Wow!!!! Where do I even begin. Our Broncos are just not that good. In fact, they stink pretty bad right now. We've seen glimpses of brilliance from guys like Decker, Von Miller, Wilhite (as a pass rusher), McGahee, and Bunkley...... but as a whole, we're just not getting it done. In a shortened offseason where every snap counts, we've seen pillars of our team go down limping..... Ty Warren (HUGE loss right there)....... DJ Williams (a guy who I believe is an All-Pro as a 4-3 WILL, his god intended position). We're installing... once again... a new o-line scheme, an entire new defense, new position coaches, new Front Office. We've only won one game out of three, and this was supposedly our easy stretch!!!??? Even though it feels pretty daggone bad right now, I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. The hard losses this team is accumulating right now, are going to pave the way for future success. It's a hard knock life baby!!!
Follow me after the jump, and just perhaps I can help lift the collective spirit of Broncos Country!!!
"Champions keep playing until they get it right." ~ Billie Jean King
"Most people achieved their greatest success one step beyond what looked like their greatest failure." ~ Brian Tracy
"The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand." ~ Vince Lombardi
"Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war." ~ Donald Trump
"If you can't accept losing, you can't win." ~ Vince Lombardi
We are now coming up on week 4 of the NFL regular season, and our Broncos sit at 1-2...... not good by any measure, but also not the end of the world. The Eagles (America's Dream Team - LOL), the Bears, and the Falcons are all also sitting at 1-2. There is much more football to be played, more knowledge to be imparted on young players, and more evaluation time for the staff to see who truly is a Bronco, and who is not. It's time to buck up, bust some ass, and come back out swinging. Let's take a look at our team to see where we sit right now, and what we can improve upon (and hope for) in the near future.
QB: I have been accused of not being a Bronco fan..... just a Tebow fan. That is a complete and utter farce (screw the Gators, I am a pure bred Mountaineer, through and through). I like Kyle Orton (even though he makes me flaming mad from time to time)..... I just don't worship him and I have the right to be hard on our QB. He's tough, he's smart...... he is now considered a grizzled old vet. The problem is, he's not playing like one..... CONSISTENTLY. Kyle is the type of QB who will drive down the field with ease and get you thinking...... nice, they have finally clicked. Problem is, the very next drive will be a 3 and out... or worse (turnover). I'm not 100% sure that installing Tebow right now will change much in the win / loss column, but I do feel it will electrify our team and give us a play maker at a position where we severely need one.
Kyle is turning the ball over WAY TOO MUCH for a veteran QB who is supposedly light years ahead of the competition. It seems like 9 times out of 10, if there is pressure to make a game winning / game tying play..... Orton chokes and checks out. We can't even blame the protection now...... they have looked remarkably good in the past two games, Orton is still glitching. Orton is having all day to throw, but he completely lacks that killer instinct to step on a defense's throat when we most need him too. Once again..... this is not a "pro" or "anti" anyone rant, just an observation from a loyal fan. Even if EFX feels it would be foolish to start Tim..... they at least need to make a package for him and give him 4 to 5 snaps per game (especially in the red area). If Tim Tebow comes in on that 4th down run..... we win that game. Josh McDaniel's tutelage is being missed right now by Kyle Orton, and it's showing.
prognosis: 2 vets (Orton ~ Quinn), 1 second year player (Tebow), no injuries.
Guys..... please don't think I'm picking on Kyle. I'm just calling it as I see it. If Tebow was a 7 year vet, I'd expect no less from him. Kyle needs to man up, quit being so nervous in crunch time, and stop this broken record from skipping.
RB/FB: This is an area on the team that is only going to get better as time rolls along. McGahee is looking like our best FA pickup of the offseason, and Spencer Larsen is playing some lights out football (I'm so proud of him.... he's becoming an offensive weapon). Knowshon did get punked pretty bad against the Raiders, but our whole team basically did. I look for a big boost to our offensive production when Moreno can come back fully healthy. John Fox, Dave Magazu, and Eric Studesville, have put together some of the best ground attacks in football (at least recently)...... when the O-Line gets completely comfortable in their assignments, and we can infuse our RB core with some more talent, I truly feel it's going to get ugly for the oppostion. I see us closing out the year about the 13th best running team. I also LOVE me some Knowshon for his sneaky pass catching abilities. With him out there today catching screens, we may have a big fat W right now. Give this part of our team some more time (it's only week 3), and watch it grow. I'm thinking we may have). to spend a 3rd or lower on a RB next draft.
prognosis: 2 vets (Moreno ~ Ball), 1 new player (McGahee), 1 injured player (Moreno).
