I have always been a Bronco’s fan, but this off-season has tested it. For the past 14 years, I have always had a feeling of confidence in the upcoming season. No matter where the Broncos finished, they were always respectable and only a player or two away from being a contender.
A few things have happened this off-season to change that. First, the collapse to end 2008, the firing of Mike Shanahan, the hiring of Josh McDaniels, and all that has come about since.
I understand the reasoning behind getting rid of Shanahan. Though I didn’t agree with the decision at the time, I grew to accept it. I was hopeful that a defensive minded coach would come in, fix the defense and make the Broncos instant contenders.
That defensive head coach didn’t materialize but I kept the faith. When McDaniels came in, I was confident that even though he was an offensive coach, he would focus on the defense and leave the offense pretty much in tact.
I looked at what Mike Tomlin (a cover-two defensive coordinator) did when he came to Pittsburgh. He looked around, saw that the defense wasn’t broken, and looked for other things to work on.
Then came free agency. The Broncos signed a long snapper to replace the perfectly good long snapper we already had…I said what do I know? The Broncos signed a bunch of second string running backs…I said you can never have too many running backs.
Then came the Cutler fiasco. Even McDaniels' strongest supporters can’t convince me that you weren’t in shock when you heard about this. I don’t know if McDaniels initiated the talks but I would imagine he did.
I don’t think team executives would waste time calling around the league to see what young franchise QB's are available. Only one has changed hands in the past ten years, so this would have to be considered an exercise in futility. After all was said and done, though, I gave them credit for getting good value and doing a good job of cleaning up the mess.
Next came the draft. This was Denver’s big opportunity to address some of the big holes on the defense. I breathed a sigh of relief when the Jets removed the temptation of trading up for Sanchez.
I scratched my head on the Moreno pick but could see the value. And when they picked Ayers, I finally felt like they were headed in the right direction. But the draft ended with out the consensus top need (NT) being filled, our first round pick next year spent, and only one player to address the front seven.
I am not a football expert, I am just a fan. I don’t know and wont speculate about how good Kyle Orton will be, or which is more important in a 3-4, the NT or the inside linebacker.
I am going to guess it takes both playing at a high level to be successful. Can the Broncos' holdovers transition to the new rolls, can Chris Baker be an impact NT or will he be backing up Marcus Thomas or Ronald Fields…I have no idea.
What I do know is this: Since the start of the Shanahan era, there have not been this many questions in an off season. There have not been this many moves that had me, a novice, saying that just doesn’t make sense.
I always had confidence that the people in charge knew better. I am still sure they do…I am just not sure how much better. I hope for all of our sakes, the moves the new regime has made all work out.
I hope that Chris Baker can be an impact rookie and that Kyle Orton does have a better season than Jay Cutler, and the talent around them is the difference. I can’t look at the world through orange-colored glasses. Until I see the results on the field, I am just not ready to drink McDaniels Kool-aid.