January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (94) celebrates after sacking New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the second half of the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2014 Super Bowl only days away – and the Jacksonville Jaguars surprisingly absent – it’s time to take a look at both teams in the big game. Yesterday we looked at the Seattle Seahawks, and today we analyze the Denver Broncos.
While the Seattle Seahawks have some ties to the Jaguars and may provide a glimpse into the future of the Jacksonville franchise, the Broncos present a gallery of the past. Aside from former Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio, the Broncos employ a couple of former Jaguars on their active roster. Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton was once thought of as a steal in the third round by former general manager Gene Smith, and many believed he would developed into an All-Pro lineman in Jacksonville. Weight issues and the environment doomed his stint with the Jaguars, and Knighton opted for a change in scenery when he became a free agent and signed with the Broncos. He has since had an outstanding season and is playing himself into a big contract under his former head coach and current defensive coordinator.
Defensive end Jeremy Mincey was also once thought of as a pivotal piece in the Jacksonville offense, but GM David Caldwell deemed him expendable after a forgettable season filled with lack of effort and questionable work ethic. Mincey has worked himself into the rotation of a depleted Broncos defense.
While it would be nice to attribute the Broncos’ success to a few former Jaguars, the obvious driving force behind the team is none other than one of Jacksonville’s most hated rivals – quarterback Peyton Manning.
Starting the season out with a 7 touchdown performance against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, Peyton Manning made it clear during the entire season that this is his year. Manning put an exclamation point on 2013 by breaking the single season touchdown and passing yardage records before leading his team to the Super Bowl.
Yes, the Seattle Seahawks may have a more talented roster top to bottom, but Peyton Manning is the archetypal example of a quarterback covering the holes on a team. Manning has carried this team the entire season and there’s no reason to believe he is going to bring this season to the finish line without a Lombardi trophy.
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89