10 Denver Broncos Who Are off to the Best and Worst Starts
We are now six games into the 2012 NFL season. Divisional races are beginning to take some shape. Teams are beginning to sink or swim.
The Denver Broncos enter their bye week 3-3 and tied for the lead in the AFC West.
Following a big win over the San Diego Chargers in Week 6, the Broncos have to be feeling like they are heading in the right direction as they prepare for the stretch run.
So far, we have seen relatively unknown Broncos step up and make big plays. We have also seen some big names fail to live up to the hype.
Who is off to a quick start and contributing to the Broncos' success? And who is struggling and needs to step up his game?
Worst Start: Jack Del Rio
Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was supposed to solidify a Broncos defense that had its ups and downs last season. So far this year, there have been more downs than ups.
The Broncos rank No 15 in overall defense, 17th in pass defense, 20th in run defense and 17th in scoring defense, allowing 23 points per game.
That's mediocrity at its finest.
The Broncos' defense is allowing its opponents to convert a whopping 45.6 percent of third downs. That ranks it No. 28 in the NFL.
If your defense can't get off the field, it doesn't matter how good your offense is.
Best Start: Chris Harris
Cornerback Chris Harris is only in his second year, but he has played some big minutes for the Denver defense.
With veteran starter Tracy Porter missing some time, Harris has been called on to play against some of the top receivers in the league.
And he has taken some lumps. Wes Welker caught 13 passes against the Broncos, and a number were on Harris. But Welker does that to many good players.
How did Harris respond? He had four tackles and two interceptions against the Chargers, returning his interception for a touchdown.
You have to have a short memory to play cornerback in the NFL. Harris has that, along with a bright future in the NFL.
Worst Start: Rahim Moore
The Broncos had high hopes that Rahim Moore would be able to improve the defensive backfield. But it has been a struggle for the second-year safety. While he does have 41 tackles, he has been beaten numerous times in the passing game.
In fact, he has defended just a single pass and does not haven an interception.
Moore is going to have to show that he has the instincts to play at this level.
Best Start: Wesley Woodyard
Wesley Woodyard has done a commendable job so far in 2012.
Playing weak-side linebacker full time this season, Woodyard is leading the Denver defense in tackles with 48. He also has two sacks and an interception.
Woodyard has always played with passion. But this year he has added some precision.
Besides being an emotional leader, he is expertly handling his assignments and is an able tackler in the open field.
Worst Start: Knowshon Moreno
The 12th overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft has never lived up to expectations. Now in his fourth season, Moreno has just 13 rushing touchdowns. Combined with seven fumbles, it is a less than impressive resume.
Following the 2011 season, which he began as a starter only to be replaced, Moreno looked to be on his way out in Denver.
But he came into this preseason on a mission. He ran hard, held onto the football and scored the opening touchdown of the season.
But he put the ball on the ground again, fumbling in Week 2 against the Falcons, and has consistently failed to gain yards since then, averaging just 1.9 yards per carry.
Moreno has now been inactive for the past four games in favor of rookie Ronnie Hillman.
His days in Denver appear to be numbered.
Best Start: Von Miller
Von Miller is amazing. He has such an incredible combination of strength and speed.
Miller has 26 tackles and six sacks, which would put him on track to finish with nearly 70 tackles and 16 sacks, and shown no signs of a sophomore slump.
When the Broncos have the lead late and the opponent must pass, you just know that Miller is coming after the quarterback.
They know it as well.
Miller's pressure on the quarterback was a key reason for the late interceptions by the Broncos in the Pittsburgh opener and the San Diego come-from-behind win.
Miller is one of those rare defensive players who can take over a game.
Worst Start: Joe Mays
Not too many players have been as disappointing as veteran linebacker Joe Mays.
The starting middle linebacker through the first five games, Mays has struggled terribly defending the pass. He has been unable to cover running backs and tight ends, defending zero passes this season.
But as bad as that is, Mays' bigger disappointment is his defense in the running game. Always a solid run defender, Mays has just seven solo tackles and has been benched in favor of 15-year veteran Keith Brooking.
Best Start: Jacob Tamme
Tamme has 23 receptions, one for a touchdown, is on track for a 61-catch season.
Those stats may not wow you, but keep in mind who Peyton Manning targets in pressure situations. That would be Tamme, who has 12 catches for a first down. He seems to be able to get open when it is needed the most.
In the game against San Diego, facing a 3rd-and-16 situation, who did Manning look to? Tamme, who caught the pass for 19 yards and a first down.
He has gained Manning’s trust and is off to an excellent start.
Worst Start: D.J. Williams
He has yet to play a snap in 2012. Yet D.J. Williams is by far the Broncos' biggest disappointment.
His absence is not because of an injury or a health issue. This is about selfishness, pure and simple. Williams failed a drug test and was suspended for the first six games of the season, a suspension that was recently increased to nine games. The NFL said that he tried to use a "non-human" urine sample on a drug test.
These are not the actions you would expect from a former team captain. These are selfish actions. Selfish and dumb.
Here’s hoping Williams never plays another snap in a Bronco uniform.
Best Start: Peyton Manning
Is Peyton Manning 100 percent? Probably not.
Can he throw the deep ball? Not as well as he once did.
All of the above may be correct. But here is the bottom line. He is still better than most NFL quarterbacks.
Don’t put him out to pasture quite yet. In his 15th season, Manning is No. 2 in the quarterback ratings.
He is completing nearly 68 percent of his passes. He has thrown just four interceptions, and three of them came in one game.
Manning is on pace to finish with 37 touchdowns passes.
And all stats aside, the best thing that Bronco fans have seen from Manning is that his competitive fire is still raging.
Manning is not happy to just be on the field. He wants to win as badly as ever.