When the Denver Broncos play the Miami Dolphins next week, several players will reunite for the first time in years.
Not only will quarterback Tim Tebow, defensive end Derrick Harvey and defensive tackle Marcus Thomas be reunited with Miami’s Mike Pouncey at halftime as a part of “Gator Day”, but all remaining Broncos from the 2009 team will be reunited with wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who is now a Dolphin.
A total of twenty Broncos players who played with Marshall remain on the team, including receivers Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal and Matthew Willis. Since his departure, Marshall hasn’t been as productive as he was in Denver.
Last season, Marshall caught 86 passes for 1,014 yards and three touchdowns. Compare those stats to his 101 catches for 1,120 yards and 10 touchdowns in his final season with the Broncos. Filling the void at receiver, Lloyd stepped up last season for the Broncos by catching 77 passes for 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns — numbers better than Marshall ever had in Denver, on fewer targets.
This season, Marshall has caught 22 passes for 313 yards and one touchdown. Denver’s Eric Decker has also caught 22 passes, his going for 266 yards and four touchdowns. It’s safe to say, the Broncos receiving corps has done just fine, Marshall omitted.
During his stint with the Broncos, Marshall often said that cornerback Champ Bailey was the best in the league, noting that he would know from going against him in practice everyday for four years. Bailey also made similar comments about Marshall. It will be interesting to see the two go at it for the first time in a real game.
Next Sunday will mark the first time Denver has played against Marshall, but it won’t be the last time the team plays a former Bronco this season. A week after facing Marshall, the Broncos will return home to face the Detroit Lions and tight end Tony Scheffler.
Scheffler, much like Marshall, has seen his numbers drop since his days in Denver. Sheffler and Marshall both got in former head coach Josh McDaniels‘ doghouse and were traded during the same offseason (2010).
During his two most productive seasons in Denver (2007-2008 under Mike Shanahan), Scheffler recorded 59 catches for 1,194 yards and eight touchdowns. Over the past season and a half with Detroit, Scheffler has caught 49 catches for 441 yards and two touchdowns. Somewhere along the line, Scheffler lost his starting job to third year player Brandon Pettigrew, who has started all five games this season (compared to Sheffler’s two starts).
Five weeks after facing Scheffler, the Broncos will face the Chicago Bears at home. Former Denver quarterback Jay Cutler, now with the Bears, will make his return to the Mile High City for the first time in a regular season game.
Cutler has had the most success among the three former Broncos, winning 18-of-31 games and throwing for 6,940 yards and 40 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Last season, the Bears were one game away from playing in the Super Bowl.
Next season, when the AFC West plays the AFC North, the Broncos will face the Cleveland Browns and possibly running back Peyton Hillis. Hillis is coming off a well-documented career year but is in the final season of his contract with Cleveland. According to reports, Hillis’ contract negotiations with the Browns have not been going well.
If Hillis decides to re-sign with the Browns, the Broncos will play against him sometime in 2012. In two seasons, the Broncos will play four big-name players that were all traded within a two-year span.
Whether you’re still upset that we traded them or were happy to see them go, you cannot deny it will be intriguing to see them play against their former team. I’m hoping VonDoom will get to Cutler a few times while I doubt Marshall or Scheffler will have much of an impact.