|04-27-2007, 02:05 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2006
PFW props for Shanny, Bowlen and Sundquist
Denver's aggressive gambles are paying off
By Court E. Mann (email@example.com)
April 27, 2007
Just as I hit the “publish” button on a recent draft blog in which I took NFL front offices to task for not rolling the dice and taking chances, a report surfaces that the Denver Broncos are interested in moving up the draft board — if not all the way to the No. 2 spot, then at least high enough from No. 21 to get the impact pass rusher they so desperately need.
That’s when it occurred to me: The Broncos get it.
Mike Shanahan, head coach and executive VP of Football Operations, gets it. General manager Ted Sundquist gets it. Pat Bowlen, team president and CEO, gets it.
There’s a reason why the Broncos have had one losing season — and seven double-digit win campaigns — in the past 12 seasons under Shanahan. The gentlemen in the Denver front office are not afraid to put their reputations and careers on the line when they see an opportunity arise on Draft Day.
A year ago this weekend, the Broncos — an annual playoff contender and a top-10 offense with a starting quarterback who had just taken them to the AFC title game — traded two draft picks to move up four spots and select QB Jay Cutler. An offensive mastermind, Shanahan identified his guy and pounced.
By the end of the first day of that draft, a similar refrain would be heard again in Denver. Despite a bum knee and unfounded contract demands, the Broncos jumped at the opportunity to acquire disgruntled and recovering Packers WR Javon Walker in exchange for the 37th overall pick.
And suddenly, an offense that was getting older and more mediocre under QB Jake Plummer and past-his-prime WR Rod Smith was reborn and re-energized with youth and explosiveness in Cutler and Walker. Aggressive, without fear of repercussion.
If it sounds familiar, you might recall that, prior to the ’04 draft, the Broncos shipped out franchise RB Clinton Portis — fresh off two 1,500-yard seasons and 31 touchdowns to start his career — for Redskins CB Champ Bailey, who was also angling for a new contract.
Since then, Bailey has become the NFL’s standard by which other corners are measured. Meanwhile the Broncos’ run game hasn’t exactly suffered and Portis has been a mixed bag in Washington.
But this particular commentary isn’t about the results. It’s not about Cutler’s upside, or Walker’s return to health, or Bailey’s dominance. It’s about the Broncos’ willingness to roll the dice.
As the Broncos reportedly prepare for another gamble, I’m beginning to wonder if the rest of the NFL is paying attention.
The Bucs are said to be infatuated with Calvin Johnson, and yet, reportedly are tempted to call the Lions' bluff and risk losing the guy they presumably believe is their guy. Meanwhile, they have an extra second-round pick and several cover-2 veterans you have to think Rod Marinelli would love to have in Detroit.
The Vikings are desperate for dynamic offensive talent. Sitting at No. 7, they are on the outside looking in for game-breakers such as Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Brady Quinn. Of course, I’ve heard everything about the Vikings moving down the draft board and nothing about them moving up to get a guy they can build their sagging offense around.
The Dolphins, under new coach Cam Cameron, certainly need a franchise quarterback, but at No. 9 they are not likely to see Quinn slide far enough. Isn’t the future at the most important position on the field worth a gamble?
The Texans, reeling from passing on Reggie Bush a year ago, did pull the trigger on a deal to bring Matt Schaub in as their signalcaller and paid Ahman Green to carry the football. Still, you can’t tell me Peterson wouldn’t look perfect in a Texans uniform. They’re also at risk of missing out on both OTs Joe Thomas and Levi Brown, who could potentially solve their long-standing disaster of an offensive line. Wouldn’t it be worth a middle-round pick to move back up a few spots to get an anchor up front? Sounds like the Vikings would oblige.
I certainly recognize that there’s more to this than meets the eye. The Bucs, Vikings, Dolphins and Texans have not invited me into their respective war rooms. Perhaps the Bucs are just as enamored with Joe Thomas as they are with Johnson. Maybe the Dolphins are just as passionate about Alan Branch as they are Quinn. Perhaps Houston has its heart set on a corner it's certain will be available.
But something tells me that’s not the case. Something tells me far too many of these front offices are gun-shy, more content to play it safe, far too comfortable moving down for less scrutinized picks. Their mentality probably works just fine for Shanahan and the Broncos, as they seek a trade partner with whom to tango.
"The only time you usually get some big-time, impact players is when you lose 12 or 13 games, and that's not what you want as a head football coach," Shanahan told the Broncos’ official Web site after the Cutler and Walker deals. "To be able to have the type of season we had and still be able to get some guys that will help our football team is real encouraging."
It sounds to me like Shanahan has the best of both worlds. Doesn’t anyone else want a piece?
|04-27-2007, 02:23 PM||#4|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Sep 2004
Nice write up. Really, it says the teams' FO and staff need the vision, intelligence, fortitude and cajones to get what they want to build the team. I just think that the broncos do that year in and year out. They have had major busts over the years, but I think the last two - hopefully three - years have had the added stamp of Sundquist to help clarify the goals and process and in managing the scouting and flow of information. The records speak for themselves.
Eat your hearts out, mullets and faids.
Last edited by Paladin; 04-27-2007 at 02:29 PM..
|04-27-2007, 04:48 PM||#9|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Dove Valley
But everytime they publish something that critizes Denver they are morons.
Do they get it or don't they?
|04-27-2007, 05:01 PM||#10|
The Dude abides.
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: SLC, UT
The Fax Machine
The guys at PFT are currently throwing up in their mouths.
|04-27-2007, 08:03 PM||#12|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
I have said that about Shanny the last 3 years. The guy has balls of steel and doesn't care if the "experts" or the fans like his picks. He has enough confidence to do whatever he wants and is immune to outside pressures.