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Packers 19 - Broncos 13 - The Flip Side

The post below was left as a comment to HoosierTeacher's breakdown of the loss to the Packers.  I thought it was thought out enough to deserve it's own post...Thanks to ejruiz777 for taking the time....TSG

I hate to state the obvious, but our record is misleading.  Only four teams have a worse point differential than ours (-63) this year and they have combined for three wins this year.  We are two seconds (one more off the clock in Buffalo and one more before calling the infamous timeout against Oakland) from being the one win team that our point differential indicates we should be.  For all the grit we showed in our too-close-for-comfort wins and this loss to Green Bay, we still got outclassed by the Colts in Indy, as well as manhandled by the Jags and embarassed by the Chargers at home.  

Our schedule may be favorable (a good team would finish up 10-6 with this start) but I just don't by that this team can win every game that it should.  Moreover - and Shanny himself would agree with me here - we play for Super Bowls or nothing here in Denver.  Benching Plummer in favor of Cutler during Jay's rookie season did not give us a better chance to win then, but the move was made with the future in mind because last year's squad simply couldn't compete for a championship.  Now it looks as though the same holds true today and, if we don't embrace a rapid and deep rebuilding of the defense, we may well be left with mediocrity for years to come.

All things being perfect, we're set on offense; but things are never perfect in the NFL.  Walker is fragile, Marshall is a hazard and Stokely's no spring chicken, so that perceived strength is far from assured.  We brought in a feature back and it looks as though he'll be facing a longterm suspension.  Mike Bell has falled so rapidly and completely that he wasn't even activated for a game in which we used two undrafted players at RB.  God knows how Young will hold up as the man and forgive me for thinking that every team in the league passed on him throughout the entire draft for a reason that will someday become painfully obvious to us all.  Then again, it's never really mattered for our success who lines up in the backfield.  Cutler is a stud, our TEs are set (though I'd like to see them each become more balanced and less specialized) as is our OL, so I'm with you there.  But you see how the picture is much muddier than the one you optimistically present.

On defense, I doubt we'll agree much.  Our CB tandem is very good, but the window of opportunity for them is closing.  While I see Champ being able to extend his career as a Pro Bowl caliber safety thanks to his athletisism, toughness, football IQ and leadership (a la Rod Woodson) I can't say that Bly will age well.  Lynch is a glorified LB at this point and Ferguson has been utterly useless for quite a while now.  The fact that these two have not been threatened with replacement (not even in obvious passing situations) lets me know that our depth there is garbage.  D.J. should thrive at MLB (or back on the outside if he's moved again), but there isn't another guy on the roster that I feel comfortable with.  Gold may be fast, but straight line speed isn't everything and it fades quickly in big bodies.  I don't think I need to say anything about the other side there.  I'm all for letting our young guys up front play (we did pass on a guy that should be playing every down at safety this year and for the foreseeable future in order to redundantly draft DEs on the first day) and I hope they pan out, but I haven't seen much out of them yet.  We'll need a big body that's more than just big to play along side Thomas because everyone else at DT has been worthless.

You were right about the special teams: they really seem to be looking up and they're the main reason why our balanced, high-powered offense has been so unable to score points.  That said, Elam and Saurbrun are quite old and they're likely to decline.

Bottom line is this: this team is much closer to the bottom of the barrell than it is to the cream of the crop.  Every single indicator out there shows just that.  Not only that, but our future isn't as secure as one might think at first glance.  There's a lot of work to be done and we may well be facing a prolonged period of mediocrity and hopelessness.  Here's the thing - and why I'll always prefer college sports to their pro counterparts - we'd probably be better off if we were winless and on pace for an elite prospect in the draft.  We need to stop wasting play time on vets that don't deserve it and rushing our stars back from injury to play at far less than 100% in order to try to steal a game this year.  Everyday experience would be just as good as playoff minutes and, more importantly, everybody on this roster needs to know that you can't play like they have and compete in this league.

Wow... this is an epic, rambling rant.  I apologize (I actually doubt this will be read, now that I look back at the sheer size of it) and hope that my dissent is not seen as a personal thing, bad fandom or simply ridiculous.  What more can I say other than this: Go Broncos!