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Original Issue

4 Denver Broncos

Author:

First-time head coach VANCE JOSEPH should follow Mike Tomlin's example. Before he took the Steelers' job, Tomlin had been an assistant on teams that ran classic 4--3 zone schemes. But the Pittsburgh defense he inherited was coordinated by the legendary Dick LeBeau and stocked with players who fit the franchise's hallmark 3--4 disguised-blitzing attack. So, instead of trying to put his 4--3 stamp on his new club, Tomlin humbly let the D be—and rode it to two Super Bowl appearances in his first four years. Joseph, who most recently coached 4--3 zone-based schemes in Miami and Cincinnati, inherits a Broncos defense that has dominated with man coverage and blitzing. He should let it be.

• What stands out about Denver's secondary is how well cornerbacks CHRIS HARRIS, AQIB TALIB and BRADLEY ROBY handle picks and rub routes out of man coverage. That's what carried them to victory in the 2015 AFC championship game, when their tight coverage forced Tom Brady to hold the ball and allowed the pass rush to take over.

• It won't matter who won the QB job—TREVOR SIEMIAN, for now—if the Broncos don't run the ball better; they ranked 27th in 2016. Expect more inside rushes under offensive coordinator MIKE MCCOY and new O-line coach JEFF DAVIDSON, as opposed to the outside zone runs preferred by former coach Gary Kubiak.

• Like most young quarterbacks, Siemian struggles to process information quickly after the snap. But his upside is that he's tough in the pocket. He keeps his eyes downfield with hits looming and willingly steps into throws. That's a foundation he can build on.

• PAXTON LYNCH played only 10 quarters last season—not long enough to render a meaningful judgment on the 2016 first-round pick. But this much is clear: His physical traits are excellent. He has size (6'7", 244 pounds), mobility and arm strength. He needs to tighten his throwing motion; poor lower-body mechanics caused his throws to lose power and velocity. Addressing this—which won't be easy—would also improve his accuracy. Also, Lynch hasn't shown Siemian's comfort in the pocket, but that's not uncommon for a raw prospect seeing his first NFL action.

"IT WON'T MATTER WHO WON THE QUARTERBACK JOB IF THE BRONCOS DON'T RUN THE BALL BETTER."

SI'S 2017 PREDICTION

6-10

2016 RECORD

9--7

SEPT. 11

MONDAY

VS. LAC

SEPT. 17

VS. DAL

SEPT. 24

AT BUF

OCT. 1

VS. OAK

BYE

OCT. 15

VS. NYG

OCT. 22

AT LAC

OCT. 30

MONDAY

AT KC

NOV. 5

AT PHI

NOV 12

VS. NE

NOV. 19

VS. CIN

NOV. 26

AT OAK

DEC. 3

AT MIA

DEC. 10

VS. NYJ

DEC. 14

THURSDAY

AT IND

DEC. 24

AT WAS

DEC. 31

VS. KC

Position Rankings

QB

24

SKILL

20

OL

15

FRONT 7

3

DBs

1

Strength

ANDY BENOIT'S 400 MMQB ON.SI.COM/400

3 VON MILLER OLB

22 CHRIS HARRIS CB

76 AQIB TALIB CB

78 T.J. WARD SS

109 DEMARYIUS THOMAS WR

150 BRADLEY ROBY CB

161 DEREK WOLFE DE

195 EMMANUEL SANDERS WR

290 BRANDON MARSHALL LB

291 SHANE RAY OLB

333 DARIAN STEWART FS

339 MATT PARADIS C

357 C.J. ANDERSON RB

361 SHAQUIL BARRETT OLB

366 DOMATA PEKO NT