|07-08-2008, 12:46 PM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2005
SportingNews.com - Camp Countdown '08: Denver Broncos
|07-08-2008, 12:55 PM||#2|
Broncos Fan in Florida
Join Date: Jul 2006
I posted the article in the thread in case anyone has a hard time accessing it. However, the article lost all credibility when I read the "bolded" comment below. How does an error like that happen when this guy writes for one of the hometown newspapers?
They fired their general manager, went into economy mode in free agency and shook up their coaching staff yet again. They lost their longest-tenured player, feared they'd lost arguably their best to a McDonald's bag, of all things, and traded for another high-upside, higher-risk veteran defensive lineman. And this just in: They gave up on the back (Travis Henry) who was supposed to solidify their running game last season.
In other words, it was just another offseason for the Denver Broncos, who are never dull off the field and struggling to be relevant again on it.
After last season's losing record -- the first of the Mike Shanahan era -- fallout seemed inevitable. But the way things played out presented some unexpected drama.
After the assistant coaches from both sides of the ball walked (or were forced) out the door at the close of the season, along with longtime kicker Jason Elam, a host of new faces rushed in, bringing some question marks along with them.
Mike Heimerdinger, the assistant head coach on offense the last two seasons, bolted for Tennessee because he wanted to call the shots. This reinforces the notion that it's Shanahan who runs the offensive show.
Shanahan will get help from Jeremy Bates, considered an up-and-comer, as well as Rick Dennison, but it will be the head coach's fingerprints all over this side of the ball.
The zone-blocking run game remains the foundation. The big question is whether quarterback Jay Cutler, in his second full season as starter, will be turned loose to take advantage of several intermediate pass-catching threats who can do some damage after the catch -- and in the red zone, where the running game has struggled.
This group was a mess in 2007. Jim Bates didn't have the personnel to fit his scheme, especially in the front seven, resulting in a disastrous showing against the run. Bates, and many of the starters, are now gone.
Bob Slowik takes over as coordinator, and he'll employ an eight-man front to try and bring Denver back to its usual top-10 showing against the run.
Slowik is well respected by the players, who welcome his ability to break down and explain opposing offenses and adjust on the fly. His aggressive mindset should be a boon to the likes of Robertson, sophomore defensive tackle Marcus Thomas and weakside linebacker D.J. Williams, who thrive while playing in attack mode.
The book on: Brandon Marshall
A rival sizes up the Broncos' talented young wide receiver:
"Height, weight, speed, strength -- he's an imposing figure. He can catch the ball, break tackles and run after the catch. He represents a problem. He's as good as Andre Johnson, who's a Pro Bowl player in Houston. He's as good as he wants to be, as far as on the field, with no limitations as far as what he can do. He's the complete package. He's Terrell Owens without the hype, the popcorn and the Sharpies and all that.
"To try and slow him down, I think the best thing to do is get up in his face and hit him before he starts running. But we respect him. When I was talking to my players before we played them, I told them he's the next superstar-in-waiting."
The Broncos are a franchise in transition, trying to fortify their core through a draft that has often failed them while moving away from the high-priced free agents that frequently burn them. There are some building blocks, but the team still has too many question marks along its fronts on both sides of the ball to be considered among the AFC's elite. SN prediction: 9-7, second in AFC West.
Lee Rasizer covers the Broncos for the Rocky Mountain News and Sporting News.
|07-08-2008, 02:24 PM||#6|
A new beginning!
Join Date: Aug 2006
Watermock - RIP
I wouldn't immediatelty throw blame at Lee Razier. Editors could have changed it on him thinking they knew better.
|07-08-2008, 04:34 PM||#7|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: BIG D
Call the 2007 Denver Broncos an enigma. They were 11th in total offense, yet 21st in scoring. They were 19th in total defense, yet 28th in points allowed.
That indicates one problem on both sides of the ball: It's all about turnover margin. The Broncos weren't so good at protecting the ball, and they didn't do a good enough job of taking it away. That accounts for the disparity on the scoreboard and their finishing with a 7-9 record instead of contending for an AFC wild-card berth.
1. Get better protection for -- and play from -- quarterback Jay Cutler. It was a difficult 2007 for Cutler, as it came to light that his fight with diabetes affected his play. That said, he still must take better care of the ball. Cutler was sacked just 27 times last year, but like most young quarterbacks he sometimes made big mistakes under pressure -- 14 interceptions, four lost fumbles last season.
Cutler still is young -- this is only his third NFL season -- and should cut down on his miscues by virtue of experience. The Broncos also are rebuilding their offensive line and are counting on rookie first-round pick Ryan Clady to protect Cutler's blind side at left tackle.
2. Find a reliable possession receiver opposite Brandon Marshall. Marshall, if healthy, is a special talent who stretches the field and makes big plays. If he proves durable and builds on his breakout '07 season, whoever lines up on the other side frequently will see favorable man-to-man coverage.
The question: Can one of four newcomers -- rookie Eddie Royal, ex-Panther Keary Colbert, ex-49er Darrell Jackson or ex-Chief Samie Parker -- do the job? Another Brandon, Brandon Stokley, is best suited to produce from the slot. The Broncos need a trustworthy No. 2 receiver who will get open quickly and give Cutler an easy option to guard against turnovers.
3. Stick with Selvin Young. The release of Travis Henry has set the Broncos' backfield carousel in motion, but it should stop with Young. The Broncos are at their best when they have one back handling most of the carries. The more changes coach Mike Shanahan makes, the more it leads to confusion and mistakes. They must build Young's confidence as a feature back and build on the 5.2 yards per carry he averaged as an undrafted rookie last season.
4. Get the outside linebackers healthy -- and get some big plays from them. D.J. Williams is moving from the middle to the weak side, where he can better use his speed and playmaking ability. The Broncos hope newcomer Boss Bailey, brother of ace cornerback Champ Bailey, will force turnovers from the strong side in pass coverage. Middle linebacker Niko Koutouvides will be counted on primarily as a tackler in the running game, so Williams and Boss Bailey should be aggressive and go for the ball.
5. Get the safeties more involved in the takeaway game. You figured Dre' Bly would be busy in coverage in his first season with the Broncos as teams threw away from Champ Bailey. Bly came through with five interceptions, and Bailey still managed three despite few opportunities.
The Broncos' projected starting safeties -- Hamza Abdullah and John Lynch -- however, combined for no interceptions last season. In contrast, backups Marquand Manuel (previously with the Panthers) and Marlon McCree (previously with the Chargers) combined for four.
Denver needs its center fielders to force more turnovers. If Abdullah and Lynch don't deliver, they should be benched in favor of Manuel and McCree.
Overall, the Broncos need several individuals and units working together to correct a big overall team weakness. It's quite a task, but if they pull it off they will be .500 or better this season. Vinnie Iyer is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org