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Broncos End-of-Season Wrap Up - It's Knee-Jerk Time!

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I am never one to have a knee-jerk reaction to anything.  I like to take my time, think things through, and then make a decision.  Once it is made it is made and I move forward, rarely looking back.  Obviously, with the way the season ended, there are plenty of knee-jerk reactions going on, and they serve a purpose - we are angry, we are disappointed and we want better from the Broncos.  It's been over 30 years since this team went 4 seasons in a row without a post-season berth - as far as the Broncos go, this drought is historic. 

At some point, however, we need to start looking at solutions, not problems.  I have asked the members of MileHighReport to be a step above - sure, complain about what you don't like, but come with ways to fix it.  Don't like Kyle Orton, then who should the starting QB be next year?  You get the idea.

After sleeping on it, and keeping my thoughts under wraps for a few weeks as the season wound down, I have a few 'knee-jerk' reactions of my own.

Regarding Brandon Marshall - Good Riddance.  That's harsh, I know, and will likely be unpopular with many of you.  Fine, but I have seen enough with my two eyes to get what is going on here and frankly, I'm done with it.  Brandon Marshall plays hard when Brandon wants to play hard.  Marshall had a great season in 2009.  He's a Pro Bowler and he deserves it.  His actions, however, both prior to the season - missing all of the off-season workouts, his training camp temper-tantrum - and this past week or so proved to me what we all really knew all-along.

Brandon Marshall plays for Brandon Marshall.

His play against the Eagles - including a lackluster effort to go after a 50/50 ball - combined with the injury he sustained and his actions after, show that Marshall needs more than winning to motivate him.  In his mind, 100 catches was the threshold, the golden nugget to get his big contract.  When he eclipsed it, his effort and focus seemed to wane.  Against the Eagles, Marshall made 8 catches for 39 yards(4.9 ypc), easily his worst output of the season (minus the Baltimore game).  This came on 13 official targets. 

Obviously the coaching staff noticed since the latest rift started when Marshall was criticized during a film session.  Of course, Marshall didn't like it, injured himself during the first practice after this film session, and was late for a rehab appointment. 

To his credit, Marshall did say all the right things in the locker room today...

"I’m not sure, that’s not my decision," Marshall said. "It’s up to my agent and the Broncos.

"I love playing football and I love being a Bronco. I’m going to take these next couple of months and enjoy my family."

He then proceeded to clean out his belongings and remove his name.  Actions speak louder than words, Brandon. 

Tony Scheffler - Scheffler's deal is a bit different, regardless of being unfairly lumped together with Marshall this week.  If the reason for his benching is true, if he was overheard saying he couldn't wait for the season to be over, then the benching was 100% deserved.  Like John Elway said this morning on the Vic and Gary Show, he knew of players that got cut for making comments that offended a coach. 

"At some point you have to remember he's your boss," said Elway.

For Tony, however, that was frustration bubbling over.  McDaniels' offense is not a good fit for Scheffler, and it isn't his fault.  I believe he gave 100% this season and I believe he tried to make it work.  The best thing for Tony Scheffler is to find a team that utilizes the Tight End in a way that maximizes Scheffler's talent.

Sure, it is a coach's responsibility to be flexible, to mold his philosophy around the players he has, but a coach still has that philosophy and will always be looking for the players to fit that plan.  Scheffler is a great example.

I highly doubt Scheffler will be back, and I wish him nothing but the best!

Offensive Line - There may not have been a bigger injury this season than Ryan Harris for the Broncos.  The O-Line depth was a worry going into the season.  Harris getting hurt, coupled with Ben Hamilton's struggles, made life very, very tough up front for the Broncos.  At its core, the NFL is a simple game - you have to beat the man in front of you.  The Broncos did not win the line of scrimmage in 8 of their final 10 games.  They lost all 8. 

People blame Knowshon Moreno for the issues in short yardage, and blame Orton and McDaniels for not going vertical with the passing game - yet the common denominator to both is consistent play along the offensive line.  It might be priority one for the Broncos.  They were able to throw for well over 400 yards yesterday without Marshall.  In order to win, however, they need to become a dominant running team again, and that starts up front.

As I look at it now, Ryan Harris and Ryan Clady are safe.  After that, all bets are off.  Word is the Broncos like Chris Kuper, but Casey Wiegmann and Russ Hochstein/Ben Hamilton are needed upgrades in the middle - whether that is through the Draft or Free Agency.  The Broncos need to get bigger and meaner.

Coaching Changes? - Right now, I can see two coaches bolting - Rick Dennison and Bobby Turner.  With Mike Shanahan likely to be named the coach of the Washington Redskins any moment, Dennison and Turner will likely follow him, and like Scheffler, it is probably for the better.  Both teach a system that doesn't fit with what Josh McDaniels wants to do long term.  Instead of prolonging it, let's move forward.  The Broncos spent last offseason hiring a top-notch defensive coaching staff.  This season, I expect them to focus on the offensive side.

That's Part 1 of my Knee-Jerk Reactions.  Hammer away, and remember, MHR RADIO - TONIGHT at 9:30PM et / 7:30PM mt.  BE THERE!