Other posts have clearly demonstrated that there is a split in Broncoland regarding what the proper time frame for player evaluation should be. Quarterback really. The three year plan crowd, and I am a member, says let the new system develop, it will help any quarterback when it finally is better. The show me the touchdowns crowd says Orton isn't performing, bring in the next guy.
I think there may be a better question, at least if you are focused on building a team for down the road.
What do we want to measure as progress?
By this I mean, if our team is young and learning a new system, how can we judge if the year is a successful step towards our grand and glorious future. Even if we lose twelve?
This thought was sparked by the Bewsaf post that linked to grades for the O-Line by Pro Football Spotlight. Nice idea, but it didn't help me understand what would be success. PFS graded out the Bronco O-Line 81 to 90 on run blocking and 82 to 93 on pass blocking (my gross simplification of their report). Problem with this is I have no idea if this is good.
Personally, I am not the one to go further on this using these stats. And I love stats! I would love to see what others think we can use to measure the progress of the O-Line. Both the individuals and the unit. PFS tried to capture some of this stuff with their measures like 'Power Blocking' but it means nothing to me as presented.
There would have to be a couple of elements. Things like progress in:
-Run blocking and pass blocking
-Some people are good most of the time, but give up the big mistakes
-Ability to make adjustments
-Proper use of technique
Some kind of wins over replacement measures. How we rate on certain standard kinds of plays. Screen pass success, off tackle success. Not really sure how to do this. Hockey has a nice general indicator in the +/- system. It makes me look at certain players with a different eye.
Under the 'three year plan' vision of the Broncos, I want to feel good that the team, and the young players, are working towards that better future. Right now I am tracking pretty basic stuff in my mind; sacks and pressures, yards on the ground, false starts and holds. How can we (or at least I) be smarter at looking at the silver lining of the inevitable future losses this year?
Of course talented depth only can really be added between seasons. Is there a way to feel that backups are less backup-y as they learn the system? For instance, is Julius Thomas getting better?
Where the problem is level of individual talent, time is the only answer. But some players play to their ability, and others fall short. Maybe we are looking at 95% of the Chris Kuper that could ever be and 75% of Zane Beadles. I don't know enough to hazard an opinion. (Baseball guy at heart)
I picked on the O-Line, but the same is true for other units. I get that the idea is to win games. I am not looking for moral victories. I want to know what you are looking at that shows that while we get our butts handed to us this year, that in next year's season, we rise!
Sadly, I think Packers 31 Broncos 16. But I wish for Broncos 24 Packers 21.