I used to read many, many posts and comments and mocks about going after free agents like Casey Rabach, Stephen Neal, Rex Hadnot, etc… It wasn't long ago that most everyone had Pouncey, Iupati, or both of them on their mock drafts. We all knew that the interior of our offensive line was broken, that we couldn’t get a push in goal-line and short-yardage situations. We understood that when Harris went down and Hamilton got benched, our poor depth showed its ugly teeth. That was the feeling not only shown by a silent poll, but it was the tone and the voice of most theories. The theory was that our offensive line needed fixed.
In my very recent post, two or three below this one, I asked whether people were comfortable heading into the season only having starters that are on our current roster. Four out of five said no. So as it turns out, I'm not alone. And even yet, most of what I hear is how we're just fine on the line. The louder group seems to think everything will be ok. Well, I don't feel like I got my point accross last time, so with this I change my tact...
So far, our changes to our problem area, the offensive line, has been to pick up two PS players (is that right, did I forget anybody?) and let two ineffective starters leave. Ryan Harris is still injured and so is Hochstein. Two of our penciled-in starters, Seth Olsen (OG), and Dustin Fry (OC) have never started a game and had bare minimal playing time.
Those are the changes we've made to what nearly all of us considered a major problem. That's it.
And yet, the atmosphere, at least the majority of those penned, at least in my opinion, seems to have forgotten what we all knew about the offensive line problems. Instead, it encourages trust and patience, perhaps until it’s let known whether we should support the fact that we got good O’ Line draft picks, or whether we should support that we didn’tget any early line picks, followed by those reasons of course.
But we’re still allowed to have an opinion. And judging by the votes on that quick poll, I’m not alone, maybe just one of the loudest. So here it is again, a little more clearly: I don’t trust Dustin Fry, Seth Olsen, an injured Russ Hochstein, and an injured Ryan Harris - not to begin our season with. Not that many. Not that many "if's" and "maybe's". I don't trust walking into the season without fixing our depth and chancing the same mistakes we made last year. As for the roster math on that, let me be respectfully blunt: I don't care if getting better quality depth means we have to hand out a couple pink slips to the lowest guys on the totem pole.
Now to be fair, a healthy RT and a healthy FB will self-correct some of last year's issues. But we didn’t have quality depth last year, and we paid dearly for it. We do not have quality depth this year and should learn from past mistakes.
It’s not anti-Bronco to say that something needs fixed. And it’s not blasphemy to have an opinion outside of Dove Valley, even though we don’t have all the facts, or because “we don’t know what they know”. My last post sort of morphed into a mostly-polite crusade about Dustin Fry. So I decided to detail my opinions here in more detail, to be more clear and less negative about the players themselves.
I’m not against Dustin Fry or McChesney or Olsen, or any Bronco for that matter. I understand that there are great reasons to hold high hope for them. But it doesn’t make me ignorant, that I don't trust them to start the season, any more than it makes you a yes-man for trusting them. In fact, my guess is that Coach McDaniels will side with me in the end. Now how cocky and arrogant is that!!=)
I believe that when it’s all said and done, Coach McDaniels and Brian Xanders will not stake the success or failure of our running game on the assumption that both Dustin Fry and Seth Olsen are ready to be significant upgrades from last year's problems – that either Hoch or Harris (or both) are healthy, and that we won’t have injuries that cripple us like last year. That's too many stars that would have to line up; it's too much risk.
No Sir. I believe that they, too, saw a real problem. And I don't think solutions to that problem stopped spinning around in their minds like it sort of seems to have here. I don't think they consider Dustin Fry and Seth Olsen a full solution. I’m thinking that a center and a tackle by round-three is a better plan. Go ahead, call me crazy.
The truth is simple, and most of us all know it: Offensive linemen don't often start right out of college, especially interior linemen. In fact, one center from last year's draft actually started and played the season. So it's not an easy fix at this point. If we conclude that we need immediate help, we can't conclude round-five will help us.
I trust Coach McDaniels. But instead of trusting him to trust our current roster, I trust him to plan for the worst and to only hope for the best. I trust him to see a problem and fix it, and to not make the same mistake in depth again, but rather to bring in quality players to compete. And I trust that if Team McX can’t get what they want in the draft, that they will not have forgotten about stop-gaps still out there like Bobbie Williams and Kevin Mawae.
And most of all, I trust each of you who agree, to agree with the same thing later, whether the changes happen or not. Because whether I'm right or wrong in what they do and how it turns out, certain things reamain the same: I wasn't comfortable with our starters at the end of last season, I'm not comfortable with them now, and I won't be comfortable with them until we have additional options.
P.S. Some might see this logic as flawed, citing what a waste it would be to spend high resources on short-term problems, pointing to the fact that Harris and Hoch will eventually be 100% and that Fry and Olsen will eventually be starters. OK. Maybe most of that will eventually happen. But we need quality depth, too. They'll find a place on the roster while the weak links get the ax.
We have no more of a pressing need than to ensure our ability to run the ball.