Many believe the end is near for the Denver Broncos, so I might be tagged as a cheerleader for writing this. After all, the sky is falling, Armageddon is here and I've got orange ribbons in my pig tails, practicing my back lay outs.
The reality is, despite the two losses, we're still ranked by most sports sites as a top six team. Since 10 teams go to the play offs, that means they put us in the category of, could win the SB, baby! A team with very good players and coaches. I agree with that.
We're a team with all the pieces of the pyramid, they just haven't finished building it. We want to see the flyer on the top, but all good cheerleaders know, you have to build the base, first.
As we saw last year with teams like Atlanta, starting off looking like a SB contender doesn't usually finish that way. It's the teams who improve and stay healthy at the end of the season, that make the final push.
We saw the Panthers run over everyone and in their arrogance (like maybe we were in 2013), thought they had it all. However, they never faced a team with a defense like ours and were outmatched. Their QB folded and so did the team. A good reminder about elite players leading elite teams. Their MVP didn't lead by example. That may be the trouble with Carolina.
While it's clear there is some concerns about QB play in Denver, neither is going to throw themselves on the field and collapse. We have young men with some spine. Both are ranked above Brock Osweiler, making them a better value and better choice than if Osweiler had been kept. (Thank you, thank you, thank you)
Trevor Siemian is compared to Alex Smith, a short yardage QB. That play style has won a lot of games. He's found his niche and it works for Kansas City. It can in Denver, too. Paxton Lynch has been compared to Elway (who didn't deny it), who also had a rookie season that was a work in progress. Both these QBs have the skills to fit whatever Kubiak wants to do and both are an upgrade over Brent.
While the OL is getting grief, our starting five are better than you think. We're ranked 12th in overall run blocking per Football Outsiders. Matt Paradis is currently the No. 1 ranked center per Pro Football Focus. Michael Schofield and Donald Okung are ranked on par with the rest of the NFL. Okung is ranked second at making a hole for our RBs. In front of Dallas, FYI.
Donald Stephenson's run and pass block ability is good, flags when protecting Siemian is the issue, otherwise he'd be ranked higher. This is an easy fix. Denver is ranked 10th in running plays with the duo of Paradis and Schofield.
What should also give readers a smile is that both Matt and Scho have increased their player rankings almost 2x since last season. That is an amazing feat especially without a veteran QB under center.
Demaryius Thomas has a 70% catch rate. From a new QB. 7 out of 10 passes aimed in his vicinity are caught. He's the 13th ranked WR even after two fumbles. Emmanuel Sanders has a 63% catch rate which is pretty remarkable since he always seems to have defenders draped on him. Our WRs are good.
Andy Janovich is the best FB in the NFL. The last two games, he was used 17 times, combined. This is a massive drop from the 29 plays he averaged in the four wins. I'm blaming no Andy for those losses. Grabbing my Pom poms-- A-N-D-Y GIVE US SOME ANDY! Have him Play, have him Play, have him Play!! Woo!
He clearly has an impact on the game. I'm sure with Kubes back fully in the play calling, this will be rectified and he'll be put back into full rotation like the four games we won. Virgil Green is ranked the 10th best TE. We have two bruisers who can run block.
The last two games we had 68 passing plays, 25 rushing. I don't have a Sith Lord Bilichick, brain, but I'd say no A-N-D-Y might have something to do with CJ Anderson and Devontae Booker not being ranked as high as they should be. I'm sure CJ and Book will see increased production with AJ getting the snaps he should be.
Denver's Defense is ranked 3rd best team in the all important, pass rush, category. Von Miller is ranked the best at this. The Vonmonster earning his pay! Shaq Barrett is the 17th best edge rusher, out of 100 ranked. D-E-F-E-N-S-E!
Our defensive line is ranked 3rd at stopping the run at the line. More good news is that per FO, we're stopping the run almost equally along the line. The weak area is our linebackers and secondary wrapping up any runners that escape. Why this may be an issue is offenses are running more against us than they do other teams because they're afraid to throw beyond short yardage. Something I'm sure Wade and Reggie are working on.
After Von, Shane Ray and Brandon Marshall have improved almost twice as much from last season. BMarsh is ranked 19 out of 85. For reference, Danny Trevathan is 40th. Can I get a woot, woot?!
Chris Harris, Jr and Aqib Talib are ranked 2 and 3 in their positions and are actually playing better than last season. Repeating that because it sends tingles up my leg. Better than last season.
While my high school cheerleading uniforms don't quite fit any more, I still have a bunch of Pom poms that are one-size-fits-all and am willing to share if you can't be excited by what we have.
We have John Elway, Gary Kubiak, Wade Phillips. We have a team that has all the pieces to send the flyer up to the top clutching a SBLI trophy. A trophy that will look beautiful sitting with her brothers in an Orange and Blue trophy case.