Different season, same ending. Just three weeks ago, the Broncos were playoff bound. All they had to do was win two of their last three which included home games against the Raiders and the Chiefs. Instead they dropped their last four games. I swear I was sitting here a little more than a year ago wondering how the Broncos’ late season collapse could’ve happened. Last year I blamed the defense, this year I blame the offense.
Don’t get me wrong - there were many weaknesses on both sides of the ball in today’s game. In fact, today’s game mimicked the Broncos entire 2009 season. The good, bad, and ugly reared their heads. As Kyle Orton threw for a career high, 431 yards, he also had 3 INTs. As Denver’s defense forced 2 INTs, they also gave up 317 rushing yards. As Denver controlled the clock (33:03 to 26:57), they gave up 44 points to the ’07 Patriots, er I mean the ’09 Chiefs. As the Broncos started 6-0, they ended 2-8. Game, set, match for a season where change was highly praised yet often feared.
Speaking of change, expect to see a lot more of it. Did anyone spot Brandon Marshall or Tony Scheffler on the sideline? Nope, me neither. I would be surprised if we see them there next season. There are still a lot of Mike Shanahan’s guys around too. I see them packing their bags for one of the other thirty one teams in the country. Kyle Orton? If a head tilting offer is made, I could see him at the #2 QB spot. All is speculation right now, and we’ve got the next eight months to ponder those moves, so I’ll move on.
In all reality, however, the Broncos weren’t even expected to get to .500 this year. A new coach, a new QB, and a Pro Bowl wide receiver with a new attitude grabbed the headlines shortly after Mike Shanahan’s departure. Once the season began, fans were taken from down below to heaven’s pearly gates when the Broncos started 6-0 which included wins against the Chargers, Cowboys, and Patriots.
Consider the downward spiral the ultimate red flag that the Broncos needed to head into the off season. Josh McDaniels now knows who’s a keeper and who needs a kick to the curb. He’ll figure out what offensive and defensive alignments to toss or tweak, and ultimately, he’ll bond more with his coaching staff and players. Missing the playoffs this year may be a blessing in disguise. We learn more from failures than from success anyway.
Everyone knows that champions aren’t built in one season, and anyone who is still questioning Shanahan’s firing or Jay Cutler’s release hasn’t really watched the Broncos (or Bears) this season. I’ll take a coach who wears his heart on his sleeve and still has things to prove in this league over an already established coach who might be set in his ways. I’ll take a game manager over a gunslinger. I’ll take change because without it, there’s no incentive for improvement, and there’s no room for growth.
As we close this chapter in the Broncos’ history book, keep those Predominantly Orange colored glasses on and look forward to the 2010 season. Believe me – there’s going to be a lot to look forward to.