bound in 2016 and it starts with the offensive line.
Despite the focus around the league being on how Denver will fill the hole left behind by the retirement of Manning and the departure of Osweiler, the focus for Denver has been on a more fundamental necessity — the offensive line. More specifically, on finding the magic combination of five starters before July that will help them start the season on a better foot than 2015.
Kubiak is hopeful to go into the preseason with what least year’s season lacked — a well-oiled machine up front protecting their QB. What started with left tackle Ryan Clady’s season-ending ACL injury during the first day of OTAs, ended with Denver spending most of its season lemon testing O-line rotations in desperation that anyone would make it more than a game or two.
Elway and Kubiak are looking for more balance and again, adaptability, in their recruitment this year to make sure this is not the theme for Denver’s offense in the up and coming season.
Their strategy is already heading in that direction with the singing of offensive tackels Donald Stephenson and Russell Okung — adding both depth and balance to their roster. The two tackles will pair with Matt Paradis at center and hopefully fill up 3/5 of the foundation the Broncos are hoping to cement before their personal July deadline.
"We went from being very thin to having some depth at that phase of our football team," Kubiak said last week at the Annual NFL Owners meetings. "It’s going to be very competitive, and it probably wasn’t that way last year…we felt like that was the No. 1 area that we needed to improve."
The method is in the madness. It is looking like this could be the year that Elway throws a wild card in, breaking his “tradition” of selecting a defensive player in the first round.
Post free agency; Elway could have some major advantages looking to draft from a class that is immersed with strong offensive line talent across the board.
Jeannae Elyse Bierstedt is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find her on Twitter @JeannaeElyse.
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