Last season started off like a nightmare for the Denver Broncos. Kyle Orton was named to starting Quarterback and the Broncos started off the year as one of the worst teams in the NFL. Denver made a switch at Quarterback to Tim Tebow and the second half of the year ended with an AFC West Championship and a first-round playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Can "Tebowmania" grow more in the 2012 season and a step closer to the Super Bowl?? Let us look at the team going into the off-season.
The Broncos led the NFL in rushing per game at 164.5-yard average. Last season's pickup of Willis McGahee was vital to this as he led the team with 1199 yards for the year. Not bad for a guy who was picked up to be a backup and possible goal-line back to Knowshon Moreno. Moreno did not live up to expectations and lost his starting job during the year and then suffered a season-ending injury. Knowshon also got into trouble late with a DUI and his status with the team is up in the air. Tebow helped out the rushing attack as well after he took over the starting job at Quarterback with 660 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns to go with it.
With Kyle Orton at the helm, the offense really started off slow and the passing game was hardly seen. Eric Decker – coming off an injured rookie season – had a breakout performance and surprised many teams throughout the year to score 9 touchdowns. Demaryius Thomas was injured coming into the year and started off slow. When Tebow took over at Quarterback, a switch seemed to click with Thomas. In the last 7 games (including the playoffs), he averaged 5 catches and 106 yards a game. That puts him in top 5 territory for Wide Receivers. With a full off season and Training Camp to work together, can this unit put up better numbers?? I would expect better numbers for Tebow than his 72.9 rating and his 46% completion ranking as well. Thomas should be high on everyone's sleeper list for next season.
Von Miller seemed to create excitement with the Defense and they improved throughout the year and Miller was the Defensive Rookie of the Year. With Miller, Elvis Dumervil le, & Champ Bailey , the Broncos have a decent foundation to work with on the defense. Their best run stuffing Defensive Tackle Brodrick Bunkley is a Free Agent, but expectations are that Denver will resign him. Ty Warren was also picked up for the run defense, but was injured for the season. That could really help stop the interior run.
The top areas of need for the Broncos look to be at Cornerback, Defensive Tackle or Inside Linebacker, and some more playmakers on offense. The Free Agent market is loaded with Cornerbacks and Wide Receivers and Denver should be expected to make a bid on several players. The Broncos have $50 million in cap space and should be able to offer very attractive packages to some high-profile players to come play in the Mile High city. The NFL draft is also loaded with many options at Defensive Tackle with 5 players rated in the top 25 players overall.
With the AFC West seen as a "weaker" division, the Broncos were able to come back from a terrible start to win the division last year. "Tebowmania" was seen and heard throughout the country as Denver had many come-from-behind wins last season. With Tebow entrenched as the starter, and Thomas, Decker, and McGahee also in the starting role to begin the year, can they improve more?? The amount of cap room and free agents available; as well as the Draft and the areas of need for the Broncos seem to be aligning. A repeat at the division title is well within their reach.