Series Sweep Puts Focus Back on Broncos

It would have been a very hard argument to make six months ago that in late October all the focus in Denver would be on the Rockies in the World Series, and the Broncos would get second-billing.

What better way to divert attention from a slumping football team than to have the local baseball team in the World Series? After the Broncos' miraculous 2-0 start to the season, a three-game slide seemed to spell doom for the team. Then a most unlikely thing happened. The Colorado Rockies. It would have been a very hard argument to make six months ago that in late October all the focus in Denver would be on the Rockies in the World Series, and the Broncos would get second-billing.

As unlikely as it was, the Rockies post-season ascent was certainly welcome news. It had been many years in the making, and it deserved all the attention it got. It was a thrill ride for the fans, but like circus-attractions, we all knew it wouldn't last long. Once the series ended last night, all the attention immediately shifted back to the Broncos.

The Broncos have been a bit enigmatic this year, and at times have looked mediocre, but there has been signs of excellence, bubbling just beneath the surface, waiting for the time it could burst onto the scene. Unfortunately, injuries have been nagging key players all year.

Poor off-field judgment has also been a problem for some of the players. Add to that the adversity they have faced due to tragedy, and you might conclude that at 3 - 3, with a chance to tie for the division lead tonight against the Packers, things could be worse.

Talking about x's and o's, the Broncos have some reasons to feel better about the team after last week's primetime win against Pittsburgh. With Tom Nalen and Ben Hamilton out for the year, the team is learning to rely on others to step up and perform, and so far that piece of the puzzle looks pretty good.

The real question for the Broncos is going to come down to the running game. There is an air of uncertainty surrounding Travis Henry, as he awaits court decisions that will affect his playing status. This uncertainty is undoubtedly affecting his current performance as well.

Selvin Young is speedy and enthusiastic, but is certainly not an every-down back. Cecil Sapp is certainly a crowd favorite, but at best, is a fullback in a system that doesn't always utilize fullbacks.

Travis Henry's status greatly affects Jay Cutler. If Henry is healthy and is allowed to keep playing, Cutler has a much better chance of being a good game-managing quarterback. If Henry plays consistently, and if the team can avoid costly penalties, then third downs should be manageable, and the Broncos should be able to sustain some offensive drives.

When Denver passes, it should be with purpose…either to get first downs on third and short, or to go for the big play when it is there for the taking. Cutler's arm strength and mobility are weapons best used at the team's leisure, rather than out of necessity.

The focus is now back on Denver's first love…the Broncos. Many Rockies fans will be looking for a reason to smile and forget about the World Series. The Broncos are Rockies fans too. It might just be that they play with a chip on their shoulder tonight.

Tonight, while the ESPN crew fawns over Brett Favre and the Packers, it is likely that the Broncos will be ready to charge out of the gate at a full gallop. When they do, expect the media darling Brett Favre to get bruised and battered. Not that he isn't a great player, but more that the schedule maker just picked a really bad time for the Packers to try to come in to Denver.

J.J. McCartney is a long-time sports-caster, radio host and a frequent contributor to BroncosUpdate.com.



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