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Published on 01/03/2009 at Sat Jan 03 15:29.
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There’s an age old debate about drafting versus free agency and for the Denver Broncos both have quite bad at both when it comes to the defense. This is the first of a two part series on the defensive players Denver has brought in.

Free Agency
As fans we all have noticed the random signings throughout the season such as Hernan-Daze Jones, Vernon Fox, Josh Shaw, and Calvin Lowry. Also it was noticed that they were less than ineffective. Anyone who has watched Sports Center for the last few days has seen the same highlight of Chargers fullback Jacob Hester plowing through the frightened Vernon Fox for the touchdown. Steve Atwater, hell even Browns safety Sean Jones (who is a free agent to ponder) would have made that tackle. As Broncos fans it is never enough just look at the surface, it is time we delve deeper.

Boss Bailey

  • Acquired: Summer 08′
  • Games Started: 6
  • Tackles: 40
  • Contract: 5 years – $17.5 million
  • Summary: Boss Bailey has a lot of hustle… when he’s on the field. It seems like every other down the medical crew is attending to Boss’s injuries. Bailey is one of the quickest if not the quickest linebackers in the league which is not always a good thing because it causes him to continuously over pursue the play. Denver believed that Bailey could come in and fix the problems they had at the SAM position and Bailey didn’t seem to help.
  • Grade: D-
  • DeWayne Robertson

  • Acquired: Summer 08′
  • Games Started: 15
  • Tackles: 22
  • Contract: 6 years – $24 million
  • Summary: At the beginning of the season I believed Robertson’s performance to be one of the deciding factors of 2008. Most people have not noticed Robertson on the field due to his contract. It hasn’t been released yet if he played over 65% of the snaps but from what the field shows it didn’t seem like it. I had hoped he would give the young Marcus Thomas some veteran help but he only registered 1.5 sacks which the half sack came in the New England blowout and the full sack in the Chargers blowout. Robertson has cost Denver 4 million dollars of cap room in 2008 and could fill 3 million more in 2009.
  • Grade: D

    Marlon McCree

  • Acquired: Summer 08′
  • Games Started: 7
  • Tackles: 29
  • Contract: 1 year – $2 million
  • Summary: McCree is known to be a hard hitter… I can’t think of one time this year when he hit someone hard enough for them to drop the ball. Also he didn’t force a single turnover in any of his games and defended only two passes. Uhh… thats like hiring a blind truck driver. Despite his injury rookie Josh Barrett would have eventually took his job. McCree signed a one year contract so his return is unlikely.
  • Grade: F
  • Marquand Manuel

  • Acquired: Summer 08′
  • Games Started: 14
  • Tackles: 83
  • Contract: 3 years – $4.5 million
  • Summary: Manuel was just as effective as Marlon McCree the only difference was that he played more games. As a safety if you don’t cause any turnovers throughout the whole year what good are you? I guess Manuel could beg Ed Reed for one of his 10 turnovers or 16 defended passes. In the 14 games that Manuel started he had only 4 passes defended, the same amount of passes defended as Josh Barrett did in his 3 games started. Barrett actually managed a turnover in the form of a pick, something Manuel has done only twice in his career with 5 teams in 7 years. Unfortunately Manual is signed for 3 years with a contract up to $4.5 million… fortunately only $500,000 of that is guaranteed.
  • Grade: F
  • Niko Koutouvides

  • Acquired: Summer 08′
  • Games Started: 0
  • Tackles: 12
  • Contract: 3 years – $7.5 million
  • Summary: This guy was supposed to come in and put Nate Webster out of a job. He couldn’t even beat him out. There isn’t much to say about Koutouvides because he didn’t do much. There’s 15 letters in his full name and he registered 12 tackles on the year… good job Niko. To add insult to injury we signed him to a 3 year $7.5 million deal, thats an expensive mediocre special teams player.
  • Grade: F

    The 2008 season was the season of what-ifs. What if Boss Bailey can play solid SAM? What if DeWayne Robertson can cause presure? What if Marquand Manuel and Marlon McCree can play solid at safety? What if Niko can cause ruckus at MIKE? None of those happened. 

    A lot of Denver fans out there are disappointed with the firing of Mike Shanahan, but his signing of these players are part of the reason why he’s gone. You can blame it on Bob Slowik but Shanahan made the choice to hire him. As a head coach you take full responsibility for the decisions made underneath you. If Denver has any chance of the playoffs next year the defense needs to step up considerably and the new coach cannot afford to sign players of this caliber.

