Denver Broncos blog, news and rumors

Jay Cutler launches a pass to Brandon Marshall.  (Joe Mahoney/RMN Photo)

Jay Cutler launches a pass to Brandon Marshall. (Joe Mahoney/RMN Photo)

Josh McDaniels has made quite the noise with signings and with the league as a whole. I’m definitely not going to beat a dead horse with the repeating the Jay Cutler story. There are a few ways to sum up Denver’s situation, to be obvious, the defense really needs to be improved. Hiring Mike Nolan as a defensive coordinator was a step in the right direction, unless you’re Woody Paige. Here’s the needs broken down:

Wide Receiver Depth
If McDaniels had it his way, the receiving line up would look like this,

Brandon Marshall = Randy Moss

Eddie Royal = Wes Welker

Jabar Gaffney = Jabar Gaffney

Thank god McDaniels signed Jabar Gaffney. Gaffney will bring in experience from the system to help smooth the offensive playbook change. If indeed Brandon finds himself with a lengthy suspension, which doesn’t seem to happening, look for Gaffney to see a lot more balls thrown his way. Gaffney and Royal won’t be able to go it completely alone, Brandon Stokley is running up in age, and don’t expect much receiving wise from the tight ends in McDaniels’ system. Depth at this position will be needed seeing how Brandon loves wearing metal bracelets attached to each wrist. Despite the comparison to Randy Moss, Marshall will most likely see a hybrid of plays. Some receptions will be use his brute force, and others will use his size to catch the deep ball. Royal lined up extensively at the slot position during training camp, so it does seem that McDaniels wants to bring out the Welker in him.

Fun Fact: Jabar Gaffney’s father, Derrick Gaffney, player receiver for the Jets and Jabar is also cousins with newly signed Jets corner Lito Sheppard.

Reliable Running Back
Josh McDaniels would look at this as optional. I don’t really blame him because he took a bunch of shmucks and had the 6th best run offense last season. It wouldn’t really hurt to have a go to back though. It would be interesting if Denver drafts Knowshon Moreno but that would state that McDaniels wants to commit to the run, but thats not really his playbook. Moreno does have exceptional hands and slot experience though so thats still not out of the question. It would be great to see Denver draft a back like Gartrell Johnson or Ian Johnson in the later rounds. I’ll let it be known I really like Gartrell Johnson and I’ll be thrilled if Denver drafts him in the 6th or 7th round.

Don’t rule out Denver taking a running back like Donald Brown or Rashad Jennings. Both of these backs have worked out with Denver and are 2nd and 5th rounders respectively. Here are my brief scouting reports on Brown and Jenkins. Do though rule out Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells who blew off the Broncos.

As of now it’s up to Kyle Orton and Chris Simms. Does that inspire a lot of confidence? Not exactly. The reason why all of our pants aren’t soaking wet is because of Josh McDaniels and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. Both of these coaches have proven over the past few years to be the best of the best when it comes to coaching quarterbacks. If you’re unfamiliar with Mike McCoy, see this article I wrote on him a few months backs. If history means anything (and hopefully it does) McDaniels and McCoy will find a way to win with nearly anyone.

Kyle Orton with Josh McDaniels at mini camp

Kyle Orton with Josh McDaniels at mini camp

It will be interesting this weekend come draft day. Will a quarterback be taken? If so, how high? Mark Sanchez high? Stephen McGee or Graham Harrell low? As happy as I would be with taking Sanchez, once again being able to have that giddy feeling of potentially having a franchise quarterback, I would advise against it. Grabbing McGee or Harrell in the later rounds is the smarter decision for a first year coach. If Sanchez fails, Denver fans cry… for McDaniels’ head. If McGee or Harrell do not pan out, Denver fans just say “He was just a 4th round pick.” On the other hand they do pan out, Denver fans can say “He was just a 4th round pick!!!” In all seriousness, the first round should be reserved for defense only.

Week one I expect Kyle Orton to be suiting up over Chris Simms. However, if a few weeks into the season Orton starts to suck it up, Denver will have a bench Jake Plummer for Jay Cutler situation on their hands. This time Chris Simms and or which ever possible rookie, will take the place for Cutler.

