In 2011, the Denver Broncos ranked next to last in passing yards per game with 152. They had 20 passing touchdowns for the season. Kyle Orton started five games and had a quarterback rating of 75.7. Tim Tebow started 11 games. His quarterback rating was 72.9.
Peyton Manning riding high
After Week 10 this season, Denver was tied for third in passing yards per game with 303. They had 21 passing touchdowns, surpassing all of 2011. New Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had a quarterback rating of 108.0.
Bronco wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker were both drafted by Denver in 2010 and are both in their third season with the team. With Manning throwing to them, both Thomas and Decker have exploded in value this season.
Thomas was the first of Denver’s two first-round picks in 2010. He was drafted 22nd, three picks ahead of Tebow. Thomas went to Georgia Tech, redshirting in 2006 when the Yellow Jackets had star wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Thomas started two games in his rookie year and five games in 2011. His combined totals for his first two seasons were 54 catches for 834 yards and six touchdowns.
Following the 2011 regular season, Thomas had quite a playoff debut, catching an 80-yard touchdown pass from Tebow in overtime to lead the Broncos over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Thomas finished the game with four catches for 204 yards. The next week, New England blew out Denver, holding Tebow to just 136 yards, but Thomas still finished with six catches for 93 yards.
Fantasy football numbers shine
In his first nine games in 2012, Thomas’ 891 yards were fourth best in the league and more than his first two regular seasons combined. Thomas’ 54 catches were tied for tenth. He also had four touchdowns.
Decker, a third-round pick out of the University of Minnesota, was also drafted in the later rounds of the 2008 and 2009 Major League Baseball drafts. During his rookie season of 2010, Decker was bothered by a foot injury that had cut short his college career and he only caught six passes. In 2011, Decker started 13 games and had 44 catches for 612 yards and eight touchdowns.
After nine games in 2012, Decker already had 48 catches for 598 yards. His seven touchdowns were tied for fourth-best. Before being kept out of the end zone in Week 10 against Carolina, Decker had scored touchdowns in five straight games.
In April, Decker became engaged to country singer Jessie James.