As we prepare for Sunday’s season opener there are questions we need answered. The answer to these questions will have a major impact on how the Broncos season progresses.
The Broncos failure to stop the run over the past few seasons raised the ire of Broncos’ fans and ultimately led to the firing of Mike Shanahan. If the Broncos have not resolved this issue it will be very difficult to improve on last season’s 8-8 record.
The preseason results were encouraging. The Broncos’ run defense showed signs of improvement but it was preseason. The Broncos need to show they can shut down a rushing attack. Cincinnati are not known as a great running team. If Cedric Benson hangs 100 yards on the Broncos’ defense it will be a sign that the Broncos still have problems in this area.
Over the past few years Denver’s pass rush has been suspect at best. The lack of a consistent pass rush led to the Broncos’ performing poorly on third down. Broncos’ fans watched helplessly as our team forced the opposing team into a third and long, only to see our secondary be exposed by a lack of pass rush. Our secondary looks to be greatly improved, but no secondary can hold up for the amount of time our defensive line gave opposing quarterbacks last year.
This is another area that the Broncos showed great promise of improvement in the preseason. Elvis Dumervil looked like a beast. If this carries over to the regular season the Broncos will be in great shape. We still need Jarvis Moss and rookie Robert Ayers to step up.
No one expects Kyle Orton to be a great quarterback. He does not need to be. What he needs to be is serviceable. Manage the game, limit turnovers, and make an occasional great pass. It's that simple.
The preseason provided mixed results. While showing great promise at times, there were also some very scary moments for Broncos’ fans. It is preseason and we have to remember the purpose of the preseason is to work out these issues. If we see the Orton that makes accurate, crisp passes; the Broncos will be fine. If we see the Orton that locks onto a receiver or throws left handed interceptions; Broncos’ fans could be in for a long season.
Over the past 14 years in Denver, quality coaching was never an issue. The Broncos under Shanahan were rarely out-coached and rarely out of any game. A bad first half led to the adjustments that would lead the Broncos back into the game. Shanahan, I believe, is one of the greatest in-game coaches in history.
I have no doubt that the Broncos have not opened the entire play book in the preseason. I also think McDaniels will be a good coach and have his team prepared. Making in-game adjustments is my concern. This is what separates good coaches from great ones. I don’t believe Broncos’ fans appreciate this quality enough.
Many of the above questions will be answered this week. Some answers may take several games to be answered but these are the issues that will ultimately determine the Broncos’ fate.