The linebacker core is still a problem. The outside linebacker position is very dependent on Jarvis Moss and Elvis Dumervil who have never played an outside linebacker snap in the NFL. In the 3-4 it is very important to have outside linebackers that can rush the passer. I used to have this strange faith that Jarvis Moss would adapt to this position nicely. Moss has the speed and size to play coverage, hopefully the intelligence too, and he can finally utilize his technique to get to the passer. This ‘strange feeling’ diminished after hearing Moss practiced with the second team and saw little reps. Injury plays no role in this as far as the public is concerned. Elvis Dumervil’s difficulty transitioning is a big question. Doom has good speed and long arms, but it’s hard transition from a 4-3 end. Also expect to see development of former defensive linemen such as Tim Crowder and Darrell Reid who have both been seen playing the outside linebacker position at mini camp.

Spencer Larsen and Jamie Winborn (Getty Images)

Spencer Larsen and Jamie Winborn (Getty Images)

D.J. Williams position is still up in the air, he has the versatility to play all linebacker spots. Due to his current injury he is not getting any practice time in at camps, therefore the coaches cannot assess where he might land. According to a recent Denver Post article, Wesley Woodyard intercepted Chris Simms during mini camp. Woodyard was reported as an inside linebacker filling in for Williams.

The inside linebacker spot gives me an uneasy feeling. There is no clear starter at all. The job of an inside linebacker is to shed blockers and to stop the run. Andra Davis is a player I like when it comes to depth only, Woodyard is highly undersized, Spencer Larsen is a wildcard, and there has been speculation that Boss Bailey might see time at this position. Woodyard cannot hold his ground consistently on downs, and Larsen is still too raw of a player to expect a starting impact. Boss is very injury prone and is still sidelined. Davis will most likely be the starter unless Denver drafts high at this position or gets lucky with a hidden gem. Don’t count out Spencer Larsen though, he is a lunch pail player, and will bring his best to the field time after time.

Defensive Line
Denver has been a bit frugal only signing defensive tackles Darrell Reid, Ronald Fields, and Kenny Peterson to relatively inexpensive contracts. Since the defense is in a transition to a three man front defensive ends such as Elvis Dumervil and Jarvis Moss will have to change positions, weight, or teams. On the other hand Marcus Thomas will fit in perfectly as a 3-4 defensive end. Thomas has been highly underutilized throughout his career at Denver and finally he will be able to make a difference like a Chris Canty or an Igor Olshansky. However, Thomas is rumored to bring out his inner fat kid and vie time for the nose tackle position as well.

Marcus Thomas, Jarvis Moss, Tim Crowder

Marcus Thomas, Jarvis Moss, Tim Crowder

I expect the defensive line to be addressed in the draft, maybe Tyson Jackson, Ron Brace, Chris Baker, Terrance Taylor, or perhaps Sammie-Lee Hill. This is extremely important for any football team no matter what scheme. Great defensive linemen make mediocre linebackers and defensive backs look good. If Denver wants any shot at a record above .500 fixing the defensive line is where it all begins. B.J. Raji seems to fall farther out of Denver’s reach more everyday, moving up will be the likely option if Denver truly wants him. Jackson is an ideal choice, he is similar to the Patriots’ defensive end Ty Warren, who was selected in the first round of the 2003 draft.

The defensive line start up in week one is a complete mystery. It’s not certain if Marcus Thomas will play defensive end or nose tackle, Tim Crowder as defensive end or outside linebacker, and the same goes with Darrell Reid. The history of Mike Nolan’s defense will probably contain hybrid packages that might possibly be to complicated for some of the players to learn. However, if the learning curve goes smoothly, the defensive line will be able rotate out players with confidence. This means that Dumervil will see time on his feet and at the line with his hand in the dirt. If this rotation goes well the defensive line will stay fresh.

