Forget 2009. Forget Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Tony Sheffler. They’re all a part of Bronco history now. The same goes for Mike Shanahan. It is time for fans to move on. Love him or hate him, this team now belongs to Josh McDaniels, and he’s not afraid to hand out “pink slips” to prove it. If you are a fan, and you’re not ready to come into the fold, take your pink slip, and move on. There comes a time in any transition when the people need to embrace the changes, and, in Denver, that time is now.
Any fan of the Broncos knows, a good quarterback is essential to any team’s success. Fans as old as I am lived through the quarterback carousel of the 60’s in Denver that had us all getting excited about players like Steve Tensi, Pete Liske, and many others who never really panned out. Say what you will about Kyle Orton, but he did a darn good job with the team last year. If Orton can get the blocking he needs, and reliable weapons to work with, he can lead this team. He proved that last year until his “O” line started going down. Hey, I’m excited as anyone about the quarterback additions of Brady Quinn, and Tim Tebow, but Orton is the man, and he’s the only proven commodity. Show him a little love, and he will reward you immensely. Quinn or Tebow may have the future, but now it is Orton time.
As Chris Simms found out last year, it’s a lot easier quarterbacking if you have good blocking in front of you. Simms came in off the bench when Orton went down, and the opposition ate him alive. In his defense, the offensive line was seriously depleted by then, and he, himself, was more than just a little rusty. This year, the Broncos picked up some solid prospects in the draft to help stabilize the blocking corps, and, if just two of them make the team, the improvement will be remarkable. The “O” line will be using a different blocking scheme this year, and they’ve had some time to work on it. Look for them to be much improved even if it is a while before Ryan Clady puts on a uniform again, but, when Clady does return, look out. Now is the time for the “O” line to start serving up pancakes.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, they are a little weak in the weapons category, and they really don’t have anyone to run through the holes the “O” line will be making. Yeah, Moreno had a decent rookie season if you look at the stats, but, if you watched the guy play, his season was not so good. Those of us waiting to see why this guy was chosen first by the Broncos are still waiting. We saw a guy continually tripping over his own feet, missing blitz coverage, and blowing assignments. He dug himself a huge hole last year, and has a long way to go to dig himself out. His running mate, Correll Buckhalter, showed some flashes last year, but, face it, he’s a little “long in the tooth,” is frequently injured, and never really showed that he has what it takes to carry any team as a running back. The Broncos are weak at running back, and took a set back the first day of training camp when both of their projected starting running backs went down injured. I hate to say it, but the Broncos still need to find a durable, proven, and consistent running back, and now is the time.
If the running back situation weren’t bad enough, look what they have at wide receiver. Forget how much you like Eddie Royal, or any of the others, and recall how little they did last year when the team really needed them. Not one of the receivers on the team now who was playing for the team then was able to step up when a step up was needed. That’s what real players do - step up. The names McKinley and Harris will be heard this year, but the Broncos best receivers are still this year’s draft choices, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, despite their lack of experience. Both are coming off serious injuries, but both are still better than anything the Broncos have now, and look for them to be the starters before the year is done. Since McDaniels likes to instill competition, he should make these guys starters now. With training camp just beginning, it might motivate the veterans to push a little harder to earn a spot on the roster, and, even if it doesn’t, the Broncos will still have their best at wideout. Now is the time to motivate the receiving corps. They'll be needed.
Up until now, I’ve been all about offense, and there’s a reason for that. The reason is I am completely excited about this defense. The Broncos have the front three who will take the pressure off the rest of the “D,” and allow them to focus on other things than just stopping the run. Behind that line, they have some players. I hope you remember you heard it first here, but I am saying the Denver defense will be a force to be reckoned with this year, and will keep the team in many games. I don’t see any glaring weaknesses on defense, and expect them to score a lot of points this year. Fans need a new nickname for this new defense, and now is the time to start thinking of one.
Not to leave anyone out, the Broncos kicking game is solid. Matt Prater is just coming into his prime, and the Broncos finally got smart when they re-signed Britton Colquitt. Colquitt should have made the team last year, and the Broncs were lucky to get him back. Fans already love Prater, but now they can also cheer Colquitt's long punts, and his ability to leave the ball inside the opposition's five yard line.
This is 2010, and the past is behind us. Josh McDaniels is the coach, and this is his team. The team does have worries on offense, but not at quarterback. The Broncos will need the running backs and the wide receivers to step up and they need it right now. This year, pray for the offense, but get excited about a new defense, and get excited about a sophomore coach. If the Broncos can solve a few problems on offense, find a way to stay healthy, and get the fan support they need, they will win at least 10 games, and finally make it back to the playoffs. If you are a fan, there comes a time to recognize a good team in transition, and to either embrace the change or move on. In Denver, 2010 is now, and it is time.