3 Massive Questions Facing Denver Broncos For 2024 NFL Season

Denver Broncos
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos thought they were headed into the right direction when they swung a blockbuster trade to acquire quarterback Russell Wilson in March 2022.

We saw how that worked out.

The Broncos ended up cutting Wilson after a disastrous two-year stint in Denver, facilitating a rebuild that featured the Broncos selecting Bo Nix with the 12th overall pick of the NFL Draft.

While Denver actually managed to go a respectable 8-9 last season, it’s obviously that the club has a long way to go, and the fact that it is playing in the same division as the Kansas City Chiefs doesn’t help.

Here are three big questions the Broncos must answer going into 2024.

Can this team get stops?

Denver was flat out bad defensively in 2023, ranking 29th in yards allowed and 27th in scoring defense. It wasn’t like the Broncos were particularly adept on either side of the ball, either, as they placed 30th in run defense and 22nd in defending the pass.

The major problem is that Denver didn’t really get a whole lot better in this area during the offseason.

Outside of safety Brandon Jones, the Broncos didn’t make any significant free-agent signings, and their highest defensive draft pick was edge rusher Jonah Elliss, who they took in the third round.

I will say that Denver does have a couple of interesting linebackers in Jonathon Cooper and Nik Bonitto, each of whom displayed nice pass-rushing potential last season. Plus, the Broncos have Patrick Surtain II, who is probably one of the top three cornerbacks in all of football.

But are those three pieces genuinely enough for Denver to even have a league average defense in 2024? The Broncos’ defense may end up making things considerably tougher for an offense that really isn’t all that good to begin with.

Will Bo Nix start over Jarrett Stidham?

I actually like Nix a lot and think he could end up being one of the best quarterbacks from his draft class. He may very well be the most NFL-ready of the bunch, and he is coming off of a phenomenal campaign at Oregon in which he threw 45 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

However, he isn’t exactly stepping into an enviable situation in Denver.

The Broncos’ weapons are relatively limited, and while their offensive line isn’t terrible, it is probably middle of the pack, at best.

Taking those things into consideration, is it possible that Nix begins the year on the bench in favor of Jarrett Stidham, who started the last two games of 2023 for Denver?

Right now, it looks like a realistic possibility.

Nix means everything to the Broncos. He is their future, and the last thing the team wants to do is potentially damage him in his rookie season. That could mean that Stidham will get the ball in Week 1 and possibly for a good chunk of 2024 until Sean Payton and Co. feel Nix is ready (or if Stidham absolutely bombs over the first several games).

I find it hard to believe that Nix won’t get the call at some point, but it is certainly within reason to believe that Stidham will at least be the starter right out of the gate.

Is Sean Payton the right man for the job?

Payton was very successful during his long tenure with the New Orleans Saints, even winning a Super Bowl with the club during the 2009-10 campaign.

However, that championship victory was eons ago, and the NFL landscape has changed considerably over the last decade-and-a-half.

Not that Payton hasn’t coached in this era. He only sat out for one year in 2022 before taking the Broncos job last season. But there is no doubt that Payton looked lost at times in his debut campaign in the Mile High City.

Perhaps it was because Payton didn’t see eye to eye with Wilson, who Payton clearly did not like. Wilson wasn’t his guy, and even when Wilson was playing fairly well, it was obvious that Payton wasn’t exactly enamored with the nine-time Pro Bowler.

And to be fair, Payton did manage to squeeze eight wins out of a pretty subpar roster.

But you have to wonder if Payton—who first became an NFL head coach in 2006—has the right stuff in order to properly lead a team to prominence in the modern era.

He did help build the Saints from scratch, and it was Payton who threw his confidence behind beleaguered quarterback Drew Brees nearly 20 years ago. Maybe he can work the same type of magic with Nix that he did with Brees.

We’re about to find out if Payton is actually who the Broncos need at the helm.

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