This is where all the fun comes in. Now that Brian Dawkins is in the secondary some real magic can happen. Dawkins’ defensive philosophy is simple and beautiful, and Denver has the defensive backs to fulfill it. The philosophy is just for every man to focus and do their own job. I know, obvious, and simple, but think about it. Last year in the secondary was comprised of confusion and trepidation. Dawkins will bring simplicity and confidence. Champ Bailey will do his job, Dawkins will do his, we have to hope that Andre Goodman will continue his success and Renaldo Hill as well. Josh Barrett can only gain from this leadership. Renaldo Hill shown extreme confidence in the secondary this year in a Denver Post article, Hill stated,

“We can be a complete secondary, one of the best, if not the best in the league,” Hill said.

Some say Dawkins is on the wrong side of 30, but I think he’s on the best side of 30 that any safety can be. Champ Bailey also believes the secondary is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

“I’ll tell you what, we’re a pack of veterans,” Bailey said. “We’ve got a lot of experience back there. I think if there’s one area where we can definitely look at and say, ‘We’re going to be good,’ it’s definitely our defensive backfield.”

All of Denver hopes that these experienced defensive backs are right. I’m also very certain that Denver fans are excited to see him hype up the players come Sunday.

The Problem
The defense will probably have a lot trouble getting to the quarterback. At some games the defense will be able to stop the run, but against an elite run team they might get blown away. If the defensive line can do their job the secondary will be allowed to reach their full potential. Denver will be very fortunate if Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins can play at a high level.

Expect to see Brian Dawkins' flying tackle.

Expect to see Brian Dawkins' flying tackle.

At the inside linebacker position there is no dominant player, unless it’s D.J. Williams who is more of an outside linebacker. If the defensive line isn’t completely shored up the inside linebacker will find himself with a lot more responsibility of stopping the run. Andra Davis will be consistent but not much different from what Nate Webster brought to the field. Woodyard and Larsen have the tenacity and heart to play hard on every down they’re given, but elite to good running backs will get the best of them, and especially when it counts.

Imagine the following. Thanksgiving day, 2nd and goal on the 6 yard line (possible passing down, Woodyard is in), Brandon Jacobs gets the ball, Ronald Fields gets beat by pro bowl center Shaun O’Hara, Jacobs goes up the middle with Woodyard only to stop him from scoring. Who wins? It wouldn’t just be that scenario, Jacobs would have a field day with undersized players like Woodyard or inexperienced ones like Larsen. There is no doubt they are solid players, but if the defensive line isn’t there, they won’t be able to step up and make the plays consistently. Honestly who can?

If the defensive line can eat up the blockers, pass rushers like Moss and Dumervil will be able to effectively come off the edge and get to the passer. Mike Nolan is good with linebackers, however, can he change Jarvis Moss to an effective pass rushing outside linebacker? Elvis Dumervil has a history of silencing the naysayers. Learning the new system will cause problems for certain players. Denver most likely will not have the players to recover from consistent defensive line failure. It’s not good to see Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins with 7 or more tackles each game.

That’s it Bronco Nation. What did I forget? What else needs to be done to solidfy this team? Air it out!

  • Jarrod

    Great article! I agree that our performance this year depends on the D-line. Seeing as we haven’t gotten one yet, we had better use at least one of our first-rounders on one. I wouldn’t complain if we used both on the D-line, or at least one on the line and another on a linebacker or corner.

  • Horvil Tiki

    I seen the donald brown guy. He is work horse. He like that cory dillond guy the new eggland runned bad over bronco. We need that sack you quart back guy on out side you know what I saying. Sack is so rare in the denver you get the sal manello from it.

  • T-Money

    Nice work man. Solid Stuff.

    I’m pumped for the season. I want football to start tomorrow.

    I will say this….. The 09-10 Denver Broncos are a balloon rolling on needles, and need a good draft. If we get it done draft day… The opportunities are endless.

  • mikebirty

    ‘Champ Bailey will do his job’
    I think one of the most disappointing things about last years defense was the number of times Champ had to be used in run support. Just let him play corner and they’ll be fine.

    I’m hoping that Carlton Powell will have a big impact in the D-Line rotation next year but D-Line is, at the moment, the part of the team thats stopping me think the Broncos can have a respectible season. If Saturday and Sunday goes well then hopefully my fears will be allayed.

