The Denver Broncos will be a different-looking team this season.
Change is not always a good thing, and the Broncos may find out the hard way.
The Broncos have brought in a new coach in Josh McDaniels, traded a Pro Bowl quarterback in Jay Cutler, brought in three new quarterbacks in Kyle Orton, Chris Simms, and rookie Tom Brandstater, and signed free agents to help a defense that was one of the worst in the league.
All the changes lead to another January sitting at home, watching the playoffs on TV.
McDaniels was hired to bring fresh blood and a new fresh look to a team in need of a change.McDaniels is an offensive guru who helped create the offensive power that was the New England Patriots.
The only problem is the Broncos have no Tom Brady—or Matt Cassel, for that matter.
The offense was the strong point of the Broncos last season. Cutler was slinging the ball to Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal. The running game was good when the backs were healthy, which was hardly ever during the season.
So why bring in a offensive guy to a team that struggled on defense?
Because this Broncos team is all about change this coming season.
After trading Cutler to the Bears, the Broncos are going to turn to Orton as the starter. Orton will be pushed by Simms during training camp but as of now Orton is the starter.
Orton can manage a game, which is what McDaniels wants. His system will make the Broncos score points, not the players.
Orton will have to limit his mistakes, because he will attempt plenty of passes in McDaniels' system. Marshall, Royal, Tony Scheffler, Brandon Stokely, and newly signed Jabar Gaffney should all have big statistics this season.
The running game looks to be an attack by committee. The team drafted Knowshon Moreno with the 12th overall pick, signed J.J. Arrington, Correll Buckhalter, and Lamont Jordan, and still have holdovers Ryan Torian and Peyton Hillis.
All those backs may not make it to the opening day roster, but the running game will be in good hands.
Every Bronco fan knows the defense was the problem, not the offense. The offense will have no problem scoring, but how many points will the defense give up?
Changes were needed on the defense, and some were made. With hiring of Mike Nolan as the defensive coordinator, the Broncos will switch to a 3-4 scheme.
The switch is designed to help the Broncos pressure the quarterback, which they struggled to do last season, recording only 25 sacks and forcing only six interceptions.
But defensive line was not really addressed in free agency or the draft. The team signed Darrell Reid and Ronald Fields, but never really made a big splash.
Marcus Thomas and Kenny Peterson are expected to contribute on the line. Robert Ayers from Tennessee, taken No. 18 overall, could play linebacker or defensive end.
D.J. Williams is a mainstay at linebacker if he stays healthy, and Andra Davis was signed to play the other inside spot.
Elvis Dumervil will slide to outside linebacker, and Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder also will try to make that transition. Wesley Woodyard also will be in the mix.
The secondary struggled last year, but that had a lot to do with the team's lack of pressure on opposing QBs, as well as the injury to Champ Bailey.
Bailey will be the only starter returning to the unit. Andre Goodman, Renaldo Hill, and the explosive Brian Dawkins were brought in. With Bailey and Dawkins the Broncos have a lot of leadership in the secondary.
Change, change, change on the defense and the offensive end. All this still adds up to 7-9 or maybe 8-8. The schedule is tough, the division games are always dogfights, and the team is rebuilding, whether they admit it or not.
The Broncos are at least one year away from contention, and maybe more. McDaniels will bring a new attitude to this team, and his offense will be good, but it will not be enough to get the Broncos back to the playoffs.
Patience will have to be on the mind of Bronco fans.