    • dee

      Im back…. the recent turn of events had led me back to this place …. I was disppointed at the loss of Shannahan , I was pulling for him so much because of how much of a fan of the team I am and of Shannahan personally. But this thread is a harsh dose of reality … I will miss you Shanny, good luck in DALLAS see you in the super bowl… BOWLEN for the love of god bring in Spags , no one else can turn around this defense.

      Bronco Fans have been thru alot of tough times these past years … we need some hope that we will be on top of the mountain soon … its starts with hiring Spags

    • Andy

      I agree with Dee here. This absolutely mediocre signings just show how bad our defense was. Somehow, we got to 8-8. I do think Boss was the biggest disappointment.

    • merc22

      we will sign the DC from TEN, becuz he is friends with bates and will be “bate” (lol) to bring in haynesworth

    • Shawn

      My biggest dissapointment has to be Niko. For cryin out loud, you couldn’t beat Webster!? Spencer Larson is a rookie that had to play both ways since you couldn’t be trusted in the middle. Sad.

      I give Boss a pass on the injury. We knew that comming in and said a prayer that he could make it through the season.

      Just a question. If Woodyard could lose 15 pounds and practice covering for an entire offseason, why couldn’t he make a good replacement for McCree?

    • jchase8410


      I think that would be great to see Woodyard at SS so that both he and DJ could be on the field at the same time. They would need to pick up a dominant Mike and Sam, and an Ed Reed like ball hawk at the free safety position…

      Then there is the mess we call a D-line. The Broncos still need a strong but quick DE and a Big, Strong presence at DT.

      That’s a lot of moves to be made, and they don’t even have a HC right now, or DC for that matter. Here’s hoping Bowlen can work some Mile High Magic and bring in Spagnuolo.

    • BroncoinVA9986

      Hire spags please….please….

    • BroncoinVA9986

      I think. Boss bailey should be kept…we should try and pick up a couple of safeties in the draft and a big d tackle. trade some of these garbage guys for 7th round picks get something for them…

    • broncoNM

      We need to dump boss, niko, mccree, and manuel. They are bums. Bad pick ups we need to cut our losses. Wonder if Rex Ryan will get an interview???

    • Bronckan

      Clean house dump all of these guys. Fans pay hard earned money to see good football these guys just take the money and run,,,,,

    • Ben

      I agree for the most part with the grades, with the exceptions of Boss and D-Rob, Boss Bailey actually played pretty well when not on the stretcher and D-Rob actually looked pretty dominant on certain plays over the course of the season.

    • Ian Henson


      Hadn’t really thought that much about our free agent signing on defense, because for the most part they were hurt most of the season (or inactive).

      Josh Bell was a bit of a serendipity I thought, a UDFA turned FA- I think that if he’s able to stick it out through the new head coach we might have a Darrent Williams type player once again.

      There were players that I thought had monster training camps and didn’t make it through final cuts (Josh Mallard), then their were players that had monster training camps and then didn’t show up in the regular season (Jack Williams). Think about it, remember how hearing about how good the d-line was during training camp- now look at how good our offensive line actually was… What the hell happened? Tim Crowder and Jarvis Moss are inactive the whole season? Crowder was arguably the best d-lineman we drafted from that class, what happened?

      Anyway, I’d say keep Robertson and Bailey (maybe McCree for certain packages). Andre Hall looked better on special teams than Niko Koutouvides did most of the time.

    • olen

      Does anyone think Shanahan could get along with the owner of the Dallas Cowboys pressuring him ? Sorry I got off the subject . The defense problems will be a big subject to be solved by the new coach hopefully .

    • Marv

      the whole defense deserve a D+

    • mark

      How about a post of predictions for the off season. You heard it hear first, the Broncos will trade Champ Bailey! Not saying it’s a good move or not, but they will do it. Try and get two good players for one great player. Seeing as we need many good players on D, it may be wise.

    • robtink242

      Mark maybe dre bly. East you forgot to give Slowick his F.

    • Boisebroncoguy

      Let’s hope Carlton Powell is a stud!

    • East

      Haha very true robtink.

      Boisebroncoguy I totally agree. Powell was a run stuffing monster at Virginia Tech allowing only -13 yards.

