Now you may think that it is far to early to be discussing this question as we are about to enter a period where a few key things will change. Last year coaching changes, the draft and free agency dramatically changed what this team will looked like, and although we didn't improve our season record (8-8) there were many positives to be taken from the season. Qualities like teamwork, accountability, toughness and respect were emphasized over and over and we started to see a glimpse of the kind of team the Denver Broncos can become.
You can get highlights of any game here if you want a recap.. (Not my vids just worth linking too every once in a while.)
Although the 'new' Broncos started to take shape, they didn't fully reveal themselves and we still have many question marks going toward the 2010 season, none more important of more immediate that who is going to be on our squad at the beginning of the season. We have just started adjusting our roster this year and we could see big names brought in in free agency like Peppers, LT or McNabb, or we could see just a couple of key free agents like Mawae or Chester Taylor. Regardless of who it is it probably won't be who we expected.
Then there is the Month long saga that is the NFL Draft, many on this site have spent a lot of time researching prospects and discussing how our team can be improved. It is incredibly difficult to come up with accurate mocks because we do not know what the Broncos coaches know, who is upcoming, who is outgoing and who is just right. With that said we did get an idea of the kind of player that McDaniels and Brain Xanders are looking for from the draft process. They are looking for Tough, Smart, Versatile players that have good characters and leadership abilities, this can really help us eliminate certain players from our mocks but what does it say about the kind of team that we will become?
Find out after the JUMP!
Last year there were many complaints and worries that we where becoming the Denver Patriots, I think this is a valid concern. Not that I dislike the patriots or because I dislike the players Josh brought over from NE but because I think that for Josh McDaniels and the Denver Broncos to succeed at a high level he will have to make this his team, not a patriots rip off - but a new team with a unique feel. Now that might sound a bit esoteric to some of you but I really beleive that it can truly make a difference.
We all saw what happened at the end of last season, when Marshall and Scheffler where benched, McDaniels said that he wanted to emphasize accountability and it ended up seeming like it was a us vs them approach to Shannahan holdovers. We don't know the full facts of the situation but we can see that issues like these will send ripples throughout the locker room and create distractions. Now in my opinion issues like this need to be resolved or let go of if we ever want this team to unify and work together towards a singular goal. I also feel that Josh will need to fully let go of the NE Patriots and become a Bronco if he wants to unify this team and achieve what he is capable of achieving.
Hiring LB coach Don 'Wink' Martindale for the defensive coordinator goes some way towards creating a 'new' Broncos team. Firstly, It will remove any ideas that what happens now isn't Josh's doing, last year most of the credit was diverted towards Nolan when they where doing well but conversely directed at McDaniel's when the season faltered.. despite the D being just as responsible. There where rumours flying around last after Nolan's departure that he had some different ideas than McDaniels and they butted heads a couple of times. Now i don't buy into that being McDaniels fault because he is the HC, but if Nolan wasn't totally on board with Josh's vision then it would cause long term problems.
Secondly, things will be different now due to the fact that Josh gave Wink his big chance and that will bring them together, also the best things for both of their careers is to establish this team as a contender, being essentially both rookies at their coaching positions. So i think that Josh hiring from within will really help him making this team his own.. even though it's Nolan's scheme there will be a lot more of a sense of McDaniel's being in control of all aspects of the team now.
Another aspect that is worth considering is that the players are starting to form their own collective identity. With players like Brian Dawkins, Champ Bailey and Mario Haggan leading the D and Daniels graham, Kyle Orton and Brandon Stokely leading the offense they are all starting to buy into the idea of being a being tough, smart, versatile and physical football team. Pair this with the fact that they are all becoming more comfortable with the play book and coming together and striving towards a singular goal and you start to get a cohesive unit that functions together and plays Complementary football.
However, because this was the first season that this team has been together some speed bumps where to be expected. Kentuckybronco discusses how the attitude of the players suffered down the stretch because their confidence got dented and they lost who they were in his post Orton Theories:
Maybe their egos got the best of them and they thought they were better than they actually were? ..Going into the bye, the team was confident about the way they had played and the week off gave them time to think about how good they were. Going into Pittsburgh, they were overconfident. They were beaten badly. After that, they became discouraged. They played worse than they were. If you go into a game doubting your abilities, whether you voice it or not, your chances of victory are vastly reduced.
The teams mental attitude can have a real effect on the outcome of games and i think because the players now know what they are capable off.. (6-0 if they play together or 8-2 if they fall apart.) Because they have experienced the highs and the lows together this will also bring them together and cement them a the 'new' Denver Broncos. They will also see that if they want to go deep in the playoffs that they need to be strong together but not just physically but mentally as well.
Also, Josh has discovered what the players can do, what they are good at and what they are not good at.. in some ways last year was an experiment. This is what the coach's are sorting out right now, breaking down film figuring out what worked and what didn't and although every team will be doing this at this time of year it is particularly important for us because Josh was trying to understand how his playbook fits in with the players on the broncos roster and what they excel at. This in my opinion is a primary reason why sometimes last year it looked liked josh was calling bad plays, he didn't really have a good grasp yet of what would work in certain defensive coverages or looks purely because he hadn't seen our players do it at game speed.
So in 2010 i expect this aspect to be very different i think the plays will start to make sense to us and we will see players that didn't necessarily excel last year like Eddie Royal coming back to the forefront and being used properly. Also the players will be able to react more intuitively because they won't be having to constantly think of the plays and the playbook, it should look a lot more natural this year. We may even see a few 2nd year players step up to starting roles or just increased roles.
It is also important to note that the rest of the AFC West is having some pretty dramatic changes and that does affect us. KC is also trying to build a patriot like empire and at some point i expect them to start improving, maybe not this year but they could well be our main rival in the division for the next five to ten years. It will be interesting to watch our progress vs theirs and see how we differ as a McDaniel's run football team vs a Haley run football team. What unique flavors will McDaniel's bring to our team that no other team in the league can do or match?
I'm not sure it is possible to answer the title question due to the fact that many things will change in the next few months. However the turn around will be no way near as dramatic as last year, in which the 'new' Denver Broncos were created.. this year they will be enhanced and go on to display more of the good qualities that we saw glimpses of in 2009.. It should make for a fun watch.
I am interested to know whether people think Josh has fully embaced the Broncos as his team and whether the Broncos are now his team. I have attached a poll to get a general consensus of what people think about this topic..
Unfortunately i can no longer play the I'm new here go easy on me card.. So please if you don't agree and see totally different things feel free to tell me all about it, what do you see for 2010? Also if you just want to have a rant about what you did or didn't like about this season but never felt like making a dedicated fanpost for it.. get it off your chest here!