|08-12-2007, 04:01 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Despite changes, Cutler still key to Broncos’ hopes
ENGLEWOOD - After a season in which his offense struggled to pick up tough yards, his defense collapsed and his team missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record, Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan wasn't a happy man.
The team he fielded for the 2006 season simply wasn't good enough. Not good enough to rank among the NFL's playoff elite. And certainly not good enough to suit Shanahan.
Never one to shrink from change, Shanahan has in the past parted with several 1,000-yard rushers, many of them the season after they broke the 1,000-yard barrier. Remember Clinton Portis, Olandis Gary, Ruben Droughns, Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell?
In retrospect, that willingness to make changes was merely a warm-up for what Shanahan has done in the buildup to the 2007 season. No area of the team has been safe from Shanahan's desire to upgrade.
On offense, Shanahan dumped Bell and acquired veteran running back Travis Henry with the goal of creating a running game that can get the tough yards, especially in big games. To help Henry get those yards, Shanahan spent $6 million to acquire tight end Daniel Graham, a devastating blocker who also can catch the ball.
Defensively, the work began immediately after last season when defensive coordinator Larry Coyer was fired and Jim Bates was hired to replace him. Bates promises to employ a defense that will be more aggressive, especially in attacking opposing quarterbacks.
To that end, Shanahan acquired a slew of new defensive linemen, both through the draft and through free agency. He traded for cover corner Dre' Bly who will give the Broncos a 1-2 punch with opposite corner Champ Bailey.
On special teams, Shanahan hired veteran coach Scott O'Brien and brought back punter Todd Sauerbrun.
Yet as significant as those changes are, the success or failure of Denver's 2007 season will rest with one player - quarterback Jay Cutler.
A second-year player of immense potential, Cutler's strong arm and confident attitude made veteran quarterback Jake Plummer expendable midway through last season. Cutler played well - for a rookie - after taking over as the starter for the final five games last season. While he completed 59 percent of his passes, Cutler lost his first big test. Needing a win to earn a playoff berth, Denver lost at home to San Francisco on the final weekend of the season. Cutler's leadership will have to be significantly more inspired this season.
Indeed, if Denver is going to improve its record and return to the playoffs, Cutler will have to take a major leap forward in his development as a player and as a leader. In short, he'll have to play better than the typical second-year quarterback.
Shanahan is showing more faith in Cutler than the Broncos have shown in any player since John Elway began his Hall of Fame career in Denver. Playing up to the standards of a retooled and talented team can be a big advantage. It also is a big responsibility and, if things don't go well, a heavy burden.
Twice in recent history the Broncos have asked a quarterback entering his second year to guide what it believed was a playoff-caliber team. It worked in 1984 when Elway took a team that had been 9-7 the year before and led it to a 13-3 record and homefield advantage in the playoffs. It failed in 1999 when Brian Griese took over for the retired Elway and guided the two-time Super Bowl champions to an injury-marred 6-10 season.
If Cutler reprises the success of 1984 (or at least comes close), his legend and comparisons to Elway will grow. If he plays like it's 1999, then it's back to the drawing board for Shanahan.
|08-12-2007, 04:44 AM||#2|
helmet to helmet hitter
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Arlington, TX
How did some of these dummies ever get jobs as sprorts writers?
|08-12-2007, 02:45 PM||#3|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Sep 2004
Is it just me, or do many people out there hope for a Denver failure, and put that all on Cutler? Is there some underlying sense that Denver did not deserve to have drafted Cutler? Is there an underlying sense of jealousy or envy running through the media types and fans and trolls? I know the mullets are truly envious of the Broncos in every way, but that same underlying myopic view of the Broncos overrides even basic common sense. The lack of - or distortion of - basic team information really leads to hilariously stupid conclusions.
I understand that fans of other teams have the same rose colored glasses that I do. But I don't attack other teams with smack, but I can agree with potential weakness on the Broncos.
Media types who don't know Denver should not write about the team. Chaulk this article to the Dumb Side of the journalistic ledger.
|08-12-2007, 02:53 PM||#4|
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Villa La Angostura
That said, I don't think he failed anything. The last TD drive was clutch and he looked like a poised veteran out there. IMO, he came through when we needed him and all in all it was a team loss.
|08-12-2007, 03:11 PM||#5|
Tebowing the long haul
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: TX, USA
Another "Cutler has to be Elway or else" rag.
The funny thing about it is that this guy is just playing to what some Bronco fans want to hear. It's not so much his fault that what he wrote was crap.