    • East


      I was just talking about that today with my brother. I think that Shanahan was a bad evaluator of the players of the 2008 training camp. Therefore we ended up with the defensive talent we have this day… and cut throughout the season.

      I agree about keeping Robertson because we’re probably not going to get a good trade for him so we might as well add depth to the d-line. Hopefully he also just needs a year to adapt to the system.

      Boss Bailey’s contract is absurd so he better step his ass up and not get hurt. 5 years… $17.5 million.

    • Josh Temple

      Agree with all but Boss, he was flying around until he got hurt. He gets a C- from me until we see him next season.

    • AtwaterFan27

      I hope the Broncs keep CHAMP but ditch Dre bly. BLy has been burnt so many times and cannot seem to cover a deep route without a Pass interference penalty. Trade Dre Bly for a Middle linebacker like Jonathan Vilma. Just my thoughts

    • AtwaterFan27

      I forgot to put bring back Al Wilson. As a LINEBACKER COACH.

    • Anthony33

      Agree with the grade except Koutouvides…he get a “Mr. Blutosky…0.0”.

      I know everyone is talking defense, but in my opinion, the number one guy we need to go after in free agency is Darren Sproles. Can you imagine that guy in the orange and blue?

      Trade Champ and Williams. Move up and snag both Mays and Luarinitus (sp) in the draft to start the rebuild.

    • Shawn


      I like your idea, but I am not sure why he would come back. Didn’t he sue the Broncos after he left? Or was that just the buisness side of the NFL and not personal? I really don’t know much about that side of the game.

      I do know the big hit that we were not getting from this defensive free agent class. They hit like I did when I realized Varsity ball wasn’t for me. Seriously, I took a hit from a kid in practice that rang my bell. He was half my size and I realized right then and there that I was either football’s number 1 fan or a Denver Bronco free agent pick up.

      Not a bad future either way.

    • East

      I don’t want either Mays or Lauraunitis both of them seem to have busts written all over them.

      We need to keep Bly but have him restructure his contract. Bly was the defensive MVP of the Broncos this year so as much as you hate him he was Denver’s best defensive Players.

      It would be awesome to grab Vilma since he is a UFA. DJ and Vilma would be back on the field together for the first time since the national championship game against Ohio.

    • JRODZ

      Trading some of these guys will be tough as they were already left-overs when we picked them up. In my opinion, you HAVE TO MOVE BLY first & foremost. He’s overrated and was done three years ago. Bowlen needs to dig deep into the pockets this off season, and do it thru free agnecy & the draft. Get us at least 2 FA playmakers at DE, 4 new safeties, LB’s, and a 3rd or 4th year FA corner to help Champ. Grab Rey Maualuga 12th, take the heat and turn this thing around.

    • Andy

      I live in New Orleans and they seem pretty committed to keeping Vilma. However, money talks.

    • East

      Yeah Vilma is a UFA though so New Orleans can’t tell him what to do so lets hope he’d like to be back with DJ.

    • Vilma

      Yah but I have an “unofficial” commitment to stay with New Orleans. At least thats the rumor. That way when the defense sucks I can blame it on the secondary and not the fact that my knee has never been the same and I lack explosion.

    • Broncoireland

      rex ryan for headcoach!! spags is a great d coordinator but ryan is just as good if not better and has been doing it for years longer than spags!! either of these guys would be great and i will be extremely dissapointed if either of these 2 guys are not the head coach of the broncos.

    • Nate ‘miss a tackle’ Webster

      if we do get a great defensive coach in place, we aren’t gona be fixed over night, i think if we can be improved to a 15-20 ranked defence next season it will be a solid job. there is sooooooo much work to do on the defensive side of the ball, there has to and will be a clear out of personnel(Moss,Crowder,Clemons,Robertson,Boss,Paymah), the following wont even be picked up by another team (Webster, Manuel,Fox), the few that can be kept as starters are champ, dj,bly…struggling for others here, woodyard and barrett are guys for the future but not right now, the rest are situational and average(which every team has, just not 80% of your D), a couple of good FA’s and a good draft, controled by someone who can spot a defender and it will be a big improvement on the debacle that was the orange mush of 08′- REX RYAN/SPAGS for coach

    • Broncoireland

      no to Vilma, ive had it with undersized defenders who get bullied and push around, anyone notice the final 4 in the AFC, chargers, steelers, ravens and titans (all big, bruising, punishing teams on defence) this finesse rubbish has got to stop if we want to get anywhere in this league

    • Pat


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