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Auditing The Denver Broncos 2008 Season
Christopher Reina. 29th January, 2009 - 5:56 pm

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Record: 8-8
Trench Counter: -2.8 (23rd)
Point differential per game: -4.9 (25th)
Payroll: $95.6M (27th)
Cost Per Win: $11.95M (11th)
Passing offense: 279.4 (3rd)
Rushing offense: 116.4 (12th)
Passing defense: 228.5 (26th)
Rushing defense: 146.1 (27th)
Turnover differential: -1.1 (31st)
Strength of schedule: 29th

If their season were a song: Offend In Every Way - The White Stripes

Game-by-Game (Score, Trench Counter)
Week 1: at OAK, 41-14 Win, 25.1
Week 2: SD, 39-38 Win, 0.8
Week 3: NO, 34-32 Win, -2.7
Week 4: at KC, 19-33 Loss, -3.9
Week 5: TB, 16-13 Win, -2.9
Week 6: JAX, 17-24 Loss, -9.5
Week 7: at NE, 7-41 Loss, -23.7
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: MIA, 17-26 Loss, -14.9
Week 10: at CLE, 34-30 Win, 7.2
Week 11: at ATL, 24-20 Win, 5.6
Week 12: OAK, 10-31 Loss, -12.6
Week 13: at NYJ, 34-17 Win, -0.3
Week 14: KC, 24-17 Win, 7.4
Week 15: at CAR, 10-30 Loss, -12.0
Week 16: BUF, 23-30 Loss, 2.3
Week 17: at SD, 21-52 Loss, -10.9

Broncos Season Review

In what ended up being Mike Shanahan's final season in Denver, Jay Cutler gunned the ball 616 times for 4,471 yards and 25 touchdowns. But he also threw 18 interceptions and had a relatively average passer rating of 86.0. The Broncos only rushed for 116.4, but were third in the league in yards per rush with 4.8 despite having to shuffle in and out Peyton Hillis, Michael Pittman, Selvin Young and Tatum Bell.

The Broncos exclusively won games when Cutler played MVP football and lost when he didn't, largely because their defense was unreliable and untalented. Opposing quarterbacks had a 97.3 passer rating and as a whole they yielded 6.1 yards per play, which was second in the NFL. Teams that make the playoffs have defenses that can offset a less than stellar performance from their quarterback.

Reina Value and FIC Rank

- Click here for information on the Reina Value and Field Impact Counter

(Rank at position, season FIC, Reina Value)

Quarterbacks

- Jay Cutler (2nd, 1025, +529%)

Cutler was ranked second in season FIC, but that is more of a cumulative score for quarterbacks than efficiency.

Most everything I have to write in summation of Cutler can be read in that aforementioned link above, but the fact that his passer rating dropped from 88.1 in 2007 to 86.0 this season isn't a red flag, but it is at least a yellow one.

Because of the upgrades on Denver's offensive line in rookie left tackle Ryan Clady, as well as the improvement of Ryan Harris at the other tackle, Cutler was sacked just 1.8% of the time, a franchise record.

Running Backs

- Peyton Hillis (50th, 270 [153 rushing, 118 receiving], +339%)

Hillis rushed for 343 yards and five touchdowns in 68 carries. His 5.0 yards per carry average is of course excellent, as were the 14 receptions for 179 yards (12.8 average). He is isn't a guaranteed starter for 2009 and Josh McDaniels effectively used a huge stable of running backs with New England, but he is the most promising option.

- Michael Pittman (61st, 196 [129 rushing, 67 receiving], +146%)

At 33 in his first season in Denver, Pittman rushed for 320 yards on 76 carries and his 4.2 average was just slightly better than his career mark.

- Tatum Bell (68th, 143 [102 rushing, 42 receiving], +316%)

Bell came back to Denver after being used in the Dre Bly trade. He recaptured the form that made him such a promising back during his first two seasons, averaging 5.7 yards per attempt in his 44 carries.

- Selvin Young (79th, 111 [100 rushing, 11 receiving], +86%)

Young was limited to just eight games and once against had an excellent yards per carry average, rushing 61 times for 303 yards.

Wide Receivers

- Brandon Marshall (7th, 817, 1,228%)

Marshall's 2007 was about the same as 2008, but due to that San Diego game in Week 2, he really became a household name across the entire NFL. He had 104 receptions for 1,265 yards and six touchdowns and became one of the top three or four receivers in the game.

- Eddie Royal (20th, 644, +274%)

In a year when no receivers were selected in the first round, Royal joined DeSean Jackson has a hugely successful second round rookie. Royal is an ideal number two receiver with the way he runs routes and simply plays great football. He had 91 catches for 980 yards and five touchdowns.

Tight Ends

- Tony Scheffler (10th, 401, +377%)

Scheffler did much of his damage early in the season, but with 40 catches for 645 yards (16.1 average) was another very productive season for the former 2nd round pick.

- Daniel Graham (23rd, 267, -52%)

Graham was far better in his second season in Denver than he was in 2007. He caught 32 balls for 389 yards and four touchdowns.

Defensive Summary

As mentioned above and all around the Mountain Time Zone, Denver's defense was atrocious and it made the McDaniels hire a little curious, even to Marshall. Shanahan's refusal to fire coordinator Bob Slowik probably got him fired and it was clear Denver had to make a move at least on that side of the ball.

Elvis Dumervil was the closest thing Denver had to a pass rusher and cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Dre Bly looked better on paper than they did on the field.

D.J. Williams, no matter where he lining up, has been one of the Broncos' most talented defensive players.

Upgrades at safety, defensive tackle and at linebacker are incredibly necessary as this unit must quickly get quicker and more talented.

Biggest draft needs

With really good depth offensively at every position, Denver will likely look to remake their defense in one fell swoop this April.

I'd really like B.J. Raji, the defensive tackle from Boston College, with the 11th overall selection. He improved his draft stock considerably with his performance at the Senior Bowl, so he is no lock to be there, so Brian Orakpo and Brian Cushing would be nice alternatives.

Previous Audits

32. Detroit Lions

31. St. Louis Rams

30. Oakland Raiders

29. Cleveland Browns

28. Seattle Seahawks

27. Cincinnati Bengals

26. Kansas City Chiefs

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

24. Buffalo Bills

- Chris Reina is the executive editor of RealGM