The 2010 Broncos enter the season with two consecutive late season collapses that caused them to miss the playoffs. Both years it looked like Denver was a lock to be in the playoffs late in the season. But both years they faltered at the end. Can they put themselves in a position to correct that?
Josh McDaniels no doubt made questionable decisions last year. He dealt the franchise quarterback and replaced with the reliable but unspectacular, Kyle Orton. Orton had an average season but Kyle Orton cannot win games for you on his own and with the many injury issues at tailback last year in Denver, Orton just couldn't win enough on his own.
The passing game is certain to take a big hit this year as the latest superstar to leave Denver is perhaps even a bigger blow. The Broncos dealt star receiver Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins for a pair of 2nd round picks. That leaves Jabar Gaffney, Eddie Royal, and rookie Demaryius Thomas to battle for the number one spot. Thomas is the only real deep threat that the Broncos have as Royal and Gaffney are short yardage specialists. Will the passing game be enough to not allow the defense to sit on the run and stuff the box?
Knowshon Moreno enters his second season in the league and will be the featured back. He is now almost fully recovered from his hamstring injury. Can he shoulder the load for a whole season without getting injured? He was hurt last year as well and with his backup, Correll Buckhalter, hurt as well, the Broncos have no experience behind him.
The Broncos do have a solid O-Line, featuring the best left tackle in football in Ryan Clady. They should respond fine during their switch to a man blocking scheme, instead of the zone they used last year. They need to hope, though, that Ryan Harris and Ryan Clady can come back well from their injuries and solidify the tackle positions.
The Broncos return much of a defense that ranked 7th in the NFL in 2009. The one big problem is they lost defensive leader and pass rusher Elvis Dumervil for the season. I just don't think the Broncos can get enough pressure on the QB without him. They did sign ex-Patriot Jarvis Green, but he cannot replace Dumervil and was always a backup in NE. Robert Ayers needs to step up and show he is worthy of the first round pick that the Broncos made him last April.
DJ Williams is a very solid NFL linebacker and leads a group that also features veteran Akin Ayodele. Wesley Woodyard is crucial as he is an excellent cover linebacker and can drop into coverage allowing Williams to rush the QB.
The secondary is led by veteran Brian Dawkins, one of the biggest hitters the NFL has to offer. Renaldo Hill is a reliable strong safety giving the Broncos a reliable safety unit. Alphonso Smith is a young corner who has had a great offseason and could be a difference maker this year. Of course, the ageless Champ Bailey is still a great corner in Denver.
Overall, I don't like Denver's chances at the postseason this year. I think the loss of Marshall will hurt and the lack of a pass rush will doom the Broncos.
One fantasy player to watch: No real sleepers on this team, and Knowshon Moreno is falling in most drafts but he is worth a pick up as a 2nd tailback. Otherwise, avoid Broncos.