  • DC

    I for one has lost faith in Moss as a football player. This will be his last season he plays in denver if he isn’t a productive player. He is the worst kind of bust, one we moved up for.

  • DC


  • ChuckD

    If Raji is still around at #8 does anyone think it’s worth our #18 + both 3rds & 4th rounder (I know thats a bit short points wise still so maybe even a 3d rounder next year to jump from #18 to #8 to get Raji? This way we keep #12 and get Jackson & still have our 2nd rounder for Laurinaitis or best available. I know it’s a lot to give up but Raji, Jackson & Laurinaitis would be a big upgrade at the exact positions we need.

  • SivNiz

    what does “lunch pale player” mean?

  • KMA

    “The 09-10 Denver Broncos are a balloon rolling on needles”
    Classic, pure instant Classic!!

    East, nice work. I now feel like I am ready to assess what the Broncos are doing come Saturday. After reading this I really hope that the whole QB “need” goes away. I really would like Raji or Tyson Jackson, we NEED D line help.
    Run with Orton/Simms and see what they can do this year, if Mc D is as billed why does he need Cassell, he can create the next Cassell. Anyway remember we have two picks in the 1st round next year as well, Bradford and Tebow are on that draftboard.

  • Mr.East


    A ‘Lunch Pale’ player is a one who goes out and gives his hardest every game. Usually this term is reserved for players that are considered to have less talent but more heart.

  • Plato

    The secondary looks awesome! Flyin Brian and Champ will show the world who is boss!

  • DC

    Yo, East where’s your final Mock? Waiting for some last minute trades?

  • T-Money


    Trading 4 picks for Raji is too much. I don’t see it happening. We’ll get either Brian Orpako, Tyson Jackson, or BJ Raji…. It all depends on the Packers pick. But we should get one of the three.

  • Mr.East


    I’ve been extremely busy lately and I’ve been fiddling around with one. I’ll have to muster up the motivation to get one done. It’s mentally taxing and I’m running low on brain power as of late. This article I wrote a few weeks ago and I spent the last few days tweaking it. But yes, I will try my hardest to get it done.

  • Matt

    Great write-up.

    Crossing fingers for drafting mostly D this coming weekend.

  • jchase8410

    Mr. East

    Glad to see you back to posting great articles man. I think that if the Broncos can build a solid D-line, then the LB corps that we have now will do just fine with maybe one addition for depth. The Defensive backfield is going to be solid all around. Josh Barrett Josh Bell and Jack Williams will all learn from Wiley veterans, which will make us pretty deep there. This Draft has to focus on the front 7, preferably the front 3 first.

  • (stuck in) raiderland

    East– great article. Like KMA I now feel a little more like I know what to pay attention to Saturday.
    My only note: unlike you, I don’t want to see Sanchez as a Bronco. I’m a regular Pac-10 watcher, and I have to say, that guy has “bust” written all over his forehead. At best, he’s a completely unknown entity. Sure, he looks great in workouts– so did Ryan Leaf. Playing 16 games as the USC quarterback is almost like playing no games at all– the whole team is so dominant that it’s impossible to learn anything meaningful about his performance. Maybe he’s Matt Cassel, but maybe he’s Ryan Leaf. I’m feeling like it’s Leaf.

  • Josh Temple

    Good lord that’s a lot of tags. Great article East, we’ve been missing one around here.

  • ChuckD

    Thanks for the follow up T-Money. I’ve not had a lot of time to research this year so any knowledge drop is helpful. From the little I’ve read it sounds like there’s only two high level prototype NT for the 3-4 this year (Raji & Brace) If Raji is gone at #12 will Brace be there for us in Round 2 or would we need to move up a bit to grab him? Any other NT prospects everyone likes for us? Seems like every other DT (Hood Ect…) are all closer to 300lbs. My thought is we have to do what ever is needed to land Raji or Brace!

  • DC

    Yeah, we need either or. Sad part is we have to hope, on both guys, that they fall. If not it is pretty thin pickings at NT. I just don’t see us being able to trade back to the position we need, but we could trade up to snag raji. I’ve heard it could cost us a 3rd rounder, which I don’t seem to like. In the draft I believe its more of a numbers game than anything else. We will just have to wait and see!!!

