The 2001 Ravens should give the 2016 Broncos some hope

Before anyone predicts doom for the Denver Broncos for not having Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, let's not forget about the 2001 Baltimore Ravens.

That Ravens team was the last defending Super Bowl champion to return without its top two quarterbacks, and Baltimore still advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs that year.

The Ravens decided to part ways with Trent Dilfer and Tony Banks, and they went with Elvis Grbac and Randall Cunningham. Many will point to Grbac's untimely interceptions and lack of toughness as reasons why the Ravens didn't repeat as Super Bowl champions. But it was a team that lost star running back Jamal Lewis in training camp, as well, yet managed to go 10-6 and earn a wild-card berth.

There are similarities between that Ravens team and the Broncos. Both won a Super Bowl based on the strength of their defense and a quarterback who was more of a game manager.

The difference is how the quarterback changes occurred. The Ravens wanted to move on from Dilfer and Banks, targeting Grbac and Brad Johnson in free agency. The Broncos wanted to keep Osweiler after Manning retired, but they were outbid by the Texans.

The 2001 Ravens returned the core of a record-setting defense, which was able to carry Baltimore back to the playoffs. Can the Broncos' defense now do the same?

(Hat tip to Fox Sports' Alex Marvez for first pointing out that the 2001 Ravens were the last Super Bowl champions to return without its top two quarterbacks.)