ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The second decade of the 21st century for the Broncos came in with a bang and leaves with a whimper.
Let’s review with the 9NEWS All-Broncos Decade Team. Start with the best players on offense:
QUARTERBACK: Peyton Manning
Runner-up: Tim Tebow
Mention: Case Keenum, Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian, Kyle Orton, Joe Flacco
Comment: In Manning’s four seasons from 2012-15, the Broncos went 13-3, 13-3, 12-4 and 12-4. Manning set single-season passing records in 2013 that still stand with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards. He carried the team to Super Bowl 48 that year by leading the offense to 37.9 points per game. That’s another record that seems like decades ago and still stands. Manning then guided the Broncos through the 2015 postseason for a Super Bowl 50 title, although he has given most credit to Von Miller and the defense for that title.
For all you Tebow haters out there – and how can anyone hate Tebow on Christmas? – the position here is quarterback, not passer. Tebow won six in a row in 2011 and threw for 316 yards in one of the most exciting playoff wins in Broncos’ history.
Osweiler went 5-2 in his career and in the Super Bowl season of 2015. Siemian went 13-11 in 2016-17.
By the way, for those who don’t remember how strong Siemian started in 2016 before he started suffering shoulder injuries, here are his first four NFL starts (that came in his second season) compared to the first 4 starts of rookie Drew Lock this year:
QB ……… W-L … C …… A …… Y ….. TD .. I … RTG
Siemian . 4-0 … 68 … 101 … 824 … 6 … 3 … 99.6
Lock ……. 3-1 … 83 … 128 … 843 … 6 … 3 … 89.4
RECEIVER: Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Eric Decker
Runner-ups: Courtland Sutton, Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker
Comment: Three receivers, no fullback on the 9NEWS All-Decade team (apologies to Andy Janovich and Spencer “Both Ways” Larsen).
Thomas was the most talented receiver in Broncos’ history, although he finished second to Rod Smith in all three career statistical categories. Josh McDaniels’ first pick in the 2010 draft, D.T. had 5 straight seasons of at least 90 catches and 1,000 yards.
Sanders had three straight 1,000-yard seasons in the middle of the decade; Decker had two near the start of it. Decker also had a big impact receiving season in Tebow’s 2011 season.
RUNNING BACK: C.J. Anderson
Runner-ups: Knowshon Moreno, Phillip Lindsay, Willis McGahee
Comment: This is where expectations can influence evaluation. Moreno had to battle first-round expectations for most of his career but in that Broncos’ high-powered 2013 season, he rushed for 1,038 yards and scored 13 touchdowns.
The undrafted Anderson soared beyond expectations. He had a 1,000-yard season and a strong 2015 postseason that included 90 yards and the only offensive touchdown in Super Bowl 50.
“It’s an honor,’’ Anderson said of his place on the 9NEWS Broncos All-Decade Team. “My five years in Denver were my best years and I’m glad I’m getting a little recognition for that.”
Speaking of exceeding all expectations, Lindsay is about to go from no-Combine-invitation, undrafted star from Colorado to back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons to start his NFL career. He’ll become the first Broncos running back since Clinton Portis in 2002-03 to accomplish that feat provided he gets 42 yards Sunday in the season finale against the Raiders.
TIGHT END: Julius Thomas
Runner-up: Virgil Green
Mention: Jacob Tamme, Daniel Fells, Jeff Heuerman, Owen Daniels
Comment: Julius Thomas was an unstoppable red zone force, scoring 24 touchdowns in the two seasons of 2013-14. If only he had more than two healthy seasons.
Green was a 7th-round pick in John Elway’s first draft class in 2011 and played 7 years here before spending the past two seasons with the Chargers
OFEENSIVE LINE: Ryan Clady, OT, Matt Paradis, center; Zane Beadles, G; Louis Vasquez, RG; Orlando Franklin, OT
Runner-ups: Ryan Harris, OT; Chris Kuper, LG; Manny Ramirez, C; Connor McGovern, G-C; Chris Clark, OT
Comment: The star-crossed Clady was a Pro Bowl left tackle three times in the decade. Unfortunately, he didn’t play in the two Super Bowls because of injuries.
Paradis anchored the Super Bowl 50 offensive line and played every snap for 3 ½ years.
Big O started his first three years at right tackle, a position that’s been a revolving door of disappointments ever since Franklin was moved to left guard in 2014.
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