I typically enjoy a lot of down-time during the off season and only surface in the FanPosts if Free Agency gets exciting or during the Draft. I'm not a big college football fan, so I don't have much insight on draft prospects. Nevertheless, I've been seriously reviewing the Denver Broncos for years now. Given that my knowledge of the NFL game keeps growing, I've got some pretty solid opinions on where our team should go next that are probably worth sharing. I'm going to roll out for you guys a three part series covering how the team looks and what I see as our draft needs as being. Part 1 will cover the Offense, Part 2 the Defense, and Part 3 Special Teams / Draft Need Summary.
Base-line for this review:
I'm just an arm-chair GM in this. I will try to keep my fan perspective out of my thought process as much as possible...its not personal, its just business. The end goal to me is our team getting a championship. Secondary to that is keeping the organization in sound position to do the same the next 5 years (meaning I won't ransom the 2014 season to get a bunch of big names for 2013).
Please note that my subject matter will not consist of all of our depth...I'm interested mainly in starting jobs and direct back-ups and will only touch on notable depth guys I see as taking a step up.
"No-Bull Review" review
(Feel free to skip this section if you've read my stuff in the past) We've had a change in leadership here at MHR. We have new blood coming in all the time, so not everyone knows me or my reviews. Here's my shtick:
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- I'm not a stats guy. I'll use them to support an idea because sometimes they do a good job of that, but I am a firm believer that in football you get more from what you see on the field than numbers read off a piece of paper or web site.
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I expect this year's offense to be even better than last year's. I think everyone getting on the same page takes time and we didn't even see everything that a Peyton Manning-led offense can do at the end of the season. I don't expect huge changes going forward.
The only truly worrisome thing to me had to do with play-calling decisions. I don't know if it was Manning or McCoy, but I'd sure like to see evidence of more stones than I saw last year. We seemed to be settling for field position and trusting our defense when we could have been going for the jugular more often. Welcome to the down-side of having John Fox for your head coach. He's very Marty Schottenheimer and Norv Turnerish in that regard. (We honestly could do a whole article on Foxball)
This off-season should be about moving the offense a step forward. No major overhaul needed. No super big changes to scheme need to be made. Just get better at doing what we do.
Starter (Peyton Manning) - Stud. Wizard. QB Guru. Call him what you will, but we are set at starting QB. No changes needed. No competition needs to be brought in. He just needs to work with his team more to get timing and communication to a higher level.
Back-up (Brock Osweiler) - We're pretty set I think at clip-board holder. I'm very interested to see what he does in the preseason. Last year I liked his mechanics and accuracy enough. I thought the game hadn't slowed down for him yet though. He didn't do much timing stuff or progress his reads well. But hey...I was watching him compared to Manning. That's pretty unfair.
3rd String (???) - We will inevitably bring in a 3rd QB to run TC properly. I don't know that we need to do anything major with keeping one on the roster unless we get a decent veteran for cheap and he looks great in TC.
Needs: None that require a draft pick or major acquisition.
Tackle (Ryan Clady, Orlando Franklin) - I consider Clady as a cornerstone of the franchise currently. He's that good. Franklin really is a great fit on this team. He's a very good RT with potential to be a great G for us. I don't care whether he stays at Tackle or moves to Guard, but it is great to have the option to move him if we find a T with quicker feet. I'd look for us to add a T in the draft though. We don't have great depth and it would be good to put ourselves in a position to not need to pay big $$$ to Clady.
Guard (Zane Beadles, Louis Vasquez, Chris Kuper) - I think there's about a 15% chance Kuper holds onto his starting position. Heck...he may not even stay on the team with this costly contract. Beadles is solid and Vasquez probably is (hard to tell with the horrible line he's played with, but he did look like the best SD had last year). I actually think we're pretty decent at G and won't need to do much there other than drop Kuper if he doesn't restructure.
Center (J.D. Walton, Philip Blake) - I expect to see Walton hold onto his spot, but Blake could potentially unseat him in TC. This should be an interesting position to keep an eye on. Again, I don't see this as a major worry. We have a solid guy in Walton and a decent backup.
NEEDS: We could use a fresh Tackle. Other than that I think the acquisition of Vasquez along with the return of some players from unfortunate injuries have us in good shape across the O-Line.
Starters (Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno) - Honestly I love how both of these guys play. After last season I'm more excited about Knowshon than McGahee. Willis really had some trouble hanging onto the rock last year and from what I saw he really could have been protecting it better (meaning it wasn't always just random flukes). This is one spot I look for an upgrade at through the draft unless teams go RB-happy and leave us with few good options.
Backups (Ronnie Hillman, Jacob Hester, Lance Ball) - Ronnie needs to threaten the starters in my mind this year. He looked decent at the running aspect, but needs pass protection improvement in a bad way. Hester looked good last year and should stay on with no major problems. Lance just needs to go. I'm friggin mystified that he was kept. I'd love us to have enough guys outshine Ball so that the coaches are forced to drop him honestly. We have a few other guys not mentioned, but none of them are serious contenders to me...I've seen too much mediocre from them in the past TCs.
NEEDS: I'm not sold on this group at all. I'd like to see us grab a solid RB in the draft and wouldn't rule out getting another through other means as well.
Starters (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker) - I can't think of a more stacked set of starting WRs in the NFL. I still practically wet myself when reminded that Welker is a Bronco. If we stay healthy this year and Foxy doesn't stay too conservative, then these guys will light up the stat sheets.
Backups (Trindon Holliday, Gerell Robinson) - Paint me concerned a bit here. Trindon is our return specialist. I think he can be used as a weapon in our offense, but he's not a guy you want on the field all the time...probably more like 5 - 8 plays a game or so max. I really liked what I saw from Gerell last year in Training camp. He's a guy I think can take a step forward and own that 4th spot.
NEEDS: I love our starters, but it is a likelihood that we lose one of our top 2 WRs next year due to contract situations. This is a spot I can see us using a draft pick on. It'd be great to snag a solid #2 WR in case we lose Decker next year.
Starters (Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen) - I think very highly of both of these guys. Jacob is just a very talented pass-receiving TE. He's probably got some of the softest hands of all the TEs in the NFL. Joel impresses me with his consistency at blocking and his high ability in the TE route tree, He's a big part of our offense and gives us a lot of flexibility and unpredictability that can't be understated.
Backups (Virgil Green, Julius Thomas) - I really like Virgil's skills. I think in a pinch he has the talent to step in and cover for the loss of either of our starters. He actually is probably a steal on our team. I think its pretty likely he'd be a starter on many of the teams out there. Thomas I'm honestly a bit tired of. I know he's a project, but at some point you want to see something and to me that time is now. Show us something this TC and pre-season or you'll likely be gone.
NEEDS: None. This is a superbly talented group of TEs even without Thomas.
I'm honestly pining for a new RB and a T in the draft this year. Other than that, I'm not terribly worried about our offense. That's a good thing too since I see some more serious needs on the defensive side of the ball. I'll cover that in the next part of the series. Hit up the comments and chime in on the offense. Who's going to take a big step forward this year? Do I have it wrong on one of the guys I'm down on?