In the wake of Peyton Manning’s retirement in March, the Broncos went into their post-title offseason unsure of who would start at quarterback in Week 1, but confident that their formidable defense could withstand the free-agent departures of Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan and carry them back to the postseason.

For a while, it looked like that formula would work. Using the momentum from a 21-20 win over Carolina in a Week 1 rematch of Super Bowl 50, the Broncos started 4-0, winning three games by double digits.

Trevor Siemian, who beat out Mark Sanchez and first-round pick Paxton Lynch for the starting quarterback job, roared early, posting a 99.6 passer rating in his first four starts. But he suffered a non-throwing shoulder injury in the Week 4 win at Tampa Bay and he wasn’t the same the rest of the season.

Still, the Broncos pushed through. Siemian returned in Week 6, but running back C.J. Anderson suffered a season-ending torn meniscus one week later. After Justin Simmons and Will Parks teamed up for a miraculous blocked extra point and return for the game-winning points at New Orleans, Denver hit the Week 11 bye at 7-3, seemingly poised for another postseason run.

But a fall-from-ahead home loss to the Chiefs in Week 12 started the Broncos on a late-season fade. They dropped four of five games, leaving them eliminated from the playoffs before a Week 17 win over the Raiders allowed them to finish 9-7.

Denver’s five-year run of reaching at least the divisional round wasn’t all that ended in 2016. So did Gary Kubiak’s run as head coach, with a two-year Broncos stint that capped a 23-season run on NFL sidelines, including 11 as Denver’s offensive coordinator from 1995 through 2005.

Health issues forced Kubiak to miss a Week 6 loss to San Diego, and then they necessitated his retirement from coaching after the season. He later returned as a member of the team’s personnel department, but for the Broncos, it was a blow to their long-term plans of sustaining success in the wake of Manning’s retirement.

“I’m getting out of coaching, but I’ve got a lot to give, and I’m going to find something else to do, and I’m going to wake up with that same passion and do that just like I’ve coached for the last 20-something years,” Kubiak said as he announced his retirement on Jan. 2, 2017. “But it’s time for me to step away from the coaching field.”

Not long after Kubiak announced his retirement from coaching, outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware retired from the playing field. The changes pushed the Broncos further from their Super Bowl 50 win, and with lingering questions at quarterback, they began 2017 searching for answers that would prove difficult to find.

2016 Schedule

Date Opponent Score
9/8 Carolina Panthers 21-20
9/18 Indianapolis Colts 34-20
9/25 at Cincinnati Bengals 29-17
10/2 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-7
10/9 Atlanta Falcons 16-23
10/13 at San Diego Chargers 13-21
10/24 Houston Texans 27-9
10/30 San Diego Chargers 27-19
11/6 at Oakland Raiders 20-30
11/13 at New Orleans Saints 25-23
11/27 Kansas City Chiefs 27-30(OT)
12/4 at Jacksonville Jaguars 20-10
12/11 at Tennessee Titans 10-13
12/18 New England Patriots 3-16
12/25 at Kansas City Chiefs 10-33
1/1 Oakland Raiders 24-6