Denver Broncos: A Bleak First 4 Weeks For Their 2011 Defense
No matter who becomes the next head coach for the Denver broncos next year, one thing is certain.
It will likely not be a great start to his new stay in Bronco-Land.
With the holes in the defense, it will impact all aspects of the game and will require some great strategies in the draft, free agency and trades to begin this turn-around.
Let's take a look at why that might be, shall we?
Sidelined For The First Four: LB D.J. Williams
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
LB D.J. Williams, one of the few stars on the Denver defense the past several years, has this thing about driving under the influence.
After his second such arrest, he will not only have his driver's license suspended, the NFL will also suspend him for at least the first four games next season.
And that will leave a gap in the linebacking corps that currently has no answer from the current depth chart.
Williams is the QB of the defense, even without his team captaincy. he can tackle (leads the team in that category) and can also cover the TEs and RBs with his great speed.
He will be sorely missed those first four games next year!
The Jailhouse Or The Outhouse; CB Perrish Cox Is Gone
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
What's there to say here. Another draft bust for Junior Hoody. There was a reason Cox slipped so far in the draft and it wasn't for his on-field performance at Oklahoma State. It was for his character.
And now, Cox is facing a possible life sentence for sexual assault. Even if acquitted, he will most likely have a big suspension (ala Big Ben),
He is toast in Denver, just as he was quite often on the field. He was slow to react, was out of position a lot and didn't seem to be the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
While Cox will most likely be gone and good riddance but it will leave an even bigger hole at CB that will need to be filled..
Age Taking Its Toll: Safety Brian Dawkins
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
I was one of the happiest people in Colorado when Josh McDaniels pulled off maybe the only good thing he did in Denver, signing Safety Brian Dawkins as a free agent.
He brought a tremendous fire and hard-hitting intensity to the Denver defensive backfield. He is a leader and much respected everywhere in the NFL.
But this year, injuries and age looked like it has finally taken its toll. As much as I hate to admit it, it looks like this will be the swan song for 'Dawk' in Denver. He will be 38 and in his 16th season next year.
Either he will retire or he likely will be cut, as sad as that is to say.
Even though there are some decent young guys to step in, they will never be able to step up and fill those big shoes on Mr. Dawkins' feet.
Age Taking Its Toll II: NT Jamal Williams
courtesy Denver Post
NT Jamal Williams was a decent signing before the season started. There was a lot of potential upside in making this move. After all, Williams was one of the dominant NTs in the 3-4 defense for much of his career in San Diego.
He played well at times this year but seemed to tire easily and just wasn't a major force in a very critical position on the D line.
Williams will be 35 and in his 14th season next year. Add to that his $4.9 million contract and there doesn't seem to be any reason to keep him, unless he agrees to a big salary cut and to being a backup.
A critical hole to fill with the draft or maybe another free agent signing or a trade.
Never Forgotten But Likely Gone: CB Champ Bailey
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
This is the hardest slide for me to write. I have enjoyed watching Champ Bailey ever since he was a rookie CB for the Washington Redskins.
And when it was announced that the Broncos traded our top RB, Clinton Portis to the Redskins for Champ and a 2nd round draft choice, I was ecstatic. Denver now had a true shut-down corner!
And Bailey hasn't disappointed me yet. He still has those skills, even though he has lost a half-step or so. But his intelligence and his experience has made him still one of the top 4-5 CBs in the NFL.
But the way the Broncos front office (and ex- head coach) has handled Champ's contract negotiations has been a travesty. This and the pitiful play and coaching that has gone on this season on the defense will likely cause him to look elsewhere to ply his trade and chase that ring, something he won't get in Denver in the next few years.
But I am an optimist and hope I am wrong and he stays. A lot will depend on who comes in as HC and how the team can undo a terrible move in pulling their offer.
The Offense Will Have To Hold The Fort The First 4 Weeks
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Not only will the offense have to provide a lot more endzone dances than they have the past several years, they will have to do it with a new offensive system, a new offensive coordinator and likely a new QB.
The new coaching staff will have to find ways to get into the endzone, not just the redzone. With a weakened defense, TDs, not FGs will be an absolute requirement.
I addition, they will have to be able to run the ball and win the battle of time-of-possession to keep the other team off the field and the Bronco D rested.
All big demands on a new regime, .... on both sides of the ball.
A huge job facing the new group coming in, and Mr. Bowlen will have NO tolerance in making the right choices this time.