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  • Pre-Camp State of the Broncos

    After witnessing what has been the most tumultuous offseason in Denver Broncos history, the dust has now settled, and the shape of the team is taking hold. Training Camp is now about a month away, and the NFL's dead season is nearing the end.

    Here's my take on the state of the team, and how I see the Broncos as they head into the 2009 season.

    Coaching:

    I am on record around here as being strongly anti-Shanahan, and six months later, I remain sternly unapologetic. His philosophies became stale, and he neglected two thirds of the team. He was more concerned with meaningless offensive rankings, and constantly rationalized and made excuses for his teams shortcomings. Ten years of underachievement on the field, lackluster performances and uninspired play were enough.

    Bottom line: Good riddance.

    I, like any Broncos fan, will fondly remember the teams of the late 90's, and the Super Bowl Championships that gave this team legitimacy as an elite team in the annals of NFL history, and Mike Shanahan deserves 100% credit for that.

    But if he deserves the credit when things went well, he also deserves the blame when it went off track, and the monumental failure of the Broncos last season in dropping three straight to cost them a playoff berth meant Shanahan's time was up.

    Enter Josh McDaniels.

    The Broncos lead a fairly detailed, exhaustive coaching search to replace the fired Mike Shanahan.

    In addition to McDaniels, the Broncos interviewed a variety of candidates from a variety of backgrounds, and clearly in the interview process, McDaniels blew his competition away.

    It does not take long to understand this guy has a plan and a vision, and he has a single-minded focus. I loved the fact that when McD was hired, he did not just speak about simply improving the Broncos defense, he made it clear the entire Broncos organization was flawed, and improvement was needed across the board. He quickly called into question the myth that the Broncos offense 'was already there' as a championship calibur unit by illustrating it's shortcomings in several key components.

    In my opinion, McDaniels selection of his coaching staff was brilliant, and I loved what he was able to accomplish in free agency and the draft, especially in addressing the glaring need of improving special teams by bringing in players who can perform well in that capacity.

    Of course, the big test for McDaniels is how well he can succeed in the aftermath of his showdown and subsequent trade of Jay Cutler, but in examining several areas of the team, it is clear to me the Broncos will be improved in several key areas.

    Personally, I am a believer in Josh McDaniels, and I think he is going to transform the Broncos into a tougher, more well-rounded team. The Broncos were dead in the water under Shanahan, and I think Pat Bowlen realized that as well, and decided it was time for radical change at Dove Valley...and for better or worse, things will be dramatically different in Denver.

    QB's

    Jay Cutler is a supremely talented QB physically. I was in support of the Broncos trading up to draft him, and I supported him over his first two seasons with the Broncos, even through his growing pains, and the nagging questions that surrounded him as a leader, and in his role as the most important athlete in the city of Denver, Colorado.

    I tolerated and made excuses for his on-field tantrums in the face of adversity, and his off field, post-game press conferences where his petualnt behavior rivaled that of my teenage son.

    I was done with Jay Cutler after Mike Shanahan was fired, and his reluctance to embrace change and accept McDaniels as the new Head Coach. I resented his indifference and his failure to promptly return McDaniels phone calls, and I was further irritated at his bloated sense of entitlement when he basically insisted on the retention of the offensive system he had operated under Jeremy Bates, and his reaction when McDaniels chose to go in a different direction.

    So while I realize the physical skills Jay Cutler possessed as a QB, I have just as many concerns about his mental makeup and his emotional maturity, which are also key components all great QB's must have.

    I also believe that McDaniels soured on Jay Cutler at some point in his evaluation process, which is why the Matt Cassel trade possibility was considered.

    I am not sure what I think of the trade in terms of what the Broncos got back in the deal.

    I think there is a chance the Broncos could have received more in compensation for Cutler than they got if they had held out a little longer, and turned down a trade or two, but what's done is done, and it is clear McDaniels felt the Bears were the best trading partner, largely because they could get a quality veteran QB in return.

    Enter Kyle Orton.

    In announcing the details of the trade, McDaniels stated that he felt Kyle Orton was an 'under-rated' NFL QB that had the skills to be successful in his system. This statement is going to go a long way in determining the legitimacy of McD's evaluations of QB's, and how much he can be trusted.

    The fact is, Kyle Orton has been able to lead teams to winning records in the NFL, as his 21-12 record as a starter indicates. I am also interested to see if Orton's background in the spread at Purdue will help him in his execution of McD's 'Amoeba' offense, as it has for Drew Brees in New Orleans.

