It could be a heck of lot worse, Bronco fans. The Rat Fink and his latest squad could easily have been 0-5 and awaiting the Steelers come next Sunday night. So, there is that, and considering that the leaders in the AFC West in K.C. and San Diego are only one game ahead of Denver (tied with Oakland), it could be a whole lot worse.
The problem is that it needs to get a lot better quick. Pittsburgh does not lend itself to that — they run, and the Broncos have been complete failures at two things: defending the run and rushing the passer. The front seven is leaky at best right now, and if the front seven can’t hold up its end, it doesn’t matter how talented Champ Bailey or Dre Bly are in coverage, or how hard John Lynch will hit from his safety position. Having three rookies on the defensive line will make it very difficult.
As for the offense, it’s productive — pending Travis Henry’s status on the drug test over the next few weeks — except when it comes to consistent red zone play. There’s nothing but room for optimism when it comes to Jay Cutler; he has flashes that are still better than last year, but it’s nowhere near what most fans were anticipating. Losing the anchor of the offensive line in center Tom Nalen for the season with a torn biceps is a bad blow, and will require re-adjustment yet again. Javon Walker is still iffy, and despite his diminishing skills, I get the feeling the Broncos miss Rod Smith in so many ways; he is the veteran leader, the last offensive skill player connected with the title years in the late 90s.
Never say never — Pittsburgh could come in and be rusty off the bye week, but to take advantage, the Broncos will have to be on their game in a way we’ve not seen this year. The schedule after the Steelers looks promising — hosting Green Bay and going to Detroit means two teams that don’t run particularly well, and if they’re going to get ready for the slog against the AFC West foes again, now’s the time to get ready and go for it.
Photo: AP/Jack Dempsey