Please don’t get me wrong. I love the Broncos, and I have great hopes for this team, but there is no denying that they have big trouble, and they need to find a way to fix it fast. The trouble, (as if I have to tell you), is the weak running game.
Actually, I am being very polite when I call the running game “weak.” Granted, the team has only played three games, and one of those was against Indy’s fine defense, but the truth is that the Broncos have yet to show much of anything in the way of a ground attack since early in training camp.
I know hindsight is 20/20, but part of the problem is the 2009 draft. It didn’t work out, or maybe just hasn’t worked out yet. If Knowshon Moreno had turned out to be even moderately respectable as an NFL back, and if Robert Ayers had turned out to be even half the defender he was supposed to be, things would be different.
It is not Moreno’s fault that he can’t stay healthy, but this is really hurting the team. As for Ayers, his resume as a Bronco is pretty much the same as what he had at Tennessee - he was a disappointment his first two years, and really didn’t excel until his senior year. I mention that because those players were expected to replace the void left in the team with the departure of Cutler. They haven’t done it. If Moreno were adding a boost to the running game, and Ayers were making a few sacks, the Broncos might easily be 3-0 now, but certainly would be 2-1.
Some want to point to the injured, revamped, and young offensive line. Three of those guys are in their first years as starters, and two of those are rookies. But, even though Beadles has been schooled more than once, and Daniels is just holding his own, Walton is doing a respectable job. That “O” line is not great, but it is adequate, and they would look even better if they had a legitimate threat to block for. Maroney and Brown offer Bronco fans better hope for salvation in the form a back who won’t trip over his own feet, slip down without being touched, or remember that this isn’t “flag” football, but that is still a few weeks off. Right now, defensing this team is easy, and the talented teams coming up next on the schedule are sure to figure it out.
OK, it’s early in the season, but anyone scouting this team has to see that Orton is tearing it up through the air while the running backs can’t get past the line of scrimmage without their canes. Defensing the Broncos is as easy as ignoring run defense, (it will take care of itself), and defensing the pass. With more defenders on the receivers, Orton’s numbers are sure to decline, and it will be an easy thing to wear down the Bronco defense by making them stay on the field all afternoon. I love this team, but that eventuality has me worried.
I am worried that any success they are having now will turn into frustration if they have to rely too heavily on the passing game. No team can do that successfully for long in this league. I am also worried because the only real hope of avoiding the above scenario is that a few guys will step up, start carrying the load, and get other players more excited about playing football. So far, a number of them have talked about it, but none has been able to even break the ice on bringing that commitment to fruition.
Now, I’m staying positive about this team, and I will keep rooting for them no matter what, but I’ll still be saying my prayers. Every night, before I go to bed, I will put my hands together and pray to the football Gods for a decent running back; one who is at least good enough to carry Floyd Little’s jock strap. I will pray that somewhere there’s a virgin on a burro heading for a manger in preparation of bringing forth a Bronco savior. I hope Bronco fans everywhere will join me. I know it’s a long shot, but, at this point in the venture, it’s as good as anything else on the table. In the meantime, I will support this Bronco team no matter what, even if that means absorbing an education in the woes of the weak running game in the NFL.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The Bronco's Savior?
The Bronco's Savior?