While I was wrong last week I just can't shake the feeling that all is not well in Broncoland. In reality I'm spoiled, I just can't see the Broncos as successful this season unless they are playing in Miami next January. Maybe that is a product of a youth spent watching number seven, and maybe it is a product of being the fan of a franchise that has fielded the winningest team of the last decade. Regardless that's how I feel and I don't think I am alone amongst Bronco fans.
Because the boys in orange and blue don't have a game this week I'm going to give my seven observations on what I have seen so far this season and what I think it means for the remainder.
Do you think maybe that Plummer's implosion in the AFC championship game last year had anything to do with it? I think that anyone who has been a fan of this team for a while can read between the lines. Shanahan has never been willing to commit a high draft pick for a quarterback, he has always given fans the impression that we don't need one to win.
Could it be that Ol' Shanny has finally come to terms with what the Broncos have really become over the last ten years? What is that you ask? Simple, our boys are to teams what Marty Schottenheimer is to coaches.....we win a lot......our system works out well most of the time.....but when the playoffs roll around we can't beat the elite teams that you see in the playoffs.
Prediction: I said it before and it still holds true, the Broncos wagon is firmly hitched to Plummer for this season. While I have officially turned in my membership card to the Jake Plummer fan club I still believe the Broncos can win with him at the helm. I just am not convinced they can win it all. I see a 10-6 season and an early loss to the Bengals in the playoffs looming in the Broncos future.
Would anybody have been surprised if Tatum had conceded the race and accepted his role....probably not. Instead he showed a ton of character by stepping up to the challenge and taking a job he always thought should have been his. No sense of entitlement, just a kid who believes in his abilities and was willing to do the work to show his coaches what he deserved. It can be said with resolve that the Broncos have their starting tailback for the next several years in Tatum Bell.
Prediction: Bell is the guy at running back. Mike Bell is a hard working kid and I love his hometown roots but look for his carries to taper off if Cedric Cobbs can get healthy. Not that Mike Bell isn't a good back, it's just that Cobbs is a better compliment to Tatum Bell.
Prediction: This is not the second coming of the "Orange Crush" but the Broncos do have a good defense. Champ Bailey needs to stay disciplined as teams ignore his side of the field, if he doesn't you might see a big play or two when he gets too aggressive against play action. I think they are going to have to step up the blitz a bit against teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.
Prediction: Shanahan will find ways to get this guy into the mix. I think Brandon Marshall will eventually be a better all around receiver but Kircus' production the last few weeks has solidified his spot as the third wide receiver this year.
Prediction: Look for Scheffler to become a focal point of the offense as the season progresses. Shanahan will not let a talent like this kid go to waste.
There can be no doubt after his performance last week, Javon Walker is healthy and he's ready for some football. Neither of last week's touchdown plays should have been touchdowns, Walker made that happen. I was excited when the Broncos signed him, I'm "losing my mind happy" now, we haven't had a talent at wide receiver like Walker in all my years as a Broncos fan. The closest we came was nearly signing Tim Brown during the mid-nineties.
Prediction: A sad time is approaching for Broncos fans, Rod Smith's career is nearing its end. Walker will never replace Smith's leadership or take Smith's place in the hearts of fans, but he will be a adequate replacement on the field. Look for Walker and Plummer to get more "into sync" as the season progresses....big plays will follow.
Right now, we win one way - run the ball, get ahead early, play solid defense and keep turnovers to a minimum. That kind of football translates into a winning season, it does not however translate to playoff or Super Bowl wins. Playoff teams and Super Bowl contenders will not allow the Broncos to stick with such a narrow formula, they will force teams to win out of their comfort zone.....something the Broncos can't do right now.
Prediction: This is Jake Plummer's year....and probably his last as a Bronco. Our boys can win ten or twelve games. The kid isn't ready and Jake doesn't have it in him, so I just don't see a long playoff run. Enjoy the wins in the regular season and hope we get good matchups in the playoffs, otherwise it's 49-24 Colts all over again.
Toby Thorp is long time contributor to BroncosUpdate.com. He has experience as a football player and commentator as well as being enough of a Denver Broncos fan that he tried to name his first son "Seven." Unfortunately the child's mother did not cooperate. You can e-mail Thorp at Bighungry71@yahoo.com with your arguments or critiques or post a message for Bighungry71 on our Broncos Hardcore Message Board