I know everyone is tired of the Brandon Marshall debates. But I was just reading Mr. Lynch's article on the front page and a few thoughts occurred to me. Hopefully I can translate them clearly to this article, but if not... well... at least i'll have enjoyed writing it.
The guy became my favorite Denver Bronco when he really broke out of his shell in that Green Bay game. I just loved how he tried to squeeze every inch of yardage out of the play every time he touched the ball, even if it led to negative yardage on occasion; because, more often than not, he broke away for a nice extra chunk. Brandon had his issues, but yet there were brilliant flashes in him, in both his play (obviously) but at times in his character as well. Perhaps that is why he was such an enigma during his tenure here. Perhaps also, that is why the pro-Marshalland anti-Marshall parties were so divided even after he'd been a supposed "goner" for over a year. There were rumors flitting around that even Shanahan was considering letting him go (likely only in a high-profile trade, but still).
Well fortunately for you all, that chapter in the Denver Broncos history is over. I'm not here to rehash where we were, and what happened. I'm looking forward. I'm looking at this upcoming draft, training camp, and pre/regular season. I feel like there is far too much talk about a WR needs in Denver, when other needs are so highly pressing. I shouldn't have to tell anyone here that we've got a new HC, a new system, and a new way of doing things. Why does it bear repeating? Because sometimes we forget that the Brandon Marshall we saw last year was not the Brandon Marshall from 2008 or 2007.
His stats from 2009 did a perfect job at covering it up. That's the intent anyways isn't it? I mean, if you're trying to trade away a high-profile player, right? Keep up his value, show other teams that he's still producing consistently. McDaniels & Co did just that. Sure there were a few hiccups, but none big enough to prevent a team like Miami from handing us two second round picks (the equivalent of a 1st rounder this year, who knows about next year) and handing him a 5-year 50 million dollar contract. Some of you may not still be following me, so we'll get to the details.
How was Brandon Marshall a different player in 2009 that he was years prior? Easy. It's all about the system baby! - and any Software Tech or hardcore gamer would say that very thing. Brandon played in a completely new system this year. He wasn't the reverse-running, midfield headache, and downfield threat that he was the years before. Sure he played a similar role, with the screens and inside passes; but his role as a "possession" receiver was heightened last year in McDaniels' system.
Look at the redzone highlights between last year and this one. Eddie Royal was the go-to guy in the endzone, as well as our reliant possession receiver (a role he shared with Brandon Stokely) for whatever reasons, Eddie Royal was not that guy this year. Brandon Marshall was. McDaniels' different system or maybe the man himself determined that 15 would be the number to call here. Now there could be plenty of additional reasons... Eddie's return game, for one; as well as the loss of "he who shall not be named"s arm. Maybe the vertical passing game was not a substantial element last year, for whatever reasons. Whether its that the playbook was too big, the team didn't have enough sync, or Kyle can't throw that far (which I don't believe) but regardless, for whatever reason, the receiver's jobs changed.
What i'm getting to here is what Marshall did for us last year, because that's a player who's position needs to get filled (since we're using the same system, and probably a very similar gameplan, with a few off-season tweaks). Marshall was strictly a possession receiver last year. He was thrown to in tight spots, usually across midfield, as well as inside the ten yardline. Granted, he's still the same person he was before; he's trying to make big plays on every play, breaking tackles, etc. He's a big body. McDaniels' used him on screen's the way NE has used their RB's (and anyone else who does wonders in open space, for that matter) while McDaniels was there.
We all know Eddie can handle that role;and Stokley is the boss of getting separation (of course he's getting older) for a few extra yards - the "3rd down man" in Shanahan's offense. The role Marshall played for us last year can be filled by guys already on our roster. We may not see as many WR screens, but from the tone of last years fanposts/comments I don't think many will miss that.
That's my thought process going into this draft with the WR position. Do we need some depth? Sure. Do we need a bonafide #1 WR? Not in McDaniels system. Shoot, New England won three superbowls with WRs that nobody wanted, no real big names at least. They played the role that needed to be played, the offense wasn't built around them. It won't be this year either. Is Dez Bryant a quality talent for #11? Sure. He's a quality talent for #3 overall, but that doesn't mean we're going to get him. There's a possibility, but it's slim (i'll be eating these words if that happens, obviously). Gaffney was superb in this multi-receiver highlight system that McDaniels prefers (the Saints like it too). Eddie has the capability to do it too (we saw him destroy people in 2008 - the many reasons behind that are debatable, the point is: He can catch the ball) plus the kid fights for yards on every play. He doesn't do it like Marshall, bulldozing people, but he does twist and squirm and stretch that ball forward for an extra couple yards that I never expect him to get. Brandon Lloyd also showed some great flashes, and so did Kenny McKinley on a few plays. Sometimes all a guy needs is opportunity. This year, they've got just that, and WR is something I will be looking at VERY closely in.... Training Camp. Not the Draft.
Anyways, those are my thoughts, hope you enjoyed the read. I'd like to hear what you guys think about filling the WR "void" internally. There are plenty of people in the draft to talk about, but they aren't on our team yet. Who do you guys see on the roster that can step up and make a much bigger impact in 2010?