There's No "Jay" in T.E.A.M: Denver's New-Look Offense will Flourish
When Josh McDaniels took the reins of the Denver Broncos, it became an expectation and not just a possibility that the second ranked offense in the NFL would vault itself to an elite level.
Coming from the Patriots, McDaniels has a reputation as one of the brilliant young offensive minds in the league. In 2007, he orchestrated arguably the best offense in the history of the game.
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots averaged nearly 37 points per game, 411.2 yards per game, and they were second in the NFL in time of possession per contest at 33:29.
While many are taken aback by the trade of Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, McDaniels' past indicates that Denver has no reason to worry with Kyle Orton under center.
Denver's new head coach has coordinated the best season of arguably the top quarterback of all time in Tom Brady, and coached Matt Cassel, who had not started a game since his days in high school, to a Pro Bowl caliber season and an 11-5 record.
So what has Denver fans worried?
Is the prototypical "Patriot" quarterback not one who is extremely unathletic with the "it" factor, and a winning mentality?
McDaniels' new offense will include a mix of the zone blocking Denver fans know and love, as well as some of that Patriot flavor that has created one of the most dominant dynasties this decade.
If Kyle Orton does not succeed in Denver, it will not be for a lack of playmakers around him.
Orton is inheriting an offensive line that only allowed 11.5 sacks in 620 pass attempts in 2008, best in the NFL. In the New England style of offense, which is extremely pass heavy, Orton is going to need the help of the big men up front.
Coached by Rick Dennison, a former Broncos linebacker, the Broncos' offensive line has had a reputation over the last eight years of being one of the league's best, and under his tutelage, that tradition figures to continue on.
Aside from Cutler, the only other big change to Denver's offense was at the running back position.
For the last decade and a half, the Denver Broncos have dominated the NFL in rushing, and under the tutelage of running backs coach Bobby Turner, they have led the NFL in rushing over that time span with 30,993 yards on the ground.
After a year in which the Broncos finished the season ranked a disappointing but respectable 12th in rushing, Josh McDaniels has brought in a good mix of veterans and youngsters to carry on the great running back tradition in Denver.
Since Turner was retained from Mike Shanahan's staff, McDaniels figures to implement some of the "one cut and go" style of running into his pass-first scheme, which could prove to be deadly for opponents.
After seven running backs went on Denver's injured reserve in 2008, McDaniels made it a priority this off-season to overhaul that particular position.
In free agency, he brought in veterans Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington, LaMont Jordan, and Darius Walker. Then, with their first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Denver selected Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno.
Add in the fact that Denver already had two promising 2008 draft picks in Ryan Torain and Peyton Hillis at the running back position, and the Broncos automatically feature one of the most versatile and deep groups of running backs in the National Football League.
In addition to fitting the one-cut-and-go style, each of the backs McDaniels has added is extremely effective in catching the ball out of the backfield, which is essential to the Patriots' offense.
When one of these runners is not on the field, Kyle Orton will have a great array of weapons to throw the ball to.
Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall leads a group of wide receivers that could rival any pass catching core in the league.
New wide receivers coach Adam Gase has the privilege of coaching a group that, in addition to Marshall, features rookie sensation Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley, Jabar Gaffney, rookie Kenny McKinley, and Chad Jackson.
Gase's background as an offensive assistant is West-Coast oriented, being a pupil of the great offensive mind Mike Martz in Detroit and San Francisco. In 2008, Gase's receiving group in San Francisco dropped only 21 passes all season, good for sixth in the NFL.
Along with a strong core of wide receivers, the Broncos feature a very potent trio of tight ends.
Led by former Chargers and Falcons tight ends coach Clancy Barone, the Broncos figure to have one of the more consistent and well-rounded groups of tight ends in the league.
Daniel Graham, Tony Scheffler, and rookie Richard Quinn all will have major roles in the offense this year.
While Graham and Quinn specialize in blocking, neither are slouches in the receiving game. Scheffler is widely regarded as one of the top receiving tight ends in the game, but struggles to stay healthy.
Barone has developed the likes of Antonio Gates and Alge Crumpler at this position, so Denver's group appears to be in good hands.
Combining the knowledge of each of these coaches could be very beneficial for the Broncos. It seems that each player on the offense was hand picked to fit the specialty of each and every position coach.
Only time will tell, but maybe the loss of Jay Cutler was not such a bad thing for the Broncos.
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