Sunday, August 30, 2009

Broncos compete but lacking firepower

Jay Cutler was back in Denver but the return hardly mattered as it was but a preseason game. The former Broncos' quarterback started slow but had a solid evening (15-21, 144 yards, 1 TD) in a 27-17 Bears' win but the reason for the evening was to see how and if the Broncos would progress.

Kyle Orton was accurate (12-16) but hardly special. Rookie Tom Brandstater showed glimpses of potential (8-12, 110 yards) even though he threw an interception. Fellow rookie Kenny McKinley, a wideout from South Carolina and a Steve Spurrier favorite, grabbed four balls for 75 yards. That's the good news. The bad news is the Broncos struggled to run the ball and were penalty plagued.

And a not-so-irrelevant fact is that Denver is now 0-3.

This is not a situation of the team looking at a lot of players and getting ready for the season. This is a team lacking in explosive talent with running back Knowshon Moreno out with an injury and receiver Brandon Marshall struggling with maturity.

Marshall is going to be a cancer if not traded yet his value is at an all-time low.

Moreno needs to get and stay healthy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

UPDATE: Breaking opinion on Marshall

Don Banks is a smart football voice. He isn't the go-to guy for everything but he hits the nail on the head, hard, here.

McDaniels tiring of Marshall Plan

Brandon Marshall, what did we tell you, will not play this season in Denver. The man is doing everything he can to get traded, using both his mouth and behavior with adept aplomb.

He's history.

Coach Josh McDaniels can't stand Marshall's attitude and the players themselves are likely tired of it too. There just isn't going to be any reconciliation when one of the parties doesn't want peace.

Marshall is an ex-Denver Bronco on the field and in his head.

The problem is his trade value is diminishing by the second, with his injury and his attitude. He's worth a second-round pick at worst or mid-to-late first rounder but the Broncos will be lucky to get a conditional high pick.

The Jay Cutler trade was as much on McDaniels as Cutler but this deal is all on Marshall.

We still say don't trade a player when his value is low. The preference would be, if possible, to suspend him for half a season or the entire year but a trade might be forced by the NFLPA.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Martin signed and Cutler talking drivel

Ingle Martin has been signed by the Broncos to play some quarterback, maybe, in the preseason. Forget spending the time researching Martin because the odds are astronomical he sticks with the team. Anyone signed in late August isn't too desirable. Martin, to be fair, and we do want to be fair, could see a lot of pieces come into play (injuries) to get a longer stay in Denver but right now, his appearance will be a lot more about getting some snaps in practice and a game to show the Broncos and other teams he has the goods to get a call later on this season if the need (again, injuries) arise.

Jay Cutler is downplaying his nasty feelings toward coach Josh McDaniels and the Broncos but don't believe a word he's saying -- he's so happy to be out of Denver and away from McDaniels. While Cutler has the talent to be a star for many years his attitude will likely doom him from achieving superstardom. His arrogance will need a come-uppance, which will come with time and experience, before Cutler thrives as a teammate and winner.

Honestly, the Broncos got a solid return in trading Cutler to the Bears but it's still highly questionable what they've done so far with the draft picks.

Broncos trade for handyman

Versatile blocker Russ Hochstein is the latest New England-to-Denver import after the Patriots and Broncos, who continue to get better acquainted, agreed to a trade for an undisclosed draft choice as compensation.

This trade, on the surface, only elicits a yawn but if Hochstein is right, as in healthy then obviously Josh McDaniels sees an important role for the man.

Versatility is a Patriots mandate so Hochstein must have it to be desired.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Orton gets passing grade

Kyle Orton showed up looking like an NFL quarterback against the Seattle Seahawks, if only a preseason game, dimming his poor performance against San Francisco a week earlier. Orton was on target most of the night.

