Bronco Blues and Shades of Improvement

The 2011 Denver Broncos Defense are an improved unit because of players like Kevin Vickerson (99), Von Miller (58) and Joe Mays (51).(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Three games into the 2011 NFL season have brought a myriad of responses to the Denver Broncos won-loss record. It's real easy to spread the blame to justify false expectations, but even those who have preordained the team record by counting wins and losses by looking at the schedule are setting themselves up for a huge disappointment. It was widely known that this would be a rebuilding year by virtue of having a coaching change as well as a restructured Front Office and the worst defense in the league a year ago. Still, 3 games is a little early to go all vigilante and string anyone up. It is regrettable, but a likely certainty that Bronco fans are in for yet another season under the .500 mark. I know it and you know it. All the pundits placing our team 24-26th in the power polls know it too. But I think something we all wanted to see this year, is a measure of improvement from our favorite team. The instant gratification thing isn't working fast enough for some fans, but I see some improvement in our team. So don't jump off the deep end, jump past the fold.

Taking a look at last season, the Broncos looked like this on Offense:   

All stats taken from NFL.com

               

OFFENSE        2010                    
Category
  Rank
Points For        21.5
  19th
Total Yds      348.9   13th
Pass Yds      252.4     7th
Rush Yds       96. 5    26th
Sacks Given Up
        40  T-9th most
Fumbles Lost         15   6th most
Penalties   6.1 per Gm   13th
3rd Downs  67/207- 32.4%    28th



    

After 3 games this year, things look like this:

 

OFFENSE        2011                    
Category
  Rank
Points For      19.3
  23rd
Total Yds      286.3   27th
Pass Yds      210.3   22nd
Rush Yds      76. 0   27th
Sacks Given Up           8  T-10th most
Fumbles Lost           4  T-3rd most
Penalties    6.0 per Gm   18th
3rd Downs  19/40 - 47.5%     7th

         


Yeah I know. It doesn't look that promising does it. Even the vast improvement in 3rd Down conversions isn't enough to sweeten the taste. This is the current cause of the Bronco Blues. However, there are shades of improvement and there is proof. After years of neglect to the Defensive side of the ball, the Broncos drafted a slew of players on Defense and it is paying dividends. So far this year, the Broncos defensive rankings look like this:

DEFENSE      2011                    
Category
  Rank
Points Against      20.7
  13th
Total Yds    334.7   16th
Pass Yds    234.7   13th
Rush Yds     100. 0   14th
Sacks            5   T-23rd
Forced Fumbles             3   T-10th
Interceptions            0    31st
3rd Downs   14/40 - 35%      12th


Yes the Broncos need to get some Interceptions. That is a given. Now take a look at last years numbers and you will see that there is something to get excited about.

DEFENSE      2010                    
Category
  Rank
Points Against        29.4
  32nd
Total Yds       390.8   32nd
Pass Yds       236.2   25th
Rush Yds       154. 6   31st
Sacks        23   32nd
Forced Fumbles         13   19th
Interceptions       10   30th
3rd Downs 80/209 - 38.3%    17th



Those numbers should make Bronco fans happy. Should the Offense show the kind of improvement that the Defense has throughout this season, Denver will get close to .500. The fact that they are 1-2 and all 3 games have been decided by 3 points should be heartening also. Last year, the Broncos lost by at least one touchdown 8 times, two touchdowns six times and 3 or more on three occasions.

I would also like to point out that the (2-1) Oakland Raiders have the #1 ranked Rushing Offense, but only beat the Broncos by a Field Goal. Denver beat the (1-2) Cincinnati Bengals and their 3rd Ranked Dense by 2 points and the (2-1) Tennessee Titans and their #1 ranked Defense (and 2nd vs. the Pass) beat the Broncos by a mere 3 points.

Does that make me feel better? Heck yeah! A win is still a win and a loss is a loss (or two in this case), but the Denver Broncos are showing that they are an improved and competitive team. I will bet that 6 months ago, all Broncos Country wanted to see (besides Josh McDaniels head) was progress from our beloved team in 2011. We all knew they weren't going to barnstorm their way deep into the playoffs this season, but next season...who knows. All I can say, is I like the direction we are headed.


Go Broncos!


Note: No Kool-Aid was drank during this write up. 






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