WR: When fully healthy..... I don't see any team in football having a deeper WR core than us. Eric Decker has been our team MVP through 3 games, and he is only going to get better (scary, I know). Brandon Lloyd is going to be 100% soon, and we all know what he can do..... so there's another boost. Add in Eddie Royal (who was looking to be a HUGE part of our offense) and Demaryius Thomas (has the makings of a beast #1 when healthy), then that is a 4 wide alignment that cannot be stopped. We can't forget about Matt Willis..... possibly the best 5th WR in football. Quan Cosby was also a welcomed addition.... I was impressed with his return ability. The main problem here is injury....... 3 of our top 4 receivers are banged up....... when they start coming back, it's only going to go up from here. Mark it dude!!!!
prognosis: 3 vets (Lloyd ~ Royal ~ Willis), 2 second year players (D. Thomas ~ Decker), 1 new player (Cosby), 3 injuries (Lloyd ~ Royal ~ D. Thomas).
TE: Once again, injuries don't allow the full story to be told here. Daniel Fells has looked like a nice starter (not great, but nice), and I enjoyed watching him in the pass game today. He is new to the team and scheme, and he will only get better as time moves on. Behind him are two guys that could become a scary tandem. Problem is, once again, one of them is hurt. Julius Thomas was possibly our most impressing player in the offseason, and our clear cut receiving TE. When he regains his form and learns the playbook better, he will absolutely gash some fools for chuck yardage + be a nasty red zone threat. I can't wait to see him and DT in our red zone formations. Virgil Green is another player who is only going to get better in time, and his athletic ability alone makes him an intriguing option going forward. Toward the end of the year, we are going to see mad production out of this unit yo!!! We should be thankful that EFX finally decided to upgrade this position group...... now it's just a patience game.
prognosis: 1 new player (Fells), 2 rookies (J. Thomas ~ Green), 1 injured player (J. Thomas).
O-Line: After the Raiders game, I was real worried about our trenches. Franklin looked like a sieve, the whole interior looked weak and inept. It was looking hideously bad. Fast forward two games later, and we are inching closer to being a well respected O-Line again. Clady is playing at an All-Pro level..... Kuper is looking much improved and the undisputed leader of the line...... Beadles and Walton are only going to get better the more snaps they take...... Franklin has looked worlds better in his pass pro and is exactly the type of player we needed to replace Ryan "Glass Jaw" Harris with - he is going to be playing some lights out football before the end of the year. Summing this position up - we are VERY young here and live game experience is needed to correct the flaws. I have also been impressed by their discipline from that first game..... penalties are down. This O-Line, and team, is so young..... we kind of have to be patient and not write the season off after 3 games. For those of you who expected dominance from every position game one, you must and should be feeling stupid right now. Football teams take time to build..... quit being spoiled brats. .
side note: more depth and possibly one starter is needed to complete this position group. We need to get bigger, meaner, and stronger at the point of attack. If just one O-Lineman goes down, the drop off from starter to reserve goes down considerably. I want to see EFX start stockpiling big uglies, early and often.
prognosis: 6 vets (Clady ~ Kuper ~ Clark ~ Hochstein), 2 second year players (Beadles ~ Walton), 2 new players (Ramirez ~ Hills), 1 rookie (Franklin), no injuries.
D-Line: The Raiders game was ugly, no denying it. Even though we pretty consistently shut down the run in that game, we got gashed for BIGTIME yardage...... McFadden does that to everyone. Fast forward two games later, and we have been stiffling the run (John Fox and Dennis Allen have done wonders for this D). Once again, we don't even fully know what we have here because of injuries to Marcus Thomas, Ty Warren, and the golden one - DOOM!!! Dumervil makes this defense a different animal, and he opens the playbook up for everyone else. Add in the fact that Dumervil has taken great strides in becoming a complete DE..... we have the makings of a monster here in time. In one offseason, EFX has greatly improved the starters / depth here and it's absolutely showing. For those of you who got mad because we didn't throw huge money at Mebane and draft 14 DT's...... kneejerk city on you!!!! Now, imagine how good we could look if Ty Warren and Marcus Thomas were in there?
We are learning a completely different defense (yet again), and 3 major players are out with injury (Doom possibly being the best defender on the team). Be patient, it will get even better. I can't wait to get Thomas / Doom back - talk about an infusion of athleticism. I have also been super pleased with big Robert Ayers..... I don't care if the dude ever gets 5 sacks, I just wanna see him set the edge / stuff the run with fury, like he has thus far. Remember, last year we were looking decent against the run until he went down. (3 new players,
prognosis: 6 vets (Dumervil ~ Ayers ~ Vickerson ~ M. Thomas ~ Hunter ~ McBean), 1 second year player (Unrein), 3 new players (Warren ~ Bunkley ~ Harvey), 3 injuries (Dumervil ~ Warren ~ M. Thomas).