One thing to remember is, while explosive and productive Eddie Royal, talented-and-capable of more Steve Scheffler and dependable Brandon Stokely are established receivers, this offense lacks sufficient explosive talent and currently has a lot of question marks, such as: who will be the bell cow back behind Orton, who will be the no-doubt no. 1 (not Brandon Marshall, as the forecast for him this season, with attitude and injury is gloomy; see Chad Johnson, version 2008) and 3 receivers and who will take the heat off of Royal, who will look less attractive this season if forced to be the top dog.

Darius Walker, a solid back at Notre Dame, showed he has the capability to stick on this roster with his Saturday numbers. Another name to remember, as a contributor in 2009 and not a starter is receiver Kenny McKinley.

Defensively, the Broncos played the run well and rushed Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, getting to him occasionally. What they didn't do was disrupt his timing or make effective plays on the ball.

Preseason, especially this one, is about developing players, finding chemistry, getting into a rhythm and learning who can and will play. Winning, while important, is secondary.

Marshall trade idea a poor choice

Anyone desiring dumping Marshall merely to rid the Broncos of his selfish, delusional mindset is open to a self-inflicted wound on the team. Marshall's value is at an all-time low. For all his off-field baggage and on-field negative (low yards per catch average) the man is a big, dependable, productive target who, if not an elite receiver, is the next rung on the ladder.

Being hurt and a police report regular has likely made him as attractive as nuclear waste to other teams yet if healthy, if mentally adjusted, Marshall is an undeniable no. 1 receiver and that is worth a no. 1 draft choice plus other goodies. Right now, the Broncos could not get, would not get a no. 1 for Marshall nor even a no. 2. Getting rid of him for less than his true value would be foolish and would result in negative on-field and public relations consequences.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Orton improvement must show quickly

Kyle Orton must accept the responsibility of being a starting quarterback in Denver. His performance against San Francisco in the Broncos' first exhibition game was rated R. He must get a passing grade the second time around.

As strong as Chris Simms looked in relief he's not a starting quarterback in the National Football League. Orton has to be the guy or the Broncos could struggle to win 4 games. It's Orton and a prayer. The former Purdue slinger can play but only if he's a part of the machine, not the engine.

Orton knows what's expected of him, especially in Denver.

Coach Josh McDaniels knows he must win with Orton or look the part of the fool after the mutually embarrassing and costly Jay Cutler business blowup. This promises to be a rocky ride but the Broncos' quarterback and his head coach will be committed to proving doubters wrong.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Marshall should not be traded now

Broncos coach Josh McDaniels is getting a breather from the media and fan heat as receiver Brandon Marshall is catching all the ugliness now. Marshall is to Broncos coverage what Brett Favre is the rest of the NFL -- tired news.

Marshall is on borrowed time in Denver and like Jay Cutler and Bobby Humphrey before him, and throw Clinton Portis in there too, the receiver's bright career is almost over in a Broncos' uniform, long before it should be.

The Broncos should hold on to Marshall, make him get healthy, toe the line legally and produce big and then trade him at the peak of his value not selling low as they would now. That, my friends, would be stupid, even if viewed by some as addition by subtraction.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Marshall not clean enough for money

Brandon Marshall now believes his contract should mirror that of Atlanta wideout Roddy White. While Marshall's numbers are equal or surpass White's depending on the category you look at, White is not a regular down at the local courthouse like Marshall, thus the problem.

Do we really think the Broncos would be hesitating on locking up the big, physical, ultra productive Marshall if he was relatively clean off the field? If Marshall just minimized the public relations nightmare he is he'd already have his contract.

Denver shipped yet another 2010 draft choice away. The Broncos sent a fifth rounder to New England for defensive linemen Le Kevin Smith. The good and bad is that the Broncos need size and improvement up front to slow down the run and Smith can't hurt while the bad is the Broncos gave up another draft pick (see the Seattle fleecing for next year's number one) and this one for a guy who was a minor contributor for the Patriots. Maybe not a bad deal but right now, it is questionable. Coach Josh McDaniels does get credit for quickly recognizing his defense needs help and trying to patch the hole.

