Behind Enemy Lines: Broncos Personnel

The Bears head on the road this week to face a team in the midst of a five-game winning streak. We take an in-depth look at the starting lineup of the Denver Broncos, Chicago's Week 14 opponent.


Broncos offensive rankings
Points scored: 20th (21.3)
Total offense: 25th (314.8)
Rushing offense: 1st (158.9)
Passing offense: 31st (155.8)

Skill position players
QB Tim Tebow, RB Willis McGahee, FB Spencer Johnson, WR Eric Decker, WR Damaryius Thomas, TE Daniel Fells

Tim Tebow is a very poor passer. His mechanics are downright awful and his delivery is the slowest I've ever seen out of an NFL signal caller. What he does best is run the ball. Denver uses a lot spread option with Tebow and he's just as likely to pull it down and scramble when he drops back as he is to pass the ball. He's second on the team in rushing and his 468 yards on the ground are the most by a QB in Broncos history. There is an intangible quality about him in that he knows how to win games. He's at his best in the fourth quarter. Since being named the starter on Oct. 11, he's led 14 scoring drives in eight games. He has manufactured five career fourth-quarter comebacks, tied for the most in NFL history by a quarterback through his first 10 starts.

McGahee was an afterthought in Baltimore. Yet the 30-year-old has had a career resurgence in Denver this year. He's rushed for 886 yards so far at 4.9 yards per carry, the highest average of his nine-year career. He has produced six 100-yard rushing games and is tied for the NFL lead in that category. Once a big-play threat, McGahee has morphed into more of a power back. He still has decent speed for his age and has shown he can carry a full load, having toted the rock 15 or more times in all but four games this season. He's not much of a threat out of the backfield though, having caught just 11 balls this year. He's dealing with a knee injury that kept him out of practice this week but he insists he'll play.

Decker is Tebow's favorite target by a long shot. His 80 targets are 51 more than the next player on the current roster. He has more than twice as many receiving yards as anyone else on the team and his eight receiving touchdowns are five more than anyone else on the squad. The second-year player is a big target (6-3, 218) with good speed. He's had success on deep and underneath routes, as well as near the end zone. Thomas is a deep threat who struggles mightily with consistency. Eddie Royal, the team's biggest threat in the open field, isn't likely to play due to a concussion. Fells isn't very dangerous over the middle but he serves as Tebow's safety outlet, especially on third downs.

Offensive line
LT Ryan Clady, LG Zane Beadles, C J.D. Walton, RG Chris Kuper, RT Orlando Franklin

Clady is a fourth-year offensive tackle that has started all 60 games to begin his career. He's solid as both a run and pass blocker and has earned All-Pro recognition from the Associated Press twice in his career. Beadles is an emerging second-year player that was named to The Sporting News' All-Rookie Team last season. He's a solid technician inside who has very quick feet. He lacks upper body strength and has a hard time with powerful bull-rushers. He's at his best on pulls and traps. Walton, a second-year player, is good in pass protection. He allowed just three sacks in 619 pass plays his rookie season. He is a bit of a mauler and brawler as opposed to a top athlete.

Kuper is one of the better pass-protecting guards in the league. In 69 career starts, he's allowed just 12 sacks. In 2008, he was the NFL's only 16-game starting guard not to have allowed a sack. He keeps his pads low and uses good leverage in run blocking, although he struggles in space. Franklin is a rookie who began his first season as a starter. He's done very well protecting Tebow's blind side. He's very athletic and excels in space. Discipline is one of his strong suits, having been flagged just once since Week 9.


Broncos defensive rankings
Points allowed: 23rd (24.3)
Total defense: 24th (366.4)
Rushing defense: 20th (121.3)
Passing defense: 23rd (245.2)
Turnover ratio: 21st (-3)

Defensive line
DE Robert Ayers, NT Broderick Bunkley, DT Marcus Thomas, DE Elvis Dumervil

Dumervil is one of the most athletic defensive ends in the game and is an absolute force off the edge as a pass rusher. He leads all Broncos defensive linemen with 6.0 sacks this season. He's undersized for his position (5-11, 260) yet makes up for that with his great upper-body strength and a relentless motor. He has quick feet and uses his hands well to shed blockers. Due to his size, he can't always set the edge against the run but he's no pushover. Bunkley is a beast against the run. He's strong off the ball and plays with a lot of power. He's one of the most durable and consistent run stoppers the league. He doesn't offer much as a pass rusher though.

Ayers is a third-year player who is explosive off the edge. Yet he has a hard time finishing plays, having earned just 3.5 sacks during his career. He doesn't anchor well against the run and needs work on his tackling form. Thomas is a mediocre defensive tackle with just one career sack. He's good for about two tackles per game, yet his impact is often minimal. Opposing offenses have had success running right at him.

OLB Von Miller, MLB Joe Mays, OLB D.J. Williams, LB Wesley Woodyard

Miller was the second overall pick in this year's draft and has lived up to the billing. His 10.5 sacks lead all rookies and are tied for fifth overall in the NFL. He's one of just three rookies in NFL history (since 1982) to record at least 10.5 sacks through his team's first 11 games, joining Leslie O'Neal (1986, 11.5) and Julius Peppers (2002, 11.0) with that distinction. He has outstanding quickness, agility and body control, to go along with a powerful upper body. He comes off the edge with power and speed and can use any number of maneuvers to get around blockers. He usually rushes from the offense's right side. He missed last week's game with a thumb injury but is listed as probable and is expected to play on Sunday.

Mays is a fourth-year player that started just six games before this season. He's a compact linebacker who packs a wallop yet he lacks athleticism, can struggle tackling in space and is a liability in pass coverage. He's third on the team in total tackles and leads the team in tackles for loss (7). Williams is second on the team in tackles and also has 3.0 sacks. He's a versatile player who is solid in every phase of the game. Woodyard leads the team in tackles. He plays on the inside and has the speed to cover sideline to sideline. He's a very sound tackler but lacks awareness in coverage.

CB Champ Bailey, CB Andre Goodman, SS Brian Dawkins, FS Quinton Carter,

Bailey is one of the best shutdown corners in the league. He has lost a step when it comes to his deep speed, but compensates with instincts and a good working knowledge of the game. He has the size and strength to play press coverage and shows the ability to recognize routes and read the quarterback's eyes. He can basically control his side of the field. Goodman is a 10-year veteran who has lost a step. He lacks top-end speed and can struggle against bigger receivers.

Dawkins is a 16-year veteran who is in the twilight of his career. He's starting to slow considerably and relies on his excellent instincts and good route recognition, as well as the ability to read the quarterback's eyes from deep coverage. He's also been effective as a blitzer, picking up 3.0 sacks this year. Carter is a rookie that has had an up-and-down first season. He's shown good athleticism but makes many mental mistakes.


K Matt Prater, P Britton Colquitt, KR/PR Quan Cosby

Prater has had a rough season so far. He's just 4-9 from kicks beyond 40 yards. He's converted just 75 percent of his FG attempts, third worst in the league. Colquitt, on the other hand, has had a very good campaign. His 47.9 yards per punt ranks sixth in the league, while his 23 punts inside the 20 ranks fifth. Cosby is a very consistent kick and punt returner. His 10.9 punt return average is 10th in the league, while his 29.7 kick return average would be second-best if he had returned enough kicks to qualify.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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