Yes, I am back to take my lumps and pound my chest all at the same time. You all remember my 5 Things I Want To See This Preseason series. I'm here to take a look back on the things I wanted to see.
Hindsight: The Broncos played him in the preseason, much to my dismay. Luckily, he didn't get hurt, and he didn't cost us any field position with a costly turnover. HOWEVER, Week 1 saw a fear of mine come to fruition. Holliday got hurt in their season opener and wasn't asked to return any punts from the 2nd Quarter on. His small stature cost him, but hey, if you're gonna get hurt, at least it's during meaningful games, right? Thankfully, his injury isn't serious and he should be fine. Unfortunately, he wasn't that effective. Lets all hope that he returns to his old self (minus the fumbles).
#2 Montee Ball: I was pounding the Montee Ball drum pretty loudly in the offseason. He was the one player I absolutely wanted the Broncos to draft, and we got him! I had hopes that during the preseason, he'd establish himself as a starter even though I said that Moreno would start the first few games because that's Fox's MO when so much is riding on this season.
Hindsight: Ball, almost by default, showed that he is capable of starting, but as predicted, Moreno got the nod. Ball didn't do anything at all that separated himself from the rest of the RBs except that he doesn't fumble like Hillman does, and that he's more durable than Moreno is. That's hardly the impact I was expecting and hoping from him though. While I nailed the prediction that Moreno would start the season, I woefully overrated Ball's ability to adjust to a Peyton Manning offense and do the one thing that is absolutely needed: Pass Blocking! About the lone glimmer of hope that I have came from Terrell Davis himself when he said that it takes more than 10 carries a game to be effective. Nobody got 10 carries against the Ravens, so we realistically don't know what Ball can do. Davis said that he was much more effective and impactful after his 10th carry because he could find a rhythm and start wearing the defense out. I'm still holding out hope that Ball will get 20 carries to prove himself like TD said you need. While there is no doubt that Ball has gotten better all around, he still has a way to go before he eventually surpasses Moreno as the starter and true #1 Running Back we all hope he can be.
#3 Rober Ayers: I blew my own horn here when I arrogantly said that Ayers could 1 for 1 replace Dumervil in the pass rushing game while maintaining his stellar run defense. Yes I caught a bunch of flack for it, but no, I never waivered from it. The preseason showed that I could be onto something, but like Montee Ball, Ayers didn't do anything to really show me that I was right.
Hindsight: And then the regular season happened! Now, I don't want to say I told you so, but..... yeah, I told all you guys so! The last time the Broncos played the Ravens, Von Miller had 0 sacks and Elvis Dumervil had 0 sacks. So what would happen this time around when the same (if not better) line strolled into town? I mean, we had a weaker defensive line with Doom gone and Miller suspended. So where oh where would the rush come from? Insert Robert Freaking Ayers and Shaun Phillips. Ayers had 1 sack and a bunch of pressure while still maintaining his stellar run defense. You read that right folks, he had more sacks than Dumervil and Miller combined against Flacco last December! Now, it's too early to say that Ayers will end up with 16 sacks on the season, but so far, so good! He looks to be almost as disruptive in the passing game than Dumervil while still being a beast in the running game! Add in Philips, and our D-Line might be even better than last year's! Once Von comes back, man, look out!
Hindsight: He was never given a real chance at the position. It was Bradley's (mistake) to lose, and he lost it. Mercifully for the Broncos, Bradley got hurt before he cost us a game that counts! Did Irving step up? Yes, but for some reason, he's in JDR's doghouse. So did Johnson do what I said he could do and take the reigns and run with them? Nope! Like I said, he was never given a shot. But you know what? I'm ok with that seeing how ridiculously good Wesley Woodyard played as the Mike! My goodness, Woody can play! He looks like a natural out there in the middle. He may be small, but man, that dude can play! Johnson is still on the roster, but for how long? Each time a vet goes down, they simply sign an equally useless vet to replace him. Why they don't give Johnson a chance is beyond me. Maybe they are just putting so much on this season that they're willing to take crappy veteran play over the growing pains play that a better player (Johnson) can bring? But again, Woodyard looks so good there, I'm totally fine with Johnson not getting a chance!
Hindsight: NAILED IT!!!! 49 points (should have been 56 if Travathan didn't channel his inner Trindon Holliday) later, and John Fox with Adam Gase seem to have gotten my memo. There was a point in time where Fox looked like he was taking his foot off the accelerator. Guess what? That lasted only 1 drive before Manning decided to press that pedal into the floor! This was the killer instinct and willingness to break the will of our opponent that we were missing last year. Consider the prom queen satisfied! Way to go Foxy Bear!