Monday, March 02, 2009

Broncos D looks to... Get Older?

This is not a post about the Jay Cutler debacle although it does indirectly pertain...

In the last week, the Broncos have signed free agents Brian Dawkins (35), Andre Goodman (30), Andra Davis (30), and Renaldo Hill (30). With Champ Bailey (30) opposite Goodman at the other corner, the Broncos will definitely be in contention for the oldest secondary in the league.

I like most of these moves individually but collectively, they are quite puzzling. In an era in which teams constantly try to get younger, the Broncos appear to be doing the opposite. This flies in the face of everything one would expect for a rebuilding year, a year in which the entire defensive scheme will likely shift (to a 3-4). Why would the Broncos go the veteran route now?

Theory 1: Jay Cutler's contract expires in 2 years. Even the Barrel Man knows Cutler is unlikely to resign after last weeks events. Perhaps Head Coach McDaniels wants to try a desperate "win now" approach for the next two years and then rebuild. Problem here? The broncos need a NT and a much better pass rush. Can they really hope to get an entire D line in the draft AND have them compete right away?

Theory 2: It might not be possible to bring in a bunch of rookies, teach them the 3-4 Defense and expect them to win playoff games before free agency and salary contracts decimate the team. Better to bring in veterans, install the defense and help Denver reset the tone around here. THEN rebuild. Call it the "three years to greatness plan." Problem here? By the time the defense puts it together, the offense will be gone. Stokely will retire, Cutler will not re-up, and Eddie Royal will be looking for a new deal. Also, seeing as how over 30% of NFL coaches were fired this offseason, no coach should bank on a 3 year plan.

Theory 3: McDaniels actually sees these guys as relatively long term solutions. The Broncos have taken fliers on aging defenders (Dre Bly, John Lynch) in the past, with varying degrees of success. Lynch certainly had some miles left in the tank but the Bly signing is much more contentious. Problem here? One would expect a new administration to have a new mindset. That said, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick (from whom McDaniels learned the craft) has made a career out of cobbling together veterans who still have something left to give (Adalius Thomas, Teddy Bruschi, etc.)

My best bet is Theory 1. The Broncos aren't rebuilding, they're reloading.


GnightMoon said...

OK first off 30 is not that old for a safety or corner - look how long Dawkins and Lynch played. These moves were made to bridge the gap between the existing horrendous defense and the good theoretical defense of the future. The idea here is to do a better job of drafting defensive personnel. But they can't all play next season, so the Broncos need some guys to bridge the gap for the next 2-3 years. I like all these moves. Their secondary just went from one of the worst in the league to one of the best. Three years from now Dawkins, Bailey, and maybe others will be cut, and they will have to be replaced through the draft. That is the key, as it has always been. This just gives them some time to find the right young players. These players will be cut in a couple years, or they have reasonable contracts (unlike Domonique Foxworth's 4-yr $27m deal with the Ravens).

The puzzling signings came on offense, as most of us in these parts believe the O is set in terms of personnel. The additions of Jabar Gaffney and David Anderson seem unnecessary. This can't be a good sign for Brandon Stokley, a Bronco fan favorite. But WRs get banged up a lot, and now they have 5 good ones. They must mean to put Royal in the slot whenever possible (a la his long-lost white twin brother, Wes Welker). And maybe they mean to run some 4 and 5 WR sets. Anderson and Gaffney do a good job of making themselves available and catching the ball. The Buckhalter and Arrington (since voided) signings were the most puzzling, as the Broncos already have a full stable of backs. But you can never have enough, as Denver (and New England) found out last year.

As far as the Cutler debacle is concerned, let's just all calm down and re-evaluate the situation in September. I can understand he got his feelings hurt, but that's nothing a twelve-win season can't repair.

JESSIE said...

I know I'm not the expert, here, but I think it's great to bring in some strong talent and help bring our D up to speed. You get to be a better "player" by playing with better players... new blood, new ideas... I think it's going to be great and I'm SO EXCITED ABOUT NEXT SEASON YAY!

JESSIE said...

BTW - FANTASTIC pic on this post. Really captures the spirit, yes? Mmmmmmm... I miss football so much...