The Broncos are planning for both scenarios. Whatever happens, expect another hectic offseason as McDaniels finds the right pieces to avoid another disappointment like 2009.
"It doesn't feel very good," McDaniels said. "I want to do better, and I can do better. I think we can all do better. That will be what drives us this whole year. Every time you don't make the playoffs it's very disappointing, but it's an opportunity to look at how far you have to go to be able to be one of those teams that is still playing in January."
The Broncos will bring in more of McDaniels' players, which could mean more of the holdovers from Mike Shanahan's tenure -- such as disgruntled Scheffler and Marshall -- get shipped out.
"If that means moving players out of here and getting his own deal going, that's the NFL and that's something you have to live with," Scheffler said about a new coaching staff wanting its own players. "That's why there's 32 teams."
The Broncos will have to do something to fix the roster. The offense lacked big plays from the running and the passing games. While Orton, who is likely to return as starting quarterback in 2010, gets most of the blame, the Broncos need to add some deep weapons at receiver.
Defensively, the Broncos made a lot of progress but faded late in the season. Denver needs to add to its defensive line to improve against the run. The secondary played well, but every starter is older than 30. Also, a pass rusher to go alongside Dumervil would help.
McDaniels didn't seem to think the Broncos are too far away. At the very least, he didn't want to use the term "rebuilding." While he sees some pieces in place, McDaniels couldn't classify an 8-8 season a success.
"Until we're playing in January and competing for championships and Super Bowls, I won't be happy with what we're doing or what we've done," McDaniels said.
--Broncos players past and present seemed to think former Denver coach Mike Shanahan will do well in Washington. Shanahan, who was fired after going 8-8 in 2008 for the Broncos, was hired to coach the Redskins.
"That's a great city and a great organization with an owner that's willing to do a lot to win," tight end Tony Scheffler said. "That's a great situation for him."
--Coach Josh McDaniels is getting some heat after the Broncos failed to make the playoffs after a 6-0 start. While there was some controversy in the final week of the season, many players supported the head coach at the end of his rookie season.
"I believe in him," linebacker Mario Haggan said. "He's a good coach."
--Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey is owed $12.5 million in 2010 and admitted he wasn't absolutely sure about his future with the team. Bailey is entering the final year of his contract. McDaniels heaped praise on Bailey, however.
"He's a key component to our defense, think he will be going forward," McDaniels said.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't know if it can get more interesting than this past offseason." -- Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, referring to Denver's 2009 offseason in which Mike Shanahan was fired and quarterback Jay Cutler was traded.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Broncos will evaluate everything -- the roster, the coaching staff and even their philosophies in Josh McDaniels' first season -- for about three or four weeks before making any major decisions. Some decisions might have to be made more quickly, especially if other teams ask to interview Denver's assistant coaches.
As for the roster, no immediate decisions need to be made and McDaniels wanted to take a few weeks to let the emotion of the season subside before decision on players' futures.
Wide receiver: The Broncos need a deep threat. This is an area that needs to be bolstered, with or without Brandon Marshall.
Defensive line: Denver was solid most of the season on defense, but was exposed late. The Broncos need some stars up front.
Offensive line: Broncos coach Josh McDaniels wants to run a power scheme and needs different personnel to do so. Expect some new blood on the interior of the line.
MEDICAL WATCH: OT Ryan Harris is facing extensive rehabilitation for a toe injury. The Broncos can't put a timetable on his return, not saying for sure if he'll be available for most of the offseason activities.
G Russ Hochstein will have surgery this month for a torn knee ligament. He faces a rehabilitation that could stretch into the start of training camp.
WR Kenny McKinley should be able to return full strength for his second season. He suffered a knee/leg injury in Week 16.
S Darcel McBath's forearm injury should heal in time for him to be a full participant in the offseason program.
LB Nick Greisen suffered a season-ending knee injury in camp, and should be healthy for camp in 2010 if the Broncos want him back.
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