PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- Jay Cutler has been fantastic at times, certainly ahead of the curve for a quarterback with 10 career starts. He has also made some youthful mistakes and has not led the Broncos to enough points. Part of that is the absence of top receiver Javon Walker the past two weeks. Walker has a knee injury and could return after the bye. But the Broncos are happy with second receiver Brandon Marshall and slot receiver Brandon Stokley, who have made plays. The Broncos should continue to be effective passing the ball, and their scoring offense should come around.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A-minus -- Travis Henry was second in the NFL in rushing after five weeks, but his future is a potential problem with the Broncos. Henry could face a year-long suspension for a failed drug test, but he is fighting that in court. Selvin Young has been a welcome addition as a rookie, but he has made some key mistakes. He would be the featured back if Henry is suspended, however. On the field, Henry has been exactly what the Broncos have wanted, a banging back who can wear down a defense late. But the Broncos' red-zone problems do fall partially on the running game.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- Champ Bailey and Dre Bly have been very good against opposing receivers, as expected. The Broncos have allowed a couple of big days to tight ends, and there haven't been many turnovers. Bailey and Bly have only one interception each. The Broncos could use some more turnovers to help turn around a three-game losing streak. But opposing receivers won't have many big games against Denver this season.
RUSH DEFENSE: F -- Even when the Broncos played decently against San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, backup Michael Turner gashed their defense for a few big plays and the Chargers had more than 200 yards rushing. The Broncos won't win many games this season if the run defense doesn't improve. The defenders are either out of position or just don't execute when they do have a chance to make a play. The Broncos have promised there won't be major personnel changes, but some things have to get better from within.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- Not much has gone right for the special teams, other than an impressive game-winning field goal at Buffalo in Week 1. They allowed a long punt return touchdown to the Bills, returner Domenik Hixon had a costly fumble against Jacksonville, and his replacement, Brian Clark, had a devastating fumble returned for a touchdown against San Diego. The Broncos aren't playing well enough on offense and defense to overcome frequent lapses on special teams.
COACHING: D -- The Broncos didn't expect to be 2-3. They added a lot
in the offseason and had great expectations heading into the season.
Those haven't come to pass. The defense has struggled and the special
teams have been a letdown. Mike Shanahan took the blame for a 41-3 loss
to San Diego on himself and vowed that the coaches would have the team
better prepared. With a tough schedule coming up, they need to play
better or risk falling out of the race very early.
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