This year or next for Denver?

By Robert Rousseau  |   Wednesday, December 06, 2006  |  Comments( 4 )

Denver Broncos
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A few weeks ago, the Denver Broncos were tied for first place in their division. Coming into their home game against the co-division-leading San Diego Chargers at that time, things were looking to be in their favor (at least from an offensive standpoint).

Two of San Diego's most feared defenders - Shawne Merriman and Luis Castillo - were not slated to play against the Broncos.

The absences and homefield advantage didn't amount to a hill of beans, though. Then-starting quarterback Jake Plummer still struggled, going 13 of 28 for 183 yards and one interception.

Ultimately, the Chargers were victorious, 35-27, after the Broncos blew a 17-point lead.

The following week, the Broncos traveled to Kansas City for a showdown with the Chiefs. Plummer's statistics were better in this one, as he completed 25 of 39 passes for 216 yards (one TD, one pick); yet the team still struggled to score points (the Broncos' running game was atrocious). The end result?

A 19-10 loss.

Enter Jay Cutler. Growing even more desperate to right a ship off course, head coach Mike Shanahan decided to go with the rookie quarterback. Plummer certainly hadn't been playing well; further, Cutler is one talented guy.

Still, coming into a playoff race with your first start against the defending NFC Champs isn't exactly the perfect time. Though Cutler had his moments, he still looked much like a rookie, completing only 10 of 21 attempts for 143 yards (two touchdowns and two interceptions) in a losing effort against the Seahawks.

Not exactly stellar.

That said, the pressure is not going to subside one iota this weekend. This time, the division-leading Chargers will have Merriman. They'll also be at home. Beyond that, the Broncos have lost three straight and are close to falling from playoff contention.

With Plummer, the Broncos were hardly running on all cylinders. Still, they seemed to have a real shot at a playoff position even after dropping two straight. With Cutler, we're about to find out.

Namely, was this a move for the future, or can Cutler really come through in only his second start? If he does come through in a big way - and with Phillips and Merriman after him, only an outstanding performance will do - then the Broncos have a chance.

If not, the Broncos may soon be looking toward next season. After all, you don't beat the San Diego Chargers just trying to manage a game, and Denver's margin of error after a loss will greatly decrease.

We'll see on Sunday.
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About Robert Rousseau

Robert Rousseau is a sports writer that has been published in a variety of print and online venues. He’s been writing for RealFootball365.com for almost three years now. When Rousseau isn’t writing about college football he tends to be penning mixed martial arts pieces for MMAFighting.com or...
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CommentsComments: 4  |  Sign Up  View all comments
No.1
EPRAIDER
06:52 AM
12/07/2006
Try next decade this team will decline while Cutler improves. Denver is aging Lynch, Smith, actually the list goes on and on they...
No.2
fr8ttrain
10:53 AM
12/07/2006
The Broncos squandered an opportunity to get it done this year. Great defense gone to waste! They will not win this Sunday and...
No.3
BrOnCoS
10:11 PM
12/08/2006
hey obviously both of you arent broncos fans but i can tell by the one name its a raiders fan.....where do you have room to talk...
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