Victory From Defeat: Five Signs the Denver Broncos Are On the Right Track
With every negative, there is usually a positive.
The 1-2 start the 2010 Denver Broncos are off to is no exception. Even with the losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts, there is reason for optimism in Broncos Country despite the team's record being sub-.500 thus far.
The Broncos were one or two plays away from beating the Jaguars and played the defending AFC Champion Colts much more closely than the final score of 27-13 would indicate.
Fans, naturally, are jumping all over coach Josh McDaniels for his ineptitude so far this season. Their arguments are not totally without merit. His decision making on fourth down remains particularly troublesome.
That said, the team has undoubtedly bought into what McDaniels has been selling and their are signs of hope that the Broncos will turn this around and potentially compete for a playoff spot.
Here are five reasons Broncos fans should hang in there and not hit the panic button:
1. Kyle Orton is playing lights out football right now.
After the conclusion of this week's game, I could not believe my eyes. I was reading a running comment thread on Facebook and a lot of Broncos fans were crowing for Tim Tebow to play despite the fact that Kyle Orton had just thrown for 476 yards in a game in which the Broncos scored 13 points.
That, to me, is just nuts.
I love what Tebow brings to the table. I really do. However, Orton has a very hot hand right now and why should McDaniels mess with that right now? Hell, if Orton keeps playing this way I would have no qualms making HIM the quarterback of the future and find another use for Tebow's athletic talents.
Yes, I just said that.
2. McDaniels is a young coach making mistakes young coaches make....and learn from.
The aforementioned fourth down blunders cost the Broncos dearly in the Colts game. Imagine them being down 27-19 late in the fourth quarter. That's a touchdown plus a two point conversion. It would still be a tall order but it would be much easier than having to rally from 14 down.
People tend to forget McDaniels is only in his second year at the helm. He is going to make mistakes. The Broncos went from having one of the longest tenured head coaches to having basically a child last year.
McDaniels is a very creative offensive mind that has and will continue to come up with unique packages suited to the Broncos' talent. Just like raising your own child, please be patient as McDaniels matures. He will make us all proud.
3. DeMaryius Thomas and Brandon Lloyd
The general assumption after Brandon Marshall was traded to the Miami Dolphins was that the Broncos would be thin at wide receiver with Eddie Royal providing the only real big play threat.
Lloyd has been Orton's favorite target through these first three games and it seems no defense has been able to shut him down. He has shown incredible burst and has the ability to go up and make the catch over the defender's head. Sound familiar?
As for Thomas, as long as he stays healthy, he should be a big contributor for the Broncos offense for years to come. Like Lloyd he has shown speed and is a physical enough receiver to get open down the field. His health will be crucial as he missed a big chunk of training camp and as a young player, those reps are vital to him becoming a superstar in this league.
4. Better now than later
As any Broncos fan should know by know, it's much better to struggle and make these mistakes early than in the middle of a battle for a playoff spot. How many fans would have wanted the Broncos to struggle early and then go on a six game tear and making the playoffs last season instead of the opposite, which is what happened.
I thought so.
While starting out a season fast helps, it can also zap a team's energy as it seemed to with Denver last season. This time around, the Broncos seem to be happy to lurk under the radar early and strike when no one expects it later in the season.
5. The schedule gets easier
After a brutal six game stretch to start the year, the Broncos schedule gets considerably easier. Even if the Broncos start the season 1-5, they can easily rally to finish 9-7 or even 10-6 placing them right in the heart of the race for a wild card spot or perhaps even the AFC West title (I for one believe the Chiefs come crashing back to earth relatively soon.
With a light late season schedule, the Broncos should be able to avoid what is becoming a traditional late season collapse. With the early struggles, maybe they finally will be able to close out a season strong.
What about the defense?
You notice I have left the Denver Broncos defense off this list, and I have done so for good reason. Yes, they showed some flashes against the Colts, but they still gave up 27 points and allowed way too many big plays. While they held the Seattle Seahawks in check in Week 2, they have been way too inconsistent to get a read on and the unit will no doubt be interesting to watch as the season unfolds.
Step back from that ledge, Broncomaniacs. Things look a little shaky now, but the Broncos can turn the corner. It will take consistently stout play from the defense and a much bigger contribution from the running game, but it could happen.
A reversal from last season would be nice to see. A slow start and a strong finish as the Broncos squeak into the playoffs.
Wouldn't that be a sight for sore eyes?
Follow Kris Burke on Twitter @KBurkeNFL
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