It’s too early to crown the Denver Broncos anything at this point, but after making it to the second round of the playoffs last season with Tim Tebow at the helm, this Peyton Manning guy has Denver fans giddy for a Super Bowl.
Of course, nobody was going to come into Broncos camp and start blabbing about how bad Manning looked, how rusty he was, or how concerned they were. The optimism is brimming a mile high, and Broncos fans can feel something special is in the air. I get the sense that most analysts around the league can feel it as well, not just an optimism but a player in Manning who is set to show the NFL exactly what it was missing out on when he spent a year rehabbing, in surgery, and getting himself right for the 2012 season.
I found this excerpt from Bill Williamson’s Denver Broncos camp confidential that ought to make fans even more giddy:
A veteran Denver Bronco was relaxing after the first training camp practice of a monumental season for the franchise.
He shook his head.
“When was the last time we had something like this here?” he asked. “This is something.”
One thing for right now seems certain: The Broncos will be a better team in 2012 than they were in 2011, and a more dynamic team at that. Fans will never forget the magic that Tim Tebow provided for a long stretch last season, including one of the more memorable moments in NFL playoff history when Tebow connected with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in the opening seconds of overtime for an 80 yard touchdown to win the game. Nobody wants to forget that, nobody will forget it, and no one took it for granted.
As much as Broncos fans appreciated and liked Tim Tebow, I can say with relative confidence that I’m speaking for the majority of Broncos country when I say that they only player who could have been brought in that would have kept Broncos fans at ease about losing Tim Tebow was Peyton Manning. You have to credit John Elway for doing what he did, even if it turns out to be a huge mistake. Elway put all his chips in Manning’s basket, and he cashed in big time.
You can tell just by watching and listening to players how much it has changed the culture of the team. Tebow is and was a fantastic leader for the Broncos, but despite Manning only having been part of the team for a few months, he already seems to have command of the locker room, and has effectively replaced Tebow as the hardest working player on the team.
The Broncos also made a couple of really underrated additions this offseason, bolstering their wide receiver group with Andre “Bubba” Caldwell and veteran Brandon Stokley, the other “old guy” on offense. In case you have not heard, this Broncos team is extremely young and talented, but unproven. Denver’s offensive roster includes but three skill position players outside of Peyton Manning who are over the age of 30. Two players are just hitting the 30 plateau–Joel Dreessen, a tight end recently acquired from Houston, and Willis McGahee, the Broncos’ Pro Bowl running back.
This may not qualify them for any awards or anything, but Denver’s roster includes just a handful of guys over the age of 30. Including Manning, Denver’s current 90-man roster features just 11 players who are 30 years of age or older, so needless to say, the future should be bright for this Denver Broncos team.
Nothing has yet been established at camp as far as the whole depth chart goes, but the early signs are very positive for the passing game, and wide receiver Eric Decker in particular. Decker and Manning have been the talk of the town and should be primed to be one of the top QB/WR duos in the NFL this year.
The Broncos contended for a Super Bowl last season, though at 8-8 no one really took them seriously. Of course, this will be settled on the field, but early reports out of Denver are overwhelmingly positive, and the future of the team looks bright.