AFC West: DEN | KAN | OAK | SDG
NFC West: ARI | STL | SFO | SEA
Well, I would say that the entire locker room is running around in "Hello, my name is ______" stickers, but then again, half the locker room were New England Patriots last year, so there is at least some familiarity.
The Broncos' offseason started and for the first time in well over a decade, it wasn't going to be run by Mike Shanahan. The Broncos instead tabbed, from the Patriots, Josh McDaniels.Then in February, the Broncos released Dre Bly, and later signed Brian Dawkins.
There were way too many free agent acquisitions to name, but some of the more notable ones include: running backs Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan, and J.J Arrington, as well as a ton of defensive help. Linebacker Andra Davis, corner Andre Goodman and safety Renaldo Hill, to name a few.
Then the mess began in Denver.
After rumors of shopping quarterback Jay Cutler were spread, Cutler became upset and, eventually, requested a trade. After several failed attempts to contact Cutler, the team honored his request by moving him to Chicago in exchange for Kyle Orton and draft picks.
That allowed the team to focus on the draft. While the bulk of the draft focused on defense, Denver did select running back Knowshon Moreno with the 12th pick, then used Chicago's choice on end Robert Ayers.
Alphonso Smith, Darcel McBath, and David Bruton were all added later in an attempt to bolster the secondary. And the Broncos ignored draft pundits who kept insisting they trade up for Mark Sanchez or at least select Josh Freeman, and took their signal caller in the sixth round, Tom Brandstater.
Now, with summer here, the headaches in Denver feature mostly Brandon Marshall, and his export from the team could be rather brisk.
Three Burning Questions
Can Orton Come Close To Equaling Cutler's Production?
Kyle Orton earned a lot of praise for his play in Chicago last year, but to compare that with Cutler's play in Denver is just not happening.
If Orton has Marshall to throw it to, then the talent he's playing with this year dwarfs what he had in Chicago. If Marshall gets shipped out, then the talent edge has drastically dwindled.
I think Orton has never been a great quarterback, and he could succumb to the pressure now laid on him in Denver. I don't expect many good things from him this year.
Is the Defense Actually Improved?
Denver really focused on making its defense better, so the question is, did they succeed?
Yes, I think they have. Don't get me wrong, they're not going to be making a bunch of headlines in 2009, but with Dumervil harassing other team's quarterbacks and Dawkins joining Bailey in the secondary, plus a good array of linebackers between them, by the end of the season, Denver may have a defense further along than the offense.
Tabbing Mike Nolan to run the defense may be one of McDaniels' best decisions of the offseason.
Will Eddie Royal, Peyton Hillis, and Tony Scheffler Continue Their Development?
It's quite possible that this is a trio that shone thanks to Cutler at quarterback. Will they be the same weapons now that Orton is running the show?
My initial thought is no. Royal may be the most impacted, since Hillis and Scheffler at least play positions that quarterbacks like to check down to. It could be a long year for the passing game.
Good play: There aren't too many Broncos I'd hitch my trailer to this season. If Brandon Marshall plays, he'll get his stats, but that's about it. Perhaps you can try to pick a workhorse RB and get lucky, but there's not much else.
Avoid: Avoid Orton and Royal, as well as the defense. Orton has never been a viable fantasy player, and even if he has his full array of talent at his disposal, he's still only at best, an emergency backup.
Sleeper: I think the sleeper will be Hillis. He'll get in on many short yardage situations, and he can run and catch, plus he could easily account for about eight TD's by the time the season's over.
For the prognosis and final record, read the originally posted article here.
This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels. You can read it, more of Sascha's articles, and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff here.