Bye weeks are a good time for a team to take stock of where they are, especially for a team such as the Denver Broncos. After eight games the Denver Broncos are 2-6, but could also easily be 4-4 if not for self-defeating penalties. No pass interference by Renaldo Hill in the game against the Jets and no illegal block penalties against the Niners would have this team sitting not comfortable for the second half of the season, but at least poised to make a run at the AFC West. Instead, a team leaves London wondering how it went the way it did.
5. Can The Broncos Overcome Costly Penalties?
Broncos mistakes: Kyle Orton throws a pick-six against the Raiders, Kyle Orton fumbles ball against 49ers on a scramble, Kyle Orton throws interception during closing minutes of game to end chance at comeback against the Niners, Renaldo Hill commits pass interference against Jets that leads to Jets touchdown, Jarvis Moss illegal block nullifies Eddie Royal punt return touchdown, Knowshon Moreno commits illegal chop block to negate touchdown pass.
This list can go on and on. Time for the Broncos to toughen up mentally and stop making mistakes.
4. Where Does Head Coach Josh McDaniels Stand?
Fans are already calling for Josh McDaniel to be fired. That's nothing new--it's been happening since he was hired. A 59-14 loss to the Oakland Raiders didn't do McDaniels in, so playing out the rest of the season looks in the cards for him. Also, changing coaches during a season over the last dozen years has failed to produce great results.
If this team can't come close to a .500 record at the end of the season it may be time for the organization to wonder if Josh McDaniels is the right coach. While some preach patience, the NFL is a win-now league. Two years has been too long for some.
3. What Is Tim Tebow's Role For The Rest Of The Season?
For all the press coverage he receives, Tim Tebow has yet to start a regular season game or even throw an NFL pass. He does, however, have two rushing touchdowns. As we know, even in a blowout loss to the Raiders Tebow did not replace Kyle Orton in the fourth quarter. Josh McDaniels didn't believe the time was right. We're left to ponder when the correct time will be for Tim Tebow to start playing as a quarterback.
In the final eight games, what will be Tebow's involvement in the offense? An abrupt change at the quarterback position now would signal playing for the future. Get Tim Tebow acquainted in a trial by fire against the AFC West (see no. 1 below) and then look for him to emerge as a mature NFL starter in his second NFL season (whenver that may be). Another option is to stick with the status quo and use Tebow as a goal line back. It works now, it should work in the future. One other option would be to expand the Tebow package (as McDaniels has hinted at) to include playing like an actual quarterback. But an abrupt change like that may not always be for the better. Just ask former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan how that worked for him this week with Rex Grossman.
2. Can The Broncos Return The Running Game To Prominence?
Let's face it: the Broncos rushing attack that we came to love in the mid-90s to just a few years ago is gone. Denver has become a passing team, ranking fourth in passing yards and last in the rushing game. The team has rushed for 538 yards, averaging 67.3 yards a game.
It hasn't helped that Knowshon Moreno has been injured this season and that his replacements, Laurence Maroney and Correll Buckhalter, were unable to do anything in his absence. In the three games he has played since returning from injury, Moreno has had games of 12 carries, 14 carries and 11 carries. In none of those games did he rush for more than 53 yards. The old adage is that the rushing game sets up the pass, but it's the passing game the majority of the time. The Broncos should give Moreno the ball more, and in the one game he did have 20-plus carries the Broncos won (31-14 game over Seattle). But he only had 51 yards on the ground in the small sample. Seems as though Moreno is in the midst of the sophomore slump.
1. How Will The Broncos Play Against The AFC West?
Five of the Broncos' remaining eight games are against AFC West teams. I doubt the Broncos can run the table in the rest of their games, but those games against the AFC West will make or break the season (if it hasn't already gone either way yet). The Broncos start the second half of the season with two straight games against divisional opponents: the Kansas City Chiefs at home and the San Diego Chargers in a Monday Night Football game on the road. The Broncos cannot afford to come out flat against these two teams.
While it's too much to hope for the Broncos to win all five games, this teams needs to show that they are not the doormat of the AFC West this season. With the Chargers right above the Broncos in the standings and the Raiders having destroyed the team, now is the time for Denver to kick the tires. Unfortunately, this season's history makes that tough to believe.