After upsetting franchise quarterback Jay Cutler, Denver and the star quarterback went their separate ways, leaving McDaniels and co. without a true gamer at the position, albeit with several knew, young pieces to work with on defense, as well as a stud rookie running back in Knowshon Moreno.
But aside from that, there hasn’t been much done since the Cutler drama or in pre-season to have fans and experts lean one way or another on McDaniels and the Broncos’ future.
Here’s five things to think about for the 2009 season:
5. How Will Peyton Hillis Be Used?
In many different ways, and much more often than Knowshon Moreno-lovers would like to see.
The fact is, Hillis is an outstanding blocker, but it would be an absolute monstrosity to keep him at fullback full-time.
He has elite receiving skills combined with great power rushing ability, making him a great, three-dimensional weapon all over the field.
He’ll be listed as a fullback, but should garner a lot of offensive attention from Josh McDaniels, as he’ll line up as a receiver, tight end, running back, and fullback.
McDaniels has been very vocal about his immense and underrated talent, and he’ll be sure to expose his attributes to the rest of the league, even moreso than Mike Shanahan did last year.
After Orton started his Denver career with three first-half interceptions in a pre-season game, you could see fans calling for McDaniels’ head, and it got even worse when his back-up, Chris Simms, posted much better numbers in the same game.
Still, Orton has good experiene, knows how to win, and is still learning the system.
If Brandon Marshall jumps ship, it could get more difficult for all parties involved, but with Eddie Royal, Tony Scheffler, and a sound rush attack, Orton should be able to thrive in a very pass-happy New England-style offense.
Whether that translates into wins or not will ultimately be on the defense.
It’s sad, but also a very possible truth, considering the new head coach has only elite offensive credentials to his name, and while he’s attempted to address the defense through the draft, he simply many not have the players to make it happen in year one.
Denver fans, prepare for a full-blown rebuilding year with some progress near the end of the season.
However, with two disgrunted super stars in one off-season, McDaniels is either very bad at comunicating and managing elite talent, or he’s simply ridding of prima-dona athletes.
For now, call it a combination of the two. After all, most great coaches (he’s not great yet) have to be both smart and crazy sometimes.
Marshall has all but given up on Denver after rehab and contractual issues, while also citing a downgrade at quarterback as a reason for his “wanting out”.
After all, the guy is in a contract year.
The Denver regime continues to claim Marshall won’t be traded, but if the Jets bite on the current offer on the table (Marshall for David Harris and a first round pick), it’s something that could definitely happen.
While it’s unlikely the Jets give up both the player and the pick, it’s becoming almost even more unlikely that Brandon Marshall is in a Denver uniform come week one.
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Saturday, September 5, 2009
How about none of those?
Why do either of these guys have to be regarded as fantasy (or real world) busts for 2009, just because they are switching teams?
Yes, they both have new offenses, new coaches, new cities, and new weapons.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t good or can’t play at an elite level.
Since both of these players have a hate-wagon following them to every city they go to, I beg of you to relax, sit back, and read an unbiased approach to both of their new situations.
Life is about change, people. Remember the song? Change, change…will do you good. No?
Well, still, both of these guys are talented enough to make things happen in their first year in new colors, and I have evidence as to why I believe so.
Cutler took over for Jake Plummer mid-way through the season three years ago, and showed enough to Mike Shanahan and co. that they knew they had done the right thing.
Trouble is, they stopped at the quarterback, and never built a new defense.
John Lynch, anyone?
Cutler went on to form a bitter and exciting rivalry with Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers, routinely dominate the Oakland Raiders, and finally turned himself into a sure- fire Pro Bowler in 2008.
You don’t pass for 25 touchdowns and over 4,500 yards on a whim. The guy is talented.
He’s got a Brett Favre-moxie that you can’t teach, a rocket arm, and excellent mobility.
To anyone who doubts his ability to win, or his fading at times in clutch situations, I have some news for you.
The guy is 25 years old.
He just started coming into his own last year, and while a change in scenery could potentially affect that growth, I believe he’s already reached a confidence and talent level too high to be knocked back down to where he was as a rookie.
In Chicago he will find no Brandon Marshall’s, no Eddie Royal’s, and no Mike Shanahan.
But he still has weapons.
Devin Hester’s speed and explosiveness could make both players look like magicians in 2008, and Greg Olsen’s size and speed could make Tony Scheffler look like a baby Mark Chmura.
The point is, Cutler may not be quite as “great” as his Denver weapons and numbers made him out to be, but he also isn’t anywhere close to the wimpy, cry baby, drama king that the trade to Chicago made him out to be, either.
He still knows how to play football, and he’s talented enough to make things happen with the few weapons that Chicago does have.
