What's next for the Broncos, after firing their head coach, Mike Shanahan of 13 years?
How will they fare in 2009, and were there too many coaching changes in the 2008 offseason for the Denver Broncos.
The Denver Broncos started off the season strong, at least offensively. They scored 114 points in their first three games, and got off to a torrid 4-1 start to lead the AFC West. The Broncos would finish the season on an inconsistent 4-7 skid, becoming the only team in NFL history to blow a three-game division lead with three to play. Question marks on defense and injuries that decimated their running back corps spelled doom for the team. Ultimately, they missed the playoffs for a third straight year.
Would the team regroup under Mike Shanahan and try to make the playoffs next year? Nope.
The Broncos stunned the football world when they fired Mike Shanahan days after their devastating finish to the season. A legend is gone and in his place comes former Patriot offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. McDaniels led Tom Brady in his 50 touchdown pass season, and helped mold Matt Cassel into a household name in less than one season as a starter.
But is he the guy to lead the Broncos to success?
He strikes me as a great fit for this team. A young coach for a very young team, loaded with fast, explosive, offensive players. Fresh blood for a team who just missed the playoffs by only a game.
Although people may look at the Broncos as a team who made a bad choice in letting Shanahan go, critics must remember how Shanahan got his start. He followed well-respected head coaches like Dan Reeves and Wade Phillips in Denver, and had to deal with people doubting his qualifications as a young coach. All Shanahan did in his first five years with the Denver Broncos was lead them to two super bowl victories and the playoffs on a yearly basis.
Although the Broncos have a great chance to make the playoffs in 2009, it will take another year or two to return the team to its perennial title-contending past. The Broncos made a great choice in hiring Josh McDaniels as head coach, and McDaniels made some great choices in assembling an excellent staff of assistants.
On defense, look for the Broncos to switch to the 3-4, that new coordinator Mike Nolan favors. The Broncos will likely use Elvis Dumervil at OLB as a speedy pass-rusher, and may convert Jarvis Moss to OLB, because of his great speed and athleticism. He is also a bit undersized at DE. The Broncos will look to Tim Crowder to improve at that spot.
D.J. Williams should be moving back in the middle where he is a tackling machine. Additionally, it appears Dre Bly will be traded or released, as he has not played up to expectations. Defensive needs for the Broncos include a natural, ball-attacking MLB, and a big, nasty, physical DT who can occupy two blockers, either through the draft or free agency.
Look for the Broncos to get another safety in the draft along with an upgrade at corner (if Dre is released or traded). Another possible position the Broncos will look at is fullback, for someone to help establish Denver dominance running the ball again.
With Denver's talent on offense, and the right coach to maximize it, the Broncos hope to step it up on defense. They already have Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and a plethora of running backs, if injuries have not drastically altered their careers. They also feature avery good tight end group, a fast and exciting second wideout in Eddie Royal, and a top offensive line.
Here are Denver's positional ranks from 1-10, with ten being highest rating.
QB-8.5, RB's-8.5, WR's-9, OL-10, TE-8.5, FB-7.0, DT-6.5, LB- 8.5, S- 4.5, CB- Champ Bailey-10(when healthy,) other CB's- 7.0
In 2009, look for the Broncos to obtain a wild-card as they improve their defense. The Broncos will finish the season 10-6.