NFL Preview for 2010 Season: State of the Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos have without a doubt have had many changes in the past 2 years, from the unpredicted firing of Mike Shanahan, to the unforgiven trade of Jay Cutler on April 2, 2009. The presence of Josh McDaniels has without a doubt changed this team around; it looks like a completely different atmosphere compared to the 2008 season. This is one team that has seen many new faces and major alterations, some good and bad. Coming into the 2010 draft, the Denver Broncos had many voids to fill with the draft, especially with the departure of their top five receiver in Brandon Marshall, who had 101 catches for 1120 yards and 10 TDs in 2009. They also traded away their dynamic pass catching tight end, Tony Scheffler, who has a 13.7 yard per catch average in his career; Making him a big play tight end.
With the Denver Broncos first pick in the 2010 draft they selected the standout receiver at Georgia Tech, Demaryius Thomas, with the number 22 pick in the first round of the 2010 draft. Thomas had broke his left foot during his collegiate career making him a risky but great pick considering his blazing speed for his size. He ran an unofficial 4.38 in the 40 yard dash, which by any NFL standard is great, but for a 6,3, 224 person it is remarkable. His size is very comparable to that of Brandon Marshall's. His deep threat ability will make him exciting to watch this year. With the Denver Broncos second first round pick, they stunned the world and selected Tim Tebow out of Florida. Many had shunned the Broncos for selecting him because they had a young good starter in Kyle Orton, and many thought the Broncos had other needs for their 2010 campaign, specifically defensive positions which they are either aging at, or do not have enough depth.
Coming into training camp and pre season the Broncos have many questions and not enough answers. As of now they seem to be catching the injury bug, with many key players hitting the sidelines. Correll Buckhalter and Knowshon Moreno have caught the injury bug and it is not certain how long or how bad these injuries are. According to some NFL related sources the injuries are not that bad, but any injury to a running back can alter him negatively during the season since they are majorly involved in the offense, and play a key role in most teams offensive success. To fill the void of Moreno and Buckhalter the Denver Broncos signed LenDale White who is a bruising running back and a nightmare in the redzone. They followed up by signing Justin Fargas, formally of the Raiders, who himself has a history of injuries. The Raiders refused to resign him when he failed his physical due to an injured knee. With the signing of these two running backs, it looks like Moreno, and Buckhalter have worse injuries than are being told. It Looks like the status of whether they will be available for the season opener is still undetermined, at least to the general public.
The Denver Broncos defense is another interesting topic of discussion this year. Mike Nolan had a great impact on this team when he was introduced. They had a solid defense last year up until the end of the season. The defense was the reason in many people's opinion why the Broncos managed to win 8 games. When the defense stopped performing at top level, it was noticable and the whole team went down the drain, because the offense clearly could not produce, and they seriously lacked a power running game. With the departure of Mike Nolan (In Miami along with Brandon Marshall) the defense is uncertain because no one knows how Don Martindale is going to perform with this Broncos defense.
Champ Bailey, Andre Goodman, Brian Dawkins, and Renaldo Hill make up the Broncos secondary. Although this group is arguably one of the best secondary combinations in the NFL they are aging players. Bailey is 32, Goodman is 32, Dawkins is 36 and Hill is 31. The Broncos defensive line and linebackers were solid last year but gave up too many big run plays towards the end of the year. Key players on defense (besides secondary) include D.J. Williams, who had become one of the most consistent linebackers in the NFL, and has played every linebacker position out of necessity, should be on pace for another great season. The Broncos acquired NT Jamal Williams from the Chargers as well. Even though he is aging and has had a recent problem with injuries, he was still regarded as a key to the San Diego Chargers defense. Hopefully Jamal Williams can bring his "A" game to Denver and improve the Broncos running defense, who has over the past 4 years had it's concerns. A silent but effect player during last years campaign was Ryan McBean who drastically helped improve the run defense from the 2008 season.
With the key loss of Elvis Dumervil, most likely for the season. The Broncos have a key loss in the defense and look to fill that void in any ways they can. His backups are currently Robert Ayers out of Tennesee, who was Denver's first round pick last year, and Jarvis Moss who was a first rounder in the 2007 season. Neither have really proven themselves in the NFL yet.
Leading the Broncos offense is Kyle Orton who had a solid year last year behind center. He had 21 TD's to 12 picks with 3,802 passing yards and led the Broncos to 8 wins. Although he does not have the strongest arm in the NFL he proved to people how good choice making and accuracy play a big role in NFL QB's. The Broncos receiving corps led by former Broncos standout Brandon Marshall actually did a great job. They were consistent and did not have many dropped passes, also many of them were involved, not just one player. The offensive line led by Ryan Clady was great as usual, in pass protecting. The Broncos had a very difficult time making tough inside runs and converting for 3rd and short though, because of the lack of power on the inside O-line. McDaniels tried to address this problem by drafting J.D Walton out of Baylor and Eric Olsen out of Notre Dame in the 2010 draft. Hopefully these additions will help with those key third and short situations.
Many believed that Eddie Royal would have a much bigger role in the 2009 season, but the simple fact is that he had to return kicks and punts and to be a great starting receiver while doing that is a difficult tasks to ask. This year expect Royal to have a season comparable to his rookie campaign with more TD's. Due to the departure of Brandon Marshall, expect Royal to take the number one receiver role, at least for now.
The special teams for the Denver Broncos actually were not bad compared to other seasons where they did not have any luck. Led by kicker Matt Prater the Denver Broncos special teams performed quite well this year. Prater went 30-35 on field goal attemps and made all 32 extra point attempts. Eddie Royal was consistent in the kick and punt return category. He finished the season with one touchdown on kick return and one on a punt return ( in the same game).
The outlook for this year's team is average, they lost too many key parts to be a 10 or 11 win team. Not saying it can not happen, because no one expected them to win 8 games last year either. With players like Elvis Dumervil lost to injuries and Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler gone via trade, and not to mention the firing of Mike Nolan, it would not be a surprise if this team only won 7 or 8 games. Being a Denver fan and close follower, it is agreeable that this team can win 9 or possibly ten games and obtain a wild-card, if everything else goes well.
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