|04-29-2007, 06:48 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Shanahan's extreme makeover
Coach Shanahan's extreme makeover
By Mark Kiszla
Denver Post Staff Columnist
Except for Mike Shanahan, who is as firmly planted in Colorado as Mount Evans, you can't tell your local football heroes without a scorecard.
From team captains to new assistant coaches to the starting quarterback, almost everything about this Denver team is changing in major ways from one year ago.
But what the Broncos needed to do more than draft Jarvis Moss as a pass-rusher or sign Travis Henry to carry the rock was to create a new identity.
After 12 years as coach in Denver, Shanahan was not going to change, so he needed to reinvent his team.
"I'm a risk-taker, there's no question about it," Shanahan reminded us on the eve of the NFL's annual draft. "I love to gamble."
Since the last time Denver won a Super Bowl, has Shanahan ever gambled bigger or shaken up the team more than he has done in recent months?
In an extreme makeover of the Broncos, here is a ranking of the most important changes.
1) Henry, running back
2) Dré Bly, cornerback
3) Jim Bates, assistant head coach
4) Daniel Graham, tight end
5) Moss, No. 1 draft pick
It had to be done. The franchise painfully discovered last year it was growing old more quickly than it was getting closer to winning a championship.
During a collapse that was as unexpected as it was unnerving, the Broncos lost five of their final seven games and fell off the face of the NFL earth. Jake Plummer was made the scapegoat, but it wasn't primarily the hippy-dippy quarterback's fault.
You ask me, the Broncos stopped listening to Shanahan.
The message grew stale.
The captains, from Rod Smith to Al Wilson, slowly faded in their ability to lead, as a result of either age or injury.
After a late-season loss in San Diego, where the visiting locker room is so uncomfortably cramped you cannot help but step on somebody's feelings, I bumped into a prominent Denver player who was chuckling at a futile attempt by defensive coaches to rally the downtrodden troops after the game.
Right there, right then, you didn't have to be as smart about football as Shanahan to realize this team needed to go in a new direction.
As a running back, Henry brings zero wow factor. What Henry adds is the ability to grind out yards and grind down the clock, characteristics decidedly lacking in Denver's offense during 2006.
While it's a touchy subject because the tears from Darrent Williams' murder have yet to dry, Bly figures to be a significant upgrade at cornerback.
Besides commanding respect in meetings in a way former defensive coordinator Larry Coyer might have been too grandfatherly low-key to do, what the Broncos really need from Bates is a strong, independent voice on the staff that has been absent since the departure of Gary Kubiak to Houston.
Although Graham provides another third-down passing target for Jay Cutler, his most valuable contribution would be to take the pressure off a young quarterback by opening holes for the rushing attack on first down.
When last I saw Moss in person, he was trampling Ohio State's national championship dreams and making quarterback Troy Smith appear slightly less mobile than the Heisman Trophy.
"We think he can add some steam to our defense," Shanahan said Saturday. But, in Moss, the Broncos did not discover the next Jason Taylor, a pass-rusher who can wreak havoc on every snap.
The role of bad dude in the defensive front seven once played by Trevor Pryce and Wilson? Denver is still searching for somebody ornery enough to fill the part.
For all the good work Shanahan has done to reshape his team, there remains a sneaking suspicion he fell short in acquiring a playmaker the Broncos so desperately want. The failed attempt to trade up in the draft for Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson reveals the coach takes a harsher look at this team's shortcomings than the Broncomaniacs wearing orange-tinted glasses.
In his dedication to give Denver a new football identity, give Shanahan an "A" for effort.
But unless Cutler can do a mean imitation of Troy Aikman, the Broncos won't make the grade as a Super Bowl contender.
|04-29-2007, 07:02 AM||#2|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Kizla is a dumb ass. He does point out some key things but as usual, lacks the understanding that teams can change in a hurry now. One day your in the superbowl and the next year you miss the playoffs and vise versa. Broncos have just as good a shot as the top teams in the league. I give Kizla and A for effort but C for not being able to pull off an article that has enough league perspective.
|04-29-2007, 07:03 AM||#3|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
I disagree with one part. Last year was Plummer's fault He was horrible. HE was so bad Denver was forced to start a rookie QB. If Plummer would have played like he did in 2005 Denver would have been competing for the AFC West. Hopefully Cutler will be much improved next year. The fate of the season rests on how well he plays.
|04-29-2007, 11:23 AM||#4|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: May 2001
Kisla as usual.
He writes about a game he really doesn't understand. The Broncos were picking at 21. Calvin Johnson was really out of the question with what they would have to give up not only this year but the next few years. The Broncos need help at a number of positions not only now but coming down the line in a few years with retirements and the need to upgrade various positions. The salary cap system does not allow this to happen at once. Did he fall short in finding a playmaker. It is too early to say. We needed defensive line above another wideout. Lets see if Jarvis Moss is a playmaker. I don't think we knew what Trevor Pryce was going to be until he got off the bench following his first season.
The Troy Aikman comment concerning Jay Cutler. How bad were the Cowboys and what did it take to restore them to the Superbowl level. This team went in the tank for a few years to get the draft choices and then find a stupid training partner to set up their draft and infuse significant talent in short time. You also have to give the Cowboys credit, they mined some significant talent in the latter rounds without many misses. Shanahan/Bowlen will not take the Broncos into that realm. I am fine with Jay Cutler right now.
Kisla knows nothing more about Jarvis Moss and his future on this team than you or I (See my comment about Pryce). Lets give the guy a chance. We can sit and second guess this pick over who was still on the board. Beyond pick 10, this is a crap shoot hoping you get a person who has the personal drive/commitment to convert potential into results at the next level. Most of the time (at this level of talent), it comes down to what is in the heart.
I am glad the Shanahan is a harsh evaluator of the Bronco talent. I could see last year that Wilson was not the same player as five years ago. However, I did not see the cut coming. The NFL is a harsh business and those who recognize and manage it as such usually succeed (see Shanahan and New England). I give Shanahan kudos for the offseason moves. Would it be nice to have a few players we weren't able to get, sure. It takes two to make a trade.
One thankful thought, it appears we didn't draft any damaged goods this year.
|04-29-2007, 12:13 PM||#6|
Join Date: Oct 2004
this guy is retarded. He just is, mane fans here who say we had a bad draft atleast have a point and know about football. Then there are idiots like this, who should "fade off the surface of the NFL earth".
|04-29-2007, 12:26 PM||#7|
Interesting Times Ahead
Join Date: Apr 2006
I think I would say Bates is a better pick up than Dre Bly. They are both good but if he can get our guys on the DL to get to the QB that will make Champ and Bly look that much better.