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Week 5 - Handing Out Horseshoes

Special Thanks to Ian Henson for the cool graphic

I am excited to bring forth a new series today. It sprang from a compromise of ideas and ideals. It has been stated and argued that Game Balls should not be given for a losing effort. Ever. I found myself in a dilemma. I have a sponsored post entitled "Game Ball of the Week" and the sponsors need to be satisfied. But the Denver Broncos have only won one game this year, so what was I to do? Well, I thought that I would bestow an honorary award for a player or players who made an impact, or imprint on the game, win or lose. That idea morphed from imprint to hoofprint, and then a Bronco-ized version "Horseshoe." I haven't given up on the Game Ball because there is still a schedule full of games yet to be played. But this way should satisfy the majority of Bronco fans. Yes this is totally meant as a positive influence, but without the Kool-Aid. So if you have trouble finding the good things that happen each week, you might not like this at all. Face it, the Denver Broncos were 4-12 last season, with the last ranked Defense. Can it get much worse? Maybe, but it's time to look forward and find what we can cling to, at the very least, to see what is in store for the future. Now Jump!

The original premise for this series was to have a Horseshoe for each unit--Offense, Defense and Special Teams. So that is where we will start.

The Horseshoe on Offense this week goes to Quarterback Tim Tebow, for rallying the troops and giving the team a chance to win the game at the end. He came up just short , but finished the game with a touchdown on a short screen pass that Knowshon Moreno took to the house. Tebow went 4/10 for 79 yards and ran for another 38 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown. The attempted comeback wasn't pretty, but it brought some life to the Broncos and their fans. So much so, that chants of "Tebow, Tebow" were heard as the crowd exited Sports Authority Stadium.

Honorable Mention: Running Back Willis McGahee, starting his 4th game, had 16 carries for 125 yards and an average of 7.8 yards. It was McGahee's third 100-yard game of the season. He has been a pleasant addition in Denver this year. Running Back Knowshon Moreno should get a mention in here also. He had a terrific run for a touchdown off of Tebow's screen pass. Moreno scrambled like a man determined and willed his way into the end zone with the assistance of three Offensive Linemen. Right Guard Chris Kuper made a pummeling block at the 5-yard line on Charger Strong Safety Steve Gregory, enabling Knowshon to score. Center J.D. Walton and Left Guard Zane Beadles were also escorting Moreno.

The Horseshoe on Defense goes to Broncos Defensive End Robert Ayers. Even though Ayers only had a journeyman 3 Tackles in the game, he had one Sack and a Forced Fumble with 4:45 left in the 4th Quarter. That turnover gave the Broncos the ball on the San Diego 41-yard line and the chance to win the game.

Honorable Mention: Cornerback Cassius Vaughn, who scored the only touchdown for Denver in the 1st half. Cassius picked off Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers and took off, returning the interception 55-yards for 6 points. That it came two plays after Broncos Quarterback Kyle Orton threw an interception of his own is not without merit. Vaughn's play shifted the momentum in Denver's favor, but Ayers' Forced Fumble in the 4th had a bigger impact in the game.

The Special Teams Horseshoe is awarded to? Well, I think I will let you vote on that one. There weren't any tremendous standouts on Special Teams, though I would give the entire Unit an overall grade of B+. Kicker Matt Prater hit a 35-yard Field Goal and his only Extra Point attempt. He also kicked off five times, all resulting in touchbacks. Touchbacks prevent Kick return touchdowns, which have a big impact on a game. That Prater accomplished every assignment possible should put him in the lead for a Horseshoe this week. But there's more. Punter Britton Colquitt had an average of 53.7 yards on 6 punts with a long of 60 yards. His 42.8 yard net average wasn't too shabby either. Colquitt also put one Inside the 20 that was actually kicked out of bounds at the 10 yard line.

Broncos Return man Quan Cosby had one 28-yard Kickoff Return and two Punt Returns for an average of 18 yards. To elaborate on that Punt Return average, Quan is currently 3rd in the league with an average of 16.8. His Kick Return average is 27 yards per return, which is good for 18th. Perhaps it is easier to gage that starting at the 27-yard line is better than beginning a drive from the 20.

Lastly, the Coverage Unit. Since Matt Prater leads the league in touchbacks with 20, Special Teams Coordinator can focus primarily on the Punt Coverage guys. San Diego's Punt Returner Patrick Crayton got 5 chances to make a difference for his team, but the Broncos held him to 65 yards, a 13-yard average and more importantly, no touchdowns. Lance Ball made 2 Special Teams Stops. Virgil Green, Dante Rosario and Cassius Vaughn contributed the other three.

That is where we stand for Week 5 of the Denver Broncos 2011 season. I welcome any suggestions to improve this feature, so please give me some feedback.

Go Broncos!