Editor’s note: Joe’s Charger piece is being held up due to an unfortunate photoshop greasefire incident. We will post it as soon we can. In its stead, I present today’s planned piece on the Broncos.
“Awwww, the Denver Broncos?”
Simpsons fans remember this ending to one of the better episodes, “You Only Move Twice.” It’s a fun episode filled with jokes, but the only one that matters to us is when Homer is awarded an NFL team – not the Dallas Cowboys that he wanted, but the Denver Broncos. When he expresses his disappointment (as quoted above, complete with extra w’s), Marge tells him that owning any team is good. To which Homer famously replies:
Well, yeah, the point of this intro is that Peyton Manning came to town and made Homer look silly.
Of course, we don’t know that; there are still a ton of questions. No one knows if Peyton Manning can still play as well as he did before the 62 neck surgeries performed last year. We also don’t know if the Denver defense is going to be dominant, as they were for stretches of the season, or dormant, as they were when they faced any decent offense. We don’t know if the Chargers will be stronger this year, if the Raiders will actually live up to their potential, or if the Chiefs are going to get better.
But we do know that the Denver Broncos are going to be an exciting story again this year, and this time it might actually be because they’re talented enough to win a championship! But you can’t move forward without acknowledging the past. This is the Denver Broncos retrospective.
Team Highlight: The Broncos had gotten a playoff berth, which had in some way validated Tim Tebow’s play at quarterback all season long. If they had lost to the Steelers, as was widely predicted, no one would have been too harsh on them (except for all of the Tebow haters who would have probably drunk a lot and had wonton abortions in celebration). But that’s not what happened. What happened was Tim Tebow actually played like an NFL quarterback, and they beat the Steelers on the first play in overtime. Tebow threw for over 300 yards and two scores, and the Tebow supporters made the Tebow haters eat crow. This lasted a week, of course, until the Patriots sodomized the Broncos. But enough with lowlight spoilers!
Team Lowlight: There were more than a few lowlights for the Broncos season, but I am picking their playoff loss because it poked holes in a lot of people’s theories about the Denver Broncos. Everyone with a microphone shouted to the heavens about how the Broncos were winning with their great defense. But then Tom Brady descended from the heavens to lead an offensive outburst all over the Broncos. They gave up 45 points and 509 totals yards to the Patriots offense, and the Broncos only put up 252 in response. And for anyone wanting to do quarterback comparisons, Tom Brady threw for 363 yards and 6 touchdowns, while Tebow was 9 for 26 with 136 yards passing and no scores. But at least Tebow had one less interception than Brady. ADVANTAGE TEBOW!
Team MVP: Ugh. I really don’t want to say Tebow. But here’s the problem. McGahee had a great running output, but only got the in endzone 6 times, and fumbled 4 times. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil were great defensively, but I don’t see either of them being the deciding factor on whether this team wins games. But we saw it with Tebow. They were 1-4 with Orton. And whatever the circumstances around it, Tebow came in and led them to the playoffs. There’s a good chance they wouldn’t have gotten there without him. So you have to make him the MVP. And then you have to cry yourself to sleep afterwards.
Needs: Well, they sure filled that hole at quarterback! But there are a lot of other needs too. The interior defensive line, for starters; after losing Broderick Bunkley to the Saints in free agency, they need someone who can plug the middle and allow Miller and Dumervil to do their work. On the offensive side of the ball, they could stand for an upgrade at center. Also, people make a big deal about Peyton Manning making his teammates better, and that’s probably true, but if you can grab some weapons at receiver or tight end in the draft, you better do it. Fun fact: the leading receiver for the Broncos last year was Eric Decker, with a whopping FORTY-FOUR receptions. Obviously a different guy was under center last year, but come on. That’s usually what Manning’s fullbacks catch in a season.
What a Broncos Fan is Drinking: Well last year it was Shirley Temples, but this year we can pile on the alcohol! Peyton Manning is your quarterback, Denver: it’s time to celebrate! And nothing says celebrations like margaritas! But orange ones because it’s the Broncos.
Jango Scale of Scandal Likelihood:
Unless John Fox is running some sort of underground prostitution ring, I think the Broncos are going to be a scandal free team, unless Manning has a few bad games and all the “WE WANT HANIE” chants start.
Entirely Too Early Prediction for 2012: I think they’re going to be good this year, assuming Manning can get it together. Manning has always been good at hiding problems with a team. The Broncos have some problems, but no more than the Colts did, and they won double digit games for over a decade. So that trend will continue, and I’m going with 11-5.
Next week we take on the NFC West. And then we’re done with the retrospectives! DONE!