2009 Denver Broncos Season Preview
2009 Denver Broncos preview from MadduxSports.com. Along with our team previews Maddux Sports offers winning nfl picks each and every football season. Start winning today!
2009 Denver Broncos Predictions
By Adam Barone
The Denver Broncos have had a clear identity for over a decade. Mike Shanahan built a reputation for a high-powered offense that churned out career years for unknown running backs and made the team consistently competitive. Almost everything has changed in a single offseason.
Shanahan fell out of favor with ownership and was replaced by former Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in the offseason, and McDaniels doesn’t seem to be making many friends. Franchise quarterback Jay Cutler was traded to the Bears along with a fifth round pick for quarterback Kyle Orton, two first round picks, and a third round pick. McDaniels then curiously added former Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno to a stable of backs that were signed this offseason. The Broncos’ front seven was awful last season, but only one draft pick was used to stabilize it. Former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan is the new defensive coordinator, and will instate a 3-4 style defense. Shocking, right? An NFL team switching to the 3-4…
Former Bears’ quarterback Kyle Orton could have a breakout season in McDaniels’ system. He’ll be pushed by former Buccaneers’ starter Chris Simms. Simms was with Tennessee last season, but hasn’t been himself since a spleen injury in 2006 when he was with Tampa Bay. Whoever wins the job will have tons of weapons around him and a great chance for success.
Moreno will headline a group of talented, bargain-priced tailbacks, similar to what McDaniels worked with in New England. Former Eagle Correll Buckhalter, former Cardinal J.J. Arrington, and former Patriot LaMont Jordan were signed, while versatile fullback Peyton Hillis is still on the roster. It will be interesting to see how the group is used, especially considering that Morerno was the 12th overall pick in the draft.
There are loads of talented receivers at McDaniels’ disposal, also similar to his days with the Pats. Brandon Marshall caught 112 passes last season for over 1,200 yards and made the Pro Bowl. Jabar Gaffney was also signed to go along with Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley, and tight ends Daniel Graham and Tony Scheffler. Scheffler caught 40 passes last season, but is purely a receiving tight end, which doesn’t fit well into McDaniels’ system. He’ll likely see a diminished role.
The Broncos have a top-notch offensive line, which is a great advantage for McDaniels as a first-year head coach. Tackles Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris are one of the better young tandems in the league, while guards Ben Hamilton and Chris Kuper and center Casey Weigmann make for a stable interior. The group led the NFL with only 12 sacks allowed last season. That’s in Shanahans’ system, of course, but there’s little doubt that the ability will translate to the new scheme.
The defense as a whole was simply pathetic in 2008. It ranked 29th overall, 27thh against the run, and 26th against the pass. The team didn’t do much to address the issues on the front seven, improvement is unlikely. Nolan will have to work with rookie Robert Ayers, a first round pick who can play either end or outside linebacker in a 3-4, and without much talent at the all-important nose tackle spot. Ronald Fields will start there, and be joined on the front line by Kenny Peterson, Carlton Powell, Ryan McBean, and some other mediocre talents.
One of the few quality talents on the roster, D.J. Williams, will start at inside linebacker with Andra Davis. Williams had 93 tackles a year ago. The outside spots are unclear. Former end Elvis Dumervil could see time there, but is likely to have trouble in coverage.
Champ Bailey is still probably the best defensive player in the league, and is the leader of the defense. His counterpart, Dre Bly, was let go in the offseason, and replaced by former Dolphin Andre’ Goodman. Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill were signed as upgrades at safety.
Kicker Matt Prater had a decent first season replacing long-time Bronco Jason Elam, and will need to establish himself with more consistency. Royal should continue to return kicks and punts, but some of the recently added talent on offense could challenge for those spots so that Royal can focus more on his receiving duties.
All that McDaniels needs to do is win games. If he does that, all the craziness of the offseason will be forgotten. There’s a lot riding on this first season, however, because Shanahan was one of the most respected head coaches in the league. The move to a fresher approach has a chance to bring great rewards, but could also easily doom the franchise to years of rebuilding.