The opening introduction of coach Josh McDaniels to the Denver media was what most would probably expect. It was a lot of coach speak about players and forging a vision of how to build a team.
This argument might look good on paper, but with such a young guy in Coach McDaniels making the proclamation, it was met with cautious optimism.
Some in the media doubted the coach due to his age and lack of experience as a head coach. Others began to doubt the coach when he let team guys like Nate Jackson go. Then there was the signing of a multimillion-dollar contract by long snapper Lonnie Paxton over Mike Leach, who had been doing a solid job at the position.
Then, of course, there was the speculation on the deal to get Matt Cassel from New England and the subsequent fallout and trade of Jay Cutler.
Through the turbulent water came an ocean of change, much of it along the defensive front. There are now only three defensive starters from last year that are starters this year in Champ Bailey, D.J. Williams, and Elvis Dumervil, and only Champ is playing the same position.
This regime brought change, and after the dismal performance on defense last season, it would seem that the only way would be up for this team.
What has come to be an amazing statistic to this point in the season is that the Denver Broncos are now the best team by a mile in points allowed on defense. Currently the orange and blue defense is holding opponents to an average of 6.5 points per game. The next closest teams average over twice that amount.
At this juncture only the New York Giants defense has allowed fewer yards per game, at 232, than the Broncos, who are averaging almost 240 per game. The Broncos are fourth in interceptions with six and tied for 13th in forced fumbles with four.
While the defense is ample at creating turnovers, they are clearly benefiting as a team right now from the offense managing the game well and not turning the ball over. To date the Broncos offense has lost three fumbles, and Kyle Orton leads the league with zero interceptions. This works out for the team being in a three-way tie for first in the turnover battle, rating out at plus-seven.
This is a different organization than last season, and the numbers don’t lie.
Orton is currently ranked ninth with a passer rating at a very respectable 97.7.
Cutler is currently 14th at 89.3 with the Chicago Bears.
The Broncos rushing attack is ranked fourth, averaging 148 yards per game. The Broncos passing game is only averaging 217 yards to this point in time, which rates them 18th in the league. However, this is a well managed attack that does not turn the ball over more than their opponents, and that is a clear key to winning football games.
When the Broncos fail on offense, they still find ways to win the battle of field position and use a patient offensive attack to win games off the back of the defensive play.
To date special teams have been good, not great, but have most importantly not hurt the team.
One factor that has no statistic, but is probably the most important because it makes it all come together, is attitude.
Without a doubt this team has been impacted by the presence of Brian Dawkins on defense. His enthusiasm for the game is clearly contagious and infectious on both sides of the ball. This transcends practice, workouts, and even the games. It forges a positive mental attitude that makes it possible for the team and fans alike to start believing.
The major stats on both sides of the ball thus far reinforce the ideology that this is a team on both sides of the ball. The numbers about this team go beyond just offense and defense.
The theme all offseason has been about team, and so far in 2009 the strength of the Denver Broncos is that they are a solid team that will be mentally ready and will not quit during games.
Now that is a team, and the statistics are proving it out.
Contact Chaz at firstname.lastname@example.org