Hello there, y'all, this is only my second post, but I couldn't hold it any longer.
First, I must say I was as surprised as any that McDaniels was fired NOW, so soon. I figured he'd survive to the end of the year, if he didn't get another year... But no use covering that, as it's water under the bridge at this point.
I notice many of you are just as worried as I about our direction; where do we go from here? Who do we hire, what happens to the Defense, to Tebow...? etc. Well. This post is pretty much my opinion, my response to those questions. Where I would go if I were owner of the Bronco's, and then GM, and the Coach, and the draft/free agency. [Yes, all of the above. As I said in the title, I am playing GOD!] Jump with me....First and foremost, were I Pat Bowlen, I would hire John Elway to take Joe Ellis' place. Ellis is a business man, not a football guy. I think he has no place making decisions about football, so, I would fix that by hiring John Elway. The man knows football, built the Crush, but he himself said he wouldn't be able to be GM. So, make him the COO, so he can HIRE the GM.
My next move [as John Elway, now], would be to hire Eric DeCosta out of Baltimore. Of all the possible names I have heard, I like his the best. People have suggested guys who have been with New England, but I'd want to get away from that. DeCosta is Ozzie's right hand man, and has had a hand in building the Ravens into what a powerhouse they are now. Bringing that to Denver would be great.For the record, I would actually let Xanders stay on as DeCosta's right hand man, if you will, or to learn under DeCosta. If, like McDaniels said, Xanders ran all personnel decisions in the regular season, those moves have actually been some of the Bronco's best. Bringing in Joe Mays and Jason Hunter, Kevin Vickerson? If that's Xanders, I want him to stay. If McDaniels ran ALL personnel choices, then I still want Xanders to stay and learn. Stability is key here.
Now who do we hire as Head Coach? Well, I want to build this team into a power running team, with a great defense. My hope would be for Rob Ryan, Greg Mattison [Baltimore DC], or Jim Harbaugh. People say college coaches can't succeed in the NFL, but that's kwatch. Pete Carroll is succeeding right now, I'd say. Seattle is better than anyone thought they be. A good coach is a good coach, and Harbaugh is just that. Further, he, like Carroll, runs a pro style attack, based on a dominating run game and O/D-Line play. He has succeeded at every level he's been at so I'd give him the shot.
Ryan would be the other choice because of what he's done with Cleveland's defense, which arguably has worse personnel/talent level than ours. He, like Rex, is a fiery guy, and we need some passion, motivation right now. Further, he's run a 3-4 and a 4-3 in his time coaching, and made both work. This tells me he's flexible. Failing that, Greg Mattison is also a good choice; he'd bring that NASTY Baltimore attitude to our team, which I would love. As Defensive Coordinator, I would want to see Wade Phillips [because our defense could actually pull off the Phillips style 3-4, even though the pieces were acquired for the Bullough]. Offensive Coordinator, I would wait and see how Mike McCoy does, but I want someone with a RUNNING background. Eric Bieniemy would have been a good option, but he's now up in Boulder with JE [which I am PSYCHED about, btw]. Y'all, help me out on OC, please. I don't know many guys who could fill that role.
Now, as far as personnel... I think the framework of a team is there, in place. Does it need pieces? For sure. But hear me out a bit.
Offensively, I wouldn't do anything but find me an explosive back to complement Knowshon [and let LenDale win a power back role, if he stays healthy], and another TE [one who can recieve and a be a threat consistently], and then get depth on the OL. Go after Darren Sproles, but I don't expect the Chargers will let him go. Recieving TE wise, Anthony Fasano seems like a good choice, so that I can focus on the defense in the draft. Dan Gronkowski was showing flashes of recieving ability before going down to the injury epidemic, so I'd let him compete with Rich Quinn for the second TE spot. Dan Graham I'd cut or trade, as he's just too old now. I would also trade Kyle Orton to the highest bidder. I expect nothing higher than a fourth round pick, but that's useful for depth/ST help.
What does this mean? Tebow moves in to the starting role, and we will RUN the ball next year. Moreno is coming into his own as a workhorse back. To keep him healthy, we need a speed demon to spell him [although Lance Ball has shown flashes], and a power back for short yardage.
Recieving wise, I would trade Jabar Gaffney, and let Thomas, Decker, Royal, and Lloyd run the show, with maybe a fifth guy competing/being a return man with the speed back.
