It's too early for '09 season previews, and too late for '08 season reviews. What's an NFL blog to do in the never-ending quest to overcover the bejeezus out of the NFL? Offseason progress reports. Let's go in alphabetical order. Today, the Denver Broncos.
Free agents lost: CB Dre Bly, DE John Engelberger(notes), WR Nate Jackson(notes), LB Niko Koutouvides(notes), DB Marquand Manuel(notes), TE Chad Mustard(notes), CB Karl Paymah(notes), OT Erik Pears(notes), QB Patrick Ramsey(notes), DT Dwayne Robertson, WR Cliff Russell, DT Josh Shaw(notes), LB Jamie Winborn(notes), RB Selvin Young(notes)
Free agents gained: RB J.J. Arrington(notes), RB Correll Buckhalter(notes), LB Andra Davis(notes), S Brian Dawkins(notes), DT Ronald Fields(notes), WR Jabar Gaffney(notes), CB Andre Goodman, LB Nick Greisen(notes), S Ronaldo Hill, RB LaMont Jordan(notes), DT Darrell Reid(notes), QB Chris Simms(notes), RB Darius Walker(notes), OG Scott Young(notes)
Drafted: RB Knowshon Moreno(notes), LB Robert Ayers(notes), CB Alphonso Smith(notes), CB Carcel McBath, TE Richard Quinn(notes), FS David Bruton(notes), OG Seth Olsen(notes), WR Kenny McKinley(notes), QB Tom Brandstater(notes), C Blake Schlueter(notes)
Well, one thing you can't say about the Broncos this off-season is that they weren't active. I think I just developed carpal tunnel syndrome typing up the list of players they let drift off into free agency and the players they signed.
They addressed needs. I can't say whether or not they addressed them particularly well, but they were at least thorough. They looked at free agency like Noah looked at the animal kingdom when he built the ark. They needed two of everything.
The coaching staff and general manager are new, too. It's like owner Pat Bowlen lost his copy of the list of team employees and just said, "Ah, to hell with it, I'll just start over again."
It's really hard to envision the Broncos putting together a record of .500 or better next year. There are new systems being installed on both sides of the ball, and a huge amount of roster turnover. And, oh yeah, they got rid of their franchise quarterback, Jay Cutler, in favor of either Chris Simms or Kyle Orton, neither of whom are on what you'd call a Hall of Fame career path.
I saw last year's Broncos as a team that needed to upgrade their defense, and they'd be in business, as they had the offensive tools to be good for a very long time. Obviously, ownership felt differently, and decided that they had gone as far as they where going to go under Mike Shanahan and Cutler.
They felt like it was time for change, and they certainly have their change now. Maybe it'll pay off down the line, but it's hard to picture the 2009 Denver Broncos being much of a factor in the divisional race, even in a weak division.
Progress: It almost feels like Denver's an expansion team. Everything's brand new, and the focus maybe isn't on winning right now, but the next year or the year after that.
Minus 3 games. 8-8 last year, 5-11 this year.