We are now three games into the 2010 NFL season and numerous questions are being asked surrounding the Denver Broncos and the issues contributing to their success or lack thereof. We have a decent sample now to try and gauge just what kind of team this is going forward. I believe that there are ten reasons for Broncos fans to be excited as we trudge through the marathon that is the regular season, playoffs, and beyond!
Britton Colquitt and Matt Prater
Britton Colquitt and Matt Prater
I can’t even stress to you how important these two guys have been. Huge punts and touchbacks give the Broncos a big advantage in the kicking game. Prater has shown that his FG accuracy is improving each year.
Eddie is a selfless player who does what the team needs him to do. They moved him to the slot and he has performed. He is dynamic in the return game and has sure hands. He will be a great weapon for many years.
Lloyd has a knack for making big plays. In watching Lloyd in live action, there is nothing that is especially spectacular or flashy about his play. There fact of the matter is that he has a great attitude and is willing to do anything he can to help his team succeed. He will sell out and sacrifice his body to make plays. He is sure-handed and has earned the respect of the players and coaches. Hard work pays off and he has shown that he is willing to work hard. He always seems to find a way to make big plays.
Walton celebrates with Buckhalter
The rookie center has been outstanding. Pass protection has been exceptional. Week 2 against Jacksonville contained a play in which Walton showed he was for real. On Buckhalter’s TD run, Walton blew up two defensive players in creating a monster hole allowing Buck to score easily. He pushed one player 8 yards into the end zone. This kid is going to be good for a long time.
Ayers has shown a vast improvement from his rookie year. He has shown that he can rush the passer in the absence of Dumervil. He may not always get to the quarterback but he can be a distraction. What impressed me against the Colts was his ability to make plays in the running game. He was constantly in the backfield and showing good form in tackling the runner. He is only going to get better. Can you imagine Dumervil and Ayers both rushing the passer in 2011? Scary!
McDaniels rebounded after a somewhat shaky first draft with an outstanding draft class in 2010. Thomas (discussed below) and Decker are going to be outstanding receivers in this system. Cox is still raw as a corner but he has showed that he can play. He got lit up a little bit by Manning but he also made several key deflections that showed good instincts. Under the leadership of a veteran secondary, this kid will only get better. Walton (discussed above) and Beadles have been outstanding in their first year on the O-line. Thompson is going to be a good special teams player and has the makings of a decent corner. Cassius Vaughn is a special teams beast. The college free agent seems to be right around the ball on every punt and kickoff. He is flying down the field and is only going to get better. You can’t underestimate the value of an elite special teams player.
Broncos young offensive line
Weeks 2 and 3 featured an offensive line without a player with more than three years of experience. All of them come from pass- heavy systems in college, thus providing Orton with excellent protection. They completely contained Freeney and Mathis on Sunday. Those two pass rushers who were all over Schaub and Manning in Weeks 1 and 2. The one sack by Mathis was a coverage sack and Orton should have thrown the ball away. Clady is outstanding even though he not quite back to normal. Beadles has been extremely versatile and Daniels has been respectable. Walton has been excellent for a rookie. If this group can gel and learn more about run blocking. They have the potential to be one of the better units in the league. Notice that I did not even mention Harris or Kuper. There is excellent depth in Denver!
Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey
The current leadership by the veterans is going to go a long way in grooming the young players to mirror that leadership. This Denver team is comprised of players that do the right things the right way and it shows on the football field. That leadership will keep this team focused, competitive and disciplined. Players like Dawkins, Bailey, Williams, Orton, and Gaffney are the core of this team and lead by example. They will pass the torch to the young players one day and I believe that leadership will continue.
He showed up in week two with a breakout performance. Thomas is a physical specimen and a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Questions regarding his ability to run routes have been answered. He catches the ball in traffic and has a freakish speed burst for a man his size. More impressive to me is his blocking. On a long completion to Lloyd against the Colts, Thomas hustled from the other side of the field to throw a block allowing Lloyd to gain and extra 10 yards. Most impressive about the block is that he waited for the defender to turn when he could have easily hit the defender in the back, negating the big play. That shows great discipline and passion for the game and the team. I believe that the sky is the limit for the rookie WR.
D.J. Williams hits MJD
There has been a noticeable improvement in the rush defense in 2010. The extra beef in on the defensive line has helped but the main thing that I notice is that the defense is flying to the ball and making the tackles when they have a chance. This is some of the best tackling that I have seen from a Broncos team in a long time. Sure the defense gave up a few yards to MJD but they have shown improvement since then. I believe that Martindale has this team going in the right direction. The stretch of games leading up to the bye week will be the real test for this team. How will they handle Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, LT, Darren McFadden, and Frank Gore?
Kyle was decent in 2009 and he has been huge thus far in 2010. He is lighting up defenses and has confidence in his abilities. He has shown perseverance when two quarterbacks were brought in to compete with him and he has made it so that McDaniels has no choice but to play him. He is in the zone with his receivers and is showing that he can carry a team with a non-existent running game. Putting stats aside, Orton is playing the best football of his career and I am not sure that he is done growing in this system. He has proved the critics wrong (including me) with his ability to throw the ball down the field. He is on fire and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. He understands the offensive system and the abilities of the personnel to well to not have every chance to succeed.
I know that there is a fair share of Broncos Country that believes that McDaniels is not the answer in Denver and question his every move and call. That should be included in the job description for an NFL Head Coach. You are going to be questioned and scrutinized when things are going rocky and praised when the team is winning.
McDaniels was heavily criticized for dismantling the 2008 offense and bringing in his own players. It has worked out for the better in my opinion. The leadership of this team took a huge leap as soon as Cutler, Marshall, and Scheffler hit the road. Football is a team sport and successful teams have a team first mentality. McDaniels has done an excellent job in bringing in classy, high character players and now fast forward to 2010 and the offense is putting up similar numbers to that 2008 crew. The defense is making strides and is getting more and more physical.
McDaniels is a student of the game and is an excellent teacher. His players buy into what he is preaching and it shows. The fundamentals of this team are solid. The roster is still a work in progress to find the right combination of players to make this a championship caliber squad but he is making significant progress. This team is getting better because of great coaching and the players play with confidence because they know that the coach has confidence in them. Bowlen would probably agree that this team is headed in the right direction under the direction of Josh McDaniels. One or two more years for McDaniels to continue to sculpt this team and Denver will be an elite team.
As you have probably noticed, I did not mention Tim Tebow anywhere in this article. I believe that he will be a great asset to this team one day. I just don’t see how you take Kyle Orton off the field at this point in time. The team that Josh McDaniels has compiled is smart, physical and selfless. This is the sign of good coaching and personnel scouting. Broncos Country has many reasons to be excited going forward. I think that the average football fan might not agree but I am full of optimism. Notice that I did not throw out any meaningless stats or rankings. This football teams is showing that they can play the game the way that it is mean to be played. They will only get better as they gain more experience. I am confident that real football fans and members of Broncos Country will agree with me. Go Broncos!! True Broncos fans are behind you!