Greetings from my hotel room on the 8th floor of a building somewhere in the Denver Tech Center. I am excited to be here, excited to spend my second year at Broncos Training Camp in a media capacity, and excited that the 2009 football season is that much closer.
First, some news --
The Broncos and 18th overall pick Robert Ayers had a contract in place, but the NFL sent it back for some issues it had with the language. That leaves Ayers' status in doubt heading into the first full-team drills. Something tells me that we'll see him on the field sometime this weekend and really I am not concerned.
The same can be said for RB Knowshon Moreno who also looks to remain unsigned come 8:45AM tomorrow. Again, I would rather see Moreno in camp, but it really is beyond his control right now, whether we want to believe it or not. Moreno wants to be in camp, and this 'holdout' is more about positioning than it is Moreno wanting the last dime.Next, let's get into the weather. Last year, I was at Training Camp while Denver was in the middle of 20 straight days of 90+ degree temperatures. In fact, my last two days the temp rose above 100. It was hot, despite being a 'dry heat'. Needless to say, the weather isn't that hot tonight. 63 degrees when I landed, the temperature will dip to near 50 tonight. Personally, I like it and hope it is comfortable all weekend long.
Now, the important stuff. I am more excited for this season, this team, right now, than I have been for a long time. Not because I am a permanent resident of La-La Land. No, I realize the vulnerabilities this team has and I know damn well what the schedule looks like. No, for me, the changes this offseason have been refreshing. You have seen players, coaches, media and front office staff alike talk about the energy in the building. That is a huge deal. Add to it the feeling that everyone in the media thinks they will finish much closer to the Raiders than the Chargers and you have a recipe for surprise. That excites me.
There will be certain things I am looking for, and I welcome your suggestions here. A few of mine are below --
I won't so much be looking at completions, or pretty spirals. No, I'll be watching Orton's footwork. I'll be timing his release, and most importantly, I will be watching for Orton to be making the right decision, and quickly. Decision making is the single most important asset a quarterback can have. The best know where they are going with the football when they get to the line of scrimmage. I will be looking for that kind of growth from Orton. Remember, he is only 26.
The depth chart is of little use this time of year. Who plays when is of little consequence in July and early August. No, what I will be watching for is how the linebackers, specifically those on the outside, perform against our tackles. Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris are two of the best in the game and will be a great test for the Broncos linebackers. In a 3-4 defense, it is paramount that a solid pass rush is generated from the linebacker position, to the tune of 20-25 sacks. Sure, the Broncos will likely transition slowly to a 3-4 set, but the fact remains the Broncos need to get to the QB, and the Linebackers - D.J. Williams, Elvis Dumervil, Jarvis Moss, Wesley Woodyard, etc. have to start doing that from Day 1 against two of the best tackles they will see all year.
Mike Shanahan ran a country club. I have been saying that for years. In the late 90's, when the team had solid veteran leadership, it was okay to give certain vets days off. Not the team we've had since 2005. Now, with Josh McDaniels coming to town, I expect it to be different. I am looking for some hitting, some physicality, some intensity, some pushing and shoving, and most importantly, some real competition. The best 11 on offense and the best 11 on defense will start, no matter WHO that is.
Like I said, add your suggestions here.
There will be more, much more, as the weekend continues, but like the song says, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." The Shanahan Era is officially over - off the field, and now on the field.
Time for a new beginning.