What's good, fellas and ladies? Hope all is well in your respective neighborhoods. It's been a rough summer for me, but this is not time to dwell on what's been going wrong, not in my personal life and not with our Broncos. I'm here to share a list of the things I am excited about with the upcoming season. Not just with our Broncos, but a couple league-wide things as well. Follow me after the jump!
I'm not one to count the chickens before they hatch, and this post could be mistaken as such, but I can't help but be ecstatic for what we could see this year from these three guys. Take into consideration the production that Stokely consistently brings and guys like Matthew Willis showing up in camp, and this passing game has the potential to be a week to week highlight reel. We all know Orton can make the throws. The potential in our passing game is more than a lot of teams have, and I won't take that for granted. No one is a "star" in the system yet, but even Wes Welker was a nobody before he had his shot. Give that same time to our young guys, and you could be pleasantly surprised.
2) The running game.
The offensive line has all the makings to be, well, offensive to watch. That's no secret. 2 rookies on the interior, a shaky Ryan Harris (assuming he has some slight issues throughout the season) and a questionable Ryan Clady makes things look grim for the offensive line. However, what people seem to be overlooking is that a successful running game can make even an average line look rock solid. Look at the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers for proof. Am I comparing our questionable line to a Super Bowl winning one? Yes, I am. The 08 Steelers had a pitiful line, yet they ran well (and hard) and the passing game opened it up so the line wasn't constantly being stacked with 8 all game. If the running game runs fast and hard to start the game, the offensive line can seriously be better than people (including myself) think right now. Expect Fargas to be a workhorse on third down and short yardage situations. In my humble opinion, he will lead our team in rushing TD's this year unless Knowshon proves worthy of his high draft pick and takes it to the house on more than a couple occasions.
2) Quarterback play.
Kyle Orton is and will be the starter throughout the year, unless he's injured at some point. This is pretty much the only thing I can guarantee about the season. Quinn is trying to reverse all the garbage coaching he received in Cleveland and Tebow looks more raw than meat in a butcher shop. Let him develop. Kyle Orton has shown between 09 and now that he DOES have the maturity to handle adversity, and he has all the tools necessary to excel in the system we use. If the passing game takes off, I'm saying Orton has 4,300 passing yards and at least 25 TD's. Oh, and he'll have less than 10 picks too.
3) Wink Martindale running the defense.
This is probably my favorite league-wide personnel decision this year. Aside from Jim Zorn being made the QB coach in Baltimore, this has all the makings of being a good old fashioned defensive beatdown all year long. Wink comes from the Buddy Ryan school of defense, so if you have to compare his style to anyone that's currently coaching, it would have to be Buddy's loud mouth son, Rex. I'm by no means saying Wink's defense will be as good as the Jets defense, but you're crazy if you don't think the talent is there. It's all about execution and staying fresh at this point. Can Wink and McD work together to find a successful defensive plan for the year? My early prediction is yes, they will.
This is beautiful. The Broncos needed a legit 3-4 nose tackle, and they got someone that has created havoc against the Broncos for years. This guy looks revived, to say the least. All early reports from Denver say this dude came ready to play, and he's ready to show everyone (especially the Dolts) why you don't toss out an All-Pro nose tackle. Hopefully his nasty attitude will help guys like Chris Baker learn quickly. Between WIlliams' and D line coach Wayne Nunnely's knowledgebase, I would expect our defensive line should be stout as hell this year.
5) Linebacker depth
For once, we actually have a linebacking group that is at least average (I say they are above average, by the way). To say our LB's are doomed without Doom is understandable, but still very premature at this point. Many of us were pining for Woodyard to be a staple in the linebacker group last year, and it looks as if he's finally getting that shot. He didn't disappoint last year, and all the signs point to "attack" regarding the mindset of the LB's this year. Let's hope that creates chaos in the trench and turnovers in the secondary. Robert Ayers has been promising this year, let's see if he can be a Doom 2.0 for 2010. At least till Doom comes back.
6) Josh McDaniels' tempered emotions about everything.
Look, I remember the scene vividly. Fist pumping the crowd, screaming his baby faced head off, watching him pace the sidelines after out-Belichick'ing Belichick. That was a hell of a sight, and hopefully we enjoy more victories that warrant such behavior, but it seems that McD has toned down his outward emotion quite a bit. Not in a bad way either. I think he's learning how to not get too high when things are good and not get too low when things are bad. That's a great sign to see our coach feeling more comfortable with everything, good and bad. Hopefully this works out early and often!
7) Fans not booing anyone at practices
Thank you, fans, for not being immature about Orton tossing a pick in a scrimmage and thanks for not booing Prater for missing a 150 yard field goal. The little things do matter, and finally the fans seem to be more Pro-McD than not. It's about freaking time. I think fans are seeing his plan unwrapping more and more by the day, and people as a whole like what he's doing. It's a nice thing when the fans support the team AND the coach AND the ownership.
8) Non-CBA year means teams keep their own revenue. (I think)
I remember reading some of Kirk's posts regarding the CBA and what it meant for everything, not just the game itself. I don't recall if it was his post or some comments in the thread, but someone had mentioned that teams are keeping their own revenue now that no CBA is in place. If you think money doesn't matter to a billionaire like Bowlen, you're wrong. The massive revenue brought in from Tim Tebow alone will prove to be a blessing in an economy that is finally starting to recover, if ever so slightly.
9) Watching the Raiders fold, like they always do.
I get it, the Raiders have a quarterback that doesn't suck. He's not good either, so don't get your hopes up, Raiders fans. He just doesn't suck as bad as the Hutt, which isn't a shock to anyone. Just because you upgraded from a turd to a pile of puke doesn't mean you've upgraded anything in the long haul. The offensive line still sucks, and even though their defense looks better, I don't see anything happening in Oakland this year, or next, or the year after. Shoddy coaching (at best) is going to be the defeat of this team. There is legit talent in Oakland, but with piss poor coaching, nothing can be done. I'm calling Oaklands official line at 6-10 at best, but probably more like 4-12.
10) The Detroit Lions look...good? (And the Bears don't)
Whoa chief, call me crazy, but the Lions look actually decent so far! I'm not saying they make the playoffs, I'm just saying they will be a better team this year. Much better. Having guys like Suh on your defensive line should make Brett Favre (maybe), Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler squirm. All signs have pointed to Suh being the most pro-ready player to come from the draft in years. No news is good news, and I've heard nothing out of Detroit if not good things about what Suh is bringing to that defense. It's not just Suh either, but when you have at least ONE dominant guy in the front 7, it can go lengths to make the rest of the front 7 look pretty good too. Stafford could have the sophomore slump, but with a guy like Megatron catching your passes, it's hard to feel bad about your season. The Lions could seriously do their part to put the Bears in the cellar, thanks in part also to Martz' high flying, INT producing system. The thing about Martz' system, is that you need TALENTED RECEIVERS to be effective. The only receiver that anyone should fear at all in Chicago is Johnny Knox, and even he is barely good enough to make a 3rd string receiver on anyone else's roster. Devin Hester, you are RIDICULOUS-ly average as a receiver. Stay on special teams. Good things from Detroit this year though. Even if they are just average, it's a big step up from where the Lions were a year ago. I wish them well.
That's it. There's more I'm excited about, but I'll keep it at 10 for now. Please, let me know what you're excited about as well!