The outlook for this Denver Broncos season has been less than spectacular. From one web site to the next the predictions from experts are bleak...8-8....6-10....even 4-12. I however am not ready to give up on this season before it even begins.
I've been accused more than once of seeing the world through orange colored glasses and not being completely objective, which I can't completely argue with. So here goes the most objective season preview I am capable of giving.
The biggest thing this Broncos team has going against them isn't the loss of Mike Shanahan or Jay Cutler. It isn't the addition of a new coach with a completely new offense or a new defensive coordinator installing a very difficult new defense. No, the Broncos biggest challenge this year will be the schedule. If Shanahan was still in power and Cutler still under center I would probably predict a 6-10 season, but that isn't the case.
First lets look back at last years team which sported one of the worst defenses in Broncos history and the third worst scoring defense in the NFL behind only the woeful 2-14 Rams and 0-16 Lions. Jay Cutler was second in the NFL with 18 interceptions and they lost seven running backs to injury, yet despite all of that they managed to finish 8-8.
This year the defense has been completely revamped from top to bottom. It may not be the second coming of the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Baltimore Ravens, but it can only get better after last season. The 3-4 defense is complicated and we don't have all the necessary parts to make it perfect just yet, but the first team defense in the preseason was able to pressure the quarterback with seven sacks in the first two games. The defense will be better, I guarantee that. They won't be a top ten defense, but I can see them finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack.
On offense we might be even better. By mid-season in 2008 Jay Cutler had his eyes fixed on Brandon Marshall and nobody else. He forced throws that should never have been made and threw crucial interceptions ending many a scoring drive. Cutler is the only major subtraction from last year and don't forget that his interceptions are going with him. Strong arms and big numbers only matter if they help you win games and Cutler has never been a winner, not in college, not in the NFL.
Kyle Orton won't wow anybody with his arm strength, but he may not need to. The offense is not as talented as it was last year...it's better. Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter and Peyton Hillis give the Broncos depth and diversity in the backfield. Marshall, Royal and Stokely are back and this time they have depth behind them with Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Lloyd.
The schedule could possibly keep this team down, but if the defense gets their heads wrapped around Mike Nolan's new scheme and the offense gets comfortable with Josh McDaniels offense, I think they'll be ok.
Jesse Kurtz went on record saying this team will finish 7-9, but I'm going to go out on a limb with my orange colored glasses and say 10-6. I know that may be a stretch for some of you, but if I don't have hope I have no reason to watch.
Please feel free to leave any feedback including your own predictions.
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