1. Our season was over when Doom was injured. It really is that simple. It is good to finally read several Bronco outlets finally echo that same conclusion. Injuries matter and though we should hold players and coaches accountable, we must judge their accountability by what they do with what they have. We currently have zero pass rush and this phenomenon serves to make the rest of our defense look worse than it really is. Likewise, an amazing pass rush makes the rest of the defense look better than it is. When you are rebuilding a roster, depth is something, by definition, you don't have. When key players are injured, you are left with backups. When you are rebuilding, you have no backups. That is the story of the 2010 Broncos.
2. Am I the only person here who thinks Ryan Harris is probably on his way out in Denver? I don't see us being willing to offer him the same amount of cash as the Bears, Redskins or a few other teams. Yes, I know that Zane Beadles could probably play right tackle if needed (leaving a big void at left guard). However, with Tim Tebow possibly taking over the QB position, the right tackle position will become the premium offensive line spot on our roster (protecting Tebow's blind side). Consequently, I see us drafting a RT or LG position within the first two rounds or addressing one of the positions through free agency. It makes me sick to think of us addressing anything other than defense super early but beggars can't be choosers. Hopefully we will keep him but I have my doubts.
3. There are two major factors that are preventing us from opening up the offensive playbook even more, in my opinion. Any guesses? First, we have very slow tight ends who can't get open and can't catch even when they are open. Yes, I know Daniel Graham is a good blocker (at least that is what everyone says). However, the main thing I remember about Daniel Graham over the last two years is dropped passes. The main thing I remember about our other tights ends is that I don't remember anything about them! We need and will certainly pursue an upgrade at the tight end position this offseason. The other factor that is preventing us from opening up our offensive playbook is the lack of speed and athleticism of Kyle Orton. When your QB can't throw on the run, can't roll out, and can't improvise, your options become limited. Perhaps Orton's ability as a better than average pocket passer negates this, but I don't think it does. Designed roll-outs are a very big part of most offensive schemes, but not ours. Our offensive scheme is firing on 6 out of 8 cylinders.
4. For the record, I am of the belief that we give Coach McD one more year and evaluate him after that. However, if people are going to speculate on who potential replacements would be, let me suggest Jim Harbaugh of Stanford. Living on the west coast and watching tons of Pac 10 games has given me a very good vantage point of many Stanford games. He coaches his teams to be tough, physical, smart, and competitive. His offense is very pro-style and his game-planning and play-calling are as good as I have seen on the college level (other than Chris Peterson of Boise State). The Stanford/Elway connection is something that can't be overlooked. Being a former QB himself, Harbaugh is known for being good with QB's and a strong developer of talent. Once again, I believe in McD, but Harbaugh might be an option if things get too hot to handle.
5. The following statement will be controversial and will fly in the face of many statements I have read on MHR: Our cornerback situation is fine as is. We had a top 4 pass defense in 2009. Andre Goodman has been injured this year. Regardless of what I read on MHR, I think Champ is still a very good CB and has at least two productive years left at the position. Andre Goodman, as I have said before, was every bit as good as Champ in 2009. He has been injured this year since the beginning so we haven't seen the full player yet. Until I see differently, I will not assume Goodman has lost a step, sorry. Perrish Cox is a more than capable nickel corner and Squid can be in some dime packages or just miscellaneous depth. The CB position should be addressed within the next two to three years, but it is not as imminent as some people have portrayed. I can't say the same about the safety position. I think Renaldo Hill is adequate. If it weren't for the pass interference penalty this year, most people would say he is having a good year. I'm comfortable with him. Brian Dawkins, who will always be a stud, has become a major liability in coverage. This is nothing you haven't read before. We must address the FS position but I am good with the rest of our DB's.
6. A friend of mine pointed this out to me the other day: What happens to the 2012 draft if there is no 2011 season? Does that give us two seasons in a row of top ten picks? What is the rule? It probably won't happen but you never know. If I were in charge of the NFL, I would base the 2012 draft order on the last five-year average win-loss record, weighted with strength of schedule. What do you think?
7. Can someone with more knowledge than me tell me what percentage of the Tim Tebow jersey sales go to the Broncos ownership? This is part of a larger question. A few months ago, I noticed the Broncos payroll was one of the lowest in the league. I'm wondering if this has been a historical truth throughout the Broncos history. I ask these questions because I'm wondering how bold we might be in free agency.
The Broncos have two highly paid players that could likely be released after this season. Last I checked, Daniel Graham makes about 3.5 million a year and Brian Dawkins makes 7 million a year. Obviously whether we release them is debatable but I'm wondering if we could use the extra money to resign Champ and then go after some high profile free agent. I'm not about blowing my wad on a big free agent who is getting long in the tooth (Haynesworth, Peppers, etc. ). The free agent I have my eye on is Mercedes Lewis, the tight end from the Jaguars. He is actually an undervalued player, in a small market and relatively cheap team, who is just now entering the prime of his career. Depending on who you ask, he is possibly the best blocking TE in the game who is also starting to develop into one of the best pass catchers in the league. He chose to cut off contract talks because he wants to "test the market." If you could go after one free agent, who would it be? By the way, I don't think David Harris will leave the Jets.
