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For starters, young Broncos offense looked ready

But averaging a mere 19.3 points a game in previous 4 years, Broncos need to dramatically improve if they are to contend in AFC West.
Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) takes part in drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Englewood, Colo.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Here they just got started and in less than three weeks, John Elway and Vic Fangio have to make final cuts to set the Broncos’ season-opening, 53-man roster.

If it helps, the Broncos’ offense – for all its youth and inexperience -- looked surprisingly ready on Day 1 of training camp Friday.

"I liked the urgency and the focus of the players as we move through this shortened training camp," said Fangio, the Broncos’ head coach.

The Denver D looked good, too, although that side of the ball doesn’t need many reps to be a better-than-average NFL defense. The average of the projected 11 defensive starters is roughly 28 ½ years old and has 5.7 years of NFL experience.

The average of the projected 11 offensive starters (with Melvin Gordon at running back and Noah Fant and Nick Vannett at tight ends) is approximately 24.8 years old and has just 2.3 years of NFL experience. Along with this offensive youth is a new offensive coordinator in Pat Shurmur.

And yet, young quarterback Drew Lock got rid of the ball quickly during the 11 on 11 periods Friday in Shurmur’s controlled passing game. Lock was mostly accurate while delivering to the likes of young tight end Noah Fant, young receiver Courtland Sutton and the veterans Gordon and Vannett.

The second-string offense also had its moments, especially when backup QB Jeff Driskel was targeting rookie Jerry Jeudy, which was often.

Let’s see what Day 2 brings Sunday. Three weeks till the roster is set and there are five more off days in that span.

"I think it’s going to be a challenge," Fant said. "Our rookies have lost out on a little bit of time, but it’s our job–especially guys that have already been on the team–to acclimate them quickly, bring them in, get them involved and making sure they are socializing with all their teammates so we can all become closely meshed early on.

"Coach Shurmur said the same thing. If he can get that going early, the we have a good shot to be successful this season. I think that’s a huge thing for us."

The Broncos’ offense not only has to be ready, it has to be better. And not just better – the modest thresholds of 21 points and 355 yards a game would mark improvements to the Broncos’ offensive production of the past four years.

The Broncos have to be much better if they are to give the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs a run for the AFC West title.

The Broncos’ offensive output the previous four seasons:

Year ……..… Y/G … RK .… P/G … RK

2019 …..… 298.6 … 28 … 17.6 … 28

2018 ……… 350.1 … 19 … 20.6 … 24

2017 …….… 324.1 … 17 … 18.1 … 27

2016 …….… 323.1 … 26 … 20.8 … 22

4-yr AVG … 324.0 .… 23 … 19.3 … 25

Counting their successful postseason run last year, the Chiefs behind quarterback Patrick Mahomes II averaged 29.9 points a game – 12.3 more a game than the Broncos, who finished with their fourth consecutive year without making the playoffs.

Can the Broncos make up nearly two touchdowns a game against the Chiefs? Maybe not, but considering they didn’t have any OTAs, the Broncos’ offense is off to a good start.

"For those guys to be so young, they have a ton of talent on that side," said Broncos’ safety Kareem Jackson, the team’s oldest (32 years old) and most experienced (entering his 11th NFL season) projected starter. 'Those guys are explosive. Football is something they’ve been doing ever since they were kids, since they were real, real young. I expect for those guys to come out and compete at a high level every day."

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