    Chris Simms was just starting to scratch the surface of becoming a legit NFL starting QB in Tampa when he suffered that devastating ruptured spleen, and two years out of the league has him on the comeback trail, but I for one am not counting him out yet. Simms has the size, strength and intelligence to become a very good NFL QB if given the chance.

    I am also looking forward to what Tom Brandstater develops into over the next coule of years under McD's watchful eye. Brandstater has all the physical tools you look for, so he is this giant piece of clay McDaniels will be looking to mold. With time on his hands, and the luxury to learn without pressure, Brandstater could suprise down the road and develop in a similar manner that Aaron Rogers has in Green Bay...or like Matt Cassel did in New England.

    Ding, dong, the witch is dead, and Jay Cutler has been traded.

    Time to move on.
    Last edited by MindField; 06-24-2009, 08:41 PM.

  • #2
    Sorry for the delay, here's the rest...

    RB's

    In drafting Knowshon Moreno, the Broncos addressed what had been an ongoing search for an identity at RB. From the failed draft choice of Tatum Bell in the aftermath of the Clinton Portis trade, to trying to cut corners with free agent RB's like Mike Bell and Selvin Young, the Broncos finally brought in what is considered to be a true talent at RB. In addition to Moreno, the Broncos discovered that Peyton Hillis can be a power back, and can give the Broncos a solid one-two punch. Buckhalter is a utility back with good hands that can provide the offernse some of what the Patriots have in Kevin Faulk, and Hillis' receiving skills should be a huge factor in the offense as well. Additionally, I look for Hillis to line up in some psuedo H-Back sets to maximize his production as a receiver.

    Behind one of the best young offensive lines in the NFL, I look for the Broncos to be a very effective rushing team that will do a much bettter job of controlling the clock, and helping along the defense by keeping them off the field. In addition, providing better field position, which will help our special teams.

    WR/TE's

    Brandon Marshall is the obvious wild card here. In McD's offense, he could continue to be a force across the middle, making the tough catches and helping to convert third downs, as well as being a valued target in the Red Zone....

    But there's a catch...he no longer wants to be a Denver Bronco.

    Like Ashley Lelie and Javon Walker before him, Marshall has decided his career would be better off playing elsewhere. Maybe he should look at those two and see how their careers have gone since leaving Denver before he makes a final decision.

    So the Broncos are in a tough spot. They realize that Marshall is a talented player on the field, but that he is also a serious knucklehead off of it. They have to be concerned about giving him a huge contract, and Marshall is miffed that he hasn't received it. In the end, I believe Marshall has played his last down as a Denver Bronco, so now it is just a matter of what they can get in return.

    To me, Eddie Royal represents alot of what Deion Branch was in the Patriots offense. I look for him to continue to be a force and grow in the new offense, and to benefit finacially from Marshall's impending departure.

    Jabar Gaffney is a solid veteran player that will contribute and help along the young guys in learning the system. Brandon Stokely is probably playing out his last year in Denver, as is Tony Scheffler, so there will be new players in the receiver core added over the next few years. Rookie WR Kenny McKinley from South Carolina is player to watch.

    Like Gaffney, Daniel Graham knows the system, and can provide leadership to the younger players. I also look for Graham and rookie Richard Quinn to be a dominant pair of blocking TE's that will be a force in the running game.

    Offensive Line

    The re-signing of Casey Wiegmann was huge and will stablize this unit into one of the league's best. Ryan Clady looks like a future Hall of Famer, and Chris Kuper is a very good young OG. Ryan Harris has been a great fit at RT, and Ben Hamilton will provide solid veteran play at LG. Players like Tyler Polumbus also provide solid depth.

    In short, I look for great things from the play of the O-Line.

    Defensive Line

    Obviously the biggest question mark surrounding the team.

    No one gets excited about names such as Ronald Fields, Ryan McBean, Kenny Peterson, etc, but they are the first in line for a shot to start on the D-Line.

    Marcus Thomas is a key component, and if he could step up and become a solid starter, that would help.

    Other faces in the crowd include undrafted free agents such as Everette Pedescleaux, Rulon Davis and Chris Baker.

    The Broncos are in serious need of an unknown player or two taking the lead and stepping up.

    Linebackers

    In the swtich to the 3-4, the Broncos strength is in their LB's.

    DJ Williams looks like a solid fit, if he is recovered and begins training camp healthy, as does first round draft choice Robert Ayers, who should be a major player in the new defense. Others, like Elvis Dumervil, Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder will be undergoing position changes, and the odds say not all will do well. All three could be gone by 2010, either leaving in free agency (Dumervil), or cut outright (Moss, Crowder).

