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Defense

Page 4 of 5

Kevin Vickerson

Defensive Tackle

Starters: Kevin Vickerson, Brodrick Bunkley
Backups: Ty Warren, Marcus Thomas, Ryan McBean, Mitch Unrein

Analysis: The Broncos’ position of greatest weakness has also been hit hardest by injuries. While it’s possible Marcus Thomas and Brodrick Bunkley could return to practice this week, star free agent pickup Ty Warren isn’t a lock to return in 2011 at all. The Broncos have kept him on the roster in hopes he will, though, with a 10-12 week timeline given from the time of his triceps injury just over a week ago. … The Broncos may enter their season opener against the Oakland Raiders with Vickerson, McBean, and Unrein as the sole interior defensive linemen. Let’s hope they can get some healthy aid before then; that isn’t a pretty picture.

Elvis Dumervil

Defensive End

Starters: Robert Ayers, Elvis Dumervil
Backups: Jason Hunter, Derrick Harvey

Analysis: Both Ayers and Dumervil move from their roles as 3-4 outside linebackers to defensive ends in the 4-3. Dumervil is familiar and has found success with the position, while this is a new development in Ayers’ professional career. It may be well-suited, though; Ayers was scouted by many teams as a 4-3 end, and following the 2009 draft Josh McDaniels evenly publicly said Ayers was drafted to be a defensive lineman (a proclamation, of course, that turned out not to be true). Expect a healthy mix of rookie Von Miller in pass rushing situations here as well.

D.J. Williams

Linebacker

Starters: Von Miller (Sam), D.J. Williams (Will), Joe Mays (Mike)
Backups: Mike Mohamed (Sam), Wesley Woodyard (Will), Mario Haggan, Nate Irving (Mike)

Analysis: What the Broncos’ linebackers lack in experience they make up for in talent and potential. Truly, I expect it to be one of the deeper and more productive units on the Broncos squad. Joe Mays has been tabbed by many around the league to have a breakout year, and Von Miller is the odds-on favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year. If D.J. Williams can get healthy soon and excel his game from “great” to “elite” status, this Broncos linebacker corps will be formidable indeed.

Champ Bailey

Cornerback

Starters: Champ Bailey, Andre Goodman
Backups: Cassius Vaughn, Jonathan Wilhite, Chris Harris

Analysis: For all the credit Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman receive, they are still wholly underrated by the mainstream media in my mind. The utter lack of pass rush crippled this secondary in 2010, but the pass-rushing combination of Miller and Dumervil promises to give Bailey and Goodman many more big play opportunities. … Bailey has been lining up as nickel cornerback against three wide receiver sets in the preseason, a curious move that has proved effective so far. The recent addition of Jonathan Wilhite, a young but experienced nickelback from New England, may see the Broncos adjust this plan of attack.

Brian Dawkins

Safety

Starters: Brian Dawkins, Rahim Moore
Backups: Quinton Carter, David Bruton

Analysis: What a hit. Rahim Moore‘s decimation of Bills WR Donald Jones in the preseason is still ringing in my ears (one can only imagine how Jones is feeling). Moore is a rookie and so will make rookie mistakes, but he’s shown promise in the preseason beyond the hit that’s defined his career thus far. … It was a tough 2010 for Brian Dawkins, and clearly the beginning of the end. One hopes he can return to form, but the Broncos may be relying on their pass rush to mask the weaknesses of their too-old/too-young safety tandem.

Special Teams

Matt Prater

Specialists

Kicker: Matt Prater
Punter: Britton Colquitt
Longsnapper: Lonie Paxton

Analysis: Matt Prater is one of the league’s best, and has boldly made his personal goal of a Pro Bowl in 2011 public. … Britton Colquitt had a phenomenal preseason. … A solid, underrated group in Denver, high altitude be damned.

Eddie Royal

Returners

Punt Returner: Eddie Royal, Eric Decker
Kick Returner: Cassius Vaughn, Lance Ball

Analysis: Everyone knows Royal is always a threat to take it the distance.

On to the 2011 Season Prediction…

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

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  • LarryB

    Just a great analysis, Monty! I, too, was extremely worried about the depth on the team. Two developments, however, gave me cause for some comfort: (1) The reserves allowed only two (2) yards a carry in the last preseason game, and (2) the Broncos added only one player from outside after the final cuts, and none from the waiver wire – which indicated to me that the Broncos have more faith in their reserves than we do.

    This is reinforced by the fact that, although the Cardinals passed the Broncos dizzy, the Cardinals played their first string against the Broncos reserves through much of the first half. In addition, Dumervil, Ayers, Miller, Champ, Goodman, Dawkins, and Moore were all missing from the lineup, which likely will not happen during the season (GASP! I hope not!). So the depth just might be a bit stronger than perhaps we believe?

    Regarding Orton, it is easy to think he “fades,” come the latter part of the season. However, take note that the St. Louis game last year happened in mid-November, and he passed for 347 yards and three TDs IN THE FOURTH QUARTER, coming within a whisker of coming back from 19 down to a win.

