After eight games, there has not been a lot positive to say about the Denver Broncos. They are 2-6, battered and beaten, and they experienced the low of lows when the Raiders came to town and slaughtered us on our home field.
Team morale was shot, and that includes the fans. Following a loss to the 49ers which the Broncos had a late lead, many have written off this team for the 2010 campaign and are putting us as high as third in recent mock drafts.
With all the injuries this team has suffered, their rebuilding project has been exposed, and despite playing teams tough in the early part of the season, the Broncos have shown a terrible inability to finish games (save for one against Tennessee).
With half the season in the books, it's time to give out mid-season awards (good and bad) to the Denver Broncos.
Matt Prater, K
You could make a case for Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd here, but no Broncos player has been as consistently good as Matt Prater all season long. Yes, he oddly missed an extra point against the 49ers, but that was really his first bad play of the entire season.
Prater has nailed 12 of his 13 field goal attempts, missing his only attempt against the Jets a couple weeks back. His success kicking field goals includes a career high 59 yarder, a shot that gave him the highest ever field goal percentage from 50 yards or further.
In the Broncos' biggest win of the season came on the road against the Titans, and Prater was a huge reason why. He hit on all four of his field goal attempts, and a late kickoff sealed the win for the Broncos when Prater booted it high in the air and the Titans fumbled. It was a crazy play that is hard to even explain because I don't know that it's an actual play, but it essentially ended the game and sealed a Broncos victory.
He is already halfway to tying his career high with 14 touchbacks on kickoffs, and while the Broncos are not good in kickoff coverage, Prater is certainly not at fault.
Without Prater, the Broncos would likely be 1-6 at best. He has been their most rock solid performer so far this year, and he deserves some recognition for it.
Brandon Lloyd, WR
Brandon Lloyd leads the NFL in receiving yards, and it's barely even close. His 878 yards are 84 more than the next best (Atlanta star WR Roddy White), and his 20.9 yards per reception is the top average in the NFL among players with 30 or more receptions.
It's safe to say that through eight games, Brandon Lloyd is the NFL's best deep threat and he's proven that on a game-by-game basis.
Lloyd's four receiving touchdowns also lead the Broncos, and he's definitely not been shy to the big play. Lloyd has shown graet field awareness, instincts, and superb hands. He's truly been a pleasant surprise and has more than made up for the production left by Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler.
So far this season, Marshall and Scheffler have combined for just under 860 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Lloyd has obviously eclipsed both figures on his own, and the Broncos are still distributing the ball a good amount.
He has already eclipsed his career high in yards, and needs three more touchdowns to beat his career high in that area.
MDP (Most Disappointing Player)
I guess it's the most disappointing players. The offensive line for the Broncos had high expectations, at least from my perspective. It seemed like a flawless plan. Put rookies Zane Beadles and J.D. Walton in at left guard and center, and the unit was an immediate upgrade if everyone could stay healthy.
Now, all of a sudden, this unit is in a shambles. Harris is on the bench and Beadles has replaced him at right tackle. Russ Hochstein is not an NFL caliber starter anymore, and J.D. Walton has played well in spurts.
This unit needs cohesion, but through eight games, it just has not come together. This has been a very disappointing unit, and one that ranks in the bottom half in sacks allowed, and last in the NFL in rushing yards.
Best Offseason Move
Williams isn't a long term solution, but when he and Vickerson are in the game, the Broncos have a different toughness about them. They have desperately missed Vickerson in the last two games he has missed.
Vickerson was a great signing at the end of the pre-season on cut day, and Jamal Williams has had a significant impact against the power running game.
The Broncos still rank second to last against the run, but they definitely play better when these two players are in the game.
Worst Offseason Move
Trading RB Peyton Hillis
Yes, it was a bad trade. Not much else needs to be said about it. It's subjective to say that Hillis would be putting up the same numbers in Denver as he is in Cleveland, but he would be a welcome addition right now. Hillis was traded along with two draft picks for Brady Quinn, who was surpassed as the backup quarterback this offseason by rookie Tim Tebow.
Hillis has put together a career year for the Browns, and is being called their "franchise" running back. The Broncos did not make a good deal in trading Hillis to the Browns simply because of the value they got back for him.
The Broncos also let go of Alphonso Smith, a 2nd round pick in 2009 who underperformed in his rookie season. They traded him and a draft pick for TE Rob Gronkowski and a draft pick. So far, the Lions have won that trade, as Smith has five interceptions in his last six games.
If the Broncos could do it over again, I think they would part with Nate Jones instead of Alphonso Smith on cut day.
The first half of the season has been rocky for the Broncos, but the only direction they have to go now is up. They are getting healthy, and they face a favorable 2nd half schedule. With the AFC West as muddled as it is right now, the season is far from lost.