Denver, CO. Even though the Denver Broncos came out on the short end of the stick Sunday afternoon, anyone who knows the NFL well knows that it is foolish to worry about the final score in any game in August. For the Broncos, the fact that the first team offense looked so much better and much more precise was something that everyone was hoping for. The mistakes that had plagued them in the first two contests went away, as Peyton Manning looked very close to his old self in leading the team on two TD drives. This was truly the first time that we all saw the potential of how scary good this arsenal of offensive weapons could be. Whether it was Eric Decker and his accurate route running leading to two scores, or Demaryius Thomas and his impressive size and strength, or even the tight ends getting into the act with a few grabs here and there. It seemed as if everyone in that first quarter knew it was important to dial it up a few notches and come out strong. The defense had their moments as well, showing the speed and versatility from guys like Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, and the guy that never seems to age, Champ Bailey. At halftime, the Denver Broncos had a nice lead, and what they had done through 30 minutes was everything that every Broncos fan had been hoping for. But then came the second half, and truly on all accounts it was a mess. From the officiating, to both teams erratic play, anyone could easily tell that the starters were nowhere to be found. One thing also became quite clear. The Denver Broncos defense had better be very lucky this year with keeping their health. If any key starters get hurt on this edition of the “Orange Crush”, this team could very well be in deep trouble.
We have been hearing it for months. One of the greatest QB’s of all time is here, and as long as he is healthy, the Denver Broncos will be a contender in the AFC. While I do believe that to be true, something else is also very true. #18 has a losing career playoff record. How could this be? Well, it just goes to show that even the best players still need plenty of help from other parts of the team. As good as Peyton has been since entering the league in 1998, he has a 9-10 playoff record, and just the one ring. Quite honestly, he and his offenses throughout the years have typically scored plenty of points to win plenty of games. But in Indy, there were times when that defense didn’t come through and ended up being the reason the Colts didn’t realize their potential in some seasons. So the bottom line is, as great as Manning has been and can still be, this defense here in Denver better plan on coming to the party in 2012. The attitude had better not be, “well, we got one of the greatest of all-time, so he’ll bail us out.” If that is the case, this team will be doomed to have a critical game along the way not go their way, and this team will end up like too many of his previous teams have….coming up short in January.
To be fair, the defensive starters on Sunday looked very good. The intensity was there, and the pass rush had the look of one that could cause havoc all season. The run stoppers are improved, as the health of Ty Warren will be vital this year. Derek Wolfe is still very raw, but his energy is fun to see develop as time goes on. Aside from Von Miller, the linebackers are solid, although unspectacular. The corners of Bailey and Tracy Porter will be one of the best in the league. Two things, however, should scare Denver Broncos fans heading into September. One, the safeties are frighteningly inconsistent. Whether it’s Rahim Moore, Mike Adams, Quinton Carter, or anyone else, this has the makings of a disastrous situation. They did not look good vs San Francisco, and this glaring hole on the defense is potentially a huge mess for 2012. Veteran Jim Leonhard may eventually help out, but this could absolutely be what kills this side of the ball this year. The other problem that became obvious, is that the second and third stringers on defense are just simply not very good. In the second half, the 49ers ran all over the Broncos, as plenty of holes opened up for the Niners runners. Everyone from Kevin Vickerson to Nate Irving to Robert Ayers to Drayton Florence looked a step slow and very unmotivated. Are they all a step slow, or even worse, just not very good? Whatever the answer is, this defense has some serious depth issues. If a few guys on the first string get nicked up and miss games, this defense could completely collapse at some point.
Well, all indications are that we have seen the last of the starters until the regular season opener in two short weeks. The Broncos definitely cleaned up some areas and look to be ready to go for the most part. The offense found a nice rhythm that landed them in the end zone versus a very good 49ers defense. The mix of the run and the pass had a nice flow, and Peyton looked very good. The defense showed some spunk, and its obvious speed on that side of the ball won’t be a problem. For most teams throughout the course of the year, health is a huge factor in how far they end up going. For this years Denver Broncos, that could prove to be the biggest factor of all.
Denver Sports by J Simp
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