The upcoming 2009 season is one full of question marks for the Denver Broncos.
A new coaching staff and a new quarterback were the big headlines in the offseason for the orange and blue, but revamping the defense remains one of the biggest priorities.
That said, there are just too many of these question marks to have high expectations for the season.
Despite what should be a weak division, the non-divisional schedule is extremely tough with home games against Dallas, Pittsburgh, New England, and the NY Giants, and road games versus Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis.
Would a 6-10 season be a huge disappointment for the Broncos this year? Definitely, especially considering they have only had one season that poor once since 1990, but that may be a realistic goal considering the caliber of opponents they face.
However, that 6-10 could easily turn into 10-6 and a division title, if a few quesions are answered.
Is Kyle Orton is the right man for Josh McDaniels' offensive system?
Much has been made of the Jay Cuter-Josh McDaniels feud in the offseason that ultimately left the Pro-Bowl quarterback in Chicago and the Broncos with a gaping hole at the position.
McDaniels said Orton was the guy he wanted and was the key to the Broncos dealing Cutler to Chicago. McDaniels seems to think he can take quarterbacks toiling in mediocrity and turn them into something special—Matt Cassel, for example.
If Orton can handle the offense, find Brandon Marshall down the field, and manage the game to keep the suspect defense off of the field, look for the Broncos to win at least eight games, if not more.
Can the defense improve over a disastrous 2008 season?
This is the biggest question heading into the 2009 season. The 2008 Broncos defense was one of the worst in team history and cost the team several games during the season.
The system is new, as are many of the players. Gone are starters Nate Webster, Ebenezer Ekuban, John Engelberger, Dre Bly, Marquand Manuel, and Marlon McCree. In is a host of new faces that the Broncos hope can help them adapt to the 3-4 system.
They are hoping that new arrivals Brian Dawkins, Andra Davis, and Renaldo Hill, along with 2009 draft picks Robert Ayers and Alphonso Smith, can revamp a group that struggled to stop teams in almost every game in 2008.
If these guys can step up, provide leadership and improve the pass rush, the Broncos could be a formidable team in 2009 and the win total could eclipse 10.
Is Knowshon Moreno a stud?
The Broncos came under heavy scrutiny by drafting Moreno No. 12 overall out of Georgia when many were expecting the Broncos to select a defensive player.
If Moreno is the player the Broncos are hoping for, which is a three-down back that can rush on first and second down and catch passes and pick up the blitz on third down, then that will shut up the naysayers who slammed the Broncos for not going defense with their first pick.
If Moreno is a stud, then the Broncos have a franchise back that helps control the clock and wears down defenses, as well as makes some big plays in the pass game.
If the answers to all of these questions is yes, or even two of the three, the Broncos could be looking at 8-8, 9-7 or even 11-5.
But if they're all no, well...6-10 may be optimistic.