Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fans Vote Willis McGahee Broncos' Mid-Season MVP

Halfway through the 2011 season the Denver Broncos are sitting at 3-5 and just one game back in the AFC West. This week seems like a good time to hand out mid-season awards.

We asked fans on our Facebook page who they thought was the Broncos Most Valuable Player through the first eight games and the vote was almost unanimous. Broncos veteran running back Willis McGahee received nearly 64% of the votes. Receiver Eric Decker and rookie linebacker Von Miller came in second with approximately 13% each.

Here's a quick look at each of the players nominated:
  • Running back Willis McGahee.
McGahee, a nine year veteran, has started six games this season and rushed for an NFL-best average of 103 yards in those games. Despite suffering a broken hand two weeks earlier, McGahee gashed the Oakland Raiders defense on Sunday for 163 yards on the ground Sunday and scored two touchdowns in the process. Heading into this week's game in Kansas City, McGahee has rushed 123 times for 623 yards (5.1 average) and scored four touchdowns on offense this season.
  • Wide receiver Eric Decker.
After catching just six passes in his rookie season, receiver Eric Decker has emerged as the Broncos -- and quarterback Tim Tebow's -- favorite target in the passing game. Starting in five games, Decker has caught 33 passes for 406 yards and six touchdowns, which is the second most among receivers in the NFL this season. Decker has also returned five punts for 128 yards and another scoring, bringing his touchdown total to seven this season.
  • Linebacker Von Miller.
The second overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, rookie linebacker Von Miller has been everything the Broncos could have hoped he would be. Miller has started in every game this season and his 6.5 sacks are tied for the most among rookies this season and is the second most by an AFC defensive player. Miller has also recorded 31 tackles and two forced fumbles this season, playing better each and every week.
  • Punter Britton Colquitt.
Entering his second season as the Broncos full-time punter, Britton Colquitt is playing like a Pro Bowler. Punting 44 times this season, Colquitt is averaging 49.8 yards a punt (3rd best in NFL), averaging 43.1 net (3rd best in NFL) and has a long of 66 yards (10th best in NFL). His 2,192 yards and 1,895 net years rank fourth and fifth respectively. Colquitt has also had eleven of his punts fair caught (due to good hang time) and has landed ten of his punts inside the twenty yard line. Colquitt has played a big part in the Broncos success on special teams this season.
  • Quarterback Tim Tebow.
Named the starting quarterback four weeks ago, Tim Tebow has gone 2-1 over the past three weeks and played a big role in the Broncos rushing attack. Starting in the last three games, Tebow has gone 45-of-97 for 536 yards and six touchdowns (against one interception) and rushed 38 times for 277 yards and another score. The Broncos can only go as far as Tebow can take them. With Denver just one game back in the AFC West, Tebow may be able to take the team to the playoffs this season.
  • Cornerback Champ Bailey.
A ten-time Pro Bowl selection, Champ Bailey was the final candidate nominated by Broncos Zone. Playing in five games this season (starting all of them), Bailey has recorded 16 tackles, four passes defended, intercepted two passes and forced one fumble. An anchor on Denver's defense, Bailey has been his usual self this season -- dominant.

Those were the nominations, here are the results in the voting:

"He gives the offensive side of the ball a ground game that none of the other RB's on the roster can seem to supply in his absence," said Broncos fan Paul Hesketh. The stats verify Hesketh's comments, as third year running back Knowshon Moreno has only been able to produce outputs of 22 and 69 yards in two games McGahee has missed this season.

"McGahee's currently 9th in the league in rushing yards, and I think if he can stay healthy might even crack the top five when the regular season is over," noted Hesketh. McGahee is on pace for 1,246 yards this season, which would make him the first Broncos running back to rush for 1,000 yards or more in a single season since Tatum Bell did it in 2006.

"No one saw this kind of performance coming," added Edgar Luna, a member of the U.S. Army. Though many fans may not have foreseen Willis' productive season, McGahee did. Before signing with the club in the offseason, McGahee told his agent that he saw Denver as a place where he could re-emerge as a starting running back again. Seven starts and over 600 yards later, McGahee is making fans "glad Denver got him!"

Stephanie Krizman commented that with the addition of McGahee, the Broncos running game is making a comeback, and Jose' Archuleta added that McGahee has been the most consistent player on offense each week.

"I haven't seen a smooth running back like McGahee in a long time here in Denver," said Nik Persons. "He has great balance and patience, and even at 30 years old, still has that speed that NFL running backs need." The Raiders defense can certainly attest to that.

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