8. Pet peeve of the week - MHR criticism of D.J. Williams. After our loss to the Ravens, a game in which D.J. looked awesome, everyone on MHR was singing his praises and talking about what a stud and a leader he was. There was even a post or two devoted to D.J. and his awesome leadership on the field. McD even talked about how D.J. was one of his favorite players to coach. Now, he gets in trouble with the law and he suddenly is not a good fit in our system and is better suited to play in a 4-3???!!!
Here is my opinion, D.J. might not be the best 3-4 ILB in the game but he is right of the fringe of being Pro-Bowl worthy every year. That is good enough for me and should be good enough for you too. We have won three games this year so Pro-Bowl players are not bad things to have. Players are allowed to have good AND bad games, aren't they??? It is fascinating to me to see how the attention span of the media and the average span have caused players to be judged by one play or one game and not a greater body of work. Two DUII's is something worthy to be criticized about, but don't act like he sucks on the field, because he doesn't.
9. For the record, I advocate creating a daily or even weekly "mock draft drawer" post where everyone can chime in as to what they want. Otherwise, there will be +/- 5 mock drafts every day when the offseason starts. Draft geeks like myself love it, but the mock police don't. This is a reasonable compromise.
10. Here is my offseason plan:
1. Resign Champ Bailey
2. Resign Ryan Harris
3. Release Ron Fields
4. Release David Graham
5. Release Brian Dawkins
6. Resign Marcus Thomas
7. Retain Kyle Orton - If we can't get better than a second for Orton, I would keep him around. He could be a starter or one of the best backups in the league.
1. Sign Mercedes Lewis TE. I'm all for going after David Harris ILB, but I have my doubts as to whether he will leave the Jets. Mercedes Lewis is a west coast guy who might be sick of playing in front of five to ten fans every week in Jacksonville.
2. Consider a backup/starter NT. The draft does not offer many good NT prospects. The only one I have seen that might be decent is Kendrick Ellis. One player who might be a decent fit in our system is Johnny Jolly. He was arrested and suspended for the 2010 season but to my knowledge has not been a problem before or after that. Maybe he deserves a second chance and maybe that chance can be with the Broncos??? Jolly is only 27 years old, is 6'3" 330, and has experience in the 3-4.
Trade down 1st round pick to mid teens. Acquire 3rd and 4th rounders. This gives us:
1st round: +/- 16th overall
2nd round: two picks
3rd round: two picks
4th round: one pick
6th round: one pick
7th round: one pick
With Free Agents and Injured Players Coming Back Needs:
4. OLB Depth
5. OL Depth
1st Round: Akeem Ayers ILB - This guy leads his team in sacks AND interceptions, which shows how athletic and instinctive he is. I have seen him catch LaMichael James from behind and destroy the line of scrimmage while rushing the QB. He plays all over the place but I feel his best position is ILB. He is 6-4 255lbs and is very fast and strong. He will likely blow up the combine and his stock will be quite high. Not only could he step in at OLB if Doom or Ayers go down, he will start next to DJ on the inside too. I see him as Mario Haggen on steroids.
1st Round: Trade a second and third to enter the late first round: Rahim Moore FS - This guy is the number 1 safety in the draft. He intercepted 10 passes last year but his interception numbers are down a lot this year. Articles I have read say that his INT's are down because QB's are staying away from him. Who knows? He has elite speed and is probably better at pass defense than run defense. When I have seen him play he is always around the ball.
2nd Round: Christian Ballard DE - J.J. Watt would be fine here too. With all the talented DE's in this draft, there are going to be a lot of good one's still around in the early second. Ballard has the requisite size 6'5" 300 lbs to play in our system. I have seen him play on the inside and the outside and it is fascinating to watch how teams will consistently run plays as far away from him as possible.
3rd Round: Lance Kendricks TE - This guy is Marquez Branson on steroids. A former WR who can create definite mismatch problems for LBs. He is 6'3" 240 and is a better receiver than blocker. He reminds me of Aaron Hernandez, and Tim Tebow will like that.
4th Round: Marcus Gilbert OT - This guy is drafted for depth and will reunite with Tebow. Pretty cool thing about Gilbert is his dad just retired as a Secret Service agent guarding the President. More important to us, he is a decent value for the 4th.
6th Round: Owen Marecic FB - Tough, smart, versatile, and executes his blocks extremely well. Athletic enough, currently, to play fullback and inside linebacker. He will become a fan favorite.
7th Round: Bryant Browning OG - Nothing but depth at this point.
QB - Tim Tebow or Kyle Orton
RB - Knowshon Moreno
FB - Owen Marecic
TE - Mercedes Lewis and Lance Kendricks
ILB - D.J. Williams, Akeem Ayers
S - SS Renaldo Hill FS - Rahim Moore
CB - Champ Bailey, Andre Goodman
Nickel CB - Perrish Cox
Dime CB - Squid