|09-18-2007, 10:32 PM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Is best from Broncos yet to come?
By Mike Klis
Denver Post Staff Writer
They have two wins in two games against two teams that might well finish as the AFC's bottom two.
Is this the start of the Broncos becoming No. 1?
The Broncos might be the only NFL team that is 2-0 and off to a slow start. There is encouragement in that.
"What's exciting," said Broncos safety John Lynch, "is we don't know how good we are, yet."
In some ways, the first two games have brought clarity to the mystery that is the 2007 Broncos. The kid quarterback, Jay Cutler, appears to have considerably more talent than inexperience. The defense - with its new players and new coach and new approach - has mostly quelled preseason concerns by melding competently once games were scored for keeps.
But in other ways, the mystery has only fogged. For all their proven talent, the Broncos needed a schoolhouse fire drill for a field goal as time expired to beat the Buffalo Bills and a timeout to stave off defeat at home against the Oakland Raiders.
"Guys are fighting hard, playing hard and enjoying themselves out there," backup running back Selvin Young said. "But we've got to start finishing a little bit better."
Averaging 455.5 yards a game, the Broncos have the league's No. 1-ranked offense by a wide margin - 36 1/2 yards more than the ever-efficient New England Patriots, 39 more yards than Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts and 72 more than that offensive juggernaut, the Cincinnati Bengals.
But the Pats are scoring 38 points a game, the Bengals are at 36 points a game and the Colts are averaging 31.5 while the Broncos are at 19 points. It's not easy ranking first in total offense and 17th in scoring.
"In the first two games, considering there's a lot of new players at a lot of positions, we've been pretty good," Shanahan said before attempting to list the eight offensive starters who didn't start in the final game of the 2006 season. "Sometimes it takes a little while to get that continuity going."
Through two games, it's not unreasonable to believe the Broncos are among the AFC's top five teams, along with New England, Indianapolis, San Diego and Pittsburgh. Finishing in the AFC's top five, though, isn't why the Broncos put this team together. It's early, way early. Yet, two games have been enough to inspire both hope the Broncos can find their way to Super Bowl XLII, and concerns that must be addressed before they can even think about it.
Because they have a young quarterback, a new defense and so many new players, the Broncos' perfect formula for this year is to play much better at the end of the season than at the beginning.
It's difficult to imagine the Patriots playing any better than they have while routing the New York Jets on the road and the Chargers at home. The general feeling among the Broncos is they haven't come anywhere close to playing their best ball - and they're 2-0 with a home game against 1-1 Jacksonville up next.
While the Broncos waited until the harrowing final play before defeating the winless Bills and Raiders, the Colts clobbered New Orleans, the Chargers handled the Chicago Bears, the Steelers whipped their two opponents by a combined 60-10, and the Pats trounced all comers. If the NFL used the college-poll formula, the Broncos would be currently ranked fifth.
In terms of pure talent, if not production, the Broncos' offensive skill positions might be equal to their Super Bowl teams of 1997 and 1998. Or does anybody not believe the current receiver trio of Javon Walker, Brandon Marshall and Brandon Stokley exceeds the athleticism of Ed McCaffrey, Rod Smith and Willie Green?
It's true a refined John Elway and Terrell Davis in his prime had no peer. But Cutler, on pace for more than 4,500 yards passing, and Travis Henry, who has rushed for 139 and 128 yards, don't stink.
Shannon Sharpe might be the best receiving tight end ever, but Shanahan sounds as if he prefers the balance of blocking and catching provided by Daniel Graham.
"That was one of the best tight end demonstrations I've seen in a long time," Shanahan said of Graham's play against Oakland.
The defense ranks 27th against the run, allowing 156.0 yards per game. This would be more alarming had the Colts not come off a season in which they ranked 32nd against the run but won the Super Bowl.
|09-18-2007, 11:02 PM||#2|
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: 'I guess he'd rather be in Colorado'
"Is best from Broncos yet to come? "