Offense: The Denver Broncos have a new sheriff in town and his name is not Reggie Hammond. For the ones who didn’t catch that Hammond is the character Eddie Murphy played in the 80’s movie 48 hours. Enough of yester year, let us get back to the Broncos and their new quarterback Peyton Manning. He replaces Tim Tebow who was traded to the New York Jets. This is a major upgrade with Manning because of his Hall of Fame stats and his ability to complete a high percentage of the forward pass. Tebow is a tremendous athlete and one heck of a person, but his biggest liability that got him shipped to New York was his inability to be consistent in the passing game and accuracy issues. Manning is coming back from neck surgery and has said he has healed, but the jury is still out until we see him return to the Peyton Manning we all know and have seen in the past. Wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are poised to have an exceptional year with Manning as the quarterback. The Broncos were a power running team with Tebow behind the reins and running back Willis McGahee was the horse that help pull the sled. Several players should have a breakout season with Manning leading the pass offense like left tackle Ryan Clady who had problems giving up sacks because of Tebow holding the ball to long.
Defense: Defensively the Broncos have talent and they are still in transition from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 scheme. The defense was fast and aggressive overall and kept the team in a lot of games in 2011. Tim Tebow got most of the praise, but it was the defense and the kicking game that propelled Denver into the playoffs. They stayed on the field a lot because of many three and outs by the offense and the non- threat of a passing game. The defensive tackles need some upgrading and they get a huge boost with the return of Ty Warren who missed all of the 2011 season with an injury. The defensive ends and the outside linebackers provide the pass rush and game changing plays. Elvis Dumervil put up 9.5 sacks after missing most of the 2010 year and was aided by 2011 rookie linebacker Von Miller and linebacker D.J. Williams. Cornerback Champ Bailey is still playing at all-pro level and is entering his 14th season and showing no signs of slowing down. He can still run up and down the field with the best wide receivers in the game. Cornerback Tracy Porter comes aboard via free agency and adds speed and experience. The safeties need to step up their play with the departure of veteran Brian Dawkins.
Season Outlook: If Peyton Manning’s neck issues are a thing of the past the Broncos could make some noise and be in contention for the AFC West crown. The passing game will see a major turnaround even with the chemistry not quite there yet between Peyton and his receivers. Willis McGahee should look to carry this team early until the passing offense gets into sync. Demaryius Thomas will give Manning something he has never had in a wide receiver and that is someone who is big, fast, and strong. He will be a threat all over the field and should have an outstanding year. The defense will still be aggressive and pressure teams with its front seven, but the core of the defense, the tackles and middle linebacker, needs to improve against the run for this defense to be one of the top ranked.