With a new coach, defense and quarterback the Denver Broncos' 2009 NFL season has all of the makings for and exciting year, or another “SpongeBob” porous defensive line coupled with a red-zone challenged offense.
The purpose of this article is to give my opinion of the current status of the Broncos roster from top to bottom. Part one of this three part series will consist of my summary of the current offense.
The 2008 Shanny/Cutler lead offense was both exciting and excruciating to watch.
When the offense was completely healthy, the Broncos would execute plays with commanding bravado. Defensive coordinators around the nation would update their resumes and pack their bags before the games, just in case the don’t make it out of the stadium with a job.
However, the offense would then follow up these incredible feats of athleticism with “pop warner-esque” mistakes. Fumbling the football, without even being challenged by a defensive player. How can you forget when Jay Cutler would try to force the ball to Brandon Marshall, when he was covered by eight players. I like to compare 2008’s offense to a Ferrari with mud all over the windshield.
The offense had all of the potential and personnel to get the job done, but they couldn’t see the road. Later in the season the “Ferrari” would blow a tire about seven times in the form of injured running backs.
So what has changed? Have the Broncos brass fixed the issues?
There are some upgrades and downgrades to last years offense, but all in all most of the starters from last year have come back for another season.
Leading the way are the Broncos’ front five.
The Offensive Tackle duo of Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris combined for a paltry 3.5 sacks total, making them one of the top tackle tandems in the NFL.
Chris Kuper has returned for his third year as a Bronco and has become and accomplished run/pass blocker. The veterans Wiegmann and Hamilton bring experience to the middle of the line and can create the holes needed for a blue chip running back attempting to make his mark on the league. Mcdaniels will be running a hybrid version of the Broncos’ famous zone blocking scheme.
The front five will be better than last year.
Brandon Marshall was dominant at wide receiver as usual, tallying 104 receptions and 1265 receiving yards.
The most pleasant surprise would be how dominant rookie Eddie Royal was in his debut as a Bronco, catching 94 balls for 980 yards. If that wasn’t enough, the Broncos held on to Brandon Stockley, Tony Scheffler, and Daniel Graham who all combined for 1562 receiving yards. By adding Jabar Gaffney to the mix, Mcdaniels has a wealth of receiving options for his spread offense.
This unit should be dangerous and exciting to watch.
Though often injured, the running game for the Broncos averaged 116.4 yards a game last year, which will make any quarterback in the NFL smile.
Look for Knowshon Moreno and Peyton Hillis to start this year at HB and FB.
It reminds me of the 2002 Tampa Bay hard nosed rushing attack of Mike Alstott and Michael Pittman, only with more fire power. The additions of Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan, and J.J. Arrington, will provide much needed depth at these positions.
Combine the talent of the runners with the front five, Denver will look to increase their average rushing yards per game to 125-130. This will be the Broncos bread and butter and will make Kyle Orton look like a Veteran in the pocket.
Quarterback was the big story this year in Denver. Cutler said this, Mcdaniels said that.
Too much drama for a male dominated sport, I think.
Kyle Orton and Chris Simms are now challenging each other for the first string quarterback spot, though Orton appears to be the front runner. What Orton lacks physically compared to Cutler, he makes up with his level headed play and locker room demeanor. Orton may be the game manager that Mcdaniels is looking for, but only time will tell.
Orton will be a great QB in Denver.
My Summary of the Offense
The offense was ranked number two overall in yards last year.
I believe that they will stay in the top five with Mcdaniels’ new system. The Broncos will need to focus on finishing drives and scoring in the red zone.
Turnovers are very costly in the NFL and the Broncos can not afford to average 1.8 turnovers a game.
For the Broncos to succeed this year, the running game will have to be stout and Kyle Orton will be called upon to manage the game and make a minimal amount of mistakes.
The offensive mind of the Broncos’ new head coach will be significantly challenged in his first year, especially since the outcome of the defense is quite unknown at this point. Hopefully, the broncos can pull through this season and go 10-6, but that will be a very hard fought accomplishment, considering the difficulty of this years’ schedule.
If the Broncos experience the same amount of injuries as they did last year, it will be a long season for players and fans here in Denver.
I don’t believe they will be worse then 8-8, but winning more then 10 is very optimistic at this point.
Part 2 of this series will cover the defense