Even though Kyle Orton has been on fire, leading the Broncos in a rout of the Seahawks, the Broncos have gotten little attention in the media world. Rather, Dallas, Minnesota, and the Jay Cutler-led Bears have grabbed most of the headlines.
A few former Broncos have been getting some media attention however. So to continue the 'beating a dead horse' phenomenon, here's a look at some former Broncos playing elsewhere and how the Broncos have fared without them:
Tim Crowder, DE. Through two games in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Crowder has recorded 5 tackles, including 2 sacks and a forced fumble, complimenting the Bucs' pass rush. The replacement(s): With Elvis Dumervil out for the season, the Broncos have asked OLB's Robert Ayers and Jarvis Moss to step up and get to the quarterback. In the Broncos season opener, Ayers recorded a sack followed by Moss notching one last Sunday against the Seahawks. That comes to 2.0 more sacks than the two players recorded last season alone, combined. While having a DE that could apply some pressure would be nice for the Broncos (especially considering that is one of the team's biggest weaknesses), Crowder never panned out for the Broncos and they have found other ways to apply the pressure.
Jay Cutler, QB. The Bears have started out 2-0 and Cutler has thrown for over 600 yards 5 scores. He has, however, been sacked 5 times and intercepted once. Kyle Orton on the other hand has been just as solid, if not more consistent. Orton has been nearly mistake-free and has led the Broncos high powered offense. I believe it's safe to say nobody in Denver is missing Cutler right now.
Andra Davis, ILB. Through two games with the Buffalo Bills, Davis had recorded 15 tackles while starting at inside linebacker. For the Broncos, Inside 'backers D.J. Williams and Mario Haggan have both totaled 10 or more tackles, playing key roles in the Broncos defense. Denver's run defense is hurting, but Davis' absence most likely isn't the cause for that, and a few of the Broncos linebackers have already outperformed Davis this season.
Peyton Hillis, RB/FB. Cleveland has fallen in love with Hillis, much like Bronco fans did in his rookie season in which he lead the team in rushing yards. Hillis has rushed for 76 yards (4.5 average) and two scores in two games for the Browns. The Broncos rushing attack, however, hasn't fared very well. While Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter have combined for 3 scores, the Broncos rushing attack has concerned me. Knowshon hasn't rushed for well over 50 yards yet this season and is averaging 2.8 yards a carry, ranking the Broncos 27th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. It is unclear why but Head Coach Josh McDaniels and Hillis apparently clashed from day one, ultimately leading to Hillis being traded. To date, that move seems to have been a mistake by the Broncos. Denver has a capable fullback in Spencer Larsen as far as lead-blocking goes, but when it comes to 3rd and short and goal line situations there isn't a running back in Denver I have much faith in to get the job done. Perhaps the acquisition of Laurence Maroney will aid the Broncos rushing attack, or perhaps not.
Tony Scheffler, TE. Entering week three, Scheffler hasn't had much of an impact for the Lions (7 catches for 48 yards) and neither have the Broncos' tight ends. The Broncos offense does not utilize pass-catching tight ends, so Scheffler hasn't been missed in Denver's offense so far.
Brandon Marshall, WR. You should never trade a Pro Bowl WR huh? Well, that amazing receiver scored as many touchdowns during his last three years in Denver as Randy Moss did in one season (23). And through the Dolphins first two games he hasn't scored once. Marshall has snatched 12 catches for 124 yards - which is little production when you consider how many times he is targeted. The Broncos passing offense has actually improved now that Marshall has moved on; Orton has been spreading the ball around more. Two Bronco receivers have caught over 160 yards (Eddie Royal and Brandon Lloyd), and three Broncos have caught 5 passes for 50 yards or more (Jabar Gaffney, Knowshon Moreno, and Demaryius Thomas) through the first two weeks of play. Rookie Thomas and veteran Lloyd have provided the deep threat, Eddie Royal the big play, and Gaffney has been Mr. Reliable. The Broncos receivers have scored 3 more touchdowns than Marshall, and 5 have a better yards-per-catch averages than Marshall's 10.3. There's no doubt in anyone's mind the Broncos have easily replaced Marshall's production.
Overall the Broncos have replaced some key starters from previous seasons very smoothly, adding depth and character over a few stars.
Side note: Broncos Zone is now part of the Bringing The House Sports Network! Be sure to check them out at bringingthehouse.com!