Season to date report card

Ater seven game, the Denver Broncos report card has gone steadily downward. Check out the grades at the bye week.

PASSING OFFENSE: B -- After a torrid start, the Broncos lost some of Jay Cutler's weapons to injuries. WR Brandon Marshall has been getting blanket coverage from opponents, and Cutler has forced throws. The result has been a significant drop in output over the past month. Denver does have the ability to bounce back once all of its receivers get healthy.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus -- Michael Pittman has been a bright spot after Selvin Young failed to take hold of the every-down role. Pittman has run hard and has been very good in short-yardage situations. One problem with the running game has been a lack of big plays. The Broncos have had only two runs of 20 yards or more.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- The pass defense could be in a lot of trouble for the next month or so without Champ Bailey, who has a groin injury. With Bailey playing for most of the first seven games, the Broncos allowed just less than 73 percent completions and had only two interceptions. Opponents have a 109.1 passer rating.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- The Broncos have struggled to stop the run as well as the pass. Opponents are averaging 5.4 yards per attempt on the ground. The team has tried running 4-3 alignments, 3-4 looks, but none of the tweaks has been a magical solution. The worst might have been at New England before the bye, where Patriots RB Sammy Morris had a career-high 138 yards by halftime.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- The special teams have been quite good thanks to good first halves by K Matt Prater and P Brett Kern. Prater had only four previous NFL field-goal attempts and Kern is a rookie, so their steady play has been a fine surprise. The return game hasn't broken any big plays, but the Broncos have been decent in coverage.

COACHING: C -- Despite all their problems, the Broncos have a 1 1/2-game lead in the AFC West over San Diego, which also has issues. Denver surprised teams with a spread passing attack in the first few games, but injuries have been a hindrance. The defense has struggled all season, and the Broncos need to figure out a solution.



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