In our NFL previews, the consensus is the Denver Broncos will win the AFC West.
However, “Monday Night Football” analyst Jon Gruden is not so sure. In a conference call with media members, Gruden was asked what his expectations for the Peyton Manning-led Broncos are in 2012. Gruden isn’t sold that Manning and the Broncos will be great.
“I think the realistic expectation is for Peyton Manning to be a big factor in the Broncos winning the AFC West and having a double digit win season, because that's all he's done for the last 10 or 12 years as a starting quarterback,” Gruden said. “But, as I look at it, I hate to be a devil's advocate; I think the schedule is tough. The battery of Tom Moore, Jeff Saturday, Howard Mudd, the men that trained him and helped develop him and put that offense in for him are no longer with him. I think he's doing a lot of things on his own from installing the offense to calling the offense to executing the offense. He's going to have to do it with a very short period of time and a lot of young players around him.
“So I think it's going to be a little bit more of a struggle than people remember. But I do think physically he's back, he's quick, he looks natural to me behind the center. I think a realistic expectation is 8-8 if you ask me.”
Meanwhile, Gruden, later in the convenience call, Gruden talked up San Diego first-round pick, pass-rusher Melvin Ingram.
Here are Gruden’s thoughts on Ingram: “Well, I loved Melvin Ingram at South Carolina because he did it from a lot of different alignments. He rushed over the center. He rushed over the guard. He rushed it right end and left end, and I think that's going to really help him well.”