    Wesley Woodyard, now a legit 6'1"-230, reminds me of what the Patriots had in ILB Roman Pfiefer as an under-sized ILB that made the transition from an OLB in a 4-3 defense.

    But the bottom line is Woodyard is a player, and has serious instincts for the game. I find it hard to believe he won't be in the mix for serious playing time, and in the end, I believe he will establish himself as a very good player and an eventual starter. Woodyard is the kind of player coaches like McDaniels and Mike Nolan love.

    Darrell Reid and Aundra Davis are veteran types, and anything they contribute will be gravy.

    Secondary

    Champ Bailey is in a transitional year. He has a serious increase in salary due in 2010, and if his play does not return to a Pro Bowl level, he too could be playing out his final year as a Bronco.

    Andre Goodman is a vastly under-rated player, as evidenced by the job he did on Brandon Marshall last season, and is an upgrade over Dre Bly.

    One of the most exciting new players to me is Alphonso Smith. He will help immeditately as a nickle corner, as well as a kick returner and is a very good special teams player.

    Vet Brian Dawkins is similar to what the Broncos had when they signed John Lynch...that is a veteran leader that will be able to get the players to play the game the right way, and provide dearly needed leadership. My guess is he has two solid years left, and will have a positive impact on the defense, as Lynch once did.

    Rookies Darcel McBath and David Bruton are very good young prospects that have the time to learn behind Dawkins, and free agent vet Renaldo Hill.

    Like Wesley Woodyard, one of the most interesting holdovers from last season will be Josh Barrett, who at 6'3" and about 230lbs has a special set of skills. He proved he can cover TE's, as evidenced by the job he did on Tony Gonzalez among others last season, and in the new hybrid defense, he can also play in a variety of roles, including some LB sets. Barrett has been among those that have received positive reviews from the new coaching staff, and could be a player to emerge as a very important one for the Broncos.

    Special teams

    The additon of players like Alphinso Smith, Darcel McBath, Darrell Reid and David Bruton means the Broncos have added several players that will make the special teams a vastly improved unit.

    Coaching Staff

    The hiring of new defensive coaches such as Mike Nolan as the new DC, and D-Line Coach Wayne Nunnelly should go along way to rebuilding the defense.

    Offensively, the retention of Rick Dennison on the O-Line, and the legendary Bobby Turner as RB coach were shrewd moves for Josh McDaniels, and will provide some stability to lean on as the new offense is implemented.

    Overall, McDaniels is young and inexperienced, but he has a cast of some very solid, veteran coaches to help him along.

    Bottom Line:

    I am going to call the Broncos season record 9-7.

    I see three to four wins within the division, including a split with San Diego.

    The Broncos will beat teams such as Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Washington, and they will pull a home field upset off against the Dallas Cowboys, and will beat the NY Giants on Thanksgiving eve.

    Anyway, that's how I see it...fire away.
    Last edited by MindField; 06-26-2009, 03:17 PM.

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    • #3
      :clap: it's good!!

      Comment


      • #4
        I think Mindfield pretty much nailed it for me. I feel the same way about the changes so far.

        I am looking forward to reading the next section.
        Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?

        Comment


        • #5
          Wow!!! Well done. I totally agree with you. I saw Shanahan firing coming early in the season. I wasnt quite sure it would happen due to track record but i wasnt surprise by any means when it happened. Although McDaniels is having a rough start so to speak, I am definitely on board with all the things I see him implementing and his vision. I just hope fans dont give up on him if we dont make the playoffs in his first season although i think we have a shot at winning the division. We have to remember that its rare to turn a team around in the first year. Although i hate what Marshall is doing but after thinking about it i do believe he deserves another contract with a lot of incentives. Good post and as usually i truly enjoy your perspective everytime you post.

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          • #6
            The Broncos needed a change. Since we first made it to the SB in 1977 to 1998 we've been making it to the SB an astonishing one appearance every 3.5 years. Last time we made it to the SB was 11 years ago. No good. Not our standards
            We were definitely heading the wrong direction.
            The time is here, the time is now! :go:
            sigpic
            I've started with almost nothing and still got most of it

            Comment


            • #7
              I hate how you guys keep pointing out Ortons record. There are 21 other starts on that team. Orton did not lead that team to that record, he just hopped on for the ride. In many of the wins, the defense allowed less than 20 points. Orton did nothing but manage the games, and he was barely successful at doing that. Hell, by the way you guys talk, your dream qb would probably be Trent Dilfer.

