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NFL Preview: #22

July 18, 2008

Team: Denver Broncos
Division: AFC West
Last Year's Record: 7-9
Head Coach: Mike Shanahan

Key Losses:
Jason Elam K
Travis Henry RB
Javon Walker WR
Rod Smith WR

Key Additions:
Boss Bailey LB
John Engelberger DE
Darrell Jackson WR
Michael Pittman RB

Breakdown of the Offense:
In the late '90s, the Denver Broncos were the Romans of the NFL. In '97, they conquered Hannibal, played by Brett Favre, and the Carthagenians to announce their dominance of the league. John Elway was Caesar Augustus, and every quarterback Denver has had since plays against the first emperor's legacy. Brian Griese was Nero, dragging the empire down, and Jake Plummer was Constantine, temporarily propping it up. Now, Pope Shanahan thinks he's found his Charlemagne and is looking to establish a new Holy Roman Empire.

Is Jay Cutler Charlemagne?

If so, then when Jay utters his famous words, "let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky," what he really means is "let my armies be" Brandon Marshall, Keary Colbert, Daniel Graham, and Selvin Young. The trees, the rocks, and the birds are more intimidating. Of course, this could be because no one knows much about Jay's weapons.

Brandon Marshall is a 6'4", 230 pound wide receiver, who went for 1,325 yards last year and seven touchdowns. He is now entering his fourth season. Selvin Young carried the ball 140 times for the Broncos last year, averaging 5.2 yards a carry, giving him a total of 729 yards. If Selvin can keep his ypc around four, then the Broncos will be delighted, as long as he finds the end zone more than the one time he did last year. These two guys along with Jay Cutler give the Broncos a young nucleus to work with on offense.

If Cutler can build on his 2007 campaign that saw him throw for 3,497 yards, 20 touchdowns, and only 14 interceptions, then expect decent production from tight end Daniel Graham and wide receivers Keary Colbert and Darrell Jackson as well.

Breakdown of the Defense:
How awesome is it that on one defense there is a guy named Champ and a guy named Boss? How much more awesome is it that they are brothers, and if that wasn't enough, they're both Georgia Bulldawgs. Plus, the defense also has a guy named Dre Bly on it and a stingy, hard-hitting, veteran safety named Lynch. This defense may be one of the best named defenses of all-time. The results on the field might be slightly different.

The unit's strengh is in its secondary. Champ Bailey and Dre Bly form one of the best corner tandems in the league, and John Lynch is still formidable at strong safety; but he's also thirty-six years old.

Weakside linebacker D.J. Williams led the team in tackles last year, and the addition of Boss Bailey allows the team to move Nate Webster from the starting spot on the strong side to the bench. This group is not spectacular, but it's not horrible either. They'll have their moments, which is probably how one could sum up the entire defense, which consists of an unproven front four, a mediocre linebacking core, and a couple of veteran playmakers in the secondary.

Position Grades:
QB---B: Where does Mike Shanahan's glass elevator take Jay Cutler now? I hear it goes in every direction: up, down, right, left, zig, zag, forwards, backwards, Super Bowl, and out of the playoffs.

RB---B-: Selvin Young needs to show he can be a featured back. Michael Pittman adds versatility and depth.

WR/TE---C+: Brandon Marshall is promising, but what can they get from Keary Colbert and Darrell Jackson? Jackson had his best years with another West Coast guru in Mike Holmgren. Oh, and I almost forgot, white guy fantasy favorite Brandon Stokley is also on the team.

OL---C: This unit gave up a total of thirty sacks last year, but with a young quarterback, it's hard to place the blame correctly. They'll be starting a rookie at left tackle in Ryan Clady, formerly of Boise State.

DL---D+: John Engelberger is a key addition?

LB---C: Niko Koutovides will be starting at middle linebacker. I don't know what that means.

DB---B+: I would give them an A, except at some point Champ, Dre, and John Lynch have got to start showing their miles. Also, Hamza Abdullah is their free safety. He falls in my "?" category.

Outlook: I know we've got them ranked #22 and my peers aren't that high on this team, but I think they might be a bit of a darkhorse in the AFC. If the young guys on offense progress and develop some chemistry, then they have a chance to be good on that side of the ball. Also, they have an easy schedule. Who doesn't want to play Oakland and Kansas City a total of four times? I feel like they're three wins to be had in those four games. They also play Atlanta and Miami, which could give them two more wins. Then it just comes down to can they beat the teams that are on their talent level, which will go a long way to telling all those watching whether or not Jay Cutler is a Charlemagne or another Nero. I think he's the former. At worst, this team finishes where it did last year.

On a side note, Rod Smith retired this offseason after an underrated career. His retirement pretty much cuts all ties the Broncos had in uniform to the John Elway years, so Rod, this song's for you....

WK 1 @Oakland
WK 2 San Diego
WK 3 New Orleans
WK 4 @ Kansas City
WK 5 Tampa Bay
WK 6 Jacksonville
WK 7 @ New England
WK 9 Miami
WK 10 @ Cleveland
WK 11 @ Atlanta
WK 12 Oakland
WK 13 @ NY Jets
WK 14 Kansas City
WK 15 @ Carolina
WK 16 Buffalo
WK 17 @ San Diego

Berndon4's Thoughts: If only the Chiefs weren't so bad, the Broncos would be in the AFC West basement. Denver making the playoffs is about as likely as Travis Henry putting down the bong and wearing condoms.

Langston's Thoughts: The second best team in the league's worst conference is no success. The team has too many holes.


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