The annual football season kicks off this Monday Night for our beloved Denver Broncos. But, has everyone noticed how so-called experts are picking us to finish with a losing record or maybe 8-8 if we are lucky? I’m here to spread warranted optimism among us.
The truth is our offense is much better heading into 2008 than our 2005 season.
Who would you rather have Jay Cutler going into his third season, a traditionally great season for any Broncos quarterback, or Jake Plummer going into any season, though his third season wasn’t too bad. But, what happened against Pittsburgh, he gets pressure and throws four picks.
If Cutler is in a similar situation this season, I will guarantee you that Cutler doesn’t play like that. I know what you’re thinking, we have had way to many guarantee’s this offseason, I’ll jump on the bandwagon.
At wide receiver would you rather have Rod Smith, Ashlie Lelie and Charlie Adams or Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and Brandon Stokley. The answer there is obvious, though Rod Smith was still very good that year. However, Rod Smith in his mid 30’s compared to Brandon Marshall in his prime, well that isn’t even a debate.
Ok, so FB, we had Kyle Johnson and Cecil Sapp. Well, I know he hasn’t proven it yet, but Hillis, our new FB will be a bruiser and is so versatile out of the backfield, but i’ll go ahead and call it a draw just because he hasn’t done it yet. Then, running back’s Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell, ok, so they had a solid season together, and this year’s crop probably won’t get the boost they need until mid season with the return of Ryan Torrain. But, Selvin Young and Andre Hall will hold their own until Torrain steps in. I’ll go with Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell with the slight edge there for the first ten weeks atleast.
In 2005 one of our biggest strengths was OL, so i’ll go ahead and say the OL of 2005 would grade higher than our highly talented, yet unproven line of 2008 headed by Ryan Clady and followed by Ryan Harris, Chris Kuper, Ben Hamilton and either Casey Weiggman or Tom Nalen. However, don’t be surprised if come December this OL gels together and becomes dominant, this is probably the most talented line that Denver has had since the Super Bowl years.
Ok, so overall, I grade the 2008 offense higher than the 2005 version, especially when you factor in the return of Marshall after week 1 and the return of Torrain expected to be around mid season. His fresh legs will be a welcome addition to the team, as the offensive line begins to really gel, this running game could be dominant the last month of the season, just in time for the playoffs. And you must be able to do three things well to win come playof time. Run the football, make big plays in the passing game off of the success of the running game, and stop the run.
Now onto the defense, I’ll start by saying in no way does the linebacking corp of 2008 compare to the 2005 version. The 2005 unit had loads of talent and mixed it with a nice blend of youth and experience. This unit should be solid, but nothing more than that.
The secondary will only flourish with a pass rush. This also happens to be our most glaring weakness. After watching this team go man to man with various offensive lines during the pre-season, I’ve come up with a few conclusions. Jarvis Moss is not going to ever be a star player. Not only that, but he has a long way to go to become a respectable one.
Tim Crowder is a guy that you go to only when other players get hurt and has actually regressed this season compared to last. One or both of these players should be able to beat our Englberger for the starting DE spot opposite Dumverville and neither one has done so to this date, and I don’t expect them to be able to at any point this season. This may actually help us though. First of all, Englberger plays very well against the run, so teams that need that 3rd and 1 or 3rd and 2, will have to run away from him. So, let’s say they try and run at D-Robertson or Marcus Thomas, good luck there as both players excel against the run.
Ok, now let’s say you run at Dumerville, which would logically be your best bet. However, by the time a running back cuts it outside, Denver’s true strength comes into play and any RB will have D.J. Williams sitting there waiting for them. So, I believe Denver will drastically improve against the run, and rank a little lower than the 2008 run defense.
Now let’s get to that pass rush issue. Denver is going to have to use stunt blitzes and bring the kitchen sink on some plays, but with Champ Bailey, Dre Bly, Karl Paymah and Boss Bailey covering the TE is that such a bad idea? Absolutely not, and I believe that if we can get the kind of pressure we had in 2005, with the talent we have on offense, we could far exceed everyone’s expectation.
The real key with this team. Chemistry. Chemistry. Chemistry. The 2005 team had a very close knit group and seemed to rally around each other. Does this team have that same bond? We will find that out as the season goes on.
But, if Jay Cutler can limit mistakes, the running game can survive until Torrain gets healthy, the offensive line develops as expected and the defense pressures the quarterback and forces turnovers, then I think we can be this years version of the 2007 New York Giants, a team that like us, no one gave much of a chance…..betting against that to happen, that’s what this team wants you to do, they want to earn your respect. So, memo to you other 31 teams, we are ready to take back our respect.