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Turbulent Times Typify the Denver Broncos in '09

Rich Kurtzman@@RichKurtzman Senior Analyst IJune 20, 2009

It seems not a day can go by with another part of the Denver Broncos' roster being changed in some way, shape or form.

Beginning with McDaniels, and subsequently GM Brian Xanders' hirings, the Broncos have changed significantly. Xanders was handed a list of seven players to cut in his first two days, which included Dre' Bly, Dwayne Robertson and Jamie Winborn, among others.

After that, came the signing of many, many free agents, including LaMont Jordan, Jabbar Gaffney, and Lonnie Paxton, all from New England, as Denver is now "Patriots West." Other big names McDaniels and Co. have signed for the Broncos this off season include Brian Dawkins, Correll Buckhalter, Andra Davis, Renaldo Hill and Darrell Reid.

Overall, including undrafted college free agents, the Broncos have signed 30 free agents so far this offseason, meaning these will definitely not be your Dad's Broncos.

This offseason has not been all about free agents though, as Denver made the biggest trade in the NFL so far, getting rid of a cry-baby QB, sending a message through the entire organization: Love it or leave it.

Fans cried in their beers as "the next Elway" seemingly slipped through Denver's hands.

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The draft was full of surprises for the Broncos, as they did not select primarily on the defensive end, another choice that was berated by fans and analysts alike.

Now, Denver's best receiver in Brandon Marshall, one of three Broncos to make the Pro Bowl in 2008, has asked for a trade, which has fans wondering what has happened to the once proud franchise a mere 10 years after back-to-back Super Bowl wins.

In the midst of Marshall going Madonna on us, four more cuts were made Thursday, including Champ's brother Boss Bailey, who I thought would have a great chance at starting come September.

All of this turmoil has tried Broncos' fans, who had grown accustomed to Mike Shanahan's relatively consistent ways. Denver wasn't the best team in the last few years, but at least we all knew what to expect.

I've talked to many Denver die-hards lately that are now actually questioning their fanhood and loyalty, as they worry about every little thing McDaniels does. Some on B/R are even questioning whether or not McDaniels will be fired before even coaching a game.

I look at it this way; Shanahan was new once too, and made questionable moves, including starting a 6th-round running back that became a Super Bowl and NFL MVP. Shanahan was blessed by his players, and some gambles paid off for him, quickly, gaining Shanahan not only the "mastermind" nickname, but also the admiration of fans and players alike.

McDaniels too must get lucky, and possibly the "gamble" he took on a running back, Knowshon Moreno, will pay off for him as well. In the very least, McDaniels must be hoping that Kyle Orton can play well, and if he can't, McD and the Broncos will continue to be the laughing stock of the league in 2009.

But really, while fans that have claimed they bleed orange and blue have began questioning Denver's NFL franchise, mostly due to McDaniels; I have enjoyed taking the ride along with him.

Why worry about every move that McD and the Broncos make? Denver is now officially rebuilding, and maybe wiping the slate clean is the best restart for the Broncos.

While Shanahan was a great coach, likely a Hall of Famer, he was never perfect—and we shouldn't have perfect expectations of McDaniels either.

The best way I've found to look at the situation is like this; McDaniels could either be Wade Phillips, or Mike Shanahan.

On one hand you have Phillips, who, after getting the head coaching position, went 16-16 with one playoff game loss.

On the other, you have the savior and greatest coach the Mile High city has ever seen.

The worst-case scenario is McDaniels hitting the reset button on the franchise, coaching a few years, then getting canned much like Phillips did.

The best-case scenario is McDaniels coaching for 10-plus years, at least taking the Broncos to another Super Bowl, if not winning a championship or two. He could even earn some catchy intelligent sounding nickname like his mentor Bill Belichick or Shanahan; possibly "Baby Genius." 

In all, Broncos' fans must realize we're not in control of the organization, Pat Bowlen, who recently admitted to the Denver Post that he is now experiencing short-term memory loss, is.

The saddest truth could be this, the Denver Broncos are now looking more like the Oakland Raiders; with a young no-name head coach, a bunch of rag-tag players that no one else wants, and an aging owner that may be losing his grip on reality, acting too nostalgic for the old days.

Although, Denver could truly become "Patriots West"; with an awesomely explosive offense, a threatening defense, and a team-first mentality.

We will all have to see.

The best thing for us as fans and pundits to do is, sit back, enjoy the ride, and see where McDaniels takes us.

Let's hope it's back to the mountain top, not down the plank to the Raiders' level.

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