Are Broncos Fans Prepared?

Rick OliverCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2009

ENGLEWOOD, CO - JUNE 12:  Cornerback Champ Bailey #24 of the Denver Broncos stretches with his teammates as he participates in minicamp practice at the Broncos Dove Valley training facility on June 12, 2009 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

With training camp upon us, and preseason games fast approaching, I have to ask a question: are Broncos fans prepared?

This is not a prediction of doom and gloom but a reminder of the possibility that the Broncos could have a losing season.

Over the past several years, I have always had confidence that the Broncos would be respectable, and that they entered every season with odds of making the playoffs in their favor.

Over the entire Mike Shanahan era, the Broncos only posted two losing seasons.

This leaves an entire generation of young, and not so young, Broncos fans, myself included, who have never experienced the pain of a prolonged period of bad football teams.

Since 1973, the Broncos have recorded fewer than six wins only twice.  The strike-shortened season of 1982 and a 5-11 season in 1990 are the only occurrences since 1972.

Even John Elway’s rookie season in 1983 netted nine wins. 

You have to go back to 1972 to find back to back losing seasons for the Broncos.

With all the changes that have been made at Dove Valley this year, I contend that no one knows how good or bad the Broncos will be.  All of the consistency that has been built over the past 30-plus years has been thrown to the wind.

New coaches, new general manager, nearly unprecedented turnover in personnel all contribute to the upheaval. 

Gone is the west coast offense led by the strong-armed quarterback and masterminded by Shanahan.  Will the zone blocking scheme that contributed to much of the Broncos' success over the past several years remain?

How well does this work with the Patriots-style offense that Josh McDaniels is implementing?

Do the Broncos have the personnel to run the 3-4 defense that is becoming so popular around the league?  Can the unheralded linemen assembled by the Broncos stop the run?  How fast can the players transition from defensive end to outside linebacker?

With any change there is a degree of risk.  With multiple changes, the risk expands exponentially.  There are many questions remaining to be answered.

Whether you agree with the moves that have been made or not, you cannot argue that this Denver Broncos team will be vastly different than what we have seen in recent years.

Whether they are better or worse, we won’t know until the real games begin.

I hope that the changes that have been made all work out for the best.  I personally believe that they will, but it may take a few seasons for the results to show.  Many of the changes being made aren’t prone to quick results and the transition could take several seasons.

In addition, I believe the AFC West is on the rise.  After this season, the challenge of winning the AFC West will be much greater as the Chargers try to hold on against the three young, talented teams stocked with high draft picks.

I am not predicting what the Broncos' record will be at the end of the season, but be prepared.  We may be in for a wild ride.