Change has come to the Denver Broncos.
After 14 seasons, Mike Shanahan is out and Josh McDaniels is in. No more west-coast offense, no more 4-3 defense. There's a new sheriff in town and he's doing things his way. Or should we say the Patriot way?
The biggest adjustments will come on the defensive side of the ball, and rightfully so. The Broncos' defense was so bad last year, some believe Shanahan was fired because he planned on retaining defensive coordinator Bob Slowik.
Now under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, the team will switch to 3-4 system that utilizes three defenisve lineman and four linebackers.
Denver Bronco fans will remember this system as it was used during the days of the "Orange Crush" defense as well as through the 1980s under Joe Collier.
This year's Broncos will rely on a lot of new faces to to revitalize the defense. The only starters from last year's team left are Champ Bailey, Elvis Dumervil, D.J. Williams, Marcus Thomas and Boss Bailey (considered a starter even though he only played in a handful of games).
Many thought the Broncos should focus their entire draft on the defense. While they didn't do quite that, they did pick up a few players that they hope can fill some needs.
Robert Ayers was drafted as a defensive end/linebacker who can rush the passer or drop into coverage when needed and Alphonso Smith was taken in the second round to help sure up the secondary.
The team also picked up undrafted free agent Chris Baker out of Hampton, who they hope can stop up the middle of the defensive line along with Thomas and free-agent acquisition Ronald Fields.
Elvis Dumervil, Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder likely will be looking at new roles similar to Ayers' as they (Dumervil especially) are considered too small to be on the defensive line in the 3-4 and will need to work on pass coverage if they are to contribute next season at linebacker.
Free agents that should provide leadership if nothing else are safeties Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill as well as linebacker Andra Davis.
The offensive will have fewer new faces, but they will definitely be noticed.
Gone is pro-bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, leaving the position to fought for by Kyle Orton and Chris Simms. Orton is the favorite going into camp, but don't be surprised; if he plays well, Simms may get the nod.
Despite some of the successes of the offense last season, the team will move away from the west coast offense in favor the Patriots' offense that includes some elements of the spread offense.
Look for a lot of three-wide receiver sets with Eddie Royal perhaps serving as the slot receiver similar to what Wes Welker is in New England. Brandon Stokley should have a chance at that as well.
Also look for the team to use the run to set up play-action passing. That should be easier with stable of running backs the Broncos now employ including No. 12 overall pick Knowshon Moreno and free-agent signings LaMont Jordan, Correll Buckhalter, and J.J. Arrington.
The offensive line should be solid with Ryan Harris and Ryan Clady holding down the tackle positions, but they will have to learn new blocking schemes.
The Broncos' success in the 2009 season will depend on players adapting to the new offensive and defensive schemes. Will they be able to do it? We'll just have to wait and see.