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HT: Coaching, leadership the important piece for next season

While several teams around the NFL were making big - and some crazy - moves the first few days of Free Agency, John Elway has been sticking to his plan to utilize many of the players currently on the roster while bolstering a few positions. That may not be flashy, but it shows faith in the current players and just as importantly in Gary Kubiak's ability to make this roster work.

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

As the Free Agency carousel was in a spinning frenzy yesterday for several teams, the Broncos quietly added defensive end Vance Walker as well as former Division II punter Karl Schmitz.

And while the team lost big names in Rahim Moore and Terrance Knighton yesterday, John Elway has assured Broncos Country that signings are not yet done.

"Everybody thinks it just opened yesterday and that's the last day of free agency," Elway said on Wednesday. "This is a process that goes all the way through [when] the training deadline stops. You get out of the frenzy of everything and you can get back to the reality and try to find some good football players."

Among those good football players Elway is still looking for is a free safety. Broncos met with Darian Stewart on Thursday but no deal was signed. Depending on asking price, the Broncos may stick with David Bruton to take Moore's place.

And while many in Broncos Country are more than just a little concerned about that offensive line, Elway indicated the line could get some attention in the waning days of Free Agency and/or the upcoming Draft.

ESPN's Jeff Legwold reported:

With Orlando Franklin's departure in free agency and the fact center Will Montgomery is a free agent, the Broncos are also on the hunt for as many as three new starters on a revamped offensive line. It is also a position the Broncos assured would be improved during the talks with Manning about his new deal, and the Broncos have bigger designs on filling the jobs from within than perhaps many expected.

So, not to worry says Elway.

And who's worried?

Not me. Well, not really. OK, maybe a little.

But here's what I believe will be the real keys for this team's success in the offseason that will indicate success in the regular season.

And it's not signing splashy FAs.

1. Player leadership

As pointed out yesterday, this is still a team full of Pro Bowl and Hall of Fame talent in several key positions that still maintained its fair share of super stars - Chris Harris Jr., Von Miller, Demaryius Thomas and Peyton Manning.

In addition to their football expertise, these and other veteran players need to step up and bring all the young guys into the fold.

I'm not a big talker, big rah-rah guy. I just try to lead by example, just go out there and work hard and hopefully people want to match that intensity. -Owen Daniels, tight end

Much like DeMarcus Ware did last offseason for the defense, newly acquired tight end Owen Daniels says he enjoys the leadership/mentor role he's gained of late.

"I'm not a big talker, big rah-rah guy, I just try to lead by example," Daniels said. "That's how I approach my leadership role, just go out there and work hard and hopefully people observe that and want to match that intensity."

When Daniels' name came up during Free Agency discussions between Elway and new head coach Gary Kubiak, Kubiak told the Hall-of-Fame quarterback to look at the film and make his own decision.

"But I can tell you two things," Kubiak said to Elway. "'He's going to give you everything he has, and he wants to win a championship, and that's the type of player you want on your football team.'"

Elway agreed, and with the re-signing of Virgil Green, the Broncos just nailed down two tight ends for the price of one and leadership quality to boot. I'd say that was a bargain.

2. Flexibility

This can go a lot of ways, but I see it being important for one main reason - being open-minded to a new way of doing things (see No. 3). And that probably applies mostly to our beloved QB.

One of the best parts of starting over with almost an entirely new staff and having a bunch of new starters is that everyone gets to start on the same new page.

Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders has a fantastic article critiquing what went wrong for Manning and the Broncos during the Indianapolis playoff game, breaking it down play-by-play and giving some interesting insight into the unraveling we all watched with horror.

The bottom line? Even healthy, Manning has certain tendencies that will require some tweaking if the Broncos are really going to get by the handful of teams with defenses that know how to pick apart his receivers.

But Kacsmar is not all doom and gloom. In fact, he's rather hopeful that Manning can make some changes now that he's working for an offensive-minded coach with a scheme that focuses on a running game - something that will obviously help Manning if he's willing to give up some control. (again, see No. 3). And Manning himself has indicated an open mind to a new offensive scheme under Kubiak.

"How much control will Kubiak hand over to the quarterback known for doing the most pre-snap work? How many tweaks will Kubiak push for in the passing game? Manning has shown acceptance to change in Denver."

Hopefully that acceptance is growing.

3. Coaching Up

It cannot be underestimated the role a coach plays in the success of a team. And I'm not just talking about in-game strategy (though obviously that's crucial).

I'm talking about the skill development that can happen over the next six months. The coach who can teach players to be better at what they do in addition to how the manage/play the game, is the coach who can work miracles with talent.

Getting the opportunity to continue my career and continue with Kubiak really is an unbeatable situation.   -Owen Daniels

So far, everything we're hearing from the guys who know Kubiak and/or his new coaching staff is encouraging.

During his press conference, former Texans and Ravens tight end Owen Daniels said one of the main reasons he was looking forward to coming to Denver was Kubiak - the coach he has been with for all nine of his previous seasons.

"I'm very excited to be here, obviously, and getting the opportunity to continue my career and continue with Coach [Kubiak] really is an unbeatable situation," Daniels said, adding that the Broncos were on his radar as soon as Kubiak was hired. "It's kind of an ideal situation. Being able to come and experience a city and this organization and continue my time with Coach Kubiak and [Tight Ends Coach] Brian Pariani and the staff that ‘Kube' puts together, is something I really couldn't pass up."

Daniels pointed out what he considers a strength of the only coach he's had since joining the NFL.

"[Kubiak] knows how to communicate things," Daniels said. "It was awesome seeing him this past year in a teaching role. Him being a player and him being in that same seat years ago, being able to communicate in his own way to us - he really gets his point across clearly."

Even Walker, who was in Denver less than 24 hours before joining the team, spoke to the quality of coaching the Broncos have from Kubiak on down.

"I really liked what Coach Kubiak is doing, what he's building," Walker said, noting that he has studied Wade Phillips' defense and is ready to fit in. "He's got a great defense. I studied him a good bit when he was coaching with the Texans, so I know a good bit about his game and am really excited to play for him."

Walker, who can play defensive end, nose tackle or three-technique, also met with defensive line coach Bill Kollar and was very impressed.

"He's very energetic. He knows his stuff though. He's very knowledgeable about a lot of things," Walker said. "He watched a good bit of film on me and gave me some feedback. We talked a lot about football for a couple hours. I was just really impressed with him. He seems like a great coach to have. I'm excited to work with him."

And if you're still concerned about the coaching that may need to take place with what is likely to be a young offensive line, Andrew Mason has a response:

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