Jul 13, 2009
The 2008 was a very weird year one the Denver Broncos. After getting off to a great start and looking as if they had a shot at the playoffs once again, they fell just short ending the season at 8-8. In fact, the Broncos had a four game lead in the AFC West with four games left only to see the San Diego Chargers beat them on the last week of the season and win the division.
Following, the season they fired head coach Mike Shanahan and replaced him with Josh McDaniels. Obviously the Broncos were looking for someone to blame, but let’s face it, they had so many injuries on their defense and in their backfield, not to mention the suspension of wide receiver Brandon Marshall to start the season, that things never really had a shot at flowing when it came to personnel on the field. In fact, rumor had it that they were trying to coax running back Terrell Davis and safety Steve Atwater out of retirement.
All was not lost in the season, however, as there were a few key developments that took place. Wide receivers Eddie Royal and Marshall along with tight end Tony Scheffler all took strides in becoming better targets in the passing game. Also, having overcome some major adversity last year and still finish 8-8 says something about the team’s demeanor. Any team that has the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs in their division has a shot at bouncing back and that is what the Broncos look to do in 2009.
Josh McDaniels (HC) - During the off-season the Broncos brought in former offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, Josh McDaniels. His addition to the team brings a new frame of mind to the offensive side of the ball in Denver, one that encompasses many quick slants and out routes. He inherits a great receiving group and has brought in a ton of running backs to right the ship and ease the burden of all the injuries that the Broncos suffered through in 2008.
Misc. RBs - Leading that bunch is rookie Knowshon Moreno out of Georgia. He fits the lead back role right away, while newcomers such as Correll Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan were brought in to add some competition and depth to a position weakened by injuries last season. What was a glaring weakness for the Broncos last year could become a position of strength in 2009.
Mike Shanahan (HC) - The Broncos departed ways with Mike Shanahan, who had been their head coach since 1995. This hasn’t been viewed as a very popular move in Colorado, but it is one that management thought had to be done. Shanahan created a new way of life in Denver, bringing in a system that produced productive running back after productive running back. His leadership and coaching techniques could be missed direly as newcomer Josh McDaniels has already had a squabble with the team’s former star quarterback Jay Cutler.
Jay Cutler (QB) - Cutler was ran out of town, partially due to his whiney behavior, partly due to McDaniels pride. He has ended up with the Chicago Bears, and in return, the Broncos received a bunch of draft picks as well as quarterback Kyle Orton. In Cutlers’ two seasons in which he was the full-time starter, he played all 32 games, passed for over 8,000 yards and threw for 45 touchdowns. Those are numbers that will be very hard to replace.
ROOKIE TO WATCH
Knowshon Moreno (RB) - This former standout from Georgia will begin his NFL career in Denver with a loaded backfield. Moreno definitely has the skills to succeed in this league, but it will be interesting to see whether or not McDaniels keeps Moreno on a short leash or not. The way this team has been built, one has to believe that the offensive philosophy will be to utilize multiple running backs every game, riding the hot hand. If that is the case, Moreno’s numbers will struggle and so will his fantasy football value. Either way though, this kid is exciting to watch and will become a fan favorite before long in Denver.
BRUNO BOYS SPOTLIGHT
Kyle Orton (QB) & Chris Simms (QB) - With the departure of Cutler, someone is going to have to replace him at quarterback. The two that will be given the shot will be Kyle Orton and Chris Simms. Orton has been named the starter but a few bad games and the team could turn to Simms. While neither are top-notch quarterbacks, they will inherit a solid foundation on offense, led by their receiving corps and a grip of productive running backs. Draft Orton as a QB2 entering 2009.