The Denver Broncos are on bye and it couldn't have come at a better time. With 10 hard-fought games under their belt, the Broncos are dealing with injuries to multiple key players.
The bye will afford the walking wounded the opportunity to convalesce and the coaches to self-scout and get back to teaching the fundamentals that have seemingly forsaken units like the offensive line.
The Broncos boast one of the NFL's deepest rosters. With so many stars, it's easy to focus on the Pro Bowlers and shower them with praise.
Today, we're going to talk about Denver's unsung heroes — guys doing work, who perhaps don't receive the recognition or accolades that they deserve.
Drafted in the sixth round this past spring, Andy Janovich immediately upgraded Denver's backfield and provided them with a fullback with which to build a rushing attack around.
Janovich's rookie campaign started with a bang, as he took the first carry of his career 28 yards to the house in Week 1 vs. Carolina. For the next several weeks, Janovich proved his value, serving as a jack-of-all utility man, paving the way for C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker.
Unfortunately, the rookie fullback injured his hand a few weeks back and has since been bogged down with a club-cast on his hand, limiting his effectiveness. Janovich is one of those players hoping the bye week can help him heal up and get back to full capacity.
Despite serving as Denver's lead-blocker for much of the first 10 games, Janovich has carried the ball himself four times for 33 yards — mostly as a short-yardage option. But he's also hauled in four receptions for 45 yards.
It's easy to see why GM John Elway liked this kid so much in the Draft. Here's to hoping he can shed that club and get back to blowing up linebackers with reckless abandon.
When three Pro Bowlers adorn the No Fly Zone, it's easy to understand how Darian Stewart could be overlooked. However, this guy is playing at a Pro Bowl level himself.
T.J. Ward leads the team in tackles, but his season has been plagued by inconsistency — both in missed tackles and coverage lapses. Stewart has been a stalwart in run support, but also in laying the wood over the middle and striking fear into opposing receivers.
Lately, Stewart's biggest impact has been as a ballhawk. He's tallied four takeaways over the last three games, including three last week in New Orleans. It was the first time since 2001, when Deltha O'Neal pulled it off, that a Bronco had notched three takeaways in a single game.
Darian Stewart doesn't get the recognition he deserves. But if he continues this momentum, he has a chance to add his name as another Pro Bowler in Denver's secondary.
With 44 combined tackles (36 solo), Stewart is fourth on the team in tackles. Add to that three interceptions and a fumble recovery and that's a pretty full stat sheet 10 games in.
Don't be surprised if John Elway finds a way to extend Stewart in-season.
Trevor Siemian might be Denver's starting quarterback, but he's still flying under the radar. I don't think fans fully appreciate his contributions to Denver's 7-3 start.
Siemian has been up and down at times, but he's shown a grit and poise beyond his years. We can't forget, he's in only his second year and has started just nine games. He's 7-2.
Siemian has thrown for 2,028 yards and 12 touchdowns, to seven interceptions. He's completed 60.1 percent of his passes and earned a QB rating of 85.0.
Yes, Siemian has plenty of room for improvement, but without him, your Denver Broncos would not be at 7-3 at the bye. My analysis on Siemian has been even-handed. I've praised him for the good things he's done, and criticized him when he's screwed up.
But he's done far more good than bad. The coaches have closed ranks around him — as have the players. Gary Kubiak is coaching Siemian hard and has very high expectations for his young signal-caller.
With the most difficult stretch on Denver's schedule coming up after the bye, the onus will be on Kubiak to put Siemian and the offense in the best possible position to succeed, from a scheme and design perspective.
Siemian will shoulder much of the load in his own right. However the former seventh-rounder performs down the stretch, so will go Denver's postseason aspirations.
Let's take a moment and appreciate what this kid's accomplished so far.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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