This year has been one of the most memorable years in Denver Bronco history. The Sheriff is in town! The offense is on pace to shatter records, we've only (barely) lost one game, and it seems as if the defense is starting to build up steam. None of it will matter without the Super Bowl win, and we're running out of time to achieve that goal. In my estimation, Peyton has 2, maybe 3 years at the most left in him. Sure, he could keep playing beyond that, but my gut tells me he'll retire on top.
In order to bring home our third Lombardi, we're going to need better contributions from certain players on this team... coaches too. Here is a list of people who I feel need to step their game up in order for us to make a stretch run, obtain a 1st round bye, and win a championship.
I know Champ has been hampered by his foot since the preseason game against Seattle, but we're going to need him in some capacity come playoff time. I doubt Champ will ever be the lockdown corner we're used to ever again, but that doesn't mean he still can't ball. Against Tom Brady and Andrew Luck in the playoffs, we're going to need Champ's on-field, veteran presence and leadership, not to mention his play. I'm of the mind to rest him as long it takes to get him ready for playoff football. We don't necessarily need Champ to be "the Man" anymore.... we just need him to be a steady contributor.
The Running Backs
I'm going to go ahead and include Knowshon here as well, not because he hasn't produced (and he most certainly has), but because we need him to KEEP producing. We can't afford to lose him for a playoff run, so that means the other backs need to step their game up tenfold so we can rest Moreno more often. Montee Ball has looked much better holding onto the football and making key runs in the last two games, but it needs to continue. He needs to progress in this offense, he needs to improve his receiving and blocking, and he needs to improve as a runner we can rely on consistently. I'd love to see him get to the point where he's getting 12 touches a game.
Ronnie Hillman may be a lost cause for this season, but should something happen to one of the other backs, we'll need him confident and ready. Lastly, I want to see more C.J. Anderson in the second half of the season. I understand that the staff wants Ball to get the majority of the backup carries, but with Peyton dinged up and cold weather about to hit hard, there's plenty of love to spread around throughout the backfield. I'm still waiting for that game where our backs rack up 200+ rush yardage and dominate the opposition on the ground (this week would be a prime time to do it).
Eric, we need to see less man-purse, and more this....
We all know the gripes on Decker. He's made great plays as always this season but he needs to make more. One way to start doing that is to stop whining for flags!!! I've lost count how many times I've seen Decker give up on a route because he was getting mangled, and the guy still had a chance to make a play. It needs to stop, we need you for our stretch run. I think it will stop, and I think within the next few games Decker will catch up with the other receiver's TD totals. He's due.
I'm not knocking Clark.... he's played as well as a backup could, replacing an All Pro like Clady.... but, he has to do better. If the blindside hits continue, we're not going to have Peyton Manning for a playoff run. Starting this weekend I want to see Chris Clark look himself in the mirror, tell himself that he absolutely CAN, and I want to see him come out and stone Hali/Houston. I understand that Clark can only do what his ability allows him to do. He's been great getting to the second level on screens, and he might be a better pure run blocker than Clady, but the 1 on 1 pass pro needs to get better and get better in a hurry. Manning's ankle isn't right, and it needs to heal. It's the difference between a 4 TD performance and a 7 TD performance. IF Clark continues to struggle against elite pass rushers, then it brings me to my next person....
I'm not sure if you guys heard Del Rio's on comments on max protect and keeping extra TE's in to help in the pass pro dept., but he basically said that in no way does that help Manning out. He said it actually can make it worse because it brings more LB's close to the line, and bunches up everything to where rushers can spring free. He's still standing by the spread offense being our best choice right now. I agree to a point, but has this team not done great things out of the 2 TE package? If Gase judges by the flow of the game that Clark is getting manhandled, he needs to bring out Dreessen, Green, and keep Knowshon back there to chip in. I also want to see more of an emphasis put on the ground attack, starting this week. Kansas City has shown that they're susceptible to runs up the gut.... why not test the limits of that early and often? If it doesn't work, go back to what we always do. At any rate, I want to see more Dreessen this game and that rests on Gase's shoulders.
I truly thought this was the year for Derek Wolfe. I thought this season would be his coming out party and he'd develop into a consistent pass rusher for us, helping us get by until Von came back. We were all wrong (the frightening neck injury he suffered has a part in it). It doesn't matter now, though. Wolfe has played great the past two games, but we need to see it progress. If he can come close to being that player we all envisioned him being before the season started, our Defense will be near impossible to stop. I think we'll be able to watch him get better and better each week now that Von's back.
Quentin Jammer has been a very quiet Bronco until this last game. I thought he did a wonderful job against his old team, and I think we all need to see it continue. We need him to see the field more - we need a veteran presence in the secondary. If we can get Champ and Jammer contributing together, our secondary will be feared again.
Short and sweet, his falloff is due to injury, and we need to see him come back and be what he was during those first few games. He's by far the best play making Safety on this team... come back soon Duke, we need you!
There's not much I can say here that you don't already know. Rahim has been good in spots, but we need to see more play making ability. We all know he can do it, but for whatever reason, he hasn't. I thought he played a whale of a game against the Chargers (minus another missed opportunity at a pick), so that's a start. We all need to see him step up to a level of play where he CAN come down with an INT every now and then. Also, we cannot see another repeat of his playoff blunder last year. Rahim needs to get his nerves in check before the big game.
He's been quiet here lately, which is normal for return men. They all go through stretches where they don't do much, however, Trindon is still making us nervous with bobbled catches and fumbles. It absolutely has to stop... we need to be able to count on him again to make our third unit dangerous and feared. In order for us to keep rolling on this fantastical ride, we need all three units to produce like we know they can.
In closing, there are some other guys I'll mention, but I think they've played well enough to keep them off the big list. Von Miller needs to keep doing what he's doing. He's only three games back now, and I guarantee we haven't seen the final product with him yet. I predict he's going to be a madman this weekend, and it'll make all of us forget he was ever suspended this year. It'll also help him to keep the weight questions at bay (and I really don't think that's a problem with him). Manny Ramirez is another guy who's played real well... exceptionally well considering last year and the fear we all had when he was fumbling snaps left and right in Camp. Even though he's done really well, probably even earning him a starting spot from here on out, he absolutely CANNOT allow Manning to take hits on his legs. It has to stop! Julius Thomas absolutely has to get better as a blocker too!
Thanks for reading! We may not blow the Chiefs out, but I'm almost positive we'll make them look mortal. We have to pull out the win for John Fox, for Peyton's hard work and suffering through those ankles, and we have to silence this talk that somehow the Broncos aren't the class of the AFC West! Broncos on 3 - - - GO BRONCOS!!!!