Despite a close loss at the hands of the AFC division rival San Diego Chargers, there is, in fact not one, but two Game Balls to be given this week. I am sure many will agree that Game Balls aren't handed out to the losing side of a football team, not to mention one in transition, but this isn't just any team. This is my team. This is your team. We are not Marshall. We are Broncos!
There are two important people who affected Sunday's game and quite possibly the immediate and long term future of the Broncos. They are head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. Perhaps I should elaborate.
The Broncos head coach made the decision on Sunday to bench starting quarterback Kyle Orton due to his ineffectiveness. He had the choice of two options to insert into the game. Both Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow were listed as the 2nd stringers. Fox made the decision to go with Tebow, and his decision affected the immediate outcome of the game as the team responded with a breath of life. They nearly prevailed over an unsuspecting Charger defense that was stuck playing prevent defense.
The long term future may have been decided on Sunday too, although it has only just been confirmed earlier today. Tim Tebow will be the Broncos starting quarterback for the rest of the season whether for good or bad. Either way, the future of the Denver football franchise will be determined by the end of the 2011 regular season. The onset of that begins this day.
So for having the fortitude to make that decision (some will say, "about time"), I believe one Game Ball should go to John Fox. after all, the head coach is in a similar position as the starting quarterback. The wins and losses are generally blamed on them and that record has credence in how each are perceived.
Game Ball number two goes to defensive coordinator Dennis Allen for making the necessary halftime adjustments that stopped the bleeding and the Chargers from running away with a victory. The results were successful as the Broncos only gave up a pair of Field Goals in the 2nd half as opposed to the 23 points given up in the first half of the game. The Chargers had a 3rd down conversion rate of 50% that didn't change in either half, but the defense flexed it's muscles and responded with key stops when they needed them, giving the offense a chance to win the game.
After watching the defensive coordinator coaching position exchange rate in the past half dozen seasons, the hiring of Dennis Allen may be the primary reason for the Broncos improvement. It doesn't reflect in the Win-Loss column yet, but the rankings bear witness to the fact that the Denver defense won't trail the bottom of the league this year.
A Game Ball apiece and a Mile High Salute to coaches Fox and Allen for daring to make a difference this week to affect the future of the Denver Broncos franchise.