LB: I have some mixed feelings here. I love Joe Mays as a run stuffer / lane clogger, but he is horrible in coverage. I'm afraid we're going to get gashed by short passes, all season long, over the middle. Love the guy, but he's nowhere near the complete player we need at this position. Nate Irving could be that guy..... but I say we target one early next year....... we need depth anyway. Woodyard has filled in admirably for DJ, and in any other system I would say we don't even need DJ anymore...... but, I swear to you that DJ Williams is tailor made for a John Fox / Dennis Allen, 4-3 Weakside Backer. DJ has some ass to him that Wood is lacking (to the tune of 15 lbs.), and I see our D getting better with him returning. Wood, to me, is not an every down starter in this league....... he is a stellar backup / nickel LB. Von Miller, no surprise, is the clear cut stud here....... is there anything this man can't do.
When added pass rush from Doom returns, I could easily see Von Miller going to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Here's the scary part...... Von Miller only has 3 games under his belt. Now, imagine how good he's going to be when he fully matures. Al Wilson will be an afterthought. I'd love to see Haggan get more involved - I'd say it's his last year as a Bronco.
prognosis: 4 vets (Williams ~ Mays ~ Haggan ~ Woodyard), 2 rookies (Miller ~ Irving), 1 injury (Williams).
DB: UGH!!! I'm not sure we're missing any injured player worse than Champ right now (maybe Doom?). Andre Goodman and Cassius Vaughn have showed me that we need to draft CB's next year, often and EARLY!!! We are getting torched at will here, we can and will do better when Mr. Denver Bronco returns (losing Syd'Quan for the year hurts here as well - he was rounding out to be a playmaker) . Champ is one of those players who can do so much, it opens up the playbook for everyone else. With Champ back, we can afford to blitz the dog crap out of QB's and not worry about one side of the field getting burned. Also, Champ is our nickel CB at times - this is why we've been getting picked apart in the middle of the field for 1st downs. I say he returns next week, and we see a worlds difference in a D that is already playing some pretty good football.
Rahim Moore has looked as good as advertised, and I believe he's still failed to let one go over the top on him (next week will be the true test). Moore, Carter, and McCarthy are going to get better and better, the more time they spend in Allen's system - once again, patience young Padawan. I'm loving Dawk for his in the box skills, but I can't wait until Carter can sub more for him in passing downs. Also, Wilhite has been a pleasant surprise rushing the passer - does he lead our team in sacks??? I just need more from him in coverage..... same with Chris Harris. Add in Champ, and the progression of two good rookie Safeties...... this position will be rolling before long (still, we need a CB - or two - in next years draft something awful).
prognosis: 4 vets (Bailey ~ Goodman ~ Dawkins ~ Bruton), 2 second year players (Thompson ~ Vaughn), 1 new player (Wilhite), 3 rookies (Moore ~ Carter ~ Harris), 2 injuries (Bailey ~ Thompson).
ST: Prater has looked his usual, bad ass self....... Colquitt is looking ELITE....... coverage units and returners are looking MUCH improved. All in all, I am happy here (knock on Wood-yard).
prognosis: 2 vets (Prater ~ Colquitt), no injuries.
Guys..... Rome wasn't built in a day (I know this is cliche, but true nonetheless). These tough, hard fought losses are going to build character in this young, beat up team. I have noticed that opposed to our McD led teams, this team keeps on fighting down to the final whistle (Von Miller has a lot to do with this - vets love seeing a rook play like his hair's on fire). We are playing hard, and playing as a team (for each other), but we are young, hurt, and inexperienced within the parameters of the new system..... time heals all wounds in this scenario.
I fully believe that GONE are the days of 30 point drubbings, unless Orton has a complete team mutiny on his hands again (God forbid). When our stud players start filtering back in from injury, and our youngsters start building that football knowledge and confidence up, we are going to start seeing the return of good Bronco football. All that is needed is a little faith, perseverance, and patience. Better days are ahead - we want to be playing our best football in cold weather, as opposed to the Bills, who could be the 2011 version of the 2009 Broncos. Heads up...... nose to the grind..... there are some fighters on this new team (John Fox, John Elway, and Dennis Allen are some of them). The culture is finally here, we just need some adequate QB play, healthy players, and the natural progression of youngsters to lift us up above!!!!
On a side note: If I were coach Fox / McCoy / Gase, I would start ruffling Orton's feathers a bit..... it's not like he could respond any worse play-wise. Orton should not feel this safe.... no QB in a slump this bad should. If I were the coaches, I'd start making comments in the media like "We need more consistent play from OUR QB...... we ask a lot of him and expect him to respond....... this simply ain't cutting it." I would announce this to the media, make Orton look over his slumping shoulders, and see if he can respond with some pissed off, competitive play. What could it hurt. Look at what young Brian Schottenheimer did with Sanchez a few years back...... every time Mark slouched his shoulders, was being nonchalant, and had horrible body language / demeanor in practice, his ass was fined. Orton does not need to feel this comfortable...... he is a team leader, a vet, and should be the last person playing this way. Enough is enough..... this crap is not cutting it!!!