The revamped Denver Broncos, now led under center by veteran quarterback Russell Wilson, opened training camp last week with Super Bowl expectations already in place. And the relentless hype and outside noises haven't bothered players and coaches inside the team facility -- general manager George Paton told reporters last week that they've welcomed and embraced the pressures. Suffice to say, sky-high goals are deemed appropriate in the Mile High City.
For a franchise that hasn't appeared in the AFC playoffs since 2016 -- the year they captured Super Bowl 50 with Peyton Manning as captain -- the fans have reason to buy what's currently being sold. The Broncos were in dire need of a franchise quarterback, as their offense ranked 23rd in average points and 19th in average yards in 2021. With former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as Denver's new head coach, the Wilson-led offense will be dynamic. But is the non-stop hype excessive? James Palmer believes so.
"Personally, I think they're a little too excited. The expectations in Denver are through the roof," the NFL Network reporter explained to CBS Sports Radio's Maggie and Perloff show on Thursday. "They just won the Cup. And they get Nathaniel Hackett, and they have new ownership coming in next week, with the Waltons... They really do believe, 'Alright, we're a quarterback away.' I do think the organization felt they were a QB away from being very competitive...
"I do think the expectations need to be tempered a little bit when you look at, Russ is a kind of quarterback who's a reps guy... My point is, maybe next year is the year for expectations to be where they are with this team. I do think the loss of Tim Patrick, everybody talks about Jerry Jeudy, Patrick was the No. 2 behind Cortland Sutton. That's how well he was getting along with Wilson... I think the expectations, when you put what I just said and the division they're in, are maybe a little bit high."
Wilson played 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, and during his tenure, the franchise made the NFC playoffs eight times, appeared in two conference title games, and won a Super Bowl. Despite the success, Wilson's last season in Seattle was a disappointment. Due to a finger injury suffered in October, he played a career-low 14 games, and struggled to find a rhythm upon returning. But, Wilson managed to finish with 3,113 yards, 25 touchdowns, and six picks.
Naturally, the Broncos will begin their 2022 campaign in Wilson's old stadium, opposing the Seahawks in a marquee Monday night matchup at Lumen Field. Denver now has the third-best odds to capture its first AFC West crown since 2015, per BetMGM, and the eighth-best odds to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl 57 in Arizona.