For those of us that engage in the country’s unofficial second national past-time of fantasy football, it’s no secret that the Broncos defense is one to avoid in fantasy drafts.
While those in the Mile High area are hopeful that this reputation won’t precede this year’s edition, after watching their Sunday night debut, there’s still much work to be done.
While it was only the team’s third preseason game, this match-up had a little home flavor and enough incentive to bring out their “A” game.
Making his return to the Mile High area, the Bronco’s former starting quarterback Jay Cutler should have been more than enough to motivate Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and the defense to bring it. Instead, it was Cutler that brought it Sunday night and got the better of this match-up, completing 15 of 21 for 144-yards and a touchdown.
With all the changes that head coach Josh McDaniels made on defense by adding veteran players like Brian Dawkins, Andre Goodman, Andra Davis, and Renaldo Hill, the defense has a long road ahead. Some may view the changes with great optimism, but Sunday night clearly exposed some of the same short comings of the team’s defensive play in the past; no quarterback pressure.
Against the Bears, the Bronco’s defenses on occasion came close to getting to Cutler, but were never able to put him on the ground. It’s been a familiar theme, and the 2009 version did not seem to show any noticeable improvements.
Again, it was only the team’s third preseason game so you might not expect to see to many complicated blitz packages, but if Denver fans were ever hoping to see a sign that times could be changing, playing against the Bears and Jay Cutler seemed to be the perfect excuse.
What to Expect in 2009….
There’s no question this unit is going to have to find a way to bring more heat up the middle and pressure on the edges if they are going to have any success.
Linebackers DJ Williams and Andra Davis look ready to thrive in Nolan’s new 3-4 scheme, and safety Brian Dawkins looks like he could have at least one more Pro Bowl season left in him. But, the lack of pressure is going to put a lot of demands on the secondary in pass coverage, an area the team struggled with in 2008 (ranked 26th).
The Broncos problems don't lie in speed, but size in the middle could become an Achilles unless players like Kenny Peterson, Ronald Fields, and Ryan McBean really step up this season and make a difference. Optimism can only offer so much hope, something the Denver defense is going to need lots of this season.
Fantasy owners shouldn’t expect any significant jumps of improvement from the Bronco’s defense this season that would generate any drafting interest.
We have no doubt that with McDaniels enthusiasm and Nolan’s influence, this unit will get better, but middle of the pack is going to be a realistic landing spot for the team. The defense will be loaded with plenty of talent again this season, but it will take Nolan and his staff some time to develop its’ chemistry and effectiveness.
While this unit may not be worthy to draft in leagues that employ team defenses, it could very well be an attractive waiver wire option much later in the season.
Keep watch, take plenty of notes, and let’s see where things stand in the second half. That’s my take and I’m sticking to it.