“Counterparts to be counted on” is a 32-part series where we the “Front Office” of couchpotatogm.com analyze one offensive player and one defensive player on each team that MUST have a particularly strong individual season in 2015 for their respective teams to have a successful 2015 campaign. The ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl but a successful season doesn’t always result in hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. No matter what “you” consider to be a success these counterparts are essential to achieving that goal.
Denver Broncos “Counterparts to be counted on” 2015
C.J. Anderson – Three touchdowns and seven interceptions. That’s what future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning managed in four postseason games during the Indianapolis Colts’ Super Bowl run in 2006-07. Despite being a Manning supporter throughout the years I distinctly remember telling my dad, “Peyton is never going to win a Super Bowl” during a Wild Card Game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Colts controlled that game start to finish but Manning threw 3 of those 7 interceptions in that game. Obviously, I was wrong but despite Manning’s regular season greatness his playoff struggles are well-documented and have continued in Denver. It was not Manning but instead the running back duo of Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai that lead the Colts to a Lombardi Trophy during the postseason. I know, I buried the lead. But the point I want to illustrate is that the Broncos’ running game, lead by C.J. Anderson is the key to the Broncos’ success in 2015, offensively.
Anderson was an un-heralded back out of California and went undrafted in 2013. However, when injuries and ineffectiveness created an opportunity he ran with it to a tune of 4.7 yards per carry adding a physical/slashing dimension to a high powered passing game. Some may be skeptical of C.J. Anderson considering that Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman are on the roster and are expected to be healthy. But head coach Gary Kubiak is no “Shanahan.” If a running back stakes his claim as the every-down option Kubiak will feed him. Consider the success Kubiak had in Houston with Arian Foster and Ben Tate and most recently in Baltimore with Justin Forset in his zone-blocking scheme. If Anderson stays healthy he could be in line for a monstrous season and find his yards per carry average north of 5.0 yards.
Playoff games are typically brawls. The weather becomes a factor and ball-control, time of possession and ball-security are paramount. A consistent running game can impact the mentality of an entire roster (see New England, Seattle, Baltimore) and it is that mental and physical toughness that Peyton Manning led teams’ often lack come “win or go home” scenarios. The Broncos have been in a “win now” mode since Peyton arrived in Denver. The roster is talented but Manning’s health/skills are diminishing, the offensive line has question marks and the Broncos have lacked the “toughness” to get over the hump. It’s Super Bowl or bust as always and if the Broncos can capture the physicality customary of a strong running game like how the Colts did during their Championship run the Broncos have a shot to send Peyton out on top. C.J. Anderson for MVP if you are a Broncos’ fan.
Danny Trevathan – Speaking of toughness, Danny Trevathan is making his way back from an injury-shortened 2014 campaign due to a fractured knee cap and was certainly missed. A sixth round pick out of Kentucky, Trevathan was actually voted to the All-SEC first team during his junior season as he led the conference with 144 tackles. Trevathan is a playmaker that is always around the football. Whether he’s piling up tackles and stuffing the run or slipping into passing lanes and creating turnovers his football instincts are terrific and incredibly underrated. Considering that he plays with the likes of: Von Miller, Demarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and Chris Harris; Trevathan doesn’t get much attention. Additionally, the Broncos faired very well statistically despite his extended absence last season. In fact, the Broncos ranked 3rd in the league in total defense. However, it’s not just his physical skills that he brings to the table. It’s a tenacity, a toughness, a swagger that the Broncos seemed to lack last season. It isn’t baseless bravado but rather a “loud” confidence. He is also the missing piece to the middle of that defense. Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton is in Washington now and the best defenses are strong up the middle. You add the athletic prowess of Trevathan with Brandon Marshall at the second level and that helps mitigate the lost of “Pot Roast.”
One more 2006-07 Colts’ reference. Not only was the running game pivotal in the Colts’ successful postseason but it was the “heart” or middle of the defense that was particularly impressive and frankly the key to their success. The middle of the Colts’ defense was comprised of Anthony “Booger” McFarland, Gary Brackett and Bob Sanders. Yes, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were the bookends and Cato June and Antoine Bethea were no slouches but the middle of that defense was often criticized for not being physical enough and susceptible to power-run oriented teams. Well, that wasn’t the case in the playoffs as the triumvirate of McFarland, Brackett and Sanders set the tone physically and emotionally on defense. The Colts were a good defense, accustomed to playing with leads and hunting the opposition’s quarterback. But it wasn’t until the heart of the defense invoked a nastiness in the entire unit that the Colts ultimately broke through. There are parallels between that Colts team and the 2015 Broncos. If Sylvester Williams, T.J. Ward and Danny Trevathan can solidify the heart of the defense and inject more than just talent, but grit and determination as well, the Broncos are going to be incredibly difficult to beat. That is why Trevathan is the Broncos’ defensive “counterpart to be counted on.” He embodies the edge and excitement a talented but at times apathetic Broncos’ defense desperately needs in order to hoist that Lombardi Trophy.