So after a season full of ups and downs, but ultimately one that has to be considered a success Im gonna grade the Broncos, and explain how they can improve off this season.
Offense- The OLine- The offensive line deserves alot of credit for the success of the season. They were the biggest reason for the Broncos being the #1 ranked run team in the NFL. There run blocking was A+ hands down, paving the way for Magahee and Tebow. Pass blocking wasnt as tremenodous, especially against some of the higher echelon pass rushing teams, like the Lions, aside from 1 or 2 games though they did an above average job pass blocking and looked better as the season went on. Overall though the offensive line was the brightest part of the offense for the season, Ryan Clady, and Zane Beadles especially. Given the considerable youth on the line they should be a bright spot for years to come and only get better. Overall Grade-A-
Running Backs- With Knowshawn Moreno getting injured early in the season, Willis Magahee carried majority of the load carrying the ball. After bouncing around from team to team and being riddled with injuries I think its safe to say Magahee perfromed much better than expected. Being the starting back in a run heavy offense the fact that he was able to finish the season healthy is practically a miracle. He had plenty of 100+ yard performances and given his age, ran with authority and showed flashes of greatness reminding us why he was so highly coveted coming out of college. Lance Ball ran admirably at times, and so did Jeramiah Johnson but neither showed the kind of ability the Magahee displayed. Ball got significant playing time and although he ran the ball pretty well, he showed great weaknesses in his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and pass blocking. Moreno played pretty well before he was injured but given the severity of his injury and his injury background he may not return as explosive as he left. Magahee is way over the hill when you consider the average age of NFl RBs so the chances that he has another seaon like this year is unlikely. Overall grade B+
Recievers- I still dont think I understand the reasoning for trading away Brandon Lloyd who was the leagues leader in recieving yards in 2010 and the Broncos best playmaker. You only have to look at his stats on a terrible St. Louis team to see how valuable he was. Eric Decker who was the Broncos leading reciever this year played well for the most part, but lacked the ability to seperate from coverage consistenley and lacked the speed to get underneath balls when he was open. Demaryius Thomas showed flashes of greatness, showing at times that he was uncoverable and a mismatch. But D.T. failed to be consistent in his play and frequently dropped big passes.Eddie Royal was also a great asset to the offense but was under utilized for the most part. Willis, Fells, and the rest of the Broncos recievers all had times that they played well but overall they were inconsistent, dropped way too many passes, and hurt the offense as many times as they helped. The brightest spot going forward is Demaryius Thomas considering his game breaking ability and youth, but overall this recieving corps was a bust. Overall grade D
Quarterback- Tebow played up and down for much of the season. But all in all it is fair to say that he did better than expected, and gradually improved as the season went on. His ability to make plays running and throwing, as well as his ability to perservere and find ways to win games late was a huge part of the Broncos success. His completion percentage has to improve, but the lack of talent at the recieving position plays just a big of part as Tebow for this. He threw the deep ball extremely well for the year, but definitley needs improvements on his timing routes and underneath passes. He showed flashes of greatness in his late game heroics, and his leadership ability is unquestioned. He will have to improve in his ability to read defenses, and needs to gain more faith in his ability to throw and "pull the trigger" like Elway said. But without question I think Tebow should be the Broncos QB of the future, and undoubtedly proved himself leading a 1-4 team to the AFC West title and winning in the first round of the playoffs against the reigning AFC Champions. Overall Grade-B
Defensive Line- The Broncos D line produced a plethora of sacks and highlights throughout the season, with Dumerville, Ayers and co leading the charge. They played above average for most of the season with their pass rush. Their run stopping ability was average but overall they played well. The only problem was they seemed to dominate in some games and dissapeared in others. This last game against the Pats was one of the biggest dissapearing acts of the seaon coming off one of their best performances against Pitssburg. Ayers and Dumerville played well enough, but when it mattered most sometimes they were a non factor. They look to be set at the Defensive End position but could probably improve at the tackle position. Overall grade-B
Line Backers- Von Miller highlighted the line backing corps and had a remarkable rookie season. Miller showed great ability in the pass rush and helped anchor what was more often than not a good defense throughout the season. The weakness here was in pass coveerage, they got torched by the Patriots TEs in their playoff game, but then again who didnt. Overall grade-C+
Defensive Backs- Champ Bailey anchored what was a pretty strong unit overall at the Defensive Back position. With the veteran safety Brian Dawkins getting injuredd, the ability for Q. Carter to come in and make some plays was huge. Pass coverage was above average, but thier ability to be physical and tackle left more to be desired. Champ Bailey is in his 30's and so is Dawkins, so even with a few guys stepping up this area will likely need to be adressed during the offseason. Overall grade- B-
Special Teams- This kickers might have been the brightest spot on the team in hind sight. Prater played with ice in his veins making critical FGs all season. Colquitt played great as the punter playing a pivotal part in a run heavy offense that relied greatly on field position, his ability to pin the opposing team deep was critica. Kickoff and Punt teams disnt give up and critical TDs for the most part on the season, but Kick and Punt return failed to really create any critical plays aside from a few highlight Punt Returns from Eddie Royal. Overall Grade-A
Coaching- In his first year John Fox did more than most thought was possible with this group of misfits on offense, and a Defense that had no sense of pride. Early on I couldnt stand his responses to the reasoning for not starting Tebow, and I didnt like the way the situation was handled, but ultimately I think he redeemed himself. I think it is easy to blast the offensive coordinator for his safe play calling, but apparentley he knew what he was doing, given what the Bronocs were able to achieve in spite of lacking any real elite playmakers. Overall Grade-C+
The Broncos need to build off this season, and if they are smart they will build around Tebow and his strengths. While it is easy to have a knee jerk reaction after the lop sided loss against the Pats, the truth is they were just out matched from the start. The Bronos just didnt have the talent to match up. So this offseason it is critical that with the draft and free agency that the Broncos pick up some playmakers at the reciever position first and foremost, as well as replacing the aging Veterans on defense. This was a great season overall in my opinon, and this team gave me the enjoyment of some of the most exciting games I can remember. Im looking forward to the Broncos continuing their success in 2012.