"THE END IS NIGH!" cries all of my brothers and sisters in Broncos Country as we get some truly horrible news about Ryan Clady Thursday. It has prompted me to share some stuff I've been working on about some No Bull perspective about this year.
First of all, don't take this as a "you need to feel this way" type statement. We're all humans and fans of the Broncos. If you want to be bent about losing Clady (probably forever, not just this year), please be bent. It is okay.
My hope here is to share with you my thoughts on what this year holds for us and hopefully some of you will gain a fresh breath of air and a better angle to view this upcoming season from. Let's dig in and chew on some tasty orange and blue fat about or beloved team.
New Coaching Staff
First of all, let's set the stage here: we just canned our former coaching staff and brought in a whole new leadership group. Kubiak is a very VERY different coach from John Fox. He's less laissez faire and more fire and hard work. His has a particular way he runs his offenses and it is not the same as what we used last year by any stretch. He has a different philosophy in many different ways than Fox and he even answers questions close to half-way directly at times.
Is Clady's Broncos career over?
After suffering his fourth significant injury in the past five years, it is likely that this season is the last of Clady's career with the Broncos.
This change alone is going to mean in my mind that my expectations should be lowered. It is a lot to ask a team to switch up how they do things, bring in new coaches, personnel, schemes, etc and at the same time go grab the #1 seed in the AFC and make a playoff run.
Can we do it?
Should you expect it?
The jury has to be out on that until we see some preseason action and maybe even a game or four into the season.
The promising thing I see with Gary Kubiak taking over is that we are going to have a strong leader coaching this team for the next handful of years that will get everything he can out of the players Elway gets for him. Kubiak and Elway are going to work great together.
That being said, this year has a lot of change happening and a lot of questions.
What are we going to do about our offensive line!?
I think anyone who watches this team at a serious level knows that the O-Line is our weakest unit after this off-season. We lost our best lineman of last year to free agency (Orlando Franklin). We now have lost our Left Tackle. We traded away a starter in Manny Ramirez and had no clear answer for LG, C, or RT to begin with.
Let me submit to you this: There is no better time for us to lose Ryan Clady than right now. It is early in the year. We have plenty of time to find our starters. Also, Clady wasn't even that good last year and as many of you know, recovering from a Lisfranc injury doesn't have a high rate of 100% recovery anyway. Sure we're paying 10mil to someone who isn't playing, but there is a big chance we can dump that large salary and move boldly forward to the future at LT.
Also, don't listen to the hype and reports you see coming out of OTA's right now about the offensive line. It is all completely meaningless. Today we heard that Ty Sambrailo is the first man up to LT. Yeah...today. So what? That doesn't mean squat.
Think about it for a second: We just drafted some promising young guys who we saw almost nothing of last year and some more promising prospects this year. When else would you as a coach like to test out your guys and see what they have? This is when you play around with guys. Move them left and right. Give your position coaches and coordinator some great looks at your players live. Until you see what the guys do, you don't know if they have the capability to start.
So yeah..Ty is going to play LT. Clark is going to play RT. Let's just chill them doggies out for a second people. No one has won a spot on the depth chart yet.
We all love our opinions on it, so feel free to share, just realize it doesn't mean much yet. I'll believe Chris Clark is a serious candidate for RT when I see him starting week 1. He sucked last year at RT and it didn't have to do with scheme. It had to do with lack of size / talent. Count me as one person who thinks that it is far more likely for Chris to start at LT this year.
Also, we signed Ryan Harris and people are talking about him playing LT. Protip: He's totally better suited for RT or as our backup swing tackle.
Probably the most fascinating camp battles will happen at offensive line and until we get to training camp, we won't have a good idea how this is going to shake out. But relax about it...the coaches have plenty of time to get players trained up.
Can we pass well with Peyton behind this line?
- That is a stupid question. Peyton can win 10 games in the regular season with a torn quad (see last season). Of course we can win.
- Our line hasn't exactly been spectacular the past couple of years anyway. He covers up for a lot of mistakes with how quick he gets the ball out.
- Also, I'll bet you are looking at this all wrong. The idea with this offensive scheme is that we run the ball well and mix in a balanced passing attack that takes advantage of defenses because they typically will be too focused on the run game. The worry isn't whether or not Peyton can win throwing...it is whether or not the running game works.
Are we missing the boat here?
I'll leave you cats with this: Yes you are. Everyone focuses on Peyton because he's the shizzle with the sizzle. The offense scores TDs and C.J. Anderson looks like the second coming of Marshawn Lynch at times. Look at the talent on the other side of the ball though and what we've done for coaching there.
Wade Phillips and Co are going to put a frigging monstrosity of a defense together over the next couple of years and there is absolutely no reason that it won't be devastating this year. We have pass rushers. We have great LB depth in the middle. We have the best cornerback crew in the NFL. We have TJ Ward who is going to be using his strengths due to a coach who won't fit square pegs in round holes.
We don't need the offense to score 30+ points per game. We need them to just sustain drives, win field position, and score enough to put pressure on the other team. I dream about our team having a dominating defense every year, and I see us as being as close to that this year as we were when Tebow was at the helm (because let's be real people...that defense was the main reason we won games that year).
Here's that silver lining:
Keep your chins up, Broncos Country. This season hasn't even started yet. There's a lot of risk involved with coaching changes, but don't forget that there is great potential as well! It is the off season after all...start chugging some of that tasty kool aid while you can!