The picture for this article is definitely old school; it took some serious hunting to dig it up.
That's right, vintage 2007.
Heck, it was as recently as 2008 when the Denver Broncos had the second most productive offense in the NFL. Those are ESPN's numbers, not mine, and putting together an offense that dangerous is not easy to do.
Granted, during the tail end of the Mike Shanahan regime in Denver, the Jay Cutler/Brandon Marshall/Tony Scheffler days, interceptions were a frequent theme in games. With the number of big plays the offense had to come up with in order to compensate for defensive inadequacies, who could blame Cutler?
In any facet of life, if you want to reap big rewards, you have to take huge risks.
The problem with the Denver Broncos that ultimately got Mike Shanahan fired wasn't the offense. It wasn't the young and promising Pro Bowl quarterback/wide receiver pairing who were accompanied by a daring, pass-catching tight end and a brilliant, rookie number two option.
It wasn't even the beleaguered rushing attack, who despite being so depleted that Tatum Bell was called back to the roster from a job selling phones in a local mall, managed to be ranked twelfth in the NFL in yards per game.
The problem was always the the defense.
Aside from the 2008 Detroit Lions, the 2008 Denver Broncos will be remembered as one of the worst defenses in NFL history.
The Lions had a cumulative record of 0-16 and the Broncos had a record of 8-8. Can you imagine what the Broncos could have accomplished if they only had a defense?
In hindsight, it is pretty easy to see what changes needed to be made in order to transition the Denver Broncos from being one of the worst defenses in league history to being a superb NFL unit.
Not average, folks, superb .
Following the acquisition of coach Mike Nolan and a few free agents, the Denver Broncos defense moved all the way down to 7th in the NFL for total yards allowed.
The offense dropped from second in the NFL for total yards gained to 15th for total yards gained. The only thing that changed in the offense: subtract Jay Cutler and add Josh McDaniels.
Now, let us suppose we could combine the Denver Broncos defense from 2009 with the Denver Broncos offense from 2008.
That would yield a team that ranked second in the NFL in yards gained per game and 7th in the NFL in yards given up per game.
That team would be a Super Bowl contender.
That team would be the brain child of Mike Shanahan and Mike Nolan.
As it stands now, both of those coaches have abandoned the Mile High City for other pursuits, but the Denver defense looks to remain in tact.
The question really is, how will the Denver offense compensate for the loss of its most explosive player (Brandon Marshall) as well as some of the other 2008 stars (Tony Scheffler and Peyton Hillis come to mind)?
Who is there in Denver that is going to be putting points on the board?
Some fans are blindly buying into Josh McDaniels' system without realizing that even if we were to contend for the Super Bowl this year (which frankly, I'd call a pipe dream) he has already set us back at least one year.
If we had simply fixed the defense, we would have been contenders in 2009.
The last time he purged the roster of an offensive star, the team dropped 14 places in terms of offensive productivity. Without Brandon Marshall (who was doing most of the offensive leg work last year) productivity isn't going to jump back up to second in the NFL.
And what is even worse is the Tim Tebow project that has so many people swooning is distracting a huge number of fans from what has actually happened. Right now might actually be a time to be outraged rather than excited.
Denver is facing an open quarterback competition that is basically between three guys who have absolutely no chance at going to the Pro Bowl this year, even with the Pro Bowl's recently discovered, extremely relaxed standards.
If Cutler and Marshall were still around and in Mike Shanahan's system, I can guarantee they would be find their way to Hawaii (and yes, they are moving the Pro Bowl back to Hawaii).
Denver Broncos fans have to be asking themselves who is going to put up the points on offense and when are they going to start doing it?
If there is no definitive and immediate answer in the minds of fans, this is probably the time to seriously question what Josh McDaniels' master plan actually is.
Clearly, Pat Bowlen has endorsed McDaniels and his projects somewhat long term (by signing off on the Tim Tebow deal), but if Josh doesn't have some major success quickly he might end up going down in NFL lore just like all of the other Bill Belichick disciples have.
And they aren't remembered fondly.
Denver Broncos fans have a right to expect success quickly and to have their faith through so many shocking recent events with the team rewarded. Can Josh McDaniels deliver?
Are the fans brave enough to hold him accountable?
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!