|09-09-2007, 10:43 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Reconstruction places new face on Broncos
There are a few more steaks in the bellies lining each side of the ball. There are more gray hairs on defense, considerably less facial hair at quarterback and a new set of brains on the coaching staff.
The hope among the Broncos is that this major makeover helps them improve upon their recent past. All change, whether it involves moving to another town or switching from a veteran to a second-year quarterback, also begets an element of fear, excitement and stress of the unknown. About all anyone really knows for sure about the Broncos heading into their regular-season opener today at Buffalo is they will be markedly different than a year ago.
The 2005 AFC championship game, which the Broncos lost at home, was merely 17 games ago. Yet, only six of Denver's 22 starting positions from that game will be filled by the same player today.
"Where have the dynasties gone, huh?" said strong safety Nick Ferguson, one of the Broncos' six holdovers. "This free-agency thing has player personnel changing, coaching changing, and player personnel changing because of coaches changing."
The free-agent market and its counterweight salary cap lead to considerable roster alterations for most teams every season. But few have undergone the 19-month reconstruction project the Broncos took on following their title game loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Whatever it takes to improve
One reason for the ever-evolving Broncos is the makeup of the franchise's stable upper tier. When it comes to venturing into the unknown, coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Ted Sundquist are less frightened than others in similar positions.
Some teams, such as the San Diego Chargers and Steelers, continue to build rosters primarily through the draft. Others, such as the Washington Redskins and, more recently, the New England Patriots, can't resist the thrill of shopping the free-agent market.
The Broncos not only utilize each of these acquisition methods, they are by far the NFL's most active traders.
"You could say, 'They went to the championship game, why did they completely retool?"' Broncos safety John Lynch said. "But in a lot of ways that's why I came here and why a lot of people came here, because it's a team where getting to the championship game isn't good enough. You want to win the whole dang thing. Not a lot of teams think like that. I think the changes are more representative of the mind-set here than anything else."
The Broncos' overhaul grew from two roots - a new quarterback on offense and a new coach on defense. Offensively, the new look is based at quarterback, where last year Shanahan replaced veteran Jake Plummer, who threw best on the roll, with rookie Jay Cutler, who can zing from the pocket.
One reason Shanahan is so decisive whenever he makes a change is he tends to view issues in black and white. Others might have considered the intangibles of locker room chemistry when changing a quarterback. Shanahan sees the team averaging 17.7 points under Plummer and 24.8 points under Cutler. There is no gray area in a no-brainer.
"If you're going to win in the playoffs you've got to score more than 17 points a game to have a chance to advance," Shana- han said. "That was one of the reasons why we made the change at quarterback - to score more points."
To build around their new quarterback, the Broncos added blocking bulk in Montrae Holland at right guard and Daniel Graham at tight end. There is more speed at two of three receiver spots with Brandon Marshall and Brandon Stokley replacing the injured Rod Smith and the likes of Charlie Adams and David Kircus in recent years.
Style of quarterback play was one reason the Broncos have just two offensive starters - left tackle Matt Lepsis and center Tom Nalen - remaining from their 2005 AFC title game team. Inexperience is another.
"The quarterback is young and you want a strong running game, which we've always had, but a running game that could finish opponents off late in a game, versus trying to hold a lead on the shoulders of that young quarterback," Sundquist said.
Spending money for the long run
To fortify their running game, the Broncos deviated from their long-held philosophy of converting, then rotating, inexpensive tailbacks into 1,000-yard rushers. This year, the Broncos left little to chance with their running game by spending a combined $27 million on Graham, arguably the game's best blocking tight end, and Travis Henry, a proven tailback with three seasons of 1,200 yards.
"On offense, there was a feeling of we've got to get back to the dominant running team we've always been," Lynch said. "To do that you get a tight end like Daniel Graham, you get a bigger guard like Montrae, you get a back like Travis. They allocated a lot of resources to that.
"On defense, at defensive tackles, they wanted a completely different guy. Not that the guys we had weren't good, but they just didn't fit in this scheme."
Former defensive coaching boss Larry Coyer predicated his system on speed. When the Broncos' defense wore down in the second half of a 9-7 campaign last season, Coyer was fired and replaced by Jim Bates, who likes beef in the middle and tall, rangy speed guys such as Simeon Rice and Jarvis Moss at the ends.
On paper, the changes appear to have made the Broncos better. Uneven play in the preseason raised suspicion they might be worse. Perhaps a clearer understanding will come today.
Win or lose, the Broncos are different.
"It's the most change I've seen as a player," Ferguson said. "But at the same time, the goal is to win, and you bring in personnel that allows you to win. If you don't want to win, you go ahead and keep your mediocre team."
|09-09-2007, 12:41 PM||#2|
Time for Broncos Football
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Mile High
very very very poor article
I read this article in my paper earlier this morning and it has a chart to go along with it that lists the 05 championship game starter, and then todays starter at same position. It tries to say major make over like the Broncos are constantly tinkering with the whole roster just for sake of change. And in it's defense of doing that it lists the starters on a chart like I said and EMPHASIZES just 6 returning starters. But now here does it list there really would be 12 in stead of 6 if it wasn't for injury or sadly a death.
It says Rod Smith, Ben Hamilton, Al Wilson, Ekuban, DJ williams, Darrent Williams are all starters in 05 but not now because of the "make over"
no Smith, hamilton, wilson, ekuban HURT
And dj is only at a different position due to al's injury.
But at least Klis has a nice article to try to keep free agents away since we are such a disloyal orginization.