The Denver Broncos' Most Likely Postseason Award Candidates for the 2014 Season
When it comes to end-of-the-year awards, a few members of the Denver Broncos are no strangers to the spotlight. They're used to bringing home a lot of hardware, and 2014 should be no different.
No word on whether Peyton Manning had an extra wing added to his house to hold all of his MVP awards or whether he just bought the neighbor’s house and filled it with trophies. He's won the award a record five times, so you know he has a trophy case somewhere that's getting pretty full.
It's sort of like my bedroom back at my parents' house, but instead of plastic participation awards, he has the real deal.
The Broncos are already in the talk for the Super Bowl for 2014—as they will be until Manning decides to hang up his cleats—and that's the ultimate trophy. But it's worth noting that they've got a handful of players on the team who could stand to take home other accolades as well. These are the top five, ranked from the longest shot to the one that will surprise no one.
5. Bradley Roby: Defensive Rookie of the Year
This is the longest shot because Bradley Roby shouldn't even have to start. If all goes well, Aqib Talib stays healthy and Chris Harris comes back strong from his ACL injury. Roby plays in the nickel, learns the position and waits on the sidelines for a few years while he gets up to speed.
For everyone already going to the comments to point out that it can be very hard for corners to come back from ACL injuries or that Talib always seems to get hurt at some point, you're absolutely right. And that's why Roby makes this list.
There's a very good chance that he's going to have to fill in for Harris early in the year. Harris doesn't seem to think so and he shouldn't, but that's the reality of it.
By the time Harris is back on the field, who knows how Talib will be doing. I hope, hope, hope that there's no problem because I want him to dominate. But again, history hasn't shown us that the guy is the most durable corner in the world. If Talib goes down, back comes Roby to fill in, doing it across from Harris this time.
If a rookie corner ends up starting most of the games on a team with a revamped defense that makes a Super Bowl run, there's a good chance he's in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Roby's in a great position to do exactly that.
Again, I think it's a long shot that he has that drastic of an impact. Rookie corners normally struggle, and he's not supposed to be out there every week. But that's why it's No. 5.
4. Von Miller: Comeback Player of the Year
Let's just say Von Miller had a terrible year and try to forget about it. Arguably the best defender on the team sat out the beginning of the year with a suspension, looked a bit out of shape when he came back and then tore his ACL just when he was starting to hit his stride. The Broncos covered up for him for the most part, but they really missed him in the Super Bowl.
It all sets up perfectly for the comeback. If Miller is at full strength, he's a terror. As Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post said perfectly, it could be because Miller is maybe just a bit nuts. Even Miller isn't going to disagree with you if you tell him that he is. It gives him the edge that he needs on defense.
He's got something to prove after last season, and he'll be playing with a fire under him to get his next contract in the near future.
On top of that, he's in an awesome position to excel. With DeMarcus Ware joining the team, the double-teams are most likely going to his side. This is a guy who battled through injuries last year and still got six sacks and 40 tackles. As the protections shift, it just opens things up for Miller, who can storm in from the other side.
Go ahead and assign a running back to pick up Miller, and let's see how that works out for you.
3. DeMarcus Ware: Defensive Player of the Year
And that brings us nicely to our next award recipient: Ware.
He came to Denver to do something he knew he could never do on the Dallas Cowboys, who finished 8-8 the past three seasons. He wants to win a Super Bowl. He's not getting any younger.
Ware is a leader in the locker room, and he's a wrecking ball—if Miley ruined that term for us, I'm sorry; please leave me other descriptive ideas in the comments and I'll work them into the next article—on the field. He's going to be rejuvenated in a new setting, and he's going to give it everything he's got.
As mentioned, he put up six sacks last year, and that was without a stacked defense around him. Sure, Miller might eat up some of his chances, but that works both ways. It's sort of like having J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney in Houston.
When you unleash Ware and Miller on an offensive line, they're going to overwhelm it and tear it apart, and both of them should see excellent stats as they help each other out.
2. John Fox: Coach of the Year
I'll be the first to say that I wasn't sure I liked the John Fox hiring when they made it. One team was worse than Denver that season: the Carolina Panthers. It was no secret that Josh McDaniels needed to go before he dismantled the team any further, but I wasn't sure hiring Fox was the answer.
So I'll eat those words. He's been brilliant. This is a guy who catered his offense to Tim Tebow so that the team could win, then revamped everything for Manning the next year. He's shown that he knows that it's not about doing what you want to do all of the time. Sometimes, it's about doing what is best for the players you have. Other coaching philosophies and plans can wait.
The Broncos are arguably better on paper right now than they were last year. The defense should be vastly improved—though a big chunk of that has to do with health—and the offense may even be better. Are they going to break every major offensive record again? Probably not, because you don't catch lightning that often, but you never know.
Again, on paper, it looks like they have even more weapons than they did a year ago, with Emmanuel Sanders being faster and more explosive than Eric Decker and a physical freak like Cody Latimer—the dude ran the 40 in 4.39 seconds on a broken foot—waiting in the wings.
Denver's 2013 season was historic. If the Broncos do that again, I'd say Fox is on the short list for Coach of the Year. He made it possible, putting together this machine that runs over most of the league like there's nothing in the way.
1. Peyton Manning: Most Valuable Player
And that brings us all the way back to Manning. It's obvious that everything in Denver runs through Manning. A lot of the reason why Fox could change the offense up so drastically is that Manning is basically a coordinator on the field.
Manning drives this thing, and he's looking as good as he's ever looked. He's another year away from a neck injury that people are starting to forget about entirely. He looks fresh, healthy and ready to take his game to the next level.
If he does, he's getting the MVP again. Hopefully there's room in his trophy case for yet another offering. If not, maybe he'll just have to make room in his house for another trophy case.
Manning would be the first guy to tell you that he doesn't care about the hardware, but he certainly deserves it, year after year.