Saturday night was tough. So tough, in fact, I didn't look at MHR all day yesterday. Too painful. Now, however, 36 hours after the Broncos were torn apart by a Hall of Fame coach and Hall of Fame quarterback, I'm back and ready to go. Preparations for 2012 start now - there is no off-season in the NFL.
For the Broncos, it means John Elway, Brian Xanders and John Fox will address the media at Noon, MT. It will be streamed on the team's website and I'll provide a link when it is available. What the three men in charge of the Broncos say today will be dissected at length and they know it. There is also some realities that require the Broncos' brain-trust to tread lightly.
The first question, of course, is the future of Tim Tebow. As it stands right now, this is an easy question to answer - Tebow is the only quarterback under contract for 2012. By process of elimination he is the guy right now. I fully expect him to be the guy once we get to April, May, June, July and August as well, but what the Broncos do about the openings at quarterback will say alot about their dedication to Tebow.
The Broncos are likely to bring in a veteran backup, then draft a quarterback in the middle rounds. Even team's with great quarterbacks are always trying to develop one and the Broncos should be no different. Look at the Patriots and Packers for instance. They have never ignored the quarterback position and a lot of times it can become an asset later on.
Next, the Broncos need to get the coaching staff squared away. How much is actually needed here remains to be seen, but it is obvious that teams around the NFL give a TON of credit to offensive coordinator Mike McCoy for the team's turnaround this season. Jacksonville, Miami and now Oakland have all expressed interest in McCoy for their head coaching vacancies. If he gets a new job, the Broncos will have a hole to fill.
Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen is in much the same boat. Allen received an interview with the Rams, and the Raiders want to talk to him as well. Sure, Allen is taking heat for the way the 2011 season ended, but considering the injuries and the holes that existed in the defensive backfield, the Broncos defense showed flashes of respectability.
The Broncos also have several free agent decisions to make. On offense, the team has to decide what to do with WR/KR Eddie Royal. It is a deep free agent class at wide receiver, and the Broncos need help even if they resign Royal. There are also questions at tight end. Daniel Fells, who became to go-to receiving threat at the position as is Dante Rosario. The Broncos drafted two tight ends in 2010(Julius Thomas and Virgil Green) and both need to develop in a big way this off-season - otherwise the Broncos will need to address it.
What about the offensive line? The Broncos had the 2nd-youngest offensive line in football, and it looked to turning into something special. Then the 'old-man' of the group, Chris Kuper, broke his leg in gruesome fashion against the Chiefs. Right now, we can only hope Kuper can play again, let alone play at a high level. The Broncos may have to address that in the Draft.
On defense, it starts up front. The Broncos are already thin at tackle and free agency could inflict further damage. Brodrick Bunkley - a pleasant surprise after being acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles - can leave and Marcus Thomas is a free agent as well. Both are likely to get a ton of attention on the open market in a position of need throughout the League. Jason Hunter is available as well.
We all know the situation in the defensive backfield. Andre Goodman is shaky at best, though Chris Harris may be able to step right in. Champ Bailey is still playing at a high level, but father-time catches up with everyone at some point. What about safety? The Broncos will likely be without Brian Dawkins and while Quinton Carter showed flashes of being a player, Rahim Moore was a disappointment. Those guys need to improve, and fast!
If all that wasn't enough, the Broncos will need to resign Matt Prater. Prater is money, especially from long range, and that is worth a lot in the NFL.
For me, this is the most exciting time of the year, especially after a playoff appearance. The Broncos are a young football team, and it appears they are about to get younger. That playoff experience - the good from the Pittsburgh win and the bad of the New England loss - is priceless. Now the Broncos need to build from it.
Live through the windshield, Broncos Country, not the rear-view mirror, and get psyched over what the future holds!