It just seemed right to me somehow to not let this preseason pass by without giving, at least, a passing nod to my roots at MHR as a resident of La La Land. While I still prefer to look for reasons to be optimistic about any given season, I would hope that I have become a bit more balanced in my assessments and presentations regarding the team that we all love so dearly. So this is not going to be one of those tongue-in-cheek, rosy-tinted lists of why I think we're going to go 13-3 in 2010, but rather a list of 13 things that I'd like to see happen this year (though I must admit, that if all of them were to occur, we could easily go 13-3).
After the jump, this list.
These are 13 things that I would really, really like to see happen with the Denver Broncos in 2010:
1)The offense score early and often
The Broncos seemed to start every game slowly in 2009. Denver scored on only 3 opening drives: a FG vs Pittsburgh, a TD vs Washington, and a FG in the 2nd game vs Oakland. The Broncos trailed at the end of the 1st quarter 9 times, and at the half 10 times.
2)The defense be adequate early & dominate late
I'm not simply referring to the defense's part in the two four game losing streaks, nor their role in the 2-6 record in the 2nd half of the season (yes, I know that we finished the season 2-8 but I tend to divide the season into quarters and halves). Rather, I'm referring to the fact that the Broncos were outscored 101-85 in the 4th quarter in 2009.
3)Fewer offensive penalties
2009 saw far too many drives hindered and/or stalled out by offensive holding and false start penalties. Too many times the offense had to cover the same ground twice.
4)A front 7 that can stuff the run
There were too many rushing yards surrendered in 2009. The Broncos gave up an average of 4.5 yards per carry, and 128.7 yards per game on the ground. The defense allowed one opposing running back to amass 100+ yards in 3 games (Mendenhall (Pit) 155, Betts (Was) 114, Bush (Oak 2nd game) 133), and 1 running back to amass over 200 yards (Charles (KC 2nd game) 259. All four of those games were losses.
5)Josh McDaniels fist pumping more often
I like the energy and enthusiasm that McDaniels brings to the game. I enjoy watching him run up and down the sidelines celebrating and protesting almost as much as I enjoy watching the game itself. I believe that kind of emotion and enthusiasm is infectious. It pumps up both the players and the fans.
6)Elvis Dumervil back before the playoffs
While I believe that there are players on the defense with the potential to step it up and -- as a group -- replace Dumervil's sack production, there is no question that having him on the field makes the defense better. When defenses needed to stop Dumervil, it opened up other players to pressure the QB. If the Broncos can have both Jamal Williams and Doom on the field at the same time, it provides defenses with two players who will often need to be double teamed.
7)With all due respect to the legendary Mr. Elway, I would like to see Denver's QBs no longer have to live in the shadow of & be molded in the image of #7
I realize I may have to turn in my Broncos fan card for daring to make this kind of a statement. I was lucky enough to watch Elway play from his rookie year to his retirement. I will always appreciate and respect his contribution to the Broncos. But I think it's time to let his heirs put their own stamp on the position, and to be celebrated for who they are.
8)Kyle Orton to have a breakout year & finally receive the respect he deserves
This is one that I must admit, I have been overly adamant about. And, I believe it's related to #7. Orton is stylistically the antithesis of Elway. Orton is not going to pull the ball down and scramble for 20 yards, he's not going to hurl himself over a pile of defenders. He's simply going to go quietly about his job and attempt to make the best out of each play. If you're willing to believe what his teammates and coaches are saying about him, he has their vote of confidence as their leader and the guy who can get the job done. I'd simply like to see him receive that kind of support from the fans and the media.
9)Fewer 3rd & long distance to go
Over 50% of the Broncos 3rd downs in 2009 required the offense to move the ball 6 or more yards. Some of that was due to poor running plays, pass plays that failed to gain much after the catch, sacks, and penalties. That situation made it difficult for Denver to sustain drives, which in turn made it difficult to put points on the board.
10)No late season collapse
5 out of the last 10 seasons, the Broncos have finished the season by going 2-4, including a run of 4 consecutive seasons with that record (2006-2009). It would be nice to see Denver finish the season with a 5-1 run (as in 2005 & 2000), or even a 4-2 run (as in 2003).
11)Eddie Royal to have the same kind of season he did his rookie year
I would much rather see Eddie with 91 catches, 980 yards and 5 TDs than the 37 catches, 345 yards and 0 TDs that we saw last year. A strong presence by Royal on the field will open up things for other receivers.
12)All those who are vocally and avidly pro or anti a particular player would choose to be equally vocal in their cheering for whatever player is on the field, regardless of whether it is their favorite or not
It bothered me greatly last year to sit in the stadium during the open training camp practice and listen to fans booing the starting QB. I may not have been particularly enamored of Jay Cutler as a QB, but I avidly rooted for him to win each game. I am an Orton advocate, but if Quinn or Tebow is named the starter, I will root as hard for him to successful as I would have Orton.
13)The Broncos play consistent, complementary football throughout the season to the point that they earn a post season berth.
Obviously, this is our hope every year, and is embodied by the La La Land mantra of 13-3 Baby! Something to consider about the post-Elway era: In 2000, the Broncos went 11-5, made the post season but lost a wildcard game to Baltimore 21-3. Five years later, in 2005, the Broncos went 13-3, made the post season, won a divisional game against New England 27-13 before falling to Pittsburgh 34-17 in the AFC Championship game. Now, five years later, in 2010, Denver will . . . . . .
The possibilities are wide open. Go Broncos!!! 13-3 until we ain't!!!
What would YOU like to see in 2010?