2009 Denver Broncos: Season Preview
By Wilson of Predictem.com
2008 Record: 8-8 (2nd in AFC West) ATS 4-11, O/U 9-7
Stadium: Invesco Field at Mile High
Head Coach: Josh McDaniels
Superbowl Odds: +4400
Training Camp Site: Dove Valley Headquarters, Englewood, Colorado
Training Camp Dates: August 1 21
Intro: Denver has a new look this season, and its not their uniforms but a new head coach for the first time in 14 years. Yes, the Mike Shanahan days are over as he was replaced by 32 year old former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Broncos owner Pat Bowlen made a huge move by firing Shanahan after the Broncos disastrous downfall last season.
McDaniels immediately stirred the pot when he showed an interest in trading away the Broncos QB, Jay Cutler as he wanted to bring in New Englands Matt Cassell. Cassell ended up going to the Kansas City Chiefs, but Cutler, angered by the trade rumors wanted out. So Cutler is now in Chicago and the Broncos have QB Kyle Orton on board.
The QB issue will be a concern for the Broncos as Orton and Chris Simms will compete in training camp for the starting position. However, Orton will likely out play Simms. Also, Bowlen will expect McDaniels to reconstruct the defense and guide a fairly young offense to become a well oiled machine; a tall order for any new but maybe McDanielss youth will give him the energy to get the job done.
Whos New? RB Correll Buckhalter, LB Andra Davis, S Brian Dawkins, DT Ronald Fields, WR Jabar Gaffney, CB Andre Goodman, S Renaldo Hill, RB LaMont Jordan, QB Kyle Orton, OLB Darrell Reid, QB Chris Simms.
Key Draft Picks: RB Knowshon Moreno (Georgia Bulldogs) DE Robert Ayers (Tennessee Volunteers)
Whos gone? CB Dre Bly, QB Jay Cutler, DE John Englberger, S Marquand Manuel, CB Karl Paymah, OT Eric Pears, DT Dewayne Robertson, LB Jamie Winborn, RB Selvin Young.
Offense: Jay Cutler is gone and Matt Cassell was snagged by the Chiefs, so enter Kyle Orton and Chris Simms to battle it out for the starting QB spot. Kyle Orton must know that he has some big shoes to fill by replacing Cutler but he certainly didnt fillem at his unofficial debut Thursday (August 6) at Invesco Field. Orton threw two interceptions and a ton of bad passes during a scrimmage in front of more than 13,000 Bronco fans who booed him for his performance. Orton shrugged it off and later told the press We got fans, and their passionate about their football, thats for sure. Orton will surely settle down as he showed signs of growth last season in Chicago.
First round draft pick RB Knowshon Moreno is the current back at the top of the list. Moreno is talented and tough but is not a speed demon by any standards. Correll Buckhalter will also be in the backfield along with LaMont Jordan who played under McDaniels in New England.
WR Brandon Marshall is a great young talent; his main issues are not on the field but off as he seems to get into trouble at times. If Marshall stays focused his ability to perform on a higher level will help the Broncos. The rest of the receiving crew consists of Eddie Royal (good speed), Jabar Gaffney (possession guy who knows McDanielss scheme) and Brandon Stokely who is known as a potential playmaker.
The O-line is a mix of youth, speed and veterans. C Casey Wiegmann is a 14 year veteran who will steer the O-line and keep them in tact.
Defense: The Broncos defense has been at the bottom of the barrel during the last few years and will need to improve quickly if the team has any hope of playing in the post season. New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will rebuild the defense with his 4-3/3-4 hybrid system.
First round pick DE Robert Ayers will make an immediate difference as he is the most talented defensive end for the Broncos. He has excellent speed and great balance and will be a potential Pro Bowl type of player.
Denvers defensive leader will likely be CB Champ Bailey even though he is aging he still is one of the best cover corners in the NFL. The Broncos secondary will also get help from S Josh Barrett who has good size and break down speed.
The defensive line will need the most improvement. With Ayers in the line up, the Broncos will automatically be better, but they still have a lot of work to do.
Special Teams: PK Matt Prater has a strong leg; he can boot it deep into the end zone and ranges up to 55 yards on field goals. Prater did have a poor second half last year going just 12 of 20 on FG attempts. P Brett Kern is still improving and should get stronger each week.
Eddie Royal will assume kickoff and punt return assignments while rookie Kenny McKinley will likely get a share the action as well.
Overall the Broncos special teams unit is average at best.
2009 Denver Broncos Schedule:
September 13 at Cincinnati Bengals
September 20 Cleveland Browns
September 27 at Oakland Raiders
October 4 Dallas Cowboys
October 11 New England Patriots
October 19 at San Diego Chargers
October 25 BYE
November 1 at Baltimore Ravens
November 9 Pittsburgh Steelers
November 15 at Washington Redskins
November 22 San Diego Chargers
November 26 New York Giants
December 6 at Kansas City Chiefs
December 13 at Indianapolis Colts
December 20 Oakland Raiders
December 27 at Philadelphia Eagles
January 3 Kansas City Chiefs
Betting Odds and Projections:
Denver is truly a mile high away from the solid defense needed to be an AFC contender. Their main concern right now is the defensive development; if they can turn it around and make some early statements it may just give them the confidence to keep it up all year.
Kyle Orton will have to earn the respect of the fans and his teammates by quickly shaping up his game. Denver could be a dangerous team especially after their upsetting ending last season which the coaching staff will surely use on the players as motivation.
The books have the Broncos at +4400 to win superbowl XLIV. Denver fans will not accept anything less than a playoff run in 2009, so McDaniels will have pressure from the start. Luck to ya.