Three days after the team came together to say good by to a friend and teammate the organization began the football portion of their off-season by announcing that Defensive Coordinator Larry Coyer would not return.
Coyer has been with the team for 7 years, the last 4 seasons as defensive coordinator. He seemed like a solid guy, but there is no doubt that he struggled with in game adjustments and deficiencies in that area were a main reason the Broncos missed out on the playoffs in 2006.
In 2005 the Broncos employed a high risk-blitz scheme to create pressue on the quarterback. Though it can be effective, that approach also leaves big holes in the secondary, and if you don't get to the QB you are in deep trouble,as witnessed in the AFC Championship game against the Steelers last season.
Heading into 2006, Coyer reversed paths, choosing a more vanilla approach that relied on pressure from the defensive front four. Though this allowed Denver's speedy linebacker's to contribute more it had a nasty side effect. The D-line, already undersized by NFL standards, wore down as games and the season wore on.
This was most evident in home games this season, where the Broncos went an uncharacteristic 4-4, with the team holding leads of at least 8 points in every loss. Blow leads at home and you find yourself playing golf earlier than hoped. And for Coyer it meant he's out of a job.
In my opionion, the Broncos need to look outside the organization and get some fresh perspective on the defense. The draft is deep in d-line prospects and the Broncos need to add depth to that side of the ball. If the could land a Dom Capors or Jim Mora it would be instant improvement becuase both have had alot of success as coordinators. Another name to keep an eye on is Dick LaBeau, the D-Coordinator in Pittsburgh, though noone knows how that situation is going to play out.
No matter which direction Shanny goes in, this move is the first sign that there are going to be some changes to a team that for all intents and purposes underacheived, especially after jumping out to a 7-2 start.
Below are the teams' defensive rankings under Coyer --
2003 - 4th in Total Defense
2004 - 4th in Total Defense
2005 - 15th in Total Defense
2006 - 14th in Total Defense
Photo Courtesy Of DenverBroncos.com