As bad as McDaniels' reputation is right now at least you don't see him going bar fight on anyone in camp as Raiders' head coach Tom Cable is alleged to have done on a defensive assistant.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

McDaniels first effort says little

One game does not a coach make so the Broncos' loss to San Francisco says little about new commander and chief Josh McDaniels. His first offseason says more about him than Friday night did.

McDaniels is young, he's relatively inexperienced. He's going to have to learn on the fly, by the seat of his pants. It's going to take time for him to find his comfort zone, and how to establish an effective way of communicating and leading this franchise.

Regardless of how one feels about how McDaniels handled the Jay Cutler nightmare, McDaniels is unproven. That means just as we can't claim him as a future star in his profession we can't label him the next David Shula either.

Kyle Orton's quarterback play was dismal against the 49ers but the former Purdue passer has shown he can play a little in this league. The Broncos know they need to be able to run the football and need Knowshon Moreno to compete for rookie of the year honors to make that happen. This team has quality tight ends in Dan Graham and Tony Scheffler. The wide outs are still an unsettled bunch with the murkiness of the situation regarding Brandon "the grass is greener" Marshall.

This is going to be a season of transition which means more losses than are tolerable. McDaniels must establish a culture of success from preparation, teamwork and mutual respect. He has as many things to learn as do his players.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Niner game notes

So Kyle Orton's debut was terrible. It's the first preseason game and even though Orton is a veteran he's with a new team, with new co-workers and a new coach. Temper the disdain for the quarterback.

Chris Simms can make all the same claims as Orton (see above) but he did put up strong numbers. Simms has never lacked talent, only an understanding of how to read defenses and make the correct decision. With better coaching, who knows what's possible.

There was a Jarvis Moss sighting. Will it repeat itself in coming weeks?

Knowshon Moreno got dinged. How serious is it and how long will it affect him? The early word is 1-2 weeks with a sprained MCL. The NFL is tough on the body, especially the knees, especially those pins of running backs. Moreno, even without playing a regular season down is too valuable to this team to be a sideline decoration. He must stay healthy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Colorado will always be Broncos first

Colorado is a good baseball state, Denver a good baseball town, by any measuring stick, but football, Mark Kiszla (see Denver Post), is where most Coloradans hearts have been, are and will be for as far as we can see in the future.

The Rockies are a nice story but they have minimal winning tradition while the Broncos have a long history of playoff appearances, Super Bowls and a pair of championships. The Rockies have been in two playoffs, made one World Series, where they, like the Broncos before them, laid an egg.

Brandon Marshall is becoming the Brett Favre of the Rocky Mountain region in that his name is becoming like fingernails on the chalkboard -- much ado not about football. Soap opera. School-age drama. It's only a matter of time before Marshall is wearing another uniform in what has to be the strangest offseason in Broncos' history. Maybe he'd man up for a coach like Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, or Mike Smith. Maybe he'd toe the line for Tony Sparano in Miami with Bill Parcells in management.

Ever confident quarterback Jay Cutler, he formerly of Denver and now a Chicago employee, feels his one Pro Bowl is deserving of assistant general manager privilege in the Windy City, where Cutler should wants a strong say in personnel matters. The Bears found themselves a prima donna who just happens to have some playing ability too. Only time will tell if the increasingly bold quarterback can successfully juggle his desire to coach, have personnel decision-making duties and play the actual game.

Cutler's replacement Kyle Orton is a guy who could manage a quality team to the playoffs. One problem though, the Broncos are no longer a good team. Not even ego maniacal new coach Josh McDaniels will be able to make chicken salad out of an offense lacking an uber-talented quarterback, a big-target, highly-productive wide receiver (Marshall will be jettisoned before the season opener) and a new system, a new culture.

The Broncos' defense might surprisingly be the story of 2010. Players to watch outside of the Hall of Fame cornerback on the roster include Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers and according to coaches and the media, one Ronald Fields. A sleeper could be D.J. Williams. Maybe this coaching staff will find a way to get the most out of the playmaking-lacking linebacker with high-level athleticism.