  • Justin

    I’m also stoked about the draft. In the first round I hope we go dt/de and olb/ilb since those are our two biggest needs. As for running back Bobby Turner is still with the broncos so late gems are always still an option. Personally I like Kory Sheets in the 6th-7th Round as he is a good back with good hands. Plus, the risk is minimal which is always good. This draft should be interesting but I don’t think it will match the success the broncos had last year in the draft. (4 different rookies winning rookie of the week 5 times, 1 AP selection, and leading rookie in receiving categories)

  • Pete

    Ya know, I’m tired of people not giving Orton a chance. Ya know, I’m sure there weren’t a whole hell of a lot of Patriot fans happy when 6th round draft selection and should have been perennial bench warmer Tom Brady came in the game. Now look at him!

  • DC

    T- the more I look into the packers the more I see them taking an LT. I hope I’m right.

  • roshon2411


    I’m with you. I believe the draft anymore, is a numbers game. Too many bust in the first few rounds. Mel Kiper made a good point on PTI. The coaches need to be held more responsible for these prospects who bust out. Especially if they have the talent and drive before they’re drafted. That was Shanny’s problem. Had the skills for the offensive side but not on the defensive side. Here’s hopin’ Nolan and the rest of the crew can coach up the defense.

  • Pete

    roshon, I agree 100%. I have said for a long time that I think the reason we have such horrible draft busts on defense is because our coaching sucked. I said that there is no reason why Baltimore, Pittsburgh, etc… can year after year hit home runs on pretty much all their defensive draft picks. It isn’t that they are getting better players per-se, it’s that the players they get are being coached CORRECTLY. That’s something our players haven’t gotten. I bet had the Steelers picked up Moss, Moss would have been an absolute STUD. That goes for all our Defensive picks. Our guys were never given a chance to grow into dominant players, because they were coached badly, hense performed badly. It’s sad.

  • jvill

    He means “lunch pail”.

  • Mr.East


    You are correct. I’ve been writing too much code and not enough English.

  • BroncoinVA9986

    we have to be optimistic about this season. I was reading fox sports and they were talking about the chargers…. and lets be honest they were just as bad as we were last year….so one of us is on the decline…..Its either the new england system or Norv al Turner…….I am going with the new england system

  • T-Money

    DC- He Raji falls to the packers and they don’t take him I think he will fall to the 12 slot. But he is also receiving interest from Cleavland and Jacksonville who are both ahead of Green Bay. Todays mocks are giving us either Raji or Jackson and Green Bay the other. Only time will tell i guess.

  • mikebirty

    Mr East – too much code? Given what T-Money said:

    function pick()

    If (Raji=True) then
    pick = Raji
    pick = Jackson
    end if

    return pick
    end function

  • Kyle

    As Kyle thinks to himself, “Didn’t you build this site of yours to escape the world of code?” :)

  • Mr.East


    Thank god you didn’t use Java… the bane of my existence… and provider of my paycheck.

    public String draftPick(boolean joshMcd){
    String fans = “”;
    if( joshMcd == true){
    fans = “Happy”;
    fans = “Sad”;
    return fans;

  • T-Money

    Well at least that wasn’t confusing or anything…. that’s good.

  • Charlie

    What about special teams? I’m sure many will agree our kicking last year while powerful was extremely inconsistent and inaccurate. I know its not a main issue at the moment but I have heard nothing, are we gonna stick with Prater and do you think he will improve and become more accurate this year?

  • Highme

    Pete, I am 100% on board with staying away from a QB this year and letting Orton get a shot behind a decent line with good targets. Orton put Chicago in position to win a few of their losses last year and the defense failed.

  • Mr.East


    You’re right. I was going to touch on that but my post began to be way too long. The problem with Denver’s special teams last year is that their starters would be special teamers on other teams. Therefore our special team guys were more like practice squaders.

  • Gabe,

    Hey what do you guys think of the broncos taking Graham Harrell in the 3rd or 4th round