I will freely admit I have been wrong at least once in my life. Or twice. Or maybe just a few trillion times more than that. Last year was one of those times. I was wrong and it may have shifted my thinking about our current regime.Date: April 28th 2011.
Location: My living room
I had spent months watching videos, reading articles and the choice was clear. Marcel Dareus would be a Denver Bronco and we would finally have the dominant DT we have not had since Trevor Pryce roamed the trenches. When the camera cut over to Von Miller on the phone, there was a moment of slack-jawed silence. Maybe there was a trade? We traded our #2 pick to Dalls or PIttsburg for a kings ransom? Denver Broncos select Von Miller, LB Texas A&M.
I lost it. A 3-4 OLB? In a 4-3? With a Vince Wilfork sized hole at DT? I though Fox was supposed to be a defensive genius? What an idiot. Turns out...the idiot was in my living room. After a few games of watching Von Miller tear up opposing O-lines.. I stopped acting like I was an NFL talent scout and did some research. Throughout John Fox's 9 years in Carolina, he never once took a DT before the 3rd round. Maybe, just maybe John Fox and Co knew more that I did about building and NFL defense. What a notion.
Last years defense was a pleasant surprise. Not dominant..but certainly relevant. Been a long time since we had that in Denver. Now, we have JDR at DC. Last time Fox and him were together, that team had the #2 ranked defense in the NFL. I know that means nothing, but at least there is hope for us to field a top 10 D.
Our Defensive tackles are lacking a superstar. Maybe Wolfe develops into one, but that is 100% speculation at this point (or my orange-colored sunglasses affecting my vision). But we do have some solid vets and guys with potential. Siliga has me intrigued, but I am not buying into any OTA hype. But with JDR calling the shots and a good mixture of solid vets (Bannan, Warren, Vick) and some promising/solid young players (Wolfe Siliga, Garland, Unrein) it could be potentially solid group. Not dominant..but productive. With the drastic improvement of our CB's corp (namely getting rid off Goodman) and Mays, Miller and Trevethan/Woodyard (really excited for the Trevethan kid) manning the LB's and Moore and Carter a year more experienced our D could surprise some people. RB's? I am not so optimistic.
McGhaee. Guy is solid. Hard working. A leader. And I am thrilled he is a Bronco. But..he is injury prone. He wasn't exactly overused last year and he still ended up injured. He is a year older. I think it would be a stretch to expect him to duplicate last years production. That zone read had defensive linemen's head spinning to look at him or Tebow. He still produced when asked and had some great games, but I simply dont expect that same kind of production. I hope I am proven wrong and will freely admit that I was wrong (again). I truly hope that they can lessen the load on him earlier and keep him fresh for a possible run at the AFC West crown or a playoff run.
Hillman. He is a wild card. The Bronco fan in me wants to see a Thurman Thomas. The football fan in me sees nothing but a question mark. Can he hold up? Can he learn to pass protect? Is he a reliable receiver? Is his speed and quickness going to actually lead to production? I am hopeful, but also wary. For every Thurman Thomas, there are 20 Steve Slatons. However, since Fox knows and loves his RB's...I am much more hopeful than wary.
Moreno. I was not happy with the pick when we made it..considering Orakpo was still on the board. And I am still not happy. I was mildly optimistic after his rookie year, but that quickly faded. I would not be surprised if he does not make the team. If he does, then I trust Fox and Studesville. They see him alot more than I do.
Ball. I do like the guy. Hard worker and tough runner. But the guy must choose his own equipment. I have never seen a RB try and use oven mitts to catch a ball, because I saw some passes hit him square in the hands and end up on the turf. Reminds me of Clarence Kay. Me and my friends had a running joke. When he dropped the ball we would all say, it hit him in a bad place...the hands. Not sure if Ball makes the roster, but Fox loves tough RB's...so he could be in.
Fannin. This guy....I would love to see him break out. Big, fast, physical. A poor man's Darren McFadden. However, he also might have picked up the injury prone bug from McFadden as well. I hope his ACL is recovered and he did not lose his speed.
Johnson. Dont know what to make of this guy, he played in a spread in Oregon so I figured once Tebow was the starter and we employed a spread-ish offense, this guy would really make his mark. He didnt. And if he didn't stand out playing in an offensive style that suits him, I dont see him breaking out in our new scheme.
So..to sum it up we have a reliable albeit aging vet, who may or may not give us a full 16 game season, a rookie with promise but no guarantee, a couple guys coming off ACL injuries and some guys who may fill small roles. As a whole, with a little luck and some excellent game planning/play calling we could have a great rushing team, without any real back emerge as a superstar. But, one McGhaee injury and we could be forced to rely on Manning's arm, which may end up being a problem. Then again...maybe the McGhaee injury leads to Hillman getting some carries and becoming the next great Denver RB. Time will tell. Sorry for some of the the pessimism here, but maybe since I was willing to bring up what COULD go wrong...nothing will go wrong. Thanks for reading guys.