So the Broncos experienced another late-season collapse.
Deja freaking vu!
As I sit here pondering their future, one which this fan believes to be bright, there are a few issues I would like to address.
Lets get the obvious out of the way first.
Brandon Marshall, it may seem, is back to his old ways of pouting and generally being disruptive. While this has some Broncos fans calling for a trade, I believe he will stay. Yes, you read that right. I don't believe that Marshall will go anywhere this offseason for a few reasons.
First and foremost, a wide receiver who has proven himself in this league, with three-straight 100-catch seasons no less, will always be more valuable than one coming out of college. I don't care how talented Dez Bryant is, experience and proven ability will always trump potential.
Watching head coach Josh McDaniels operate this season leads me to believe he follows this train of thought. This is something that has been proven over the years in the NFL—just ask the Minnesota Vikings when they traded away Randy Moss because he had become a distraction, and they thought they had a suitable replacement in the highly touted and "uber-talented" Troy Williamson.
Yeah, how did that work out?
Marshall is just now starting to pose the kind of threat that makes defensive coordinators change their schemes to account for him at all times. This is an extremely valuable commodity in the NFL and one that does not come very often.
While some may say Marshall's recent activity may be annoying and petty, none can say it's a surprise. Marshall has earned a new contract, and by the comments made by owner Pat Bowlen, he too thinks so.
Then there is the coach.
By meeting with team veterans, asking for their input and following it—therefore, keeping the situation (somewhat) in house—McDaniels has shown he has no intention of doing away with his best and most talented, if troubled, receiver.
After all, if you were planning to get rid of someone who works for you, would you care how his "supervisors" felt about the situation?
No, you wouldn't.
In fact, you would let him play to drive up his trade value. By benching him and doing it under the guidance of the team veterans, you are devaluing his stock, something not conducive to a lucrative trade.
I believe, once Marshall is shown a new contract, his state of happiness with the Broncos will increase dramatically.
In my opinion, perhaps the biggest areas of concern are the lines. Not only were the left guard and center completely overpowered, but the loss of Ryan Harris showed a complete lack of depth along the offensive line.
Tyler Polumbus did perform admirably, but I think we can all agree he is better suited to play guard. Upgrading the left guard and center positions is a must during this offseason, preferably through the draft which will be deep in those positions.
Chris Kuper was more than serviceable. With another year in the team's system under his sizable belt, he might be able to dominate soon.
Seth Olsen, on the other hand, I'm not convinced of. It might have been the fact he was a rookie, but he did not perform well, in my opinion. Hemight be better suited to play center rather than guard, as originally intended.
I, like many of you, hope beyond hope we are able to draft Vladimir Ducasse or Mike Iupati. Heck, guys like Jon Asamoah and Mike Johnson would not only be improvements, but will also provide depth. All four of those guys are slated to be second-round picks or later, and are within the reach of the Broncos.
When it comes to the center position, there are no real eye-poppers in this year's draft, the highest rated player is Justin Walton from Baylor. He's a projected third rounder.
Not very awe inspiring if you ask me.
I would much rather see Olsen get a shot at center. He has the size and strength to be one of the better centers in the league. What he lacks is, of course, experience, but with Wiegmann on board as a tutor, he will learn quickly.
This brings us to the defensive line. I think we have to be realistic here.
While guys like Kenny Peterson, Alphonso Smith and Ryan McBean all overachieved, none of them are long-term answers, or short-term answers for that matter.
While Ronald Fields performed well above expectations and seems to be more than suitable, in my opinion, we could also improve in this position. I believe Chris Baker might break through into the starting role. While we did not see much of him during the season, the staff—specially defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and McDaniels—seem to be very high on the kid.
Also, there is Marcus Thomas. He did underachive during the season, but he showed a lot of promise and is one of those guys who might be better with some more seasoning in the system.
While getting guys like J'Vonne Parker and Everette Pedescleaux back from injury and with more experience will definitely help, neither one is ready to start.
I really like Pedescleaux. From what I saw of him during last training camp and what we heard from the coaching staff, this kid has all the tools to be a dominant DE in the 3-4. The coaches are really high on this kid, but he is still raw and could certainly use some more time in the system.
Regardless, this is a position of need. While we do have some pieces within the organization, depth is always welcomed.
Let's be real. We are not going to get Ndamukong Suh, barring some incredible miracle, so let's get that thought out of our heads.
Dan Williams, Jared Odrick, Arthur Jones and Marvin Austin are all very talented players who fit the scheme. Perhaps more importantly, they are all slated to go anywhere from the first to third rounds and will be readily available when the Broncos are on the clock.
Even drafting a guy like Terrance Cody to play NT along with Chris Baker would allow guys like Marcus Thomas and perhaps even Fields to move over to DE where Thomas' talent will be better utilized.
While good, the LB core could use some help as well. Lets face it, Andra Davis was excellent, but he's not getting any younger. Frankly, I don't think we have anyone to replace him as a force in the running game.
Drafting a guy like Brandon Spikes or even Sean Lee, will not only add depth but give a more athletic and versatile counterpart to the stellar DJ Williams. Another guy I really like who is flying under the radar is Micah Johnson from Kentucky.
Johnson has excellent size and incredible instincts that do more than make up for his lack of elite speed. He would still provide better athleticism and depth behind Andra Davis.
I think it goes without saying that "Dr. Doom," Elvis Dumervil, must be resigned immediately. His athleticism and nose for the QB are simply unmatched, and his run stopping abilities have increased dramatically ever since he was made an OLB.
The safety position is set not only for the immediate future but for the long term with guys like Josh Barret, Darcel McBath and David Bruton all learning from one of the all-time greats in Brian Dawkins and a very reliable Renaldo Hill.
Same goes for corner. While I would have preferred to keep Jack Williams around Tony Carter who showed promised, Champ Bailey is still Champ Bailey. Thank God for Andre' Goodman. Finally someone worthy of playing opposite Bailey.
All in all my brothers in Orange and Blue, we must stay positive. We have a young team with the right mixture of veteran leadership to go along with a very bright and young head coach. He is not afraid to show emotion and is willing to discipline even his star players for the greater good.
Next season will prove to be a successful one. With players like Kyle Orton having more time in the system and a few improvements along the lines, this team will improve on the good notes it showed this past season and cut down on the bad ones.
I think we can all agree that the system works on both sides of the ball, and the change has done us good.