I have been looking at a lot of the recent comments and posts and have been concerned with a kind of depression sinking in among fans. I just wanted to take a look at some of the bright spots in this off-season so far as well as some great players that may be over looked in this next season. These are some small things, but can make a difference in a team.
Bright spot #1: Brandon Stokley
-Stokley for me has always been an ideal, flexible player. From his days with the Colts to coming here, he has been a very unique weapon. Peyton Manning often complimented him and gave him high praise as a slot receiver. Now while he is getting a bit old, I would be very happy to see him around for another year or two. Some other quick thoughts on Stokley.
-He only had 19 receptions, but 15 of those were for 1st downs. Since he caught 4 touchdowns, every catch he caught was for either a 1st down or a touchdown. He lead the team in yards per catch with 17.2, ahead of Brandon Marshall, who is much bigger and only gets 11.1 yards per catch. He had the longest pass, if you can call the Miraculous Deflection a pass, as well as the third longest with 63 yards. He averages 9.4 YAC, versus 5.2 with Brandon Marshall, 3.9 Jabar Gaffney, and 3.3 with Eddie Royal. Only Brandon Marshall is ahead of him in touchdown catches. While obviously this guy won't catch every down, he has proven a guy that Orton and McD trust in important situations. He is quick, experienced and very reliable. I look forward to him being used next season.
Bright Spot #2: The Marshall Plan
-While I am no insider, and have very little information about the situation I just wanted to present facts that I have found. I have really started following this last season when the whole Brandon Marshall started before the season started. Before the season started Marshall was very outspoken about his wanting to leave Denver, a trade was inevitable it seemed. Yet despite bigger news than he is getting now, he wasn't traded. And while I'm not sure what is going on in Marshall's head, a few things I know. He set a record for most catches in one game, 21, not with Jay Cutler or any other big armed quarterback but with Kyle Orton. Even last season Marshall has had faith and trust in Orton. His quote here in the Denver Post as well as his interview on NFL Network suggest even before playing with Orton, they had started to form a strong bond, plus the fact that Marshall was a major focus for Orton despite no playing time before the pre-season show a quick friendship formed. It should be noted that Marshall is one of the few to say that Orton is a great quarterback (around 5:30), and I think he is one of the few receivers to know a great quarterback when he see's one. While I have no idea whether Marshall stays or not, I just wanted to point out the fact that Marshall trust Orton as his new quarterback, and is still producing at a high level.
Bright Spot #3: Strong Leadersip
-Last season the Bronco's brought in a number of new players, and many of those players became strong leaders among this team. Two seasons ago I felt there were no real leaders on the team, no one to really lift the team out of slumps. This season seemed different, the best example was the influence of safety Brian Dawkins. As a leader among a new team, he called a player only meeting before the Thanksgiving against the Giants. The Broncos had lost four games in a row after winning their first six. Before, during, and after the game, Dawkins speech was highly talked about among the players and for the next two games, and even against the Colts, the Broncos played furiously and with power, it faded at the end of the season due to fatigue. Despite a late season slump Dawkins remained a leader, and is often praised by the coaching staff and players. Similar leadership comes from Champ Baily, Correll Buckhalter, DJ Williams as well as other players such as Andre' Goodman and Chris Kuper. Leadership will change a team in the short term and in the long term. I look forward to this next season to see how these leaders lift us to a greater level of play.
While I just wanted to point out a few good things going on with the Broncos, I'm sure there is even more good things happening, so hopefully these small things can be helpful in looking at the glass half full.