              On the coach. He has done NOTHING to help the last years biggest weakness. You guys were the 29th(IIRC) ranked defense last year...and you spend your #1 pick on an offensive player. Then you trade a 1st round pick for a 2nd round pick... soak that in for a minute. Does that make sense? A 1st round pick for a 2nd round pick. You know, it wouldnt be such a big deal if you guys had actually grabbed a good player with that pick. You got a CB who runs a 4.5 and who would have likely been there many picks later.

              Sorry, you guys have good optimism for your team, but it's severely misplaced. McD has done more harm than good for the team. I didnt even mention that he has had a falling out with Denver's best 2 players.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Chiefs > You View Post
                I hate how you guys keep pointing out Ortons record. There are 21 other starts on that team. Orton did not lead that team to that record, he just hopped on for the ride. In many of the wins, the defense allowed less than 20 points. Orton did nothing but manage the games, and he was barely successful at doing that. Hell, by the way you guys talk, your dream qb would probably be Trent Dilfer.

                On the coach. He has done NOTHING to help the last years biggest weakness. You guys were the 29th(IIRC) ranked defense last year...and you spend your #1 pick on an offensive player. Then you trade a 1st round pick for a 2nd round pick... soak that in for a minute. Does that make sense? A 1st round pick for a 2nd round pick. You know, it wouldnt be such a big deal if you guys had actually grabbed a good player with that pick. You got a CB who runs a 4.5 and who would have likely been there many picks later.

                Sorry, you guys have good optimism for your team, but it's severely misplaced. McD has done more harm than good for the team. I didnt even mention that he has had a falling out with Denver's best 2 players.
                I was going to read this.

                Then I saw your silly username.
                sigpic

                Supporter of COLORADO sports teams. :

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by chiefs > you View Post
                  i hate how you guys keep pointing out ortons record. There are 21 other starts on that team. Orton did not lead that team to that record, he just hopped on for the ride. In many of the wins, the defense allowed less than 20 points. Orton did nothing but manage the games, and he was barely successful at doing that. Hell, by the way you guys talk, your dream qb would probably be trent dilfer.

                  On the coach. He has done nothing to help the last years biggest weakness. You guys were the 29th(iirc) ranked defense last year...and you spend your #1 pick on an offensive player. Then you trade a 1st round pick for a 2nd round pick... Soak that in for a minute. Does that make sense? A 1st round pick for a 2nd round pick. You know, it wouldnt be such a big deal if you guys had actually grabbed a good player with that pick. You got a cb who runs a 4.5 and who would have likely been there many picks later.

                  Sorry, you guys have good optimism for your team, but it's severely misplaced. Mcd has done more harm than good for the team. I didnt even mention that he has had a falling out with denver's best 2 players.

                  2-14, 2-14, 2-14, 2-14, 2-14!!!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    There's a lot of good stuff here, and I agree with you. I'll always owe the incredible memory of those two superbowl wins partially to Shanahan, but it was time for him to go. At this point, Cutler was little more than potential (albeit a LOT of potential), and we'll survive without him.

                    I can't wait until training camp and preseason so we can start to see this offense operate with pads. I'm also looking forward to how well Nolan and the defensive coaching staff can get the defense playing together. I, too, am a big fan of McDaniels so far, and I love Nolan in the DC role. I'm optimistic about this season and think that we'll surprise some people. One thing is for sure, the MSM is making sure that everyone will expect NOTHING from the Broncos this year, so 6 wins would be a surprise to a lot of people.
                    sigpic

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here i the deal.....We can all sit here and make pages about how we feel this team is at the current time. All we have to do is be honest with ourselves. This team is a mess.......no ifs ands or butts. We went from good to bad in a matter of minutes. I am a huge Bronco fan but lets be serious.....how can anyone be excited when our team is in the media negatively and loosing good players. I'll put my orange goggles back on and enjoy my first season with season tickets:go:
                      Don't Panic!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by broncofan2415 View Post
                        Here i the deal.....We can all sit here and make pages about how we feel this team is at the current time. All we have to do is be honest with ourselves. This team is a mess.......no ifs ands or butts. We went from good to bad in a matter of minutes. I am a huge Bronco fan but lets be serious.....how can anyone be excited when our team is in the media negatively and loosing good players. I'll put my orange goggles back on and enjoy my first season with season tickets:go:
                        Thanks for being civil.

