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Denver Broncos John Elway sees improving offensive line, keeping defense strong as priorities

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Posted at 5:44 PM, Jan 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-02 21:51:51-05

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The tears dried. The hugs finished. The second coach in Broncos history to win a Super Bowl vanished into a new chapter of his life as Denver began its climb back to the top Monday.

It starts with finding Gary Kubiak's replacement, with young coordinators on the wish list: Atlanta's Kyle Shanahan, Miami's Vance Joseph, Buffalo's Anthony Lynn, Detroit's Teryl Austin and Seattle's Darrell Bevell. 

Regardless of the coach, the Broncos' roster requires nips and tucks. The paramount question centers on the quarterbacks. It is assumed that the new coach will have to detail a development plan for Trevor Siemian, if not specifically Paxton Lynch, the team's former first-round draft pick.

"I am excited about the quarterbacks we have. I think we are in a much better position now than we were, maybe not at the end of last season, but when Brock (Osweiler) left and went to Houston," Elway said Monday. "Last year, it was the biggest concern. This year, it is not. We have a two young guys with a lot of talent, who are both competitive and want to win."

So no plans to bring in a veteran starter (cue the Tony Romo talk)?

"We always look at everything," Elway said, cracking the door slightly ajar. "We're excited about the young guys and we need to get better around them."

The Broncos missed the playoffs because of imbalance. They possessed the league's best pass defense for the second consecutive season, yet dropped from third against the run (83.6) to 28th overall (130.3). And they lost traction on the ground, falling from 107.4 to 92.8 yards per game. Offensive line, as such, is a priority. 

The team faces difficult questions at the tackle positions where Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson failed to live up to expectations. And guards Michael Schofield and Max Garcia were inconsistent. 

"We will go back to work on it and try to fix it again. I think obviously we didn't do a good job upfront, but also as an offense (overall)," Elway said. "The one thing I want to make sure is that we don't take a step back on defense. It's just as important, if not more important, to get better on defense than offensively. The offense will come."

Popular talk show speculation calls for the Broncos to deal one of their best players, like receiver Emmanuel Sanders or cornerback Aqib Talib, to address multiple needs, like tackle. Elway seemed tepid to the idea when asked by Denver7.

"I am not sure how you get better by trading away from strength. If you take strength away, it's kind of like the political system, where you take from the rich and give to the poor, right? It's the same thing with football. That doesn't necessarily make it better," Elway said. "It's fairer maybe, but it doesn't make it necessarily better."

Footnotes

Linebacker Zaire Anderson remained shaken after striking a teammate's hip on a headfirst tackle attempt. He lost feeling his arms and legs. "It was scary. I was crying. I have never had anything like that happen before. I couldn't feel anything." Anderson walked into the locker room OK on Monday, but said he was still feeling tingling sensations in his shoulder. ... Schofield said he hopes to stay at guard, if possible. He's more comfortable there. "But you never know with a new staff," Schofield said.

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Want Broncos news? Denver7 Broncos insider Troy E. Renck is your source. He talks to the players, covers the games and reports scoops on Denver7 and the Denver7 app. He is a CU grad who has covered pro sports in Colorado since 1996, including 14 years at The Denver Post. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and TheDenverChannel.com’s Broncos page. Troy welcomes most of your emails at Troy.Renck@kmgh.com.