Oh, and this time around, he’ll actually have a supportive defense.
Orton is entering into a system that gave Matt Cassel the quickest quarterback make-over we’ve ever seen.
Cassel had no experience to speak of at any level, and hadn’t started a football game since high school. We may find out fairly soon in Kansas City that, while the guy is talented, he is nowhere near as good as this system (and Randy Moss and Wes Welker) made him out to be.
Do you see the common theme, here? Nothing is what you think it is. At least, not when you’re discussing Cutler and Orton.
Orton tossed over 2,900 yards and 18 touchdowns with those average weapons everyone keeps talking about, and is now walking into Jay Cutler-territory, where he has the luxury of having Marshall, Royal, and Scheffler at his disposal.
So, really, which is it?
Did those talented receivers make Cutler, or did Orton’s lack of talent make him? Or is it both?
I say neither.
Orton proved (on a bum ankle for the final four weeks) that he can manage games, and is talented enough to put up solid numbers, despite not having polished weapons around him.
With a new cast of friends sharing the load on offense, Orton’s numbers could get half-way to where Cutler was last year.
And as far as that whole “system quarterback” label is concerned-so what?
If he is indeed a system quarterback, then that’s all the more reason to pull the trade that Josh McDaniels orchestrated, and nab Orton, a guy who can clearly do what he’s told, when he’s told it, and do it well.
Denver won’t have the defensive support Orton had last year, at least not immediately, but if McDaniels system is anything like Bill Belichick’s in New England, there should be some good results.
If you’re looking to draft either of these guys as sleepers, good luck.
It’s becoming more and more obvious that both quarterbacks are getting very comfortable in their new environment, and with all of their respective offensive weapons healthy, there’s no reason to think they both can’t succeed.
Cutler has his defense backing him, as well as a fantastic weapon in Matt Forte (who people tend to overlook when talking about Cutler’s supporting cast), and whether you like it or not, the guy is actually good.
Orton, on the other hand, is only going to play as bad as Brandon Marshall allows him to, and Eddie Royal is set-up to have huge numbers as the Wes Welker-clone, as well.
If those two receivers are putting up elite numbers, don’t you think Orton will reap some of those benefits?
Real World Summary
If we’re being realistic, it’s as simple as this:
Orton is good enough to help make the Denver offense go, but their offensive line is still aging, and their entire defense is, well, incomplete.
They are probably still a .500 team, but Orton is too smart and safe to have them lose more than nine games.
Cutler, on the other hand, has a good defense and special teams, and while some of his weapons aren’t necessarily elite or proven yet, they have the athleticism and explosive needed to make that jump.
With Cutler’s arm guiding the way, the Bears could enter into the top ten in the league, offensively.
Even if they don’t, Cutler is still better than Orton, and Chicago won’t finish any worse than they did last year, which could equate to Cutler’s first “winning” season.
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Saturday, August 1, 2009
It’s the first day of June, which means all of those premature NFL power rankings and fantasy football rankings are no longer, well, quite as premature.
While everyone (including myself) is discussing LeBron James and his handshake phobia, the Magic and the Lakers, or Bruno’s fall into Eminem’s lap, I’ve decided to take that free fall dive into the loving arms of fantasy football.
And yes, the fantasy realm loves me back.
However, let’s pace ourselves. After all, it is in fact the first month of summer (first day, no less), and we don’t want to generate pre-football heart attacks.
I mean, Brett Favre hasn’t even made up his mind yet, so why should the rest of us be getting antsy?
Regardless, here is a team-by-team look at all 32 starting quarterbacks, their weapons, offenses, and how they may destroy or enhance your team.
Still worried about Favre’s final decision, camp battles, or injuries? I’ll do my best to fill you in, allowing you an early look at which quarterbacks may be the best bets, which could be potential sleepers, and which ones you should stay away from.
Tom Brady—New England Patriots
Matt Cassel is in Kansas City, and Brady is back in camp, meaning two things.
You have nothing to worry about, and you have nothing to worry about.
Brady has looked sharp in limited practice, and still has the same awesome weapons he had in 2007 during his 50-touchdown season. This list isn’t a ranking, but if it were, I’d have Brady at the top.
Verdict: If you can get him in the second round, you’re already winning.
Proj: 4,090 yards, 35 TD, 13 INT
Mark Sanchez—New York Jets
Don’t buy the Kellen Clemens hype (not that there actually is any).
For better or worse, Sanchez will begin the new Joe Namath era.
It won’t be as sexy or productive as either of Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco’s seasons last year, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Jets reached the playoffs.
Verdict: Not yet an option for FF
Proj: 2,400 yards