Just sitting here thinking that this time last year the Denver Broncos were one of the “big spender’s” of the previous offseason. The team had landed Sam Adams, Travis Henry, Brandon Stoakley, Simeon Rice, and Dre’ Bly just to name a few. Truth is that I honestly expected to see this team contend for a title, and I think quite a few Broncos fans were with me on that. So here we are a year later, coming off of one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory and with most of those “prized pick-ups” of a year ago gone, as well as Javon Walker taking his mouth and knee issues to Oakland. Broncos fans are not exactly planning the Super Bowl parties just yet.
Which brings me to this question, should Broncos fans get excited about this season? After a careful look I have to give you an astounding YES! Now before you get carried away I’m NOT saying that the Broncos are a contender to win it all at this point, but to expect 10 to 11 wins is really NOT out of the question.
Since I haven’t done my weekly blog, well it used to be weekly, in a while I’ll kick off my comeback with a Denver Broncos edition of the BS7. I may have a full version out next week as well. So let’s give my 7 reasons Broncos fans can get excited for 2008.
#1- If you think Ohio State has an easy schedule, take a look at the Broncos.
Ok, maybe they don’t start off with games like Youngstown State and Ohio University, but the Broncos have it fairly easy this year. First off you have 4 games against the Raiders and the Chiefs neither of which look like they have made ANY of the necessary moves to become any sort of a contender. Sure Oakland is out buying every player they can, but if you talk to Falcons fans they aren’t really that upset over losing Hall (gets burnt OFTEN, and can lose his cool in a hurry, see the Panthers game last year) and I’m pretty sure Broncos fans couldn’t hand pick a better place to watch Javon Walker continue to waste what could have been a great career.
Next we look at the non conference opponents, this list reads off like the podium from the NFL Draft. The Broncos travel to Atlanta and the Jets while hosting Miami and Buffalo. I know that the Jets added a 75 year old QB and are pretty sure he can revive their 4-12 team who also lost their big defensive playmaker. Somehow I’m skeptical that Favre can REALLY make the Jets into anything more than a 6 win team.
Bottom line is that the Broncos will play 10 games against sub .500 teams a year ago. They will also have 7 games against teams that couldn’t muster up more than 4 wins in 2007.
#2- The Broncos’ new favorite stat…. Blood Sugar Level.
Strange that finding out that your starting QB has Type 1 Diabetes is actually good news. But for the Broncos this can be great news.
As it turns out Denver’s franchise QB has had diabetes for a while now, but just had no idea that he was diabetic. It got so bad last year that he was rapidly losing weight and lost quite a bit of zip from his throws. Now that he knows about his condition and can keep it under control Jay Cutler is poised for a breakout season.
The guy was arguably a top 10 QB last year when he was around 60 to 70% healthy… just think about this guy at 100%.
#3- Eddie Royal loses job as return man.
I know, this looks like another thing that you wouldn’t be too excited to see. But people that have been following the Broncos out of camp know that this is not only AMAZING news, but VERY unexpected.
Royal was picked up in the second round this year and expected to add a much needed spark to the Broncos’ special teams. From the first looks of training camp it seemed like he was the perfect man for the job. The 5’10” WR out of Virginia Tech seemed to not only bring that great speed that the Broncos were looking for, but he also had a work ethic that seemed to allow him to fit right in at this level.
As camp went on Royal turned out to be a little too good for the job that the Broncos drafted him to fill. He has since leaped over Brandon Stoakley, Darrel Jackson, Keary Colbert, and recently released Sammie Parker to become the Broncos #2 WR. Royal will actually fill in as the team’s #1 wide out while Brandon Marshall sits out the first game.
If this guy can carry this over into the regular season his speed mixed with Stoakley’s talent in the slot and Brandon Marshall’s freakish talent could make life VERY easy for Bronco’s QB Jay Cutler.
#4- Hate to say it… but NO John Lynch.
While I am a HUGE fan of John Lynch, and really do wish the guy all the best luck in the world from here on out. I will say that he is most certainly lost a step over the past year. I know he made the pro bowl last year, but let’s be honest Vince Young was a Pro-Bowler a year before that so I really don’t want to use that as a way of evaluating a player.
John Lynch may have hurt the team on the field last year more than people actually realize. You see Lynch’s position at FS is VERY important with an over aggressive corner like Dre’ Bly. Bly has a tendency to go for the interception almost every time. While this did lead to him picking off more balls than any other Bronco it also led to some very long TD passes on other instances.
While Lynch is a great dude, and someone you defiantly want in your locker room. The truth is that he didn’t really have the speed or the agility to cover when Bly’s coverage broke down. Lynch actually lost the position in camp which led to Denver giving him the opportunity to play elsewhere.
#5- The AFC West just isn’t that great.
I’ll try not to completely slam the rest of the AFC West, but the truth is that this division is really up for grabs. Don’t believe me? Take a look.
While the Chiefs can expect a little more out of RB Larry Johnson than he put up last year, their season’s hopes rest on Brodie Croyle’s right arm. Add to that they lost star DE Allen, and really haven’t filled that void either. KC fans can look forward to a 10+ loss season add to that a new QB and possibly a new coach next year.
Year after year teams are showing that game are won and lost in the trenches. The O and D lines are really where the battles are week in and week out. Cleveland showed everyone when they took LT Thomas in last year’s draft to much criticism, yet no one said much of anything when they made themselves a contender almost instantly. Despite all of this the Raiders continue to target the “playmakers” and even at that questionable playmakers.
Like I said earlier, Javon Walker will not play more than 8 games and don’t be surprised if he doesn’t surpass the 400 yard mark this season. After all the guy has already been mugged, and tried to retire and the season hasn’t started yet.
It will take a lot for me to believe in Russell as a QB, something about strong armed guys with no work ethic just don’t get me excited.
The Chargers are not nearly in as great of shape as you may think. Rivers, LT, Gates, and Merriman all have pretty serious injury issues coming into this season. Tomlinson has also lost the security of his solid #2 in Turner. This will cause him to have to take even more carries, see Larry Johnson if you want to know what that does to a RB. Add to that LT lost his go to FB. Jacob Hester seems too small to fill that role as a lead blocker and will be used more as a goalline RB than anything this year.
As for Rivers, we are all waiting for his talent to catch up with his mouth. The guy has looked pretty sloppy this pre-season, and after all that talk last year look for some teams to gun for this guy.
#6- Big signings don’t always equal big seasons-
Last year the Broncos were among the big spenders in the offseason. But the truth is that outside of Dallas and New England most of the big spending teams usually don’t have too much success. Teams like Washington and Oakland throw money at the top Free Agents almost every year, yet they don’t really seem to get much better.
The fact that the Broncos have worked to get solid character players (outside of a certain WR), they have checked the ego at the door and will focus much more on a team concept this season. In years past this has been a successful season.
#7- ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!!!
This time last year I’m pretty sure Giants fans couldn’t even predict their team as Super Bowl champs without laughing a little. I mean sure it wouldn’t come as a shock to see Manning as the Super Bowl MVP, but Eli?
The beauty of football is that at this point EVERY team has a shot at this. The Broncos were 7-9 last year and that was a broken and bruised team that had all sorts of issues. There is no way that picking up 3 more wins is out of the question.
After all it is that time of the year for NFL fans to wear those rose colored glasses. At this point… “Yes, your team could be amazing”, not just have to sit back and wait to see if they actually are.