NFL Preview '11: Denver Broncos
For only the third time since 1994 the Denver Broncos finished with a losing record and the four win total was the lowest in 20 years. The 2010 campaign saw a coaching change midseason as well as a quarterback change later in the year.
For the Broncos the true question on offense starts at quarterback. Rookie Tim Tebow impressed with three starts after replacing Kyle Orton but Orton enters 2011 as the starter again. While Orton has proven capable he has a ceiling to his talents and doesn't have the look of a championship quarterback. Denver's passing attack got a boost from Brandon Lloyd's career year as well as solid contributions from Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal. Gaffney is gone but the Broncos are hoping to replace him with second year man Demaryius Thomas. After an impressive rookie season in 2009 the Broncos were expecting big things from running back Knowshown Moreno. However, Moreno suffered from nagging injuries and was never able to get on track. Moreno enters 2011 healthy and will be paired with newly acquired Willis McGahee.
Offense was not the problem for the Broncos in 2010. Defense was. After finishing 12th and 7th in scoring and total defense in '09 the Broncos hit rock bottom, finishing last in both categories in 2010. A big part of the problem was the loss of Elvis Dumervil to a season ending injury early in training camp. Dumervil registered 17 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2009 and without him Denver's defensive line was punchless. The Broncos notched a league low 23 sacks and without any pass rush Denver's secondary was ripped apart. Dumervil rolls into 2011 healthy and will be joined up front by free agent pickup Ty Warren. The Broncos also focused on defense in the draft, starting with second overall pick linebacker Von Miller.
After an up-and-down stint with Carolina John Fox takes over as head coach but several questions remain. Who will ultimately lead at quarterback? Can Moreno stay healthy? Will Lloyd have a repeat performance? How much will the dense improve? The Broncos likely won't see a repeat of 4-12 but a postseason berth seems out of reach.