Brandon Marshall: Distractions, Super Bowl lull played part in Broncos missing playoffs
A year after winning the Super Bowl, Denver finished third in the AFC West
Warren Moon, the Hall of Fame quarterback who now works for the Seahawks' radio network, said this week that Seattle is still reeling from the Malcolm Butler goal line interception in Super Bowl XLIX. That's a point in time you can point to and say, "Yep, that's when things got off the tracks for the Seahawks."
The Broncos' have no such defining moment.
Denver won Super Bowl 50, Peyton Manning retired a few weeks later, and the team stumbled its way through the 2016 season, missing the playoffs after finishing third in the division behind Kansas City and Oakland.
"I wouldn't blame it on one specific thing," linebacker Brandon Marshall said Thursday, via PFT. "I think there were some distractions and maybe a Super Bowl lull. At the end of the day, nobody cares about that. All they care about is, did you make plays or not? And I didn't. I want to reverse that this year."
Marshall's right -- critics don't care much for excuses. They're just concerned with wins and losses. And the linebacker takes responsibility for how he played in 2016.
"It kind of sat on me," Marshall said. "I had a bad feeling. I had a bad taste in my mouth all of last year. Even during the season, I was like, 'I'm not making any plays. I'm not making plays.' It just felt weird. I wanted to do something about that. I plan to have a complete opposite season. I plan to make all the plays. That's what I tell my group. LBs, we make all of the plays, that's what we're supposed to do. Linebackers are supposed to lead the team in tackles. We're supposed to be the playmakers on defense and I think that's what we need to get back to."
It's certainly admirable for Marshall to shoulder the blame, but it's not like he was a tackling dummy stationed in the middle of the field making everybody around him worse. According to Pro Football Focus, Marshall ranked 15th among all inside linebackers in 2016, and he's played at a consistently high level for three straight seasons. And Football Outsiders' metrics had the Broncos as the league's best defense. This was the case during the 2015 Super Bowl season, too; the difference between those two teams was the offense. Manning struggled in his final season (the offense ranked 24th) but the unit was slightly worse last season (28th) with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch under center.
And how Siemian and Lynch progress in the coming weeks and months will go a long way in determining the extent of the "Super Bowl lull." Of course, any trip back to the championship game will first have to go through New England, a fact not lost on Marshall.
"They are always in the AFC Championship or the Super Bowl," he said of the Patriots. "They have a great quarterback, Tom Brady. They have a great staff. Bill Belichick is probably the greatest coach in NFL history. I will definitely give him that. All of those things come into account. But I do think it's weird because no matter who they put in or who they put on the team, they still play well. It doesn't matter. The one constant is Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. They pick and plug guys and they're still successful, which is crazy."
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