Buy, sell, or hold?
That's a trading floor question, but applied to the Denver Broncos after 8 quarters of two publically televised practice games, what do you think?
As a basis for current stock price, I asked myself: "is this unit better than, worse than, or as advertised to the public by the press and the team before the preseason".
As for my opinion...
The defensive front 3.....Buy (a cautious buy) but considering the low price, the time is right. Le Kevin Smith was a great get and on the cheap. He allows for more depth on the ends. Chris Baker has a lot of potential and I'm curious to see if he'll get in on running downs and move Fields to end, creating a 'big' group of big guys.
The offensive line.....Hold. This stock is a blue chipper, but I'm not buying more until I see more. I feel like I've only see them pass block. As of now they are "as adverstised". The running plays they are running right now are not game level plays. The running plays I've seen the first team run, for the most part, seem like they are plays to keep the defense honest, not plays to pick up chunks of yardage. I know this group can block for the running game, but I haven't really seen the goods yet. On the passing side of the equation, you have to be pleased, they get the job done and give Kyle all the time he needs to progress through his reads.
The wide receivers.....Hold. Until Marshall gets onto the field, I'm holding. This stock is priced high and it's not getting higer...for now. Denver's offense needs to get Marshall on the field. Marshall, Royal, and Stokley are Denver's three best receievers and if they can mix in Gaffney, they'll have a great corps of guys who can really do most anything asked of them, however, without Marshall on the field, there's something the are missing badly: Size. Orton can get the ball into tight spots, but his life will be far easier with Marshall on the field drawing coverage away from others and being able to get mismatches where Marshall is simply bigger, faster, and stronger than any corner on the field. I'm not opining what Denver should do with Marshall's contract, but if Marshall is on the field, this is a BUY all day long. Royal is fantastic; great routes, fast, and durable. Stokely is consistent, catches everything, and is reliable. But Denver needs a big play threat and their biggest one is Brandon Marshall, like it or not.
The secondary.....Hold. This is also a nice stock, but I want to see Dawkins on the field. We all know that any corner playing opposite Champ will get picked on, so no surprise that Goodman has 'given up' a few scores, but he was in great position on the first TD against Seattle (I have NO IDEA how he DIDN'T break that play up) and on the second play, it was a fabulous throw and catch from Housh and Hasselbeck. I haven't really heard Renaldo Hill's name much, but not hearing a name in the secondary is ALWAYS a positive. It means he hasn't really made any mistakes yet. We should know more by this time next week, but I'd say that it would be fair to say the secondary looked about how we'd thought they'd look versus Seattle.
The running backs.....Buy. Knowshon will be back and from the limited camp and practice game action he's gotten that I've seen, I think he looks fast, quick, and strong. Hillis looks tough and like he's out to make a point this year. I love that Jordan knows the offense and can help the team out both on the field and in the classroom. I also think he has a great nose for short yardage situations. Buckhalter looks good too. He looks fast and like he can handle anything the coaches throw at him. You have to love the depth here and unless you're a fantasy drafter, you have to love that as a defensive coordinator, you have no clue who's doing what and where when it comes to the backfield for Denver.
The quarterbacks.....Buy. The price is midrange to low on this stock, so I'm buying more. Orton will get better and that's why I'm buying. He just hasn't been "better than advertised", not that he's been worse either. He'll make stupid throws. But he'll make strong ones too. I think that as he digests the playbook, he'll be far better. Like he said, it's a great offense. He does look very confident and in control. He knows what he's doing and he's made some very nice passes. I like that he plays within the pocket and the system. I think his pocket clock is good. He will settle down and pass to spots that look more open than they have so far in a few weeks, but it will take at least a few weeks into the regular season before we see Orton play like most fans want him to play now and that's when buying this stock should pay off. As far as Simms, I'm happy with him as a backup, but that's it. He has a nice arm, but he still looks a little rusty and hasn't swallowed half of what Orton has when it comes to the offense, although that may not entirely be his fault.
The linebackers....Hold. I like the linebackers right now, just not enough to buy more yet. The linebackers' stock price would be midrange right now, but I want to see a bit more. I'm a huge fan of Andra Davis' leadership and experience combined with the raw athletic power of DJ Williams. So far, I think Dumervil looks like he's getting it and progressing how I hoped he would. Haggans has looked good to and although unspectacular, that can be okay too. I like (don't love) where Ayers is (I mean, what did you expect?) and expect to see lots of him on passing downs. I'm not sure Nolan's figured out exactly where Ayers is most dangerous yet. I really like the depth here too. Davis looks to be a vocal leader and for all of the detractors out there who want to complain about his speed, I bet he could beat Tedy Bruschi in a footrace any day of the week. I really think Doom is turning the corner, so that gives me confidence in at least 75% of the staring linebackers.
Specialists.....Hold. Although I don't love the funbles from the return guys, I expect Eddie Royal or Smith to return punts and I expect Smith to return kicks and I trust the starting kickoff and punt teams. I liked Prater's boot the other night, and he hasn't done anything wrong, yet. The punters in camp are both strong, but Kern should win out. As far as the coverage teams, they've only kicked and returned kicks a handful of times each game. Have you nocticed that our punt team is pretty good at not giving much up? Denver had zero punt returns against versus the 49ers and the 'Hawks averaged just over 5 yards on 5 punt returns. Pretty solid work. The kickoff team has some work to do on catching and controlling the kick, but that's a pretty easy thing to fix in practice.
The coaching staff.....Buy. They have work to do, but the potential for greatness is there. Nolan's already done a good job in just a few months time improving the hold and penetration at the point of attack. The guys seem to be having fun and flying around on defense. The personnel isn't perfect and won't be for a year or two, but the play has been about all we could have realistically hoped for. McDaniels is going to win. Maybe not this year, but he's going to win. He seems to be way ahead of the defense and for the most part, it seems like Denver's offense if cutting through first team defenses like a hit knife through butter. I'm impressed. He will make mistakes. So will Nolan. But they will get more things right than wrong and give a little bit of time, I expect Denver to challenge for the division next season.
Realistically, Denver shouldn't get 10 plus wins this year. I think 10 wins is their ceiling, but my guess is .500-ish and that's fine. If coach Shanny and Cutler were still in Denver, I'd still think .500-ish is realistic, so let's hope the team can sneak into the postseason, but realistically, lets look at this team on at LEAST a two year window. I'm not selling on aything right now, and that's great. After next week, it may be a different story, but for right this second, I'm buying and holding.