Broncos Update Insider - 1/1

It wasn't long ago that a soon-to-be President stood in Invesco Field at Mile High, talking about change and hope on his way to the White House. The same sentiments were being thrown around Sunday, after Denver closed its worst-ever season at 4-12 with a 33-18 loss to San Diego.

The franchise's desired locale is certainly less important than the goings-on at Pennsylvania Ave. but is fraught with numerous issues ahead necessary to tackle.

"There's a coaching search. There's the draft. There's free agency. These next four months are huge for our franchise," said GM Brian Xanders, whose powers are expected to increase with John Elway soon to be his new boss. "We want to make the right decisions and move forward."

But before one can take a step forward, a look back must occur in the form of the Broncos' 2010 season obit.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd came out of nowhere to have one of the most dynamic seasons in franchise history. In his eighth season of what had been a journeyman career, Lloyd led the NFL in receiving yards (1,488) while averaging 18.8 yards per catch and snaring 11 TDs.

Teammate Jabar Gaffney was a decent complement, too, with 65 receptins for 875 yards.

QB Kyle Orton's record-setting start - with four 300-plus passing games in the first five weeks -- helped get Lloyd and Gaffney there but was long forgotten once Tim Tebow took over the last three games.

Orton now likely will be dealt.

Tebow's audition was a positive for a three-game rookie trial, but whether it's a step towards him becoming a viable No. 1 remains debatable.

Two Denver placekickers - Matt Prater and Steven Hauschka - combined to hit 22 of 25 field goals and rookie Britton Colquitt was solid (44.6 gross/36.6 net).

Lastly, on a horrid defense, CB Champ Bailey continued to flash Hall of Fame form, battling some of the best NFL receivers and rarely giving an inch.

At least Denver won 10 of 16 coin flips.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Coach Josh McDaniels was canned a month before finishing his second season as coach, which provides a glimpse at the depths to which the Broncos have sunk.

The issues start with an aging defense that merits another overhaul. Denver's 471 points allowed is two shy of the franchise high set in 1963. The 2,473 rushing yards allowed was also second-worst all-time and the 26 TDs on the ground tied for first (2008).

Meanwhile, an additional 3,780 passing yards was fourth worst showing in team annals.

It all adds up to a total yardage yield (6,253) that represents the most ever by a Denver team, coming on an average gain of 5.9 yards - third-highest ever.

And with a season-low 23 sacks, it doesn't get better digging deeper. Offensively, there were growing pains with a line that had a reigning all-Pro (Ryan Clady) working through a recovery from a torn patella tendon and two rookie starters in center J.D. Walton and left guard Zane Beadles.

Denver allowed 40 sacks and never could establish consistency in its running game, averaging only 96.5 yards per game and only creating more doubt as to whether 2009 12th overall pick Knowshon Moreno is a viable every-down back.

By the way, the Broncos lost eight of the 10 games in which it won the heads or tails pregame call.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--CB Champ Bailey (heel) missed the game and is headed to free agency. Bailey wants to return to Denver but is skeptical he'll be back given the team's pulling of a contract extension in October and looming labor uncertainty.

--DE Marcus Thomas (groin) was forced out of action and didn't return Sunday.

--CB Cassius Vaughn returned a kickoff 97 yards for a TD to notch the second-longest runback in team history. Two players had 100-yard scores in 1966.

--QB Tim Tebow had an uneven day passing in his third start, completing just 16 of 36 throws. Tebow did rush for 94 yards, which is the second-highest total in team history. Tebow also ranks third on that single-game list with his 78-yard effort Dec. 19 vs. Oakland.

--WR Eric Decker scored on a 6-yard TD in the third quarter, the rookie's first-ever NFL touchdown.

--LB Mario Haggan finished as just one of four players to start all 16 games, splitting evenly between OLB and ILB. The other three going the distance were DE Justin Bannan, S Renaldo Hill and NT Jamal Williams.



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