I see a lot of ranting here and elsewhere the last few days about how we should be here or there, how we deserve what we got, how Tim got us here or he's the problem in the first place.
I think back to the beginning of the year. We were just coming off a horrific 4-12 season where our record might have been better than the team actually was. The defense was a complete bust, had no identity and couldn't stop a fly from rushing. The offense was lackluster, our starting QB was benched and we got to see what Tim Tebow could do and he went, what 1-2 in the final 3 games?At this point we as fans knew it was going to be a lean couple of years. We would have to draft high for a couple of years, build slowly and nearly start from scratch. So what did the new regime do? They blew the team up, didn't resign hardly anyone, cut a bunch of guys, drafted what looked to me like a pretty good LB, but the entire football world is screaming about not drafting a defensive lineman and I was agreeing with them. The players get locked out, which means with a rookie front office and new head coach and mostly new team, there's no chance to implement the new systems that John Fox and Dennis Allen are bringing in.
Free Agency hits and all the guys I wanted EFX to sign like Cullen Jenkins are snagged for big money, and the FO responds by signing a guy for 8 mill that promptly goes out and pulls a muscle and is out for the season and Broderick Bunkley who I'd never heard of before. They fill the holes with cheap, inexpensive rejects or unsigned free agents. One of the very few signings I was even moderately excited about was Willis McGahee and I really didn't think he had much left in the tank. Given the lack of offseason OTAs and camps, and what I perceived to be a complete lack of talent team-wide, I honestly didn't think we had a lot of chance to even match the previous season's 4-12. I saw some folks here at MHR suggest we could get as high as 7-9 and I really thought they were looney, delusional and/or hitting the kool-aid a little hard.
So, here we are at the season's end. We just finished 8-8. We won the division championship. Our defense moved up to the middle of the pack, was pretty dang good against the run (compared with the last couple of years), and often brought outstanding pressure on the quarterback. Von Miller was great until he got hurt, Dumervil was back with a vengeance, Brian Dawkins showed new life, our undrafted FA Chris Harris showed he's got what it takes for the nickel package and maybe someday for a starting job, Robert Ayers was the best he's ever been, Joe Mays played better than I thought he'd be and DJ Williams was back to form. Marcus Thomas and Broderick Bunkley made everyone forget that we hadn't drafted a DL high up. Demaryius Thomas came back from injury and showed why we drafted him in the first round. Our offensive line was the second youngest in the league and was the (I think) the only one to last all season without losing a member until we lost Chris Kuper yesterday. And Kuper played lights out all season, with our staff saying he played all year at a Pro Bowl level. Orlando Franklin was a beast all year. Champ Bailey was Champ Bailey again. And the best part of all, at least for me, was that Tebow played the way he played, inspired this team and helped get us to this point. Not to mention put this team as the #1 story in football. (Which makes it a whole lot easier for us fans up here in Canada to find the games as they were telecast everywhere instead of buried)
So no matter what happens next week against Pittsburgh, we had a great season! I would have rather bought a lottery ticket and take my chances on that than bet Denver would be 8-8 and going to the playoffs. "Playoffs! Playoffs?!?" that seemed inconceivable at the time.
I think everyone needs to take a step back, remember where they thought we'd be at the beginning of the season and be grateful to be a part of a fantastic season and a story to last for years. Here's to the playoffs, and to EFX to continue the make-over in the draft and off-season. GO BRONCOS!!