Next Sunday, Denver will play host to the San Francisco 49ers in the third of four preseason games. Broncos' fans across the country will hope immensely that Denver does not treat their guests kindly.
Everyone knows NFL preseason is not about wins and losses, but rather a trial-and-error month of finding out what works and what doesn't. After Denver's 30-10 loss versus Seattle this past weekend, one sentiment loomed too obvious: nothing seemed to work.
Denver's second and third teams were outscored 21-0 against the Seattle backups. Peyton Manning and Co. had nothing to do but cringe from the sidelines.
The showing was ugly, and with adversity now hitting Denver from all directions, John Fox, John Elway and the rest of the management will have to start making some quick and decisive decisions.
D.J. Williams is synonymous with trouble right now. Denver's very-skilled weak-side linebacker is facing DWI charges and may not be cleared to play at all during the 2012 NFL season.
The verdict looms, and time will tell if Williams get suspended for longer than the six games that the NFL has already given him.
Denver has to decide, however, if Williams is, first off, deserving of a roster spot on the team, and secondly, if his presence will equal more wins.
Williams is a great talent, yet there are many things to take into question in a situation like this. Is Williams in shape despite missing training camp? Is his head cleared of his off-field troubles so that he can focus on his on-field job? Is he clean of drugs and alcohol?
Denver has to decide if the D.J. Williams era will continue.
With D.J. Williams suspended, Denver is left a bit hollow at linebacker.
On the strong side, Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller are as good as any for pass rushing. Quarterbacks should fear these two.
Wesley Woodyard remains the only healthy and available option at weak-side linebacker to defend the pass. Williams is suspended, and newly signed veteran Keith Brooking is hurt.
This leaves Mike Mohamed and Nate Irving, who is more suited to play middle linebacker, as potential backups to Woodyard and the first in line to come in should Woodyard go down.
No one is too excited with these choices.
Denver had a rough one last week, losing defensive end Jason Hunter for the year and losing defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson for some time as well.
These injuries shake up the defensive line horribly.
Denver was forced to make changes to the line against Seattle, moving rookie defensive tackle Derek Wolfe to the defensive end position and rotating Justin Bannan and Mitch Unrein.
Bannan has had the better camp and seems to be the more preferred player, yet it was Unrein who shared a sack of Seattle quarterback Matt Flynn with Von Miller.
Bannan and Unrein will likely duel it out for that spot now as Wolfe makes the unusual-but-not-impossible transition from defensive tackle to defensive end.
Hunter's injury should also mean more playing time for Robert Ayers and more reps for Elvis Dumervil in the defensive end spot.
How Denver handles this early-season adversity is a great test of their organization and character.
Every Denver fan across the globe is wondering what the role of embattled running back Knowshon Moreno will be in 2012.
It's not like Moreno isn't talented; he is. He showed us all that in college and in his rookie season.
His problem seems to be a bad attitude and bad luck. He can't stay healthy and he doesn't pick himself up when he's down.
There's obviously no room for saps on an NFL roster, yet Moreno is a former first-round pick and still a very young player. It would be foolish to write him off too quickly.
Nonetheless, the competition at the running back position is intense. Willis McGahee is a proven starter, even while past 30, and Lance Ball is proving to be a very effective dual threat.
Rookie Ronnie Hillman is fighting injuries, so this does open the door for Moreno. The keys are no longer in the car, however; Moreno has to work hard to contribute for this team.
Denver needs to start defining more clearly who will be carrying the ball up the field. If that person is Moreno, they need to have a tremendous reason why he's shouldering the load that a few others on the Denver roster can carry.