Denver Broncos Personnel Guru: Cutler Has Chance to Be Special

John RansomContributor IMay 12, 2009

DENVER - DECEMBER 21:  Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Denver Broncos drops back to pass against the Buffalo Bills during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on December 21, 2008 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Amongst the various head-scratchers that have come from Dove Valley in the last several months, none has gotten less press than the firing of Jim Goodman, the Broncos' vice president of football operations/personnel and the promotion of Brian Xanders to general manager.

But perhaps of all the moves (sudden or otherwise) the Broncos have made this offseason, the turnover in the front office is the move that’s most curious.

The firing of Goodman came one month to the day after the Broncos affirmed they would not be hiring a general manager and that Goodman would have final say on personnel matters.

New general manager Xanders then brought in a new personnel team, including Keith Kidd as director of pro personnel, and Matt Russell, director of college scouting to replace Goodman.

So the question looms, with Goodman gone, who’s making decisions on the roster? Who has final say?

I don’t know much about Russell, who worked previously as a scout for the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots.

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But fortunately, prior to getting the Broncos’ pro-personnel position, Keith Kidd worked as a scout and analyst for ESPN and Scouts, Inc.

Accordingly, there’s a lot of analysis on the record for Kidd.

And the record speaks clearly—Kidd, whose job is to evaluate pro talent, not college talent, loved Jay Cutler.

In a September 2008 Scouts, Inc. piece, Kidd ranked Cutler the second best young quarterback in the league in front of the Pittsburgh SteelersBen Roethlisberger, the San Diego Chargers’ Phillip Rivers, and the Dallas CowboysTony Romo. Only Eli Manning ranked higher to Kidd.

At the time, he commented "Even with significant personnel input from the coaching staff and equal competition at the position, there's a lot of luck involved in picking the right [quarterback]. Make a mistake at the position, especially early in the draft, and it can set a franchise back for years.”        

On Jan. 16, 2009, Kidd responded to the hiring of McDaniels by saying, “I love the move. I thought it was very aggressive for them to get one of the rising stars in the NFL.  I can't wait to see this Denver offense under Jay Cutler in this system in the fall. But the Broncos need to address the defensive side, which they will.”

On Feb. 3, 2009, just 20 days before taking the Broncos job, Kidd had this to say about the Cutler-McDaniels team:  “I think you're going to be amazed at how this offense will be in Denver under Josh McDaniels and how he handles all the moving parts. Jay Cutler has a chance to be special before it's all said and done.”

These comments are even more curious when one realizes that McDaniels and Kidd both worked in New England together.

Presumably, McDaniels had some input about who was hired, since both Kidd and Russell have roots in the New England scouting system.

Presumably, Kidd understood the system that McDaniels was trying to put together and whether Cutler would fit.

But one thing’s been proved so far this offseason: presumption means nothing when you have no idea who is running the show.

Maybe that’s what Cutler thought, too.