Here’s a look at the first half of the season for the Denver Broncos and a preview of what to expect in the second half:
First-half snapshot: The Broncos have lived at both ends of the spectrum in terms of their quality of play this season. Their best work came in a Week 2 rout of the Dallas Cowboys, and at the other extreme was their first shutout loss in a quarter century against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Broncos say they are the team that cruised to that Week 2 win, but their most recent work indicates otherwise. Grade: Below average
Midseason MVP: What linebacker Von Miller has done this season hasn’t really been fully appreciated by folks both near and far. Miller has influenced the play of opposing offenses due to their almost constant attention to him on virtually every play. Offenses play him like a defense attacks a quarterback, which means he permeates opponents' game plans week to week. He still had seven sacks after seven games and his run defense is vastly underrated.
Best moment: Because it was the exclamation point on what has been their most complete win, cornerback Aqib Talib’s 103-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Cowboys remains the high point. Talib’s play finished off a 42-17 win against the Cowboys, which had the home crowd daydreaming of January games and a Super Bowl opportunity. That seems like a long time ago now.
Worst moment: A 51-23 thrashing in Philadelphia had more than its share of bad moments for the Broncos, but when the clock hit 0:00 in a soccer stadium in Southern California to end the league’s longest-active scoring streak was the nadir. The Broncos lost 21-0, and it was the first time since November 1992 that they had not scored in a game. While Trevor Siemian has taken much of the heat for the Broncos' woes -- and his 10 interceptions by the time he was benched have contributed mightily to be sure -- the shutout loss provided proof that there was plenty of blame to go around for the team's struggles.
Second-half outlook: If the Broncos don’t repair the disconnect between the team's planning on offense and special teams and what is actually happening on the field, the team will see their defense wobble more and more as the current group will not hold up if consistently put into bad field position and playing from behind over and over again. While who plays at quarterback will always dominate the public discourse, it has been a disappointing performance all around by this offense. And the Broncos' fortunes won't change until their work on offense improves.