As the Denver Broncos take a few days to rest during the bye week it is a good time to reflect on the first five games of the season. As a team, the Broncos have improved from their miserable 2010 outing which left them at or near the bottom in almost every NFL category. Although the improvements have been noticeable, the Broncos still find themselves in the bottom third in most categories. The Broncos total offense ranks 21st and the total defense ranks 27th.
Not quite what most Broncos had envisioned but without an off season and the wholesale changes the Broncos made this past off season, the rankings are exactly what a realistic fan should expect. For example, it should be no surprise that the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers are still the best team in the NFL. They have the same coaching, same players, same offense, same defense, and with no off season, one would expect them to still to be the best. The Broncos, on the other hand have had major changes so fans will need to be patient as the new staff, players and coaches get more familiar with each other and all get moving in the same direction. They should make steady improvements in the NFL rankings as the season progresses but doubtful they will crack the top half in most categories this season.
As the team gets more familiarized with John Fox, Dennis Allen, and other changes implemented in 2011 they have had some players performing exceptionally well and starting to make their mark in the NFL.
Willis McGahee is off to a nice start. He is currently ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing with 384 yards and a 4.5 average. The young offensive line of the Denver Broncos is showing positive signs of improvement and McGahee is doing a fine job breaking tackles and getting a few extra yards on most carries. A bit concerning is McGahee's inability to find the endzone. After five games he only has 1 TD, which is not would you would expect from a guy who has 56 career rushing TDs but this falls more on Mike McCoy's predictive play calling versus McGahee's ability to find the end zone. McGahee has rushed for 1,000 yards three times in his career and on pace to achieve that mark again in 2011. McGahee is looking like a solid pick up for Brian Xanders and John Elway this off season.
Von Miller has been inconsistent at times but that is to be expected from a first year player. The number two overall pick in the 2011 draft is struggling a bit against the run and pass but has been terrific as a pass rushing specialist. The former Texas A&M star is showing great speed and athletic ability and currently on pace for a 16 sack season which is remarkable for a rookie. Miller is currently ranked 4th in the NFL with 5 sacks and tied with a few guys you might have heard of; Richard Seymour, DeMarcus Ware, and Mario Williams. That leaves Von Miller in some pretty good company. As he gets more familiar with the game at the professional level, Von Miller will be even more impactful and is certain to be a league superstar. Another nice pick up from Xanders and Elway.
Some other noticeable contributors have been Eric Decker who has 4 receiving TDs, 266 receiving yards, and a special teams touchdown. Britton Colquitt who is averaging over 50 yards a punt and doing a nice job helping the Broncos with field position and Wesley Woodyard who currently ranks 7th in the NFL in tackles with 32 solo tackles and 11 assists.
Also getting praise from coaches, players, and fans is rookie right tackle Orlando Franklin. With Tim Tebow recently named the Broncos starting QB, Franklin's job becomes even more important as he is now the main blind side protector. After the first couple preseason games a few fans were concerned about the surprise 2nd round pick out of Miami but Franklin is proving that a draft with Xanders (without McDaniels) is much more productive than a draft with him. In many ways, Orlando Franklin has played equal or better than former All-Pro Tackle Ryan Clady which is remarkable for a rookie.
All in all the Denver Broncos are slowly but surely improving. For an off season that never existed and all the changes that occurred, Broncos fans should not be disappointed in the progress being made. The biggest disappointed after five games was the uninspired play at the quarterback position. The Broncos may or may not improve much with the Tim Tebow switch but they will certainly be a lot more exciting and fun to watch.
Tebow, like Von Miller will have many things to learn and will make some mistakes but he will also add some energy to the game which Broncos fans have been starving for! Time to Unleash the Tebow and see what happens starting with Miami. Should be entertaining!
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