Perception vs. Reality for the Denver Broncos, Post Week 3
You can't always take everything at face value.
Sometimes perception is NOT in fact reality. We lock onto certain beliefs, and that is what we maintain whether it is right or wrong.
Here's an example: John Elway was a scrambling quarterback who racked up yardage with his legs as well as his arm, right?
Actually no. Elway was a pass-rush evader. He only ran for 3,407 yards in his 16-year career. Granted, behind some very average offensive linemen, he had to run often. But Elway looked to beat you with his arm.
Yet, that isn't always the perception.
Are there any perceptions about this year's team, so far, that might not be reality?
Of course. We just might have to look outside what we believe to be true.
Perception: Derek Wolfe Was the Correct Pick
When the Denver Broncos traded down and out of the first round and then used the No. 36 pick of the 2012 draft to select defensive tackle Derek Wolfe, a number of Bronco fans were left scratching their heads.
Wolfe hadn't been rated very high by most draft gurus. In fact, most draft experts had him going in the fourth or fifth rounds.
However, Wolfe came into training camp and showed flashes of being a pass-rusher and a run-stopper.
He played well in the preseason, and it looked like the Broncos had possibly found a diamond in the rough.
Reality: Derek Wolfe Has Just Eight Tackles in Three Games
We haven't seen Derek Wolfe much since the preseason. He did record five tackles against the Houston Texans.
He may be undersized to play the tackle position.
And there's a chance that he isn't fast enough to play defensive end.
Meanwhile, Courtney Upshaw is in Baltimore and has 14 tackles and is looking like a future star.
Dont'a Hightower has 15 tackles in New England. And Denver's linebacking corp has looked woefully inept.
Wolfe may turn out to be a very solid player.
The Broncos needed more than that. They needed another star.
Perception: The Offensive Line Is a Top-Rated Unit
We are so used to having top-notch offensive lines in Denver that this may sound like blasphemy.
This group is sill relatively young, and they will continue to improve.
J.D. Walton, Zane Beadles and Chris Kuper are just beginning to come into their own.
Ryan Clady is a Pro Bowler who is getting back to form, and Orlando Franklin may be the next great one.
Reality: Right Now, This Unit Is Very Average
This one is very simple.
What is this unit doing well?
They aren't run blocking. Keep in mind that, last season, this was the best rushing team in the league and averaged nearly 165 yards rushing per game.
Currently, the Broncos are ranked No. 23 in rush offense with just over 90 yards per game.
They aren't protecting Peyton Manning particularly well either. Manning has already been sacked eight times, so far, this year. At that rate, he will be sacked 43 times by the end of the season.
For a team that has a quarterback with health concerns, that isn't exactly great news.
The offensive line is still young. Kuper is not yet at full strength, and this team will benefit greatly when he returns.
But, they need to get back to that Denver Bronco standard.
Perception: Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller Are a Top Defensive Tandem
With Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller coming off the edge, opposing quarterbacks have plenty to worry about.
Coming off a torn pectoral muscle in 2010 that forced him to miss the entire season, Dumervil played in 14 games in 2011 and racked up 9.5 sacks.
Von Miller was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2011 and was voted to his first Pro Bowl. He had an amazing season and logged 11.5 sacks.
These two are going to be a headache for many offenses for a few seasons to come.
Reality: So Far This Season, They Are Not Dominating
The sack by Von Miller in the Pittsburgh opener was a great play that slammed the door on the visiting Steelers.
The first play by safety Elvis Dumervil, against the Texans, was a great start for the defense on Sunday.
Other than that, big plays for these two have been very few.
Many offenses are scheming specifically for them.
Take Houston for instance. The Texans rarely used three-receiver sets. They forced Miller to stay in his linebacker spot, and as a result, he didn't get very many opportunities to rush the passer.
Combine that with the fact that Dumervil was seeing some double-teams and you can see why this tandem is struggling.
It isn't entirely their fault.
They may need someone else to step up and take some of the pressure.
Perception: Demaryius Thomas Is a No. 1 Wide Receiver
Demaryius Thomas has all the physical tools.
He stands 6'3" and weighs in at 230 pounds. He can run like a gazelle, and just ask Steeler cornerback Ike Taylor, Thomas is strong.
He can be one of those top-flight wide receivers like Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green or Roddy White.
Pairing him up with Peyton Manning might be unfair.
Manning has made his living with far less-talented receivers like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, neither of whom had the size and strength combination of Thomas.
Reality: Thomas Is Not Living Up to the Hype
So far, through three games this season, we have seen it all from Thomas—big plays, tough catches, wrong routes and dropped balls.
Thomas already has four drops in this young season.
He must run better routes because Peyton Manning is a precise player, and you better be where you should be if you want the ball. And now, he's seeing the top opposing corner each and every week.
This Bronco receiving corp is not particularly deep. If the top talent on the roster isn't producing consistently, it's only going to go downhill from there.
Perception: This Team Is Underachieving, and There Are Major Concerns
There are some major holes on this team that absolutely must be addressed.
The offense is erratic. It was held to three-and-outs through three quarters of play before catching fire late. It can't run the ball consistently. It isn't protecting Peyton Manning.
The defense is showing some major cracks. It has struggled to stop the passing game in all three games, so far. And the Houston game showed it can be vulnerable to the run as well.
This team is overhyped and under-talented.
Reality: Don't Panic Just Yet
Sitting at 1-2 in a three-way tie behind San Diego in the AFC West isn't exactly where they would like to be.
But, the 2012 Denver Broncos have a long season still ahead of them.
The division is wide-open. And the schedule is going to get easier.
Having said that, this team must improve.
They have to find consistency on offense.
Their pass defense must get better.
And their top players have to play at the highest level.
If they do, this season can still be all we had hoped for.
But, it has to start this week—against the Raiders.
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