DENVER - SEPTEMBER 03: (FILE PHOTO) Wide receiver Kenny McKinley #11 of the Denver Broncos warms up prior to facing the Arizona Cardinals during preseason NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 3 2009 in Denver Colorado. McKinley 23 was found dead after apparently committing suicide with a gun in his home on September 20 2010 in the southern Denver suburb of Englewood Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
It was my intention - from the moment that I first joined the Mile High Report staff - to establish a regularly scheduled feature during the 2010 NFL season that would publish Tuesday's in order to wrap up the week that had just passed, but circumstances beyond my control have delayed me up to this point. A series of factors in my own life prevented me from chiming in after Week 1 and the unfortunate passing of Kenny McKinley temporarily derailed my efforts this time around. With a heavy heart, however, I press on.
FIRST -- Though this section is intended for analysis of the Denver Broncos play on the field in any given week, I would be remiss if I did not dedicate this particular segment to the aforementioned Kenny McKinley. There is not much left to say, after the scores of fitting tributes that have been published about McKinley's life on and off the gridiron. Unfortunately, Broncos Nation has become all too familiar with the stages of grief that accompany the sudden end of such a promising young life. This time, however, there is no villain - neither the sort of thug that deprived us of Darrent Williams nor the hidden flaw in Damien Nash's heart that took him from this world just weeks later - but rather only a poignant reminder of how frail we all are.
In the end, we must remember that these players we often speak about as either heroes or goats are all too often just simple young men trying to make their own way in the unforgiving world of professional sports. We see them - with their prodigious talents, steely determination and refined skills - and we cannot help but imagine them as somehow invincible. It's truly unfortunate that it takes a tragedy like this to remind us all of their humanity. My heart goes out to Kenny's family, friends, teammates and fans.SECOND -- In what now feels like ages ago, the Broncos have actually played some football already this year. In fact, Denver put forth a solid effort this past weekend and evened its record at 1-1 for the season. Nevertheless, most of the issues that were responsible for the loss against the Jaguars in Week 1 were still present - to some extent or another - in the team's play in their win over the Seahawks in Week 2.
The special teams coverage units once again failed to capitalize on largely solid kicking performances, the offensive line still struggles in pass protection while sabotaging the running game (though Knowshon Moreno isn't doing himself any favors by being indecisive), the front seven of the defense cannot seem to contain opposing teams' running backs at critical junctures nor can it sustain any kind of pressure on their quarterbacks, and the secondary/linebackers have no answer when facing tight ends and little-used big receivers in the red zone. At the moment, nothing short of Kyle Orton's otherworldly performances have kept the 2010 Denver Broncos on the right side of the ledger. He's had a fair amount of help from a receiving corps whose depth is only overshadowed by its talent, but Orton is the puppet master pulling all the right strings up to now. It looks like we might be in for more than our fair share of shootouts this season, yet I can't help but like our chances as the offense continues to get healthy and gel.
THIRD -- If anyone can make heads or tails of the AFC West, then I'd like to be the first to politely request their best guess at the upcoming Florida Lotto numbers. In all honesty, I'm tempted to hold true to my preseason predictions at this point. The San Diego Chargers might be the favorites, but they're going to struggle in the division - especially on the road. The Kansas City Chiefs are on their way up, but they're still far from being legitimate playoff contenders. The Oakland Raiders are still the portrait of disarray in the National Football League and perhaps all of professional sports. Our Broncos are very much in this race all the way to the bitter end, at very least, so don't let the punditry fool you.
FOURTH -- Be it parity or any other phenomenon - quantifiable or not - but the one cliché that holds true in the NFL is that the only constant is change. It is way too early for this to matter, but the division leaders at the moment are: the Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs. The talking heads will wag their fingers and tip their caps at the so-called "surprise teams" each and every year, but the fact of the matter remains that the only reason they are perceived as such is because their actual performance is measured against the flawed expectations that they hyped up. Yet another reason to disregard the bad vibes floated out there about Denver's chances this year.
KNEEL DOWN -- Based on the Broncos' performance, I'll likely finish these pieces with an "action" that represents my general feelings on the team. This week, to symbolize both the character of our victory over the Seattle Seahawks and the devastating loss of McKinley, I choose to take a knee. With heavy hearts, however, we must all press on. Rest in peace, Kenny, and go Broncos.