Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

An Active Denver Offseason. Will It Make a Difference?

Posted by mizzou1028 on March 9, 2009

The Denver Broncos have certainly been active this offseason, there’s no question about that.  The question is: are they a better team?  I think in many ways they could be, but being active isn’t always the best move.  The truth is we won’t know for sure until the first game kicks off in September what kind of impact all these moves will have.  Still, you can’t say that new coach Josh McDaniels isn’t putting his stamp on things.  Here are some of my thoughts on the Broncos’ offseason so far.  

Best signing: Brian Dawkins  I don’t care if he’s on the wrong side of 35, Dawkins can still play.  He made the Pro Bowl last season and basically carried the Eagles defense through December and to the NFC championship game.  Most importantly, he is a tremendous veteran leader that was sorely missing in the Broncos locker room.  To hear Eagles fans say how upset and disappointed they are that Dawkins is leaving tells me all I need to know.  Dawkins was the heart and soul of the Eagles defense, and the Broncos haven’t had a leader like him since Al Wilson’s departure.  Dawkins will make everyone around him better, and that alone makes this a great signing.  The fact that he joined the Broncos also means he believes they are capable of winning.  That is a very encouraging indicator.  

Worst signing: Lonnie Paxton To me this is the biggest head scratcher of the players signed by the Broncos.  The Broncos already had a long snapper in Mike Leach who was nothing but flawless for seven years.  I mean literally, he was PERFECT.  Not a single botched snap his entire time in Denver.  This goes for extra points, field goals and punts.  So why on Earth did McDaniels find it necessary to replace him with Lonnie Paxton?  This was one of the few areas on the roster that didn’t require any tinkering.  For that matter, why commit $1 million signing bonus to Paxton when there are so many other needs on the roster? Leach had two years left on his contract, so money wasn’t an issue.  I do realize that Paxton has been flawless in New England as well, so this opinion is not a reflection on his ability.  A good long snapper is a luxury, and the Broncos already had one.  They should have kept Leach.  Reports say that several players are upset at Leach being let go.  

The Jury is Still Out: Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington, LaMont Jordan The Broncos now have more running backs that seemingly any team in NFL history.  These three players will join an already crowded backfield that includes Ryan Torain, Peyton Hillis, Selvin Young, Tatum Bell and Michael Pittman.  Obviously not everyone is going to make the team, but it seems clear that McDaniels is going with the running back by committee approach that worked so well in New England.  Early reports have Buckhalter and Torain being considered the front runners for the starting role, but both have big time injury history. I do like Arrington as a potential third down back and Jordan is a solid runner between the tackles.  If Buckhalter can stay healthy (which he hasn’t three years in a row) his talent is a tremendous upgrade.  It remains to be seen how many of these backs make the roster, but considering the Broncos very wisely kept running backs coach Bobby Turner and offensive line coach Rick Dennison, it seems that the Broncos running game will continue to be very solid no matter who is back there.  

Quietly Solid: Ron Fields, Andra Davis, Jabar Gaffney Fields comes over from San Francisco, where he played for new Broncos defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.  If the Broncos are indeed switching to a 3-4 defense, than nose tackle is arguably the most important position.  Nolan has to have tremendous confidence in Fields if he brought him over, so he’ll at least get a chance to compete for that role (I also hope B.J. Raji of Boston College is there when the Broncos are picking at 12 in the draft, but it seems like he’ll be well off the board by then).  Andra Davis is a solid linebacker who will be counted on to make big plays for the Broncos.  He is also a fiery player in the mode of Brian Dawkins, so it will be nice to see the defense have some attitude again.  I also like Gaffney as a third receiver.  If the Broncos employ a lot of three receiver sets, he’ll be a nice addition as another reliable target for Jay Cutler, particularly if the team is without Brandon Marshall for significant time.  

Please Don’t Do it: Tony Scheffler Reports indicate the Broncos are actively shopping Tony Scheffler.  I plead with McDaniels, STOP!  I mentioned the three receiver sets, these were very common in the Patriots offense and I’m sure McDaniels plans to use them in Denver.  The Broncos have one of the league’s best blocking tight ends in Daniel Graham, and McDaniels is of course familiar with him from their time with the Patriots.  This all being the case, McDaniels may feel Scheffler doesn’t really fit his offense.  The thing is, Scheffler is one of the league’s best pass catching tight ends, and of all the receiving threats in the Broncos offense, he has by far the best rapport with Cutler.  If Marshall is gone for half the season, McDaniels will really be glad he has Scheffler.  Keep him, don’t under any circumstances deal him.

Most Boneheaded Move of All: Brandon Marshall This one has nothing to do with the coaching staff or the personnel department.  This is about Marshall himself being a complete idiot.  He was already suspended once last year for violating the league’s personal conduct policy after several domestic incidents.  His suspension was reduced to one game after he pleaded with Roger Goodell that he would stay out of trouble.  He did seem to mature during the season, even getting involved with charity work in the community.  He even broke up with his girlfriend who seemed to be the cause of most of these incidents.  He is now engaged to a new girl.  So what does he do?  He gets in a fight with his new fiancee at an Atlanta nightclub.  Charges were actually pressed against both of them, and they were dropped the next day.  Thing is, the NFL doesn’t care one bit about dropped charges.  They can punish Marshall completely independently of the legal system, and odds are they will.  To be frank the league was very generous last year and cut him a break based on false promises.  Now that Marshall got in trouble again, he could be suspended for as much half the season, 8 games.  Further, he has just one year on his contract, and he has kissed any hope of an extension goodbye.  Even if he goes free agent at the end of the year, he has surely cost himself millions of dollars.  Brilliant move Mr. Marshall,  you screwed over yourself and the team.  Great work.  

Honestly, I’m not sure how these pieces will all fit.  I’d like to think the offense will be good (the solid offensive line will return intact and untouched), but Marshall’s absence would have a big impact.  It remains to be seen how Jay Cutler’s attitude will affect his season.  Which running back(s) will carry the load?  I like the fact that the new staff is not shy about shaking up the defense.  Top corner Champ Bailey, pass rushing specialist Jarvis Moss and tackle machine D.J. Williams will return to try and fit in with the new pieces.  It does seem that McDaniels thinks he can try to win now, instead of completely gutting and starting over.  The Broncos schedule will be brutal (NFC East and AFC North, plus New England and Indy), so it will be interesting to see what happens.  The draft is of course important too.  Stay tuned.

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One Response to “An Active Denver Offseason. Will It Make a Difference?”

  1. Doug Baker said

    Brandon Marshall is making an ass of himself…

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