2009 NFL Preview: #25 Denver Broncos

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Offseason Additions: Kyle Orton (QB); Brian Dawkins (S); Andre’ Goodman (CB); Renaldo Hill (S); Jabar Gaffney (WR); LaMont Jordan (RB); Correll Buckhalter (RB); Andra Davis (LB); Chris Simms (QB); J.J. Arrington (RB); Brandon Llyod (WR); Ronald Fields (DT); Nick Greisen (LB).

Offseason Losses: Jay Cutler (QB); Dre’ Bly (CB); Erik Pears (RB); Michael Pittman (RB); Nate Webster (LB); Jamie Winborn (LB); Ebenezer Ekuban (DE); Darrell Jackson (WR); Dewayne Robertson (DT); Patrick Ramsey (QB).

Player to Watch: Knowshown Moreno, RB.
Moreno will excel as a pass catcher in Josh McDaniels’ offense and should find plenty of running room behind the Broncos’ solid offensive line. He has outstanding vision and has picked up the art of pass-blocking. Although he’s been limited the past few weeks after suffering a MCL sprain in Denver’s preseason opener, Moreno is on track to play in Week 1. As long as he stays healthy, he could emerge as the Broncos’ every down back.

Team Strength: Led by tackles Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris, the Broncos have one of the best offensive lines in football. As a rookie, Clady demonstrated outstanding run-blocking skills and strength at the point of attack. Harris isn’t as athletically gifted as Clady, but he surrendered just 2.5 sacks last year and has excellent technique. Center Casey Wiegmann and guards Ben Hamilton and Chris Kuper are solid pass-blockers, although they could struggle with run-blocking as the team transitions out of the old zone-blocking scheme.

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Broncos’ owner: ‘We had no other choice but to trade Cutler’

In an interview with Denver Post columnist Woody Paige, Denver owner Pat Bowlen discussed a variety of Broncos-related topics, including how Jay Cutler left the team no choice but to trade him.

“Honestly, I still don’t know what happened with Jay. I don’t want to throw him under the bus, but I made two phone calls (and there is proof, Broncos executives claim) and left voice mails with my cell number and asked him to call me, and he didn’t,” Bowlen said. “I don’t do e-mails. If Jay had called and said he thought the coach was (not a nice person) and he wanted out of here, I would have said, ‘Let’s work this out.’ But I heard nothing directly from him.

“Pick up the phone! That’s where we got off the rails. We had no other choice but to trade him. If (the trade talk) was the reason Jay left, he should have left.”

I feel for Bowlen because he was stuck in the middle of Cutler and new head coach Josh McDaniels during their feud. I think Cutler wanted out the moment Mike Shanahan was fired and he saw an opening when McDaniels attempted to trade for his former quarterback Matt Cassel. Cutler was trying to baby his way out by refusing to deal with the situation like a grown up and McDaniels’ ego wasn’t about to allow him to let a young quarterback bully him around in his first gig as a head coach.

So I believe Bowlen when he says Cutler never returned his phone calls and thus he had no choice but to trade the QB. What was Bowlen supposed to do? He had just hired McDaniels and I’m sure the new coach was telling him that the team could win without Cutler. In the end, he was forced to make a trade he didn’t want to make and now he just has to hope that everything works out in the end.

Cardinals drop asking price for Boldin – what about Bears?

The Cardinals have apparently lowered their asking price for wide receiver Anquan Boldin according to ESPN.com’s Sal Paolantonio.

Anquan BoldinThe Arizona Cardinals have reduced their trade demands for disgruntled receiver Anquan Boldin to a second-round pick in Saturday’s draft and other considerations and are talking to at least three teams who seem to be newly interested, two sources told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio on Friday.
The New York Jets, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles have expressed interest given the downgraded demands from a first- and third-round pick, the sources said.

Cardinals general manager Rod Graves and coach Ken Whisenhunt had repeatedly emphasized at the team’s pre-draft news conference Tuesday that they would be happy to keep Boldin and eventually try to sign him to a new contract.

If I were GM Jerry Angelo of the Bears, I’d be all over this like stink on horse crap. Chicago doesn’t have a ton of holes to address after landing quarterback Jay Cutler in a trade and signing free agent offensive linemen Orlando Pace, Frank Omiyale and Kevin Shaffer. So why not give Cutler a dynamic weapon like Boldin in the passing game?

That said, the Bears did give up their first round pick and one of their thirds (they still have one compensatory selection left from losing receiver Bernard Berrian via free agency last year), so losing their second (plus whatever else the Cardinals wanted) would sink their entire draft.

Trading away two picks for Cutler was already out of character for Angelo. If he traded any more picks, the Bears would be wise to put out a search party to see where the real Jerry Angelo was being kept.

Update: Cardinals’ GM Rod Graves denies that the Cardinals have dropped their asking price on Boldin. Looks like just another internet rumor on NFL draft eve…

New Bang! Cartoon: Special Delivery

In their latest ‘toon, the guys from Bang! Cartoon illustrate the mass confusion that ensued when Jay Cutler arrived on the Bears’ doorsteps and what was really behind Josh McDaniels and Pat Bowlen’s decision to trade the “snot-nosed” quarterback.

Are the Bears now the favorites in the NFC North?

In one day, the Bears seemingly addressed their 20-year old quarterback problem and also added a significant piece to their offensive line. In one day, the Bears might have gone from a .500 team to the perennial favorites in the NFC North.

It’s way too early to be getting into predictions for the 2009 NFL Season. Voluntary workouts have begun, but the draft is still weeks away and teams are still trying to reshape their rosters.

But with the trade acquisition of Jay Cutler and the signing of left tackle Orlando Pace, the Bears significantly upgraded their offense and hopefully made current players like Matt Forte, Devin Hester, Frank Omiyale and Chris Williams better.

Make no mistake – Chicago is far from a Super Bowl contender. They still need to upgrade their wide receiver position, could use another defensive end to throw in the mix with Alex Brown, Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson, and even though they signed Josh Bullocks this offseason, they could still use an upgrade at safety as well.

But while every team in the division has arguably gotten weaker, the Bears have upgraded. The Vikings are still pretty strong, but they lost long-time center Matt Birk and still have questions to be answered at quarterback. The Packers are planning to run a 3-4 defense next season, but have done next to nothing to add true 3-4 personnel and the Lions will continue to take a sandblaster to their entire roster.

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