The 2011 Denver Broncos enter the new season full of optimism—just like every other team.
The problem is, the lockout couldn't of come at a worse time for the franchise. They enter the season with a new head coach in John Fox, a new VP in John Elway and the same QB questions that were forced to the back burner.
Now just over a month away from the regular season, the Broncos have no idea if they will be starting Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow.
The success of the season starts with the QB, but multiple issues still need to be addressed as well. What will they do to address the 31st ranked run defense? What do they do with the 26th ranked run offense? Will Brian Dawkins be back? Is the Parrish Cox rape case going to be a lingering cloud over the season?
Right now there are much more questions than answers at Invesco Field.
Biggest Question: Can they run the ball?
Knowshon Moreno has played two years in the NFL and is certainly not a star. In fact, he is looking more like a bust than anything else. Last year he couldn't even crack the 800-yard barrier as the lead back on the team. Granted he did miss three games—but that number is still very low for the featured back on a NFL team.
Once free agency begins on Friday they will be courting DeAngelo Williams, a player that would be a perfect fit. Not only is he the top runner on the market, but he is extremely comfortable in the offense Fox likes to run. That's what happens when he's the only NFL coach you've ever played for.
The Broncos would do themselves a huge favor by signing Williams to a deal.
Impact Rookies: Von Miller and Orlando Franklin
Miller is an easy pick. The No. 2 overall selection in the draft comes to Denver with sky high expectations. The outside linebacker is a ferocious pass rusher that recorded 10 sacks in his last nine collegiate games. Miller has a very strong upper body that he uses to push aside smaller blockers. He will likely start from day one and be expected to help shore up a awful defensive unit.
Franklin was the 46th overall pick out of the University of Miami. He was one of the premier offensive lineman prospects in the draft but fell a bit due to concerns over durability. He dealt with nagging injuries for the majority of his collegiate career.
Yet when healthy he can be a dominating force. His combination of size (6-5), weight (315) and top notch speed for the position make him ready to play in the NFL. The Broncos dealt with a revolving door on the O-Line for a large chunk of the season and will likely insert Franklin into the starting lineup within the first month. His progress in run blocking will have a huge impact on the offense.
Playoff Odds: 20/1
The Broncos are still dealing with the Josh McDaniels era(error) and this season will be about letting their young core develop.
Fox admitted to reporters that deep down he knows who his QB is going to be—and odds are it will be Tebow. He is the guy selling jerseys, he is the guy the team traded up to acquire in the '10 draft and he has more potential than Orton.
Assuming Tebow starts... the whole team will have to endure the bumps and bruises of Tebow learning the position. He currently only has three NFL starts to his name.
While the potential is certainly there, it's going to take time. Ditto for a defense that will be under going the switch from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3.
The Broncos are heading in the right direction...but don't expect anything better than a 7-9 season in the Mile High City.