So here we are, smack dab in the middle of the 2008 NFL season. The Denver Broncos are atop the AFC West, as they have been the entire season. Although it does seem that being atop the AFC West this year seems to be like taking candy from children.
With a paltry 5-3 record, and arguably one of the leagues worst defenses, the Broncos do have the potential to make it through the first round of the playoffs this year. Something that Denver fans haven't experienced since ending the Patriots chances of a Super Bowl three-peat in the 2005 season.
I am a third generation Broncos fan, and even I will admit that the remainder of this year's schedule frightens me a bit. The following is a little football fan perspective on improvements that should help get the team through round one. I know, they're all very obvious, but apparently someone at the Denver Broncos Football Club hasn't caught on yet.
The Broncos defense stands out as the obvious cancer. The pass defense is ranked 28th in the league, the rush defense 29th, and the overall ranking is 28th. Although Denver's offense has been a high scoring unit all season, you cannot allow an average of 27.9 points a game scored against you.
The first thing I can remember my father telling me about football is that offense sells tickets and defense wins games. That has stuck with me throughout the years as the key to winning football games.
Dre Bly, in this writer's opinion, was an overrated acquisition. Bly has been getting burned all season. Now, I know he's been picked on by QB's that avoid throwing in Champ Bailey's direction, but we need results to match the hype that came along with Bly. Now that Champ will be out for the next three to five weeks, the secondary is going to suffer even more.
The linebackers need to speed things up a bit, as they're looking a bit sluggish. That goes double now that Boss Bailey is out for the season. Elvis Dumervil just needs to keep doing what he's doing and show the rest of the D-Line how to do it.
The defense isn't the only problem facing the Broncos. One that comes to mind, especially in recent weeks, is turnovers. This should be an easy fix, you would think. The biggest turnovers this season have either come from receivers fumbling after contact, or Cutler making bad decisions.
I am not going to harp on the offense much, but this is a must. We need to see Denver get back to the basics. Throwing into double or triple coverage is not going to work. Cutler is the best quarterback to take snaps in the orange and blue since No. 7 made his departure, but he knows it. It goes to his head, and he makes bad decisions.
The receiving core is one of the better ones that Denver has seen since the days of the Eddie Mac and Rod Smith tandem. Brandon Marshall needs to get his poop in a group, do what he's capable of, and not fumble at the absolute most inopportune time. There, it's been said.
The final idea that I've been tinkering with over the past year as a potential issue with the Broncos...is Mike Shanahan. I have been in denial that there could possibly be a chance that Mike Shanahan has lost his touch in Denver. I know, I know. Blasphemy.
I have personally regarded Shanahan as a football genius. Right up there with Bill Belichick for sheer genius with running football schemes. But, it has been ten years now since the Denver Broncos won their most recent Super Bowl. Denver fans have incredibly high expectations, and we refuse to settle for mediocrity and below .500 seasons.
It is my speculation, that if Denver does not make it into the second round of playoffs this year, Shanahan will have to find another team. I didn't want to have to say this, but it had to be brought to the table.
Denver begins Week Nine coming off of a bye. I hope they have been working on stopping the rush and holding on to the ball. Champ will be back in three to five weeks. I can only hope that it's enough to finish out the season remaining on top. The remainder of the season includes some tough games like Carolina and their high-ranked defense and San Diego at home. If Shanahan can get his team to fine tune the few things mentioned here, I can't imagine the rest of this year being too difficult.