Do you think a potential 4-game suspension of Von Miller will have any significant impact on the Denver Broncos' title hopes in 2013?
Does the suspension hurt Denver's title hopes? Not really. Does the suspension affect the Broncos ability to win the first 4 games? Absolutely. Without a doubt, losing Von Miller is a big blow to the Broncos and anyone who says differently is fooling themselves. Von Miller is the best defensive player on the team and by a pretty significant margin. You don't lose your best player and not feel the effects. The Broncos are more then capable of winning the first four games simply because we have Peyton Manning, but it's a lot tougher without Von. If losing him isn't bad enough, can you imagine if disaster strikes and the Broncos lose Shaun Phillips in Training Camp before Von comes back? Then Denver will really be in trouble.
Anytime we lose one of our best players (Von Miller) for anything it becomes concerning, albeit by injury, suspension, or otherwise. But will it "significantly impact" the Broncos title hopes? I don't think so, and if indeed he (Miller) is suspended for any length of time, then that brings up what coach Fox has said all along - "Next man up". I don't know all the details of the infraction, but if it was in 2011, then drafting DE Quanterus Smith and signing OLB/DE Shaun Phillips comes more clearly in focus. I a-Beal to the masses...
Von Miller is obviously one of the key players on this defense and is an elite defender league-wide. Losing him obviously hurts the team's hopes just because of his level of play. However, this defense remains a top-tier unit. We signed Shaun Phillips in the offseason, a defender who now looks to play a much bigger role. Phillips, Ayers and Wolfe will have to step up their play immediately to pick up the slack. Several other younger players will have to play up as well. However, I'm not hugely concerned. At the helm of this defense is Jack Del Rio, one of this league's premier defensive coordinators. I have no doubt he'll find a way to scheme around the loss of Von.
And if Von does get suspended for all four games (at this point it's only a potential suspension) and this defense allows 30 points a game? We have one of the best offenses in the league and they'll put up 31. 2-2 at the worst coming out of that stretch.
As John Fox loves to say "it's not where you start the race, it's where you finish" As much as we will miss Von, we have a proven backup in Shawn Phillips, and we only play one division game (plus they suck!) in our first 4 that Von would likely miss. As lame as the situation is I don't think it will cost us a championship try.
What position battles will you be following most closely during Training Camp?
I'll let the other contributors talk about the impending battles at MLB and RB. Let me throw out a different one. I'm interested to see the battle at safety. It would be easy to assume that Rahim Moore and Mike Adams will once again start at the safety positions, but that may not be the case. Quinton Carter is back from an injury and many forget how well he performed as a rookie. In the year of the Tebow, Carter was great as our starting free safety and finished the year with playoff interceptions of Ben Rothlisberger and Tom Brady. Not too shabby for a rookie who was pegged as a starting strong safety and converted to free safety during training camp. Adding more intrigue to the situation is David Bruton who has received quite a bit of good press this off-season. Will Del Rio favor his athleticism enough to give him significant playing time? Lastly, the Broncos signed Quinton Jammer who has his own unique skill set. It all adds up to a very interesting and competitive training camp battle.
Though all the positions are important to me, I will scrutinize the Safety unit, and the Defensive End the most. Players of those positions in particular are Q Carter and Jeremy Beal.
I'll focus more on starting gigs, because although the race for the 5th corner spot is interesting, it just doesn't measure up. (for the record, I think Omar Bolden gets that spot). I think the whole safety battle will be interesting. I see Rahim Moore, Quinton Carter, Quentin Jammer and David Bruton as competing for the starter spots. I think the Qs will get the starting roles but this will definitely be a fascinating battle. You have our ballyhooed lack of a MLB. That has already been covered by many people and I'm not going to go into it here.
Of course DE will be a tricky battle. Ayers, Wolfe and Phillips look to be in the mix for the starting jobs, but the lineup could look somewhat different come gameday. One other position of interest could be center. It depends on if Koppen was brought in as Plan B after J.D. Walton's injury or if he's Plan C if none of the young players like Philip Blake or Manny Ramirez step up. I personally think the starting job is his to l lose.
The top 3 positions that come to mind for me are middle linebacker, safety, and running back due to them being positions of flux or weakness. However I am most exited to watch the 4th and 5th wideout battle, looking to see if either of the young tight ends can usurp a starting position, and watching the corner back situation shake out. Can Omar Boldin can stay true to his words and take someones job this year?
Which 2 or 3 players do you think will have breakthrough performances throughout camp and why?
