ENGLEWOOD—Truth comes with time.
There was no public confession of a Super Bowl hangover emanating from the Denver Broncos’ last season. A year removed, though, admissions have been offered. There must be some explanation to the irrefutable evidence that was 9-7.
“I think there were some distractions and maybe a Super Bowl lull,’’ said Broncos’ linebacker Brandon Marshall. “I never thought that was a real thing. You would see teams that win a Super Bowl and then next year didn’t make the playoffs. I never thought that it would happen to us because of who we have on our team. But, I think it’s real.’’
Most members of the Broncos’ vaunted secondary had exceptional seasons in 2016, but No. 3 cornerback Bradley Roby admitted – this year – he was not as sharp.
“Last year I felt like I didn’t train as well,’’ he said. “Coming off a Super Bowl, I wasn’t as focused as I should have been and I learned from that. This year, I’m way ahead of that.”
There you go. The case against a Super Bowl 50 hangover is the Broncos started 4-0 last year. They were strong at the start, then crumbled to a 5-7 finish.
Perhaps it was the quarterback transition away from the retired Peyton Manning. Perhaps it was the left shoulder injury of Manning’s replacement, Trevor Siemian, in game 4. Perhaps it was the medical episode suffered by head coach Gary Kubiak after game 4.
Maybe it was the injuries to DeMarcus Ware in game 2 or C.J. Anderson in game 7.
There have been other forms of renewed candor this year. Demaryius Thomas, whose production slipped last year although not below his minimum standards of 90 catches and 1,000 yards, admitted – this year -- he was bothered by hip pain last season, after downplaying it last year.
“After the first game against the Carolina Panthers, that’s when I started feeling all of the pain,’’ he said. “It came back after one hit, the first play of the game. And that’s when I felt my hip again. It just lingered.”
Or maybe one more truth will be revealed with more time – that in the natural cycle of balance in the NFL, the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs have surpassed the Broncos in overall talent.
For now, such a possibility is better left unspoken, or for adamant denial. A year removed, a Super Bowl hangover is as good an explanation as any for the Broncos’ disappointing 9-7 record last season.
“One of my old trainers put it to me like this: When you reach all of your goals, or when you have something that you work for your whole like and you reach it, naturally, you take a deep breath,’’ Marshall said. “Even though you reached that, we have to set new goals and new aspirations and work towards that.’’
The 2017 Broncos begin the third week of OTA (organized team activity) practices Monday.