This has been an amazing year for the Denver Broncos and their fans, as everyone who has been watching realizes.
It is all too easy to be picky about many aspects of performance that could be improved upon, but what has emerged as the key factor in the story of the Broncos’ 2008 season is that the team is in first place with a fine 8-5 record despite a staggering injury list that has led to one of the highest number of games played by rookies in team history.
There have been times before when this many rookies played, but it previously happened in rebuilding years, such as 1967 under Head Coach Lou Saban. Although anyone who saw and still remembers that season (as do I) would agree that “building from scratch” would have been a more accurate description than “rebuilding.”
And regarding this year’s record, no apologies are necessary, but kudos are in order.
Every team has a schedule, eight home and eight away, and every team has a record.
And when the standings show you are in first place, that’s where you are.
When you get there with two-thirds of the players who see the most action being first, second or third-year guys, that’s remarkable.
It becomes amazing when you factor in that 12 rookies have played for the Broncos this year.
Sunday at Carolina that total likely will go to 13 and could reach 14 when this week’s roster additions are factored in.
And every week we have transactions on the roster. The Broncos have made over 60 personnel moves to the active roster since the regular season began!
With all this youth and inexperience taken into consideration, this year’s team is on the cusp of doing something no previous team in the 49-year history of the Denver Broncos has ever accomplished.
With one more win, or a loss by the San Diego Chargers, the Broncos will clinch the AFC West, which is a great accomplishment on its own.
But . . .
It would also mean that the 2008 Broncos would be the first one in franchise history to be all alone in first place for every day of the season.
Consider that a little help is needed to accomplish that.
Not only does a team have to win on opening day, as the Broncos did, but all three division opponents have to lose their first game to place Denver in first place by itself.
But then you have to stay there every week, and that’s the hard part.
That’s how it happened to fall on opening day this year, but the Broncos did the rest themselves, staying in first place and negotiating their way through the usual troubled waters that every season brings.
Of course, this has not happened yet. The Broncos are having a fine year, but it is not over by a long shot, and neither is the race in the AFC West.
But the Broncos are one win away from doing something that no other team has done since the franchise was formed in 1960, and that would be a remarkable feat indeed.
Stay tuned. It’s going to be a wild ride to the finish.