Here are some thoughts, about yesterday's game, and the season at the 5 game mark.
1. For as much as Broncos free agent signings have been criticized over the years, two great bargain-priced acquisitions showed up huge yesterday. Michael Pittman and Brandon Stokley were the stars of this game on offense. Both have delivered beyond what was expected of them when they were signed. What a couple of great team guys to have.
2. That said, the calls for Pittman to start at RB are misplaced. One of the more intelligent trends of the past 5 years or so is the move toward defined RB tandems. The modern movement really started with Priest Holmes ceding some carries due to the emergence of Larry Johnson, and it was clear that both players were better for it. The Broncos started doing it too, after the trade of Clinton Portis, and it has worked well. Even teams like San Diego, Minnesota, Dallas, and Miami, with legit #1 workhorse backs are splitting carries now, so it is a trend which is here to stay. I have consistently been a Selvin Young fan, and maybe the only one on this site, but I think he is an outstanding tandem back. He has rare acceleration, and the last few games, has been running with much improved balance and vision. A cogent argument can be made for Pittman taking some of Andre Hall's workload, but I like Pittman in exactly the role he is in. He adds more value in specialty situations than he would as a lead back.
3. You could see that Jay Cutler was frustrated by having to be so patient yesterday, but it was impressive that he was able to. It highlighted an ever-improving football maturity in him.
4. I really liked how Marcus Thomas looked as a 5-technique DE yesterday in the 30 fronts. It's harder to double him outside, and he got some push. I also think using him in drops on zone-blitzes takes good advantage of his outstanding athleticism. He just needs to hold on to the ball when he picks one off.
5. We got the second horse-excrement chop-block penalty called on us this season. Yesterday, Andre Hall went low on a rusher as Daniel Graham breathed on him up high. In the other one, against San Diego, Clady went low after Hamilton had disengaged up high. I'd really like to see the officials do better calling this, because teams which use zone protection schemes are always going to teeter on the edge of this penalty. Neither penalty was well-earned.
6. Speaking of protection, I don't think I have ever seen another team go from being completely awful in pass protection in one season to being the best in the NFL the next. In 192 pass attempts over 5 games, Jay Cutler has been physically sacked only once. That is an amazing accomplishment for this line, and for Jay. Messrs. Clady, Hamilton, Wiegmann, Kuper, and Harris should take a bow. Mr. Clady should start making plans to be in Hawaii in February, if there is any fairness in the voting, because he has been easily the best LT I've seen this season.
7. It is kind of tacky to pat yourself on the back for having prescient thoughts, so I won't exactly do that. I'll just say that field position management has, on the whole, been much improved this season. Matt Prater and Brett Kern are huge field position weapons, and punt coverage has been good all season. As with our defense, our kickoff coverage is kind of feast or famine sometimes, but I like touchbacks, and Prater leads the league in them.
8. Our defense is improving organically, and will be fully league-average by the time the playoffs roll around. Dumervil dominated Jeremy Trueblood on Sunday.
9. We're going to have a rooting interest in January this season. My dad called to give me a hard time a few days ago, crowing about how the Broncos were going to finish 6-10 this season. He doesn't really know anything substantial about football beyond the Madden-type cliches, and probably couldn't distinguish between a Tackle and a Guard on offense, so I just kind of chuckle at him. Still, it will be fun to serve him a nice, warm glass of Shut The Hell Up. The hardest part, for me, will be to remember that this is a young team, in the 3rd year of a 5 year plan, but this team will be in the playoffs this season.