It has been hard to stay positive given the continuation of the cold dark cloud hanging over Dove Valley, but there are a few silver linings for us fans. Though, Eric Studsville is more worried about using the final four weeks for his own personal career advancement than he is about what is good for the future of this franchise, the next Broncos head coach will have some very important decisions to make.
As with any major upheaval or change, hope of a good outcome usually accompanies it. Now that I am beginning to get over my anger at Pat Bowlen and Joe Ellis for their apparent kneejerk reaction to the Denver Post-led fan revolt, I can begin to look at the very few positives that are coming in the near future.
I will approach my silver linings in the order that I hope they occur.
Starting Tim Tebow
Yes, I know Kyle Orton remains the starter, but at some point Joe Ellis will realize the front office must find out if they have something in Tim Tebow. It is apparent that Studsville wants to use the final four weeks to audition his talents to the rest of the league, which could leave the next Broncos general manager and head coach in an unenviable position of not knowing if Tebow is ready to start or is even progressing well enough to start. The silver lining is, I believe Studsville will be forced to start Tebow before the seasons end. In my mind, every week Orton starts is a continued slap in the face of every Bronco fan in the nation.
A New General Manager
Currently, the Broncos sit right at #3 overall. The highest slot they have been in a very long time, but there are still three games left to play so who knows what will happen. One thing is for sure, the incoming General Manager will have plenty of draft picks to play with thanks in large part to the good draft posturing of Brian Xanders and Josh McDaniels. Pat Bowlen and Joe Ellis now have to live with their kneejerk firing of McDaniels and the only way either one of them can win back my trust before the beginning of next season is if they bring aboard some big time football men into the front office. I'm talking a Marty Schottenheimer or a Bill Parcels. Someone who is going to make sure the Broncos once again become a tough physical football team. Look at this roster and who inspires you in their toughness? I can only name a handful and most of those are likely abandoning ship in the next few months. This organization has become utterly dysfunctional and the only way to begin to correct this problem is to bring in a big time strongman at the very top of football operations.
A New Head Coach
As much as I hate the fact that we have to go down this road again, my biggest hope is that the new GM insists that Wink Martindale is retained. He has done a bang up job and the defense has only gotten better down the stretch. The Cardinals game was a great defensive effort until the fourth quarter then the defense finally folded after the Broncos fifth and sixth turnovers. It's hard to hold the line when the offense is so woefully ineffective. The new head coach needs to be a good leader of men and his job should be solely on coaching the team, which means the new GM will need to actually be the strongman in the front office. This division of power will keep the egos from tearing the organization to shreds as Mike Shanahan's ego had (remember even Elway was banned from Dove Valley during Shanny's reign).
Draft Heaven in 2011
The new GM will get busy dealing Kyle Orton to the highest bidder whose value is dropping like a rock amidst a putrid third down performance and low point production in what is considered a pretty good offense. Hopefully, the new GM will get a fourth rounder for him. Next up is Champ Bailey who will hopefully be retained, but the more he talks the more it sounds like he is finished in Denver. If the new GM can franchise him, the Broncos could get a high second rounder for him. Heading into the draft with so many picks would almost certainly mean the Broncos would be able to jump back into the first round for some quality talent. It pleased me to find out that Joe Ellis intends to keep Brian Xanders in the front office, which is a good thing. Did I mention this team is on track for a Top 3 pick in 2011?
Not as Bad as You Think
The biggest silver lining of them all is that this team is not as bad as you think they are. Which is why I believe firing Josh McDaniels was the biggest mistake made during the 2010 season. Hopefully, the next coach will be smart enough to realize this and to capitalize off of it. Allow me to run through the reasons why I think this team isn't as bad as advertised:
- The offense can be great between the 20's and with Tim Tebow at quarterback, it can be great in the red zone too. This offense is all about timing and Tebow this offseason will be allowed to develop that timing with the first string. Certainly, Tebow will be able to convert more than one third down per game...
- The front seven on both sides of the ball are nearly set. The few pieces missed is depth on offense as Richard Quinn is finally beginning to develop and a young nose tackle to understudy Jamal Williams for a year or so. I also think the Broncos need to upgrade an ILB position and to continue adding depth at every position on the line.
- The Broncos are going to lose Champ, so drafting defensive backs is a must next year as is safety. The good thing is, Elvis Dumervil will be back in 2011 and the better the pass rush, the less this team will have to worry about Champ's departure.
- Both the 2009 and 2010 draft classes will have another year under their belt. These two drafts will prove to be two of the best drafts the Broncos have ever had and though many of you will disagree, I think history will end up proving me right.
- Lastly, the Broncos will be playing a fourth place schedule. If this team can toughen up, they have the talent to win any game on the docket.
The more I think about this, the more excited I get about the Broncos prospects in 2011. However, this all depends on how Pat Bowlen and Joe Ellis proceed to restructure the front office. Currently, I have very little faith in them right now. Reacting to the Denver Post and fan outrage by firing Josh McDaniels really disappointed me and it was very unbecoming of the way Bowlen has run this organization for the last three decades.
To me, the linchpin to this organizations future success is how Bowlen and Ellis decide the Denver Broncos need to be run. If they follow the structure I described (strong GM, players coach), then the chances of this team succeeded in the near term greatly improve. Like it or not, there was a huge structural void left by Shanahan's firing and it was never fully addressed. Sure McDaniels seized most of the power left by the vacuum, but if you look back at how things were structured under Shanahan it just didn't make much sense. In fact, the structure still doesn't make sense. Pat Bowlen and Joe Ellis must address this dysfunction before hiring the next head coach.
It has been a trying season and most difficult to watch. I've decided I will not watch anymore games as long as Kyle Orton is starting at quarterback. I have moved on to 2011 and until the Broncos join me, I'll just participate in the game threads here and avoid watching the Broncos live. I still care, but I also know when it is time to begin looking ahead. There is one thing I'd like to see and it might even cause me to violate my promise to not watch and that is revenge for that 59-14 debacle a month and a half ago. If the Broncos only win one more time this year, please let it be next week against the Oakland Raiders!
I still love my team and I still want them to win out, but realistically, unless Tim Tebow starts I see no reason to continue living the nightmare that has been 2010. I've moved on.