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Drafting an Orange and Blueprint for a New Fox Hole

By Dave Bruning

The rebuilding of the Denver Broncos organization has begun. The Josh McDaniels’ era ended in disgrace both on and off the field. The Broncos are moving forward by returning to their past. The building of a new Fox hole has begun.

The old fox hole was obliterated by Hurricane McDaniels. We experience all sorts of weather in Colorado and are generally well prepared, but this hurricane caught us off guard. The storm began with a few ominous signs. McDaniels was brash and arrogant. He schemed behind the scenes to acquire Matt Cassel, which ultimately led to the trade of starting quarterback Jay Cutler.

Suddenly, though, the eye of the storm settled in. A 6-0 start in 2009 had the city of Denver and the NFL buzzing. The brunt of the storm was waiting in the wings, just like a hurricane. A dismal 2-8 stretch to finish 2009 was harbinger of things to come. Multiple questionable personnel decisions followed. More disgruntled players were shipped out. The 2010 season featured a brutally embarrassing home loss to the hated Oakland Raiders, a video cheating scandal that smeared the Broncos’ NFL reputation and culminated with a 4-12 record and the poorest stretch of football in Denver’s proud history. The silver lining in this debacle is Tim Tebow secured an underwear contract and some potentially valuable playing time.

The firing of McDaniels with three games remaining in 2010 initiated the rebuilding process. The Broncos faced many questions as they prepared to move forward, including hiring a new head coach and President/GM, not to mention overhauling an aging roster lacking talent.

The Broncos, once again, turned to John Elway to begin the process of building their new Fox hole. Elway was hired as Vice-President of football operation. Elway has final authority on the football decisions of the Denver Broncos. Some believe Elway lacks experience. I generally disagree with this. Elway served in this capacity as owner of the Arena League’s Colorado Crush, which won an Arena Bowl title. He also has the wisdom of his father, Jack Elway, in his ear. The elder Elway has passed, but the experience and knowledge is carried by the younger Elway. I also believe his years on the field will help him evaluate talent; an area he concedes will be a group process.

Elway’s first big decision was to hire Denver’s next head coach. Part of me was hoping Rick Dennison might get the job. He is a former Bronco and has experience coaching on both sides of the football. Ultimately, Elway hired former Carolina Panther head coach John Fox. I think this decision was well thought out and bodes well for Elway’s decision making ability. Fox has experience building a franchise with an emphasis on defensive football. I initially thought it would have been nice for Fox to have a year off to recharge his coaching battery, but most people agree he was on his way out last year in Carolina and I think he was already mentally preparing himself for his next challenge.

Elway’s next task was/is to focus on personnel decisions and the upcoming draft. I think he made a great decision in resigning Champ Bailey. Bailey is probably Denver’s best player and could have left via free agency had he wanted. Champ has always liked Denver. This decision reminds the NFL Denver is committed to their best players and a return to its rightful place of prominence in the NFL hierarchy.

The upcoming NFL draft is Elway’s next stepping stone in rebuilding Denver. The Broncos hold the 2nd overall pick and are sitting in the cat bird’s seat. The current buzz is all about quarterbacks. Cam Newton is expected to be the first selection. Some people feel Denver should take Newton if available. I disagree completely. The total focus of this draft needs to be on improving the defense. If Denver keeps the 2nd pick the two players I like are defensive tackle Marcell, Dareus of Alabama or linebacker Von Miller of Texas A&M. Either player would start immediately and be an excellent building block.

There is some speculation Denver may try to trade down. I would be comfortable with this if they can acquire a second 1st round pick or two extra 2nd round picks. It is a very deep draft for defensive linemen and tackles. The Broncos need to come out of this draft with at least 2 new starters on defense and 2 more rookies receiving significant playing time in a revamped defense.

An under the radar move I would like to see Denver make is signing DeAngelo Williams. The ex-Carolina Panther is a free agent and would form a nice duo with Knowshon Moreno. I think sharing the featured back role would be acceptable to both as neither have shown tremendous durability in their careers. This and other free agent moves will have to wait until the NFL and the players agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.

I am excited for this new chapter in Broncos history. We have new leadership and a renewed emphasis on our great fans. Rebuilding does not happen overnight, but usually happens quicker in the NFL than the other major sports. The clean-up of a hurricane always takes some time, as does building a new Fox Hole.

posted 4/25/2011


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