    So it wasn’t a “fade,” but a SUDDEN fall, indicating something was suddenly very wrong. What was wrong, of course, was severe rib injury – to BOTH sides, as it turned out.

    So I anticipate a truly breakout season for Kyle. He was on his way in his first 11 games last year, and there is no reason he can’t improve even on that with a better running game and the addition of a couple bonafide pass-catching tight ends.

    I have them 10-6, barring injury to the players you listed. Kool-aid? Well, we’ll see . . .

  • http://broncotalk.net Monty

    Thanks for the kind words and great insight yourself, LarryB! Orton has suffered those sudden falls his entire career, though. I certainly hope this year is different.

  • http://broncotalk.net Monty

    BTW everybody I changed my profile name from “Kyle Montgomery” to this (Monty). Same guy. Hi.

  • Bucky

    Man I wish either of you were right on this, and maybe I will be proved wrong, but the big IF that you laid out there about Orton is just to big an IF for me. I have the unique pleasure of being a Colorado boy who went to college in Chicago during the Orton/Grossman fiasco. And while I will continue to hope that there is simply some magic hump that Orton can get over, I just don’t see it. I think we have seen the top of his game, and that top just isn’t good enough to be a franchise/dynasty kind of QB. 

    I don’t know if we have a guy on our team who is. kinda funny how we have three Quarterbacks all needing to get past that one magic mark to be “elite.” If we could take and jam all three of these guys into one QB we would have a super stud, but we can’t and because of that I am more inclined to put us at 7-9 or 6-10 than I am at 8-8, I would certainly not bet a dime on 10-6.

    But hey, here is hoping for the IF’s I guess!   

  • Blsd30

    sounds about right but i think we win against buffalo for sure and 1 of the charger game putting us at 10-6.

  • http://Facebook.com/BroncosZone Jon

    Hi, Monty!

  • Rc_sodak

    So when you tell us everything, will it be considered the ‘full monty’?

  • http://broncotalk.net Monty

    I bare all.

  • Shamzami

    As much as I like the Broncos, after seeing what I’ve seen I have a bad feeling that they’ll be embarrassed by Oakland on Monday night and won’t win more than 4-5 games this year, which is okay.  The team is by no means set at any position and our quarterback is suspect at best.  So drink the Orange Koolaid if you want, but don’t be surprised to see them struggle most of the year and build on that.  In a couple of years we may have a team that compete, but this team is light years away from that.

  • Hansen

    Speaking of full monty, I thought it was interesting how you changed your id after those rather, shall we say, unsavory photos of you surfaced on that “other” site.

    Seriously, good analysis.

  • Anonymous

    I’m never going to be in love with Orton but at least he has shown a noted desire to be in that spot with out question and pretty much shown it on the field as well.

    I still think we will have more to worry about than who is back up is. I wonder if being 7-9 or 8-8 and missing the play-offs is better than 4-12 and missing them??? Either is missing them ~shrug~… I think all of these “if’s” are the ssame as saying “if” we still had this guy or that guy we’d be better off, we dont and not all of those guys are going to start even 14 at the same time. History shows other wise. but “IF” we do, then there is that chance.

    What would be really cool though would be to turn it all around and get in by winning the division, that would be pretty exciting. Hey I can dream… right?!?

  • 5280

    I love this piece Monty keep it up.  Honestly Im kind of shocked that Julius thomas isnt starting week one.  From what Ive seen at camp and in preseason, he’s definitely ready. dude can catch everything and fells had way to many drops.  Like you said though: there are far too many uncertainties to predict anything really. we wont know what we have until 6 or 7 weeks into the season.  I’m just praying von and doom stay healthy.  tackles or not, if von and doom stay healthy, we’ll at least own 3rd down and the team that owns 3rd down is usually the one that wins the game. IMO its all about the D this year. say what you want about the Oline and the running game, if the D doesnt step up in a major way this year its another 4-12 season.

  • http://broncotalk.net Monty

    Thanks 5280, glad you like it.

    I agree, defense is everything this year. I’m feeling good about the pass defense, with Doom, Von, Champ and a handful of other solid guys. The run defense has me worried. Guess we’ll find out Monday; you KNOW the Raiders will try to run that ball on us.

  • Anonymous

    Great post. I had comments I’ve forgotten as I read…

    Two points I think though.
    With Baily at nickle, Vaughn’s skills/health are critical.

    Our Safeties are also a HUGE issue. Can Moore play with starters? AND if he gets hurt, who has the speed to replace him? Nobody. – Bdawk? Lost a step for sure.

  • Anonymous

    Great post. I had comments I’ve forgotten as I read…

    Two points I think though.
    With Baily at nickle, Vaughn’s skills/health are critical.

    Our Safeties are also a HUGE issue. Can Moore play with starters? AND if he gets hurt, who has the speed to replace him? Nobody. – Bdawk? Lost a step for sure.