4 Reasons Why Broncos Fans Should Be Optimistic About Denver's 2012 Season
Denver landed the top prize on the free agent market when they signed quarterback Peyton Manning to a five-year deal. However, people are still pessimistic about the team's 2012 season.
Broncos fans, I have one thing to say about that. There is no reason to be pessimistic.
Last year, the Broncos struggled passing the ball and defending the pass. There are solutions this year. The Broncos led the league in rushing yards, but they ran the ball way too often. There is a solution for that, too.
Here are four reasons why Broncos fans should be optimistic about the 2012 season.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, their secondary was far from great last year.
Fortunately for the Broncos, they have found a way to improve.
Tracy Porter was brought in from the Saints and Omar Bolden was picked in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Porter intercepted a Manning pass and returned it for a touchdown during Super Bowl XLIV, sealing the Saints' first Super Bowl victory.
Bolden is a speedy, athletic corner who can cover the best wideouts. However, he tore his ACL in 2009 and 2011 and there are concerns about his left knee. Even if Bolden re-injures his knee, the team should be fine.
Champ Bailey is back, and he is still great. Bailey can still guard the best of the best, and until he leaves Denver or retires he will be the team's No. 1 corner. And now, they have a solid No. 2 corner.
Porter is also fast, and he makes great reads. He can jump passes very well, and he did just that during Super Bowl XLIV. With Bailey and Porter anchoring the secondary, it will be hard for quarterbacks to fit passes into the secondary.
Last year, the Broncos ran the ball a lot, which proves that John Fox never had too much trust in the passing game.
However, with a four-time regular season and one-time Super Bowl MVP taking the reins at quarterback, Willis McGahee won't see as many carries.
McGahee is an inconsistent runner who got a lot of ten-yard gains but never any huge gains. The speedy Ronnie Hillman could change that. He is explosive and sees every hole that opens up. However, Hillman isn't an every-down back.
Denver doesn't have a great running back this year. Although, over time, I think Hillman will be elite. With Tim Tebow, the Broncos would continue to run, whether Tebow, Hillman or McGahee got the carry. However, their approach should change now.
Manning is here, and he will have some weapons to throw to. Which leads us into our next slide.
Better Receivers and Tight Ends
The Broncos got Manning, but they didn't stop there. Denver also added some receivers and tight ends to help him.
Joel Dreessen, Jacob Tamme, Brandon Stokley, Andre Caldwell and Jason Hill were among those brought into Denver for the 2012 season. Manning would've been fine with Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and one more tight end, but Denver got him a lot of guys to throw to.
Tamme was Manning's teammate in Indy and is a great short yardage target. He can break tackles so on 3rd-and-10,he could catch a defense by surprise. Dreessen will be a good target for Manning as well. Manning played against him a lot while Dreessen was in Houston.
Stokley was also Manning's teammate in Indy, so Manning will know Stokley well too. Caldwell and Hill will be utility players, but they should catch some passes as well. Throw in Eric Page and Gerell Robinson, two speedy receivers with potential, and you have a great offense.
Oh, and don't forget Decker and Thomas.
Thomas takes long strides when he runs, so he is a great deep threat. Decker runs crisp routes, so he is a good short target. Both have solid hands (although Thomas did drop some passes last year), and both know how to get open.
Denver is extremely deep when it comes to wideouts and tight ends. Luckily, they have a good guy to throw the ball to the receivers and tight ends.
I think most people saw this coming.
The biggest fish on the market was pursued by a lot of teams, and eventually it came down to Denver, San Francisco and Tennessee. Most people expected him to head to San Francisco, but he decided to head to Denver.
Even though Manning is in Denver, the Texans, Patriots and Steelers seem to be the favorites of the AFC. For some reason, no one seems to think highly of Denver, most likely because they lack a star at wide receiver and they don't have a top defense.
Manning got the Colts to the playoffs almost every year, and he should do the same for the Broncos. A lot of people have concern about Manning's neck, but he has performed well during minicamps and OTAs.
Manning is very accurate and can make a quick throw, which almost seems to eliminate the impact of the offensive line. He always seems to deliver a quick short pass right before the pass rush gets to him, which frustrates the opposing defense.
Denver got players to help Manning, and they have multiple backs who can run so their run game is good. Add Manning into the mix and Broncos fans have a lot of reasons to be optimistic.