I don't know who will break out, but two players who could really help themselves if they did break out would be Jeremy Beal and Steven Johnson. The Broncos need to find a pass rush in the absence of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. The starting DE's are Derek Wolfe and Robert Ayers, but Wolfe is more of a DT and Ayers has yet to become a proven pass rusher. Will he step up? Maybe. But if he doesn't, the Broncos badly need someone to get after the QB. The opportunity is ripe for Jeremy Beal. Beal had a very good pre-season last year notching a couple sacks, 3 tackles for loss and a couple QB hits. He was making a push for the roster when an injury put him on injured reserve. If he can show the same improvement in the pass rush department again this year, I think he could not only get a roster spot, but push Ayers for playing time in pass rush situations should he not improve..
The MLB position will be watched closely in camp and the pre-season. Nate Irving is the favorite, but look out for Steven Johnson. The UDFA looked pretty good in limited time last year and proved to be a valuable Special Teamer. He's the sleeper in the battle between Irving and Bradley. He's young, athletic and has a chip on his shoulder.
This one is easy for me - RB Ronnie Hillman. He has reportedly added muscle weight and he will have a full year of NFL speed under his belt, and this might not be a popular choice by most, but I see great things out this kid. (Momma Clump claps excitedly - "My little Hercules"). Jeremy Beal gives Robert Ayers a "wedgy"...
I think Quanterus Smith has a huge chance to help this team significantly if he heals by the season's start. He could be this year's Danny Trevathan, a late round pick who makes some good contributions defensively and who might be starting in a few years.
If Von's suspension benefits anyone, it benefits undrafted rookie free agent Lerentee McCray. The Broncos outbid several other teams to sign this Florida stud SLB. With Von likely to miss time due to the suspension, the door is opened for young McCray. He was already borderline roster material and this could make him take that extra step and solidify a roster spot, if only for those first four games.
Finally, I look for a young WR like Gerell Robinson or Greg Orton to play themselves onto the roster. The WR depth chart has one spot open and one of those two will make the roster (or else Bubba Caldwell will and I don't think he's the future of this franchise at WR). I give the edge to Robinson, just because he fits a similar mold to DT and could be a future threat at WR if Osweiler becomes QB, due to their college rapport.
Danny Trevathan - he has the skills and some speed, this should be the year he starts to really get it.Omar Boldin - I think he is going to do his best to snag someones job, and will be electric in trying.Malik Jackson - I think with the holes we have at defensive end, he could get a real shot at playing with the ones
In your opinion, what is the most glaring weakness The Denver Broncos have heading into 2013?
The truth is there aren't a lot of weaknesses on the Broncos. If Von Miller is out then the glaring weakness is the pass rush. I noted before that Jeremy Beal has a big opportunity if he is healthy and can provide a pass rush. The opportunity is the same for Q. Smith and Malik Jackson to get significant playing time. As of this minute, the only pass rushers the Broncos really have are Derek Wolfe and Shaun Phillips. That's not enough and someone has to be the "next man up".
This one is the toughest, because I don't see any "glaring" weaknesses on this team. We have some uncertainy at a couplle of positions, but from top to bottom, we are without a doubt better than we were last year (on paper). I would venture to say that the Safety position has the greatest unknowns, and to keep this answer short, I will explain why in the comments. DE has some uncertainy, too, but I think it will all be settled in training camp. Notice the non-mention of the MLB? That position isn't as worrisome to me as for most...
There are a few weaknesses that the Broncos have yet to resolve. Firstly, running back. Montee Ball could be the next Terrell Davis, but at this point he's a second round draft pick who's proved nothing. The Broncos currently don't have any proven RBs, having cut McGahee, who I think was the best RB on the roster. So although Peyton Manning doesn't really need an elite RB, we don't even really have one yet. I hope that the RB corps will step up.
In addition, we don't have much Offensive Line depth. Could you imagine what would happen if Ryan Clady went out for the season? All we have behind him is Ryan Clark, Vinston Painter and Things 1 and 2. We don't have much depth at O Line and that scares me, because keeping Peyton upright is one of our top priorities.
Finally though, the most glaring weakness we have is at coaching. That failure to pull the trigger in the playoff games has tainted my impression of John Fox. He needs to stomp on teams from here on out. Against the Raiders? I want to see a blowout. I want to see Osweiler leading the team to an extra couple of TDs in the fourth quarter. Fox hasn't proved anything to me yet but the addition of Adam Gase (Martz disciple) at Offensive Coordinator may just help this team to reclaim an aggressive offensive mentality. GO BRONCOS!
Edge rush! Splitting up the VonDoom duo was bad enough. What the heck are we going to throw at, blitz beating, opposing quarterbacks without Batman or Robin lined up for the first 4 games? Bongs? Empty schnapps bottles? Sorry, but Wolfbert is not a title that's waking up offensive coordinators in the middle of the night.
There you have it MHR! Give your fellow members some love--they did a fantastic job answering some good questions! If you have any questions or want to be a part of future installments, email me: