Hello again everyone! Earlier this week I published a FanPost (please feel free to click this link and check it out if you haven't already) outlining some points about our beloved Broncos that I felt were either flying under the radar or simply merited reiteration. The piece was well received - which is to be expected in a community like ours - and I really enjoyed writing it, so I felt compelled to expand on it a bit. The truth is that this franchise has done so much so well that a series such as this could go on indefinitely without having to stretch for material. Each of us here at Mile High Report has our own unique perspective and style with which to deliver it; it has been a real pleasure to read much of the work that others produce and I am greatly appreciative of those who take the time to do the same for me. Now, if you'd be so kind as if to follow me below the fold, let's get back to the task at hand and bask in the glow of our Denver Broncos!
- Fountain of Youth: The Broncos currently count only 16 players that are at least 30 years old on their roster, but they have all played significant roles in the team's hot start. Along the offensive line, Casey Wiegmann and Ben Hamilton continue to anchor the center of a unit that should be the envy of the entire league. Behind them, back-ups Russ Hochstein and Brandon Gorin have been called to action already this season and held up relatively well. Veteran long-snapper Lonnie Paxton has also yet to let us down. At the skill positions, slot receiver Brandon Stokley has once again done everything asked of him and then some. Tight end Daniel Graham is easily earning the lucrative contract that brought him to Denver three offseasons ago. Running back Correll Buckhalter continues to exhibit the talent and skills of a feature back, while LaMont Jordan has excelled as the go-to guy in late game keep-away situations. A bigger impact from the veterans, however, can be seen on the other side of the ball. Defensive end (guard?) Kenny Peterson seems to have found his calling in our new scheme, while late pick-up Vonnie Holliday has shown flashes of dominance at the position as a rotational player. Linebacker Andra Davis has experienced a renaissance as a force to be reckoned with inside. The retooled defensive backfield, comprised solely of 30+ year olds, has been the cornerstone of the defensive resurgence. Legendary cornerback Champ Bailey is healthy again and benefiting greatly by the support of his superlative peers. Andre Goodman has been so good as to force opposing quarterbacks to throw the ball in the direction of the aforementioned Bailey. Safety Renaldo Hill has played his part to perfection and his partner Brian Dawkins continues to play like a man 2/3 his age and lead like one much older. Many of these men were brought in by the new administration this offseason and all received their vote of confidence while the entire roster was in flux. This may be a younger team than most overall, but they can get away with it because of the quality of its veterans.
- Chip on the Shoulder: As fans, we were forced to listen to the incessant rantings of media types counting our team out before a game had been played. Now, with five down and the remaining eleven looking less menacing by the week, many of us can't help but revel in the demise of their doom-and-gloom predictions. Laughing at the sports punditry that couldn't have been more wrong is all well and good, but have you noticed that our team seems ambivalent to it? Sure, they go out on the field every time with something to prove, but it's not for the media's sake: it's for the guys lining up next to them or across the way in practice or for those not wearing pads who believed in them enough to let them wear the Orange and Blue. They were handed volumes of bulletin board material this offseason, but they just don't seem to have a need for any of it. They don't want to win to prove the doubters wrong, but rather to prove the faithful right. That's the sort of positive energy and motivation that will never run out.
- Endless Pursuit of Perfection: The Denver Broncos are 5-0, defeating three potential playoff teams along the way, but they still haven't played their best football. We've seen flashes of greatness from nearly every unit at some point or another; at times, we've even been treated to more than one performing at such a high level. That said, there is always room to improve. Head coach Josh McDaniels has stated as much and, when he says it, I believe it. Imagine the passing attack against New England, the rushing onslaught against Cleveland, the pass rush against Dallas, the pass defense against Oakland and the rush defense against Cincinnati... all in the same game! Every individual and every unit on this team, no matter how impressive their performance thus far this year, can - and almost certainly will - get even better. Gone are the days of being satisfied with just enough to get by; here's to the McDaniels era of perpetual improvement.
- The Gauntlet: People have been looking at Denver's schedule since it was made public with a sense of awe and concern, much like one might look up at Everest while sitting at base camp. I'll admit that I indulged in that foolish perennial exercise (to a point) and saw cause for concern. I went into the 2009 season expecting an 8-8 record - give or take a game - that we could build on in the near future. Since then, my expectations have changed but my opinion of our schedule has not. The Broncos will face no fewer than eight legitimate playoff contenders this regular season and that is no easy feat. So far the traditional media has viewed every challenge as an opportunity for our team to prove itself, but I have a different perspective: I see every difficult game on our slate as a chance for our franchise from top to bottom to prepare itself for the playoffs. Our fast start provides us fans with a reasonable expectation of a trip to the postseason, but were it not for the difficult path our squad must travel to get there, I'd have less faith that we could make a significant impact once there. We should be thankful for our tough schedule because it will forge us into a better team.
- Mocking the Draft: I am what some may call a bit of a draftnik. I love college football (especially the Florida Gators and the SEC) and I love the NFL Draft. Recently, I tried my hand at a 2010 mock draft and the Broncos pick confounded me. On the one hand - and who would have thought this a few short months ago - Denver simply doesn't have many if any true needs. On the other hand, the new administration in Dove Valley is so unique in establishing a draft board and executing that day's strategy that they're nearly impossible to predict. Honestly, at this point, would any selection truly surprise or disappoint you? They only have one year of track record, but you have to love the way McDaniels and Xanders have rebuilt the franchise.
Well, that's going to be it for me for now. I'd like to thank you all once again for sharing some of your time with me by reading this. I can't tell you how proud I am of MHR (having been here for so long) and how happy I am to be a fellow member with such great fans. I look forward to our continued conversation in the comments below. I can't wait until I have another full set of observations to share with you all after our game against those San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. I'm feeling really good about our chances in that one and what a win would mean for our season as a whole.
Oh, I just wanted to share one more thing: the Broncos are once again underdogs (even if you factor out the three points for homefield advantage) and a majority of ESPN's experts picked against Denver once again this week. We've consistently been underdogs in games against live competition and been picked by those aforementioned pundits on 33% of the time now. When will they ever learn??? Go Broncos!