Broncos Update Insider - 1/14

Over the offseason, the Denver Broncos will reevaluate everything. Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said he learned some hard lessons as the Broncos fell from 6-0 to 8-8 and out of the playoffs.

Although McDaniels looked like a genius through six weeks, he was under plenty of heat by season's end. His offense, which he said often would rely on spreading the ball around, was almost entirely dependent on wide receiver Brandon Marshall making a play over the second half of the season. Defensively, the Broncos wore down near the end.

Although there was some progress, especially on defense, the Broncos didn't make the playoffs -- a major disappointment, especially after the fast start.

"This is a hard job to do, whether it's a player, coach or somebody in the front office," McDaniels said. "It's a tough league, it's very competitive, and I'm looking forward to getting this better at what I do and trying to improve this team every way I can."

McDaniels didn't specify what he felt he did poorly during the Broncos' slump. He did express displeasure that the team didn't react well to losing. Denver had a pair of four-game losing streaks.

The Broncos had a historic collapse in 2009 after a historic collapse in 2008 got Mike Shanahan fired. Denver blew a three-game lead in the AFC West with three games to play and didn't make the playoffs in 2008. The Broncos led the AFC West by three-and-a-half games at one point this season.

"I think that we have to look at what may be the common denominator in terms of why we are not finishing better than we're finishing," McDaniels said.

Hard choices will have to be made on the roster. McDaniels wants to bring in players who fit his schemes and mesh with his philosophy. Plenty of players were jettisoned after Shanahan was fired, and a few more Shanahan holdovers are sure to be let go this offseason.

McDaniels said he would take three or four weeks of evaluation before making any big decisions. A big part of that will be figuring out which players want to be a part of McDaniels' program going forward.

"This is a big part of the puzzle, seeing what kind of guys stepped up and who folded the tent," defensive end Vonnie Holliday said.

NOTES, QUOTES

--One thing the Broncos didn't do much of in 2009 was hit big plays in the passing game. Part of that was because the Broncos didn't have the kind of personnel to stretch the field, but there weren't many deep passes called either. Evaluating that part of the offensive scheme will be part of Denver's offseason.

"We'll look at everything," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said. "If you can make a bunch of big plays, that certainly helps."

--The Broncos finished 8-8, and although the team lost eight of its last 10 games, McDaniels did not classify it as a rebuilding project. He said that the team was close to a playoff berth and would look to improve on that immediately.

"I don't think that you ever rebuild," McDaniels said. "I wouldn't use that word at all."

--While McDaniels doesn't have control of all of his staff changes, such as offensive line coach Rick Dennison leaving to Houston, he could make some changes on his own. He said he wouldn't do that without a long and thorough evaluation.

"We'll evaluate each one of those things on a case-by-case basis," McDaniels said.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're all accountable to do our jobs at a high level, and we need to continue to do that and try to improve because certainly 8-8 is not acceptable for us, and we need to improve upon that record." -- Broncos coach Josh McDaniels.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos' run offense should look a lot different next season with the departure of longtime offensive line coach Rick Dennison to Houston. In 2009, the Broncos struggled to mesh the zone-blocking scheme of the past with the power-running scheme Josh McDaniels prefers.

With the departure of Dennison -- and perhaps running backs coach Bobby Turner -- and another season to rebuild the offensive line, the Broncos should employ a full power-running scheme in 2010. Going full-time to one scheme could help the consistency of the offense.



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