Defensively, matters may seem a bit cloudier. However, Wade Phillips can run a hell of a 3-4, and we have a great LB core for it. I would start there. Next year, we get Elvis Dumervil back, which is like a high first round draft pick without using a pick. This will improve our pass rush, and improve Robert Ayers' pass rush as well, as then people can't focus on him. Ayers is already a beastly run defender [better than Doom by far actually], probably the best at that in our Defense. Behind them would be a rotation of Jason Hunter, David Veikune and Mario Haggan. At ILB, we have Joe Mays and DJ, Woodyard, and Haggan. DJ, unfortunately, gets lost in traffic, and isn't great in coverage anymore. I would trade him for as much as we can get. Draft pick, player, whatever. Joe Mays would be my TED LB, and Woodyard could sub-in on passing downs. At the other LB spot, I would sign David Hawthorne away from Seattle if possible, or Chad Greenway [or maybe AJ Hawk, if necessary, and he escapes GB].
At defensive line, I would immediately start by using our high pick on Marcell Dareus or Nick Fairley. Both are difference makers, guys you have to plan around stopping, like Haloti Ngata or Cullen Jenkins, Vince Wilfork, Casey Hampton, Jay Ratliff. All 3-4 teams have these guys you MUST stop. Dareus/Fairley would be that. Then, Vickerson/Marcus Thomas would start on the other side, and Williams at NT, and Bannan/the loser of the battle between Vickerson/Thomas would be rotational.
In the secondary, things are made murky through the injury epidemic. Can Darcel McBath take over at Safety? Well, maybe, but he needs to stay healthy too. If Goodman can stay healthy, he's solid. Champ is still Champ, but he could walk this year. My vote would be to franchise him, and trade him to Baltimore or Atlanta or someone like that. A contender. He deserves a ring. Perrish Cox can keep developing at Nickel CB [although I would give Syd'Quan Thompson an equal opportunity there; the kid looks like a playmaker and plays ferociously/really quick out there]. Cassius Vaughn is the Dime corner.
But Hvis, you ask, who replaces Champ on the other side of Goody?! Well, I'm glad you asked. Richard Marshall, whom Carolina has no intent to resign, is the man I choose. He's young, he's fast, he's a solid player. I would say Eric Wright, but I doubt Cleveland will let him go. He would be a great choice as well though.
Finally, Safety. Some think this is the biggest position of need on the D, some that CB or DL... I dunno though. In the opportunities he's gotten, David Bruton has been all over the field, and seems like a playmaker who can lead that secondary in the future. I would let him take over for Brian Dawkins, who should retire, or become a coach or something. Darcel McBath would get an opportunity to take over for Renaldo Hill, but since he is so injury prone I wouldn't bank on him; I'd draft a safety, and sign Atari Bigby if he gets out of GB. Kyle McCarthy can compete for a roster spot behind them all.
So, what does that leave us with in free agency?
1. Chad Greenway/David Hawthorne/AJ Hawk [preferably the First or second of those]
2a. Richard Marshall.
2b. Carl Nicks. [forgot to mention him. I do think he would vastly improve our OL, and then we could let Beadles take over as backup T for Harris, and for Nicks, etc.]
3. Atari Bigby.
And in the draft?
1. Marcell Dareus - DE - Alabama
2. Deunta Williams - S - UNC
2b. Jerrell Powe - NT - Ole Miss
3. Kelvin Sheppard - MLB - LSU
4 [I project we get a 4 for KO]. Jaiquawn Jarrett - S - Temple
5 [for Gaff]. Jacquizz Rodgers - TB - Oregon State [if he comes out. If not, Shane Vereen or Noel Devine from Cal. If either gets down here]
So, my roster for next year would look like this:
QB: Tebow, Quinn, draft or FA [Perhaps Greg McElroy?]
RB: Moreno, Rodgers, White, Larsen, Ball
WR: Lloyd, Decker, Thomas, Royal, Willis
TE: Gronk, Fasano, Quinn
T: Clady, Harris, Beadles
G: Kuper, Nicks, Beadles, Daniels
C: Walton, Olsen
DE: Thomas, Dareus, Vickerson, Bannan
NT: Williams, Powe, Bannan/Thomas/Vick
OLB: Doom, Ayers, Hunter, Veikune, Haggan
MLB: Mays, Hawthorne/Greenway, Haggan, Woodyard
CB: Marshall, Goodman, Cox, Thompson, Vaughn
SS: Bruton, Jarret, McCarthy
FS: Bigby, Williams, McBath
KR/PR: Rodgers, Thompson, Cox
That's all I got. I say those safeties in the draft because I like some depth behind Bruton/McBath or Bruton/Williams, and I don't really know much about the draft/projections and whatnot.
Thank y'all for reading, hope you enjoyed!