Denver Broncos: Early Awards for 2012
The Denver Broncos are 2-3 through five games.
The Broncos have had a brutal slate to start off the season, being matched up against the likes of the Steelers, Falcons, Texans, Raiders and Patriots. All five of those teams finished with at least a .500 record in 2011, and four of those teams made the playoffs.
The Broncos have had their ups and downs as a team, and so have the individual players.
For example, Peyton Manning had a remarkable debut as a Bronco. Manning went 19-26 for 253 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers vs. the Steelers.
The following week against the Falcons, however, was perhaps Manning's worst start in his NFL career. Manning threw three interceptions on his first three drives in the first quarter.
Demaryius Thomas has emerged as Manning's big play threat, racking up 30 receptions for 513 yards and two touchdowns through five games. He has had two somewhat costly fumbles in the past two weeks vs. the Raiders and Patriots, however.
The Broncos have had their ups and downs, but who have been the best players on offense and defense thus far?
OPOY: Peyton Manning
Offensive Player of the Year (through Five Games): Peyton Manning
As I said in the first slide, Manning has had his ups and downs as a Bronco, but through five games of the regular season, he has been the the most consistent player on the offensive side of the ball.
Manning has thrown for 11 touchdowns, three interceptions, 1507 yards and has amassed a 101.2 quarterback rating. Manning currently ranks fourth in the NFL in passing yards, fourth in touchdowns and fourth in quarterback rating.
Not bad for a guy who missed a full season due to neck surgery.
Manning hasn't thrown an interception in his past three games, and in those three games, he has thrown for eight touchdowns.
The two criticisms of Manning obviously have been his lack of willingness and ability to complete the deep ball, and his early struggles in games.
Despite those flaws, can you really name any other Broncos player for this award?
ROY: Derek Wolfe
Rookie of the Year (through Five Games): Derek Wolfe
Who else could it possibly be?
This is as easy of a choice as you'll find on this list. It's simply no contest.
When you look at Denver's other 2012 draft selections, none of them outside of Wolfe and Ronnie Hillman have made significant impacts. Brock Osweiler is a non-factor as the backup to Manning. Omar Bolden has received playing time, but he hasn't made a significant impact. Forget about guys like Philip Blake and Danny Trevathan. Malik Jackson is a part of the defensive line rotation.
Wolfe is the only starter of this group, and although Hillman has been improving week by week, Wolfe has been the starting left defensive end for the Broncos since the beginning of the season.
He's been solid, racking up two sacks and 14 tackles thus far. He has demonstrated the ability to pressure the quarterback through five games of his NFL career.
DPOY: Von Miller
Defensive Player of the Year (through Five Games): Von Miller
I cannot rave enough about Von Miller.
The guy has gotten better since his rookie season and has remained a playmaker through five games of his sophomore campaign.
Von has five sacks, 23 tackles and a forced fumble. He's constantly around the quarterback, and even though there have been games where his teammates have been able to generate very little pass rush—such as vs. the Falcons, Texans and Patriots—Miller still remains the one guy who can consistently pressure the quarterback.
Champ Bailey is an honorable mention for this award. Although he doesn't have the opportunity to make plays and force turnovers like Von does, Bailey still remains one of the best cornerbacks in the game today.
MVP: Peyton Manning
Most Valuable Player (through Five Games): Peyton Manning
I had a hard time choosing between Manning and Miller, but in the end, I went with Manning.
Manning is on pace to finish with 35 touchdowns this season. Although that's not that large of a number in 2012, it still ranks up there with the very best. As I mentioned before, Manning ranks fourth in just about every major passing category.
The fact is the offense and the defense have underwhelmed for the most part this season.
The offense looks solid on the stat board, ranking ninth in points scored, but a lot of those points were scored with defenses playing relaxed and the game somewhat out of reach.
The defense ranks 19th this year, allowing 22.8 points per game. The defense doesn't make up for it by forcing turnovers, either. They currently rank 26th in interceptions forced and 27th in turnovers forced.
Combine with that the fact that the offense has had a penchant for turning the ball over and the Broncos rank 28th in turnover/giveaway differential.
Both sides of the team have had their ups and downs, but through it all, Manning has probably been the most consistent player on this team through five games.