Denver, CO. Three weeks of the 2012 regular season are now in the books, and the Denver Broncos are 1-2. The fact that Denver has lost two in a row may not be a huge surprise to some fans, as they have lost two games in six days to a couple of outstanding teams who are both still unbeaten. The Broncos have dug themselves a hole in each loss, only to make furious comebacks which fell just short. They ended up losing by six points in each game vs Atlanta and vs Houston, as the Broncos optimists would point out that this Denver team was resilient and will only get better as the year goes on. They will also point out that this team is still learning how to play with one another and it’s a great sign that they have been in these games with just a few minutes to go in each one. Even at 1-2, everyone knew the early season part of the schedule would be extremely tough, so one win in their first three games is not the end of the world. However, although there have been some encouraging signs in these last two losses, there have also been some things that have popped up that could be problems as the year progresses. This Denver Broncos team already has shown they have the talent to rebound and bounce back from a 1-2 start. But there are a handful of things they must address if they want to make 2012 a successful season. Here are the 7 issues that the Broncos must improve on to be a legitimate AFC contender later in the year……
1 – The Safety Play - I had a feeling back in August that the Broncos safeties may become an issue. Rahim Moore and Mike Adams are below average NFL safeties, and have proven that through three games. Too many times they are out of position and have gotten burned by wide receivers and tight ends. Unless the Broncos make a deal for a more talented safety before the week 8 trade deadline, this problem in the defensive secondary could be what dooms this entire team in 2012.
2 – Erratic Tracy Porter - Porter burst onto the scene in week 1 with a pick-6 against Pittsburgh. In the first two games, his playmaking ability showed why Denver acquired him to be the corner opposite Champ Bailey. But the main reason the Saints let him go was his inconsistent play, as it was boom or bust. He has proven to be a ball-hawk in the NFL, but also shown that he takes chances which ends up costing his defense. Versus Houston, he had a poor game which landed him on the bench for a while in the second half. Porter needs to be a little more reliable and steady going forward, even if it means he makes a few less huge plays.
3 – Run Defense - Through three weeks, the defense as a whole seems to be quite a bit better. They have shown to be more explosive, and the overall speed looks to be very good. However, the run defense, which has been a huge problem for years, still isn’t where it needs to be. Yes, they faced one of the best running offenses in Houston, which ran over them at times in the second half. Although the run defense may be bit better, facing good running teams may be a problem once again for the Broncos all year.
4 – Inconsistent Running Game - Willis McGahee is still a good NFL running back, and a tough one at that. Ronnie Hillman finally got some action in week 3, but didn’t do much with it. Lance Ball filled in for a bit in the second half, and was just ok. It could be argued that Denver has faced three of the best run defenses through three weeks, and the numbers from the running game will now get better. For this offense to flourish as the year moves along, whoever is carrying the rock must improve so all of the pressure for the Broncos to score isn’t on Peyton’s shoulders.
5 – Peyton Isn’t Quite Peyton - Peyton has been forced to throw a lot in the second half of the last two games, as Denver has been behind. He has made several nice tosses, and at times looked very close to being the Peyton of old. people need to stop talking about his arm strength, as it is still good enough to get the job done. But the problem that should bother Broncos fans is that for whatever reason, he seems to be staring down his intended receiver. That, along with his decision-making with where to go with the ball, isn’t how I remember him in Indy. Manning seems to be locking onto certain guys and not looking off the safeties much at all. This has gotten himself into trouble so far, as he realistically should have had another 2-3 interceptions vs Houston. Peyton was under 50% vs the Texans, and his stats could have been worse if the Houston defenders would have hung onto errant passes from #18.
6 – Receivers Drops - Thomas, Decker, and Tamme have all had a few drops so far, which happens to even the best of them at times. But for this offense to improve and move down the field like they want, these guys have to reel in the easy ones and not force the offense to have to convert 3rd and long. This is not a major problem yet, but it has to get better very soon. The underneath routes across the middle are critical in this system.
7 – Getting Behind - Denver has had to make two furious comebacks in the last two games to make it close at the end. They have been behind 27-7 and 31-11 in the second half vs Atlanta and Houston, respectively. This is asking Peyton and the offense to do too much, and although they have done a great job at making it close, it’s not a recipe that can work consistently. This team can run the ball and be much more balanced if they focus on starting the games better, and must put an emphasis on this beginning now. In the coming weeks, if they get behind in games versus New England and San Diego, more losses will undoubtedly follow. A 1-2 start is not disastrous at all, but this team must iron out the wrinkles and win the games they are supposed to win. This week against Oakland is where these problems must begin to improve.
Denver Sports by J Simp