Who Wears the Crown: Identifying the Broncos' Best Players at the Midseason Mark
The 2012 Denver Broncos have been a bit of a roller coaster so far this season.
Currently the Broncos are 3-3 and lead the AFC West but the season has seen some ups and downs.
In the sixth week of the season the Broncos trailed the division leading San Diego Chargers 24-0 before running off 35 straight points to top the Chargers in San Diego.
This game showed all that these Broncos are capable of both good and bad.
This team does have some talent. They have to learn to play well for a full sixty minutes. They must limit their turnovers and cause a few more. If they can all get on the same page, this is a team that could be a contender.
So who are the top performers so far?
Who will be the key players if Denver is to contend for a Super Bowl?
Here are the Broncos' top players so far in 2012.
5. Elvis Dumervil
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Elvis Dumervil has actually had a quiet beginning to the 2012 season.
Quiet by his standards anyways.
It was Week 3 before “Doom” logged his first sack.
With that out of the way, he seems to be getting better each week.
He now has 28 tackles, five sacks, and four forced fumbles. Forcing four fumbles is tied for first in the NFL.
The forced fumbles are exactly what makes Dumervil so dangerous for opposing teams. He isn't happy with just sacking the quarterback. He strips the ball and changes the game.
4. Ryan Clady
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This offensive line seems to be improving each week. They allowed eight sacks in the first three games alone. Injuries, tough competition, and a different system had the unit struggling. But that is all beginning to change.
They have now allowed just three in the past three games.
And left tackle Ryan Clady is a big part of the change.
Clady currently leads all NFL left tackles with just five pressures allowed in 240 pass attempts so far in 2012.
He has started all six games and has yet to give up a sack.
If the Broncos are going to keep getting better, their offensive line will have to be a big part.
Ryan Clady is the best offensive lineman on a very important unit.
3. Champ Bailey
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Always at the peak of physical condition, Champ Bailey never seems to age.
At age 34 Champ is easy to overlook in Denver. He only has 19 tackles and two passes defended. He currently has zero interceptions.
Sure, he shuts down the top receiver on each opposing team. We only notice the corner that plays opposite him each week, because he rarely receives any action.
He’s that good.
Watch Bailey when the ball is in the air, always a good measurement for cornerbacks. He can look back and still accelerate. That is a rare quality and only the best can do it.
In addition to his deft pass covering skills, his aggressiveness as a run stopper, makes Bailey rate out as one of the top defensive players in the league.
2. Von Miller
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Miller makes this list because he is capable of being a one man wrecking crew.
He has been so much better against the run this year. It isn't just the big sacks this season, Miller is becoming a more complete player.
He is now a better pass defender, dropping into coverage and reading his assignments.
And of course his pass rushing ability can completely take over a game.
When the Broncos get a lead Miller is an opposing quarterback’s worst nightmare.
On the season Miller has 26 tackles and six sacks and has forced a fumble.
The best part about Miller? He’s just 23 years old.
1. Peyton Manning
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If you doubt this, just look at the numbers. Forget the NFL quarterback rating…even though Manning has a current 105 rating second only behind Aaron Rodgers.
Let’s actually look at what he is doing on the field.
Manning is completing 68 percent of his passes. He has already thrown 14 touchdowns. He has thrown at least one touchdown in every game so far this season.
But it is so much more than that.
Manning is forcing lesser players to raise their game. He is making this team improve with just his competitive fire.
He is putting fear in the opponents.
Peyton Manning has to be considered the best player so far on this 2012 Denver Broncos roster.