Denver Broncos: For Coaches and Players Alike, Chargers Game Is 'Last Call'
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This coming Sunday is last call. For Mike McCoy, current Denver Broncos offensive coordinator, most assuredly—at least in Denver. Ditto almost e-v-e-r-y coach on this staff.
Players are not immune either. Even ones clinging to their careers like a rock climber with a carabiner gone bad, this is it. This is the end.
I doubt any one of these players and coaches would finish the lyrics to The Doors song being referenced, as it be no friend of theirs.
As seen in a recent piece, I expect a massive overhaul in every phase of the game.
On special teams, Matt Prater will be given a challenger, and I believe former UFL kicker (by way of the two-time UFL Championship runner-up Florida Tuskers) Steve Hauschka has earned at least a look.
As for punter Britton Colquitt? Bring in a scrub leg, if anything, to take some reps. You know what. He's a punter. Scratch that. Add an extra "Jugs machine" and we're diamond solid.
In the return game, rookie wide receiver Eric Decker showed flashes, as did fellow rookie Perrish Cox. In Decker's case, you want him to transcend kick return duties and focus on cracking that lineup and make himself too valuable, so drafting a prolific return specialist—perhaps with the pick acquired for Kyle Orton—is essential.
Perrish Cox? Well, let's see how that little "misunderstanding" pans out first, shall we?
Trade down in Round 1 for more picks, or stand pat and take the best defender available?
All of the defensive talk is being put forth on the assumption that the 3-4 stays. With that...
Defensively this will be like three scorned farmers going after a burrowing pack of animals. (For those of you who missed it, that was a Fantastic Mr. Fox reference.) There will be shovels, cranes. Hell, there is gonna be dynamite taken to it! Only players spry enough, smart enough or physically gifted enough will survive. Oh...or financially prohibitive to be rid of. That too.
Most of what I think will be done is detailed in this article.
If they do not trade down, they are in a position to get the monster interior defensive lineman. Auburn's Nick Fairley immediately comes to mind. Trading down a few rungs still gives them a shot at Alabama's Marcell Dareus, but I like Fairley so much more. A defensive end will be taken, but value here can be found as deep as Round 3.
Linebackers are a must. Outside? Set. Elvis Dumervil. Robert Ayers. Inside? D.J. Williams needs another "banger" dropping "woo licks" to make people fear going over the middle or running into it arrogantly. You know, instead of targeting it. Alabama's Dont'a Hightower comes to mind.
In the secondary, if Perrish Cox's "misunderstanding" is not a factor, then one side is set, but with a likely departing Champ Bailey, well, let's just say there is a bit of a hole there. Syd'Quan Thompson is a viable option here. He was a preseason All-American before his 2009 season at "Cal," and his play has escalated with each passing week. I truly think he can play, and excel, in this league.
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Safety will see both Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill gone. Neither instills hesitance on the part of opposing offenses to stay away from the deep middle. Yes, Darcel McBath, David Bruton, Kyle McCarthy and Nate Jones are here, but I see an acquisition through free agency or trade to bring legitimacy back to both pass coverage as well as running game enforcement from the safety position. Neither is there now.
On to offense!
Let's get this out of the way early. Tim Tebow stays under center, unquestioned and unchallenged.
Kyle Orton's contract makes him a goner. He is relatively cheap and only has two more years. I liked Minnesota for him, but Joe Webb showed a lil' sumpin-sumpin against the Eagles—enough that they will give him a look. But San Fran, Cleveland, Arizona, hell, even Miami remain intriguing landing spots.
Brady Quinn. Man, is this cat snakebitten. I hope he finds a place to give him a real shot to start. I watched him in training camp daily, and he gets better with each passing rep. A backup gig does nothing for him...he needs field time.
Call me crazy (most eventually do), but the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks would be perfect. He would get the starting nod and the reps that go with it, game experience against pro-level defenses, and then he could bring that tape back to the NFL in November.
Running back is set. Knowshon Moreno starts. LenDale White will be back healthy, and I hope retained. Lance Ball? Catch your first flight to either Indianapolis or Seattle or St. Louis, kid.
Tight ends need a complete teardown. Daniel Graham, as detailed here, needs to go. Richard Quinn needs a more expanded look. All other present Broncos tight ends need to go and make way for the drafted and undrafted incoming rookies.
At wide receiver, I think they are set at least three deep. Brandon Lloyd, freshly minted Pro Bowler, needs a pay adjustment—as detailed here—and will combine with (if healthy) Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker to make a very scary trio! Eddie Royal? His contract makes him attractive, as there is only one year remaining, so he can be got on the cheap. Good luck in Washington, Mr. Royal.
On to the offensive line. I am one to believe that, at least for the upcoming 2011 season they are set. It is merely a matter of concreting the reserves.
Rookies J.D. Walton at center and Zane Beadles at left guard will improve with a season under their belts. Left tackle Ryan Clady will heal up and return to form. Right tackle Ryan Harris will also be healthy and have a full offseason to work on his role as Tebow's blind side bodyguard. Right guard Chris Kuper will, well, keep doing his "thang mang."
Coaches all know they are gone. If any, I think Eric Studesville should be retained for his work with the running backs. Keith Burns was part of the championships Denver earned in the '90s, and that mystique seems to be the unspoken vibe sought by incoming President of Football Operations John Elway and owner Pat Bowlen.
Linebackers coach, and former Super Bowl champion linebacker himself, Roman Phifer may survive, but I doubt it. I hope Don "Wink" Martindale gets to stay and run the defense without interference...but I sincerely doubt he will get that chance.
So there it is. After Sunday, Pat Bowlen (along with John Elway) takes off the suit, throws on his best jeans and an apron and becomes "bartender" for the Denver Broncos.
Any who have lingered too long at any club in their lifetime know what will be heard being spewed from his mouth at those getting the boot:
Closing time, people! You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here!
For more of my thoughts on all things Denver Broncos and assorted other football happenings, follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/fuschumang
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