Thursday, January 2, 2014
All-AFC West: Denver Broncos
By Jeff Legwold
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Stack records and touchdowns like the Denver Broncos did this season and people notice.
The Broncos finished with a single-season record for points scored -- 606 –- as quarterback Peyton Manning threw 55 touchdown passes, also a single-season league record. The Broncos also became the first team in league history to have five players score at least 10 touchdowns; no other team in league history has had more than three.
As a result, there are plenty of Broncos' names dotting the All-AFC West team's offense, selected by the division’s NFL Nation reporters. Manning was selected along with wide receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, tight end Julius Thomas, guards Zane Beadles and Louis Vasquez and right tackle Orlando Franklin. Manning was the least sacked starting quarterback in the league of those who threw at least 320 passes -- 18 times.
“We always say with team success comes personal rewards,’’ Broncos coach John Fox said.
Running back Knowshon Moreno deserved a look as well with 1,038 rushing yards and 10 rushing TDs to go with 60 receptions, but Jamaal Charles did even a little more in the Chiefs’ offense with 1,287 rushing yards to go with 70 catches.
San Diego Chargers rookie Keenan Allen beat out Wes Welker for the third wide receiver slot. Welker, who missed three games because of a concussion, finished with 73 catches, 778 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Center Manny Ramirez, in his first year at the position, has consistently drawn praise from Manning throughout the season, and some personnel executives have said he deserves consideration as an All-Pro. But Chargers veteran Nick Hardwick was the choice in the middle of the line.
Defensively, the Broncos have had their struggles, but the NFL Nation reporters acknowledged some of their best -- especially cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who is the team’s most versatile player at the position. The Broncos moved Harris all over the formation with a variety of duties, and while Harris was inexplicably passed over by his peers in the league as even a Pro Bowl alternate, he was an All-AFC West pick here.
Defensive end Shaun Phillips, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and linebacker Danny Trevathan also got the nod.
Where the Broncos took a hit came on special teams. Matt Prater, despite an NFL-record 64-yarder this season to go with a 25-of-26 showing on field goals, including 6-of-7 from at least 50 yards, did not make the cut. Prater also set an NFL record for touchbacks on kickoffs this season.
And Britton Colquitt, with 44.5 gross and 38.5 net averages this season, lost out to his brother, Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt. Dustin Colquitt has a gross average of 46.0 and a net average of 40.2 and punted 22 more times than Britton did this season.