|07-25-2007, 10:26 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Worst and 10 - Questions Heading into Training Camp
Posted by kmonty in Worst and 10, Broncos, Training Camp
This has been the longest offseason for me, ever… rather than helping pass the time by, I think posting on this blog nearly every day has dragged it on… no matter! It’s time to talk real football again, no more fluff, no more “awards” for offseason moves… just real football. And I couldn’t be more thrilled.
I’ve already mentioned many of the questions this Training Camp in previous posts. Now I rank ‘em 1-10, for your debating pleasure in my weekly sounds-like-First-and-10 segment. And for once, Jay Cutler isn’t number one…
Who Will Be Our Starting Quarterback?
After years of quarterback controversy in Denver, this is now the worst question as Training Camp approaches - because the answer is clear and a source of hope for Broncos fans. We have someone to rally around, finally, with little to no debate - Jay Cutler is our quarterback of the future, and our quarterback of the present. This question isn’t even worth asking.
10) Will Sam Brandon and David Kircus be Broncos?
After the breaking news earlier this month that Sam Brandon and David Kircus were under heat, it now seems that neither player’s future is certain with the Broncos. I’ve made my case that Kircus shouldn’t wear orange and blue this season - but the news is that Brandon may not be wearing the colors either. Mostly due to his knee injury last year, although I’m sure his 2-game suspension doesn’t help, it looks like the Broncos are trying to reach some sort of injury settlement with the veteran backup safety for a reported $275,000. This would leave us extremely thin at safety, possibly re-igniting the talks between the Broncos and Chiefs for safety Greg Wesley. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for these newsmakers…
9) How much do our vets have left in the tank?
Tom Nalen and Rod Smith have been everything the Broncos ever wanted and more. Playing for Super Bowl teams nearly a decade ago, and now finding themselves on the verge of another title with the talent around them… can they give us one last push to the top? More specifically in Rod’s case, will he be healthy enough to ever return to his Hall of Fame form? Don’t count out John Lynch in this area, either - while by no means a career Bronco, can he give us another year of hard hits and team leadership when our defense needs more than ever since the release of Al Wilson?
8) Which rookie will break out?
I wouldn’t count on Ryan Harris winning this title… my money’s on Tim Crowder, with Marcus Thomas not too far behind, and I see Jarvis Moss as more of a situational player who will have plenty of big plays this year - but he needs a bit more development to see the field.
7) Who won’t find themselves among the 53?
A question for every team, every year… who won’t make the cut? Who will get the dreaded knock on their dorm room doors, “Coach wants to see you. Bring your playbook.”? I’ve already mentioned possible cuts Sam Brandon and David Kircus. Other possible notable losses include John Engelberger, Chad Mustard, David Terrell, and Demetrin Veal. All these guys are on the cusp and need to show their worth to stay on the active 53-man roster. Who knows what other surprises are in store?
6) How will our receiving corps shake out?
Injuries are beginning to cripple our wide receivers before the season even starts - with Rod Smith apparently slowly making his return from hip surgery, and Brandon Marshall tweaking his legs during practice, we have questions at the #2 receiver spot. The third receiver spot seems to be locked down by recent addition Brandon Stokley - but he could be moving up to 2 with the recent injuries. Domenik Hixon sounds promising too, and could break out this year… there are a million factors going into our receivers, and it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
5) How will our linebackers do?
No Al Wilson could mean big trouble for the middle of our defense. D.J. Williams‘ adjustment to the middle is the main headline here, with the strongside linebacker creating a story all its own. Whoever fills in at SAM, our linebackers won’t be as prolific as they’ve been known to be. It’s a big question mark heading into this season.
4) What will the right side of the offensive line look like?
The answer seems to be Chris Kuper and Erik Pears, although I’ve heard conflicting reports on Pears filling in at right tackle and staying as Matt Lepsis‘ backup at left instead. Will it return to its dominant form?
3) Is Jay Cutler the Real Deal?
It’s becoming more and more clear that the answer is yes… therefore it can’t be the biggest question as we head into camp, but it definitely ranks among the top. As talented as everyone is in Denver, we’ll still be relying on Cutler to lead the way… and while it’s no longer worth asking “who” the quarterback will be, it’s still worthy to ask how he will do now that he’s the main man.
And remember - the Broncos have surrounded young Cutler with a ton of talent all around. While we’ll need him to do very well late in the year to make it to a Super Bowl, we’re not as reliant on him to be great to win games early. Our schedule is considerably softer this year than last, and the talent around him will only help him ease into the season as the pressure really gets going in December and of course January. In my mind it’s not as big of a concern heading into camp as the two listed below…
2) Who will start across the defensive line?
Write Ebenezer Ekuban and Gerard Warren… then you can try and figure it out. My heart tells me Sam Adams at DT and Kenard Lang at DE, at least for the first few weeks until Crowder takes over. Look for the most intense competition in all of camp along the defensive line.
1) How will we adapt to Jim Bates’ system?
This is something that isn’t talked about nearly enough, but it’s a legitimate concern this year for the Broncos. After years of Larry Coyer’s defensive scheme, who came from the school of Cover Two/Tampa Two, we’re adjusting to Jim Bates’ version of a 4-3. Bates is known for relying on great pressure to get things going - virtually everything that happens defensively depends on the defensive line and linebackers getting to the quarterback. You can see his influence on Miami’s Jason Taylor and Green Bay’s Aaron Kampman - while both had career years last year without Bates as their coach, you can see the influence of Bates from years before that set them on that path.
How soon will it take the Broncos to adjust to this new system? Will we head out of the gates running like we did last year, holding opponents to a single touchdown through the first half dozen games? Instead of that “bend don’t break” philosophy from last year, which ultimately saw us breaking a lot, I’d rather see our more aggressive defense make more big plays, giving our new, revamped offense a chance to make big plays of their own. Bates is less afraid to play Cover One, for example, than Coyer, because he depends on pressure so much anyway that it doesn’t make too much of a difference - ultimately making our defense more flexible.
But if there’s been one weakness in our defense, historically for the Broncos, it’s been getting pressure on the quarterback. And now that’s our bread and butter. How soon will our men be able to step up. With the recent additions all across the defensive line, all of Denver is hoping the answer is “soon.”
Training Camp starts Sunday, July 29 - 15 days before our first preseason game on Monday Night Football against those damn Niners. Stay tuned for more in depth coverage, and don’t forget to check out the other great Broncos blogs out there. Mile High Report has you covered with in-depth Scouts Inc. reviews and original roster breakdowns; My Denver Obsession has its own countdown of the five biggest Training Camp questions, along with original posts regarding the greatness of Champ Bailey, among other things; Andrew Mason over at DenverBroncos.com has had his hands full with the position breakdown, and is now returning from DB.com content to find himself the Prodigal Blogger. All of these sites have something to see, so check ‘em out! We’re now 5 days from Training Camp Broncos fans!
|07-25-2007, 10:33 AM||#2|
Fan of the home team
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Durango, Colorado
I am looking forward to getting a taste of the players in action.
|07-25-2007, 10:45 AM||#3|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Jul 2006
Crowder starts from day one....
Marshall will get it together and have a break out year.