Nine games remain in the regular season. Heading into this week’s game against Miami, the Broncos lead the AFC West by a game-and-a-half. They are in first place but they haven’t consistently played like a first place team.
It doesn’t take a football genius to figure out where the Broncos need to improve:
–RUSH DEFENSE. Opponents are averaging 154.6 rushing yards per game against the Broncos. That is simply too many. If a team doesn’t stop the run on a regular basis, that team will not have success.
Check out the running backs the Broncos still have to face, assuming they all stay healthy: Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams (Dolphins), Jamal Lewis (Browns), DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart (Panthers), Michael Turner (Falcons), Thomas Jones (Jets) and LaDainian Tomlinson (Chargers). Wow. And that’s to say nothing about possibly going against Larry Johnson (Chiefs) if he gets his off-field issues ironed out.
–TURNOVERS. The Broncos have committed 12 turnovers in their three losses. When they aren’t being generous, the Broncos have shown the ability to move the ball and score points.
–STEPPING UP. Cornerback Champ Bailey is out for at least a month. Linebacker Boss Bailey is done for the year. Tight end Tony Scheffler and running back Selvin Young have missed games, as has wide receiver Brandon Stokley. Young defensive linemen Marcus Thomas, Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder are still trying to find their way.
The fact is that a team usually isn’t able to find impact players off the street during the season. That means guys on the roster have to improve.
It usually takes defensive linemen time to develop. The Broncos have to hope the learning curve is short for those guys.
Can a young player like running back Ryan Torain give a boost to the running game? He was on the fast track to the starting spot before getting hurt in the preseason. A more productive running game could go a long ways towards helping the defense, not to mention the prospect of scoring more points.
With nine games left, the Broncos have four at home (Miami, Oakland, Kansas City and Buffalo) and five on the road (Cleveland, Carolina, Atlanta, NY Jets and San Diego). That group of games looks a lot tougher now than it did before the season began.
The fact is that the Broncos are atop the division even though they have had their share of problems. I will be interested to see what transpires over the next couple of months.
What are your thoughts about the final nine games of the season? Will the Broncos shore up their weak areas and hold on in the AFC West?
Thanks for reading and offering your thoughts.