At last, the regular season is here. It should be an interesting one.
I’m not sure anyone really knows how to evaluate the pre-season outside the coaching staff. It seems as if the Broncos made progress and took steps forward. It is time to find out.
Going into the pre-season, I was as interested in seeing how this Broncos team came together as I’ve been in a long time. Now that the regular season is here, I’m even more interested to see how good this team is.
I still believe what I believed heading into training camp: The Broncos are a good, solid football team. There is certainly plenty of room for improvement and if they make that improvement, the Broncos could be better than a good, solid football team. I believe they have that kind of talent, but only time will tell how good they are.
Here are some thoughts on the season that is upon us:
THE MAN. Without a doubt, his name is Jay Cutler. Cutler is poised to take some major steps forward and I think he will. I believe the Broncos will, first and foremost, rely on him. While I think the Broncos’ running game will be fine, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them use the pass to set up the run, which would be a departure from the way they have done things.
Think back to the draft three years ago when Cutler, Matt Leinart and Vince Young came out of college. The way things stand now, the Broncos got the best of the group. I think Cutler will show that even more in 2008. Young has not shown himself to be a consistent passer and Leinart, at least for now, hasn’t been able to win Arizona’s starting job over an aging Kurt Warner.
THE OTHER MAN. His name is Brandon Marshall. He is poised to become one of the most productive receivers in the NFL. And I think he’ll take big-time steps in that direction. Remember, former Broncos’ great Rod Smith said during training camp that Marshall could be the best receiver the organization has ever had. The Cutler-Marshall combo should have a huge year and the Broncos will need it.
THE RELIABLE. Cornerback Champ Bailey. Need we say more?
THE QUESTION MARK. The defensive line. If this unit proves to be tough, stout and a force, the Broncos defense could be really good. If this unit has trouble figuring things out, it could be frustrating to watch the Broncos this year. So much of a defense’s success hinges on the defensive line. Those guys are the first line of attack against the run. Those guys can throw an offense into chaos by getting consistent pressure on the quarterback.
The Broncos took a step in the right direction when they acquired defensive tackle DeWayne Robertson during the off-season. He needs to stay healthy. And guys like Marcus Thomas, Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder have to raise their levels of play. No doubt it takes some time for defensive linemen to develop; the Broncos have to hope these guys are on the fast track.
THE OVERLOOKED. The tight end position. Coach Mike Shanahan has sung the praises of tight ends Daniel Graham, Tony Scheffler and Nate Jackson. Graham is the best blocker of the three, Scheffler is likely the best receiver and Jackson has shown to be versatile. I’d love to see these guys get a major role in the offense.
THE SECRET WEAPON. Actually, it’s the secret weapons. Kicker Matt Prater has done a terrific job putting kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks in the pre-season. He can really help the special teams and the defense if he continues to do this.
On returns, the Broncos need to get production out of Eddie Royal. He has the moves, he has the speed. Now he has to get it done when it counts.
The Broncos have talent, they also have questions to answer. If they answer those successfully, they could find themselves in pretty good shape at the end of the season.
How well do you think the Broncos will do this year? Feel free to offer your thoughts below.
Enjoy the first weekend of the season. I’ll check in after the Raiders game.
Thanks for reading,