                        I honestly can't see how this team is worse than the one we fielded last year. Honestly the defense looks much better and the Offense has been reinforced (not going to make this post about Cutler, but yes, that is a huge blow to the offense, but again, Orton is a professional baller and a starter in this league, that makes him better at what he does than anything we've ever tried, likely). I think we have a solid team, you think we have a "bad" team. Nothing we can say can convince the other completely, but I will say this= we have brought in more good players than we've lost, and I don't give a damn what the media says about the Broncos. Last year after two weeks, the Broncos were going to the Super Bowl according to them. So I prefer not to listen to what experts like Matt Millen and Jaime Dukes have to say. It's irrelevant.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Chiefs > You View Post
                          I hate how you guys keep pointing out Ortons record. There are 21 other starts on that team. Orton did not lead that team to that record, he just hopped on for the ride. In many of the wins, the defense allowed less than 20 points. Orton did nothing but manage the games, and he was barely successful at doing that. Hell, by the way you guys talk, your dream qb would probably be Trent Dilfer.
                          Under Lovie Smith, the Bears are 45-35 (.563) in the regular season. Counting postseason games, it's 47-37 (.559).

                          The Bears team record with KO under center is 21-12 (.636). Take away the games Kyle played in (all starts) and the Bears record becomes 24-23 regular season (.521) or 26-25 w/postseason (.510).

                          If Kyle was just along for the ride, why do they do so much better with him? It's pretty consistent too, 10-5 (.667) in 2005, 2-1 (.667) in 2007, and 9-6 (.600) last season.

                          In 2005, with Grossman the Bears lost a playoff game badly to a Panthers team that Orton had led the Bears to an easy win over just a month prior. In 2007, after Grossman and Griese had destroyed the Bears season with a 5-8 start, Orton posted the only back-to-back wins of the season - going 2-1 playing against 2 teams fighting to get into the playoffs (Vikes & Saints) and the Bears fiercest rival (Packers) with a Bears team that had nothing left to play for.

                          The difference with and without KO is just too big and too consistent to ignore...
                          Last edited by neckbeard; 06-25-2009, 10:52 AM.
                          "That's a crap question."
                          - Kyle Orton

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by neckbeard View Post
                            Under Lovie Smith, the Bears are 45-35 (.563) in the regular season. Counting postseason games, it's 47-37 (.559).

                            The Bears team record with KO under center is 21-12 (.636). Take away the games Kyle played in (all starts) and the Bears record becomes 24-23 regular season (.521) or 26-25 w/postseason (.510).

                            If Kyle was just along for the ride, why do they do so much better with him? It's pretty consistent too, 10-5 (.667) in 2005, 2-1 (.667) in 2007, and 9-6 (.600) last season.

                            In 2005, with Grossman the Bears lost a playoff game badly to a Panthers team that Orton had led the Bears to an easy win over just a month prior. In 2007, after Grossman and Griese had destroyed the Bears season with a 5-8 start, Orton posted the only back-to-back wins of the season - going 2-1 playing against 2 teams fighting to get into the playoffs (Vikes & Saints) and the Bears fiercest rival (Packers) with a Bears team that had nothing left to play for.

                            The difference with and without KO is just too big and too consistent to ignore...
                            I'm not sure how much I buy that it was all Kyle Orton, but that is definetely some great research and a great response. Good post.
                            sigpic

                            Supporter of COLORADO sports teams. :

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by neckbeard View Post
                              Under Lovie Smith, the Bears are 45-35 (.563) in the regular season. Counting postseason games, it's 47-37 (.559).

                              The Bears team record with KO under center is 21-12 (.636). Take away the games Kyle played in (all starts) and the Bears record becomes 24-23 regular season (.521) or 26-25 w/postseason (.510).

                              If Kyle was just along for the ride, why do they do so much better with him? It's pretty consistent too, 10-5 (.667) in 2005, 2-1 (.667) in 2007, and 9-6 (.600) last season.

                              In 2005, with Grossman the Bears lost a playoff game badly to a Panthers team that Orton had led the Bears to an easy win over just a month prior. In 2007, after Grossman and Griese had destroyed the Bears season with a 5-8 start, Orton posted the only back-to-back wins of the season - going 2-1 playing against 2 teams fighting to get into the playoffs (Vikes & Saints) and the Bears fiercest rival (Packers) with a Bears team that had nothing left to play for.

                              The difference with and without KO is just too big and too consistent to ignore...
                              Wow. Good point :clap:

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