Reading some messy responses from annoying Raider and Charger fans on nfl.com, I knew I could forge an argument to blow them out of the water why the Broncos will be much more than the grass under the boots of the rest of the AFC West. But that would be no fun, it's going to be far worse for them when they are surprised.
Broncos are sure to be a factor in 2011, and here's why. Maybe not as a playoff team, but expecting that off a 4-12 season is a little unreasonable. .500+ is not unreasonable, as there are so many things working in favour of this team. Let's start with Elway and Fox. Two proven leaders of men, to develop and ground the football culture in Denver, is a massive boost to both players, fans, and confidence of the front office (critical when spending money in FA). No team reaches or performs in the playoffs with poor coaching and management. No amount of talent can make up for that. Surely Denver has had problems here over the past few years, but the hiring of Elway to oversee these issues is clear proof that Bowlen is sick of this and wants to get his team back on track.
The biggest question on personnel has the easiest answer. Tebow. Boy can play. Let's take the stats from his starts, discounting his redzone packages throughout the season. In these games, against as much of a full spectum of defenses you could get out of three games, he had a passer rating of 77.8. That's higher than McNabb, Sanchez, Hasselbeck, Henne and Bradford; the Offensive Rookie of the Year, who had 16 games to develop, rather than three. Go figure, he's a below average (for NFL pro level) in his first three starts, no surprises there, it was his first three starts against teams playing deep in the season. But then you factor in the nightmare he creates in the redzone for defensive coordinators, and the 199 yards rushing at @6.4 a carry and three TDs. This is the guy, this is the future. Defense was clearly the issue in 2010, however, look at the tape (or gamebook) from the first Qtr against SD in Week 17 2010. That is a little flash of Mile High D, against none other than the entire league's number one rated offense, sure it fell apart later, but that was without 24 and 92... Speaking of which, Dumervil's return along with a stellar draft (Miller is an undisputed beast, and so many potential steals) and predicted FA moves on DTs (and RBs), this defense has nowhere to go but up, but is in position to make some unsuspecting offenses pay dearly. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting the Broncos will make a majestic leap into the playoffs, but will cause some headaches and upsets in 2011, and will be in good position to continue into the future.
Another little piece of information. Here in Australia, individual player stats (in Rugby Union and Rugby League) aren't thrown around nearly as much as they are in the NFL, if at all. There has been an increase though, as Fantasy Football begins to take hold. With this in mind, a player like Tebow, who has such a positive impact on the players around him, coaching staff and fans, is the type regarded far higher than a player who cannot do this. When you have such a pivotal position in the QB, having someone with these characteristics is paramount in their selection and success. No analyst or fan can dispute these qualities in Tim, and I've just shown above how statistically, he isn't as bad as many may like to say. QB rating is a wonderful tool, and shows he can mess with some widely-regarded NFL calibre QBs, without taking into account his multidimensional play, his redzone packages, his ability to make plays out of nothing, and his sheer will to find a way to win (earlier this week I found the video of him playing in High School with a broken fibula, the same injury Jack Youngblood won NFL Network's Top 10 gutsiest performances with... running for 20yd TDs... in HIGH SCHOOL). This guy is the real deal, whichever way you look at him, and there's no reason why Orton isn't and can't be a good or great QB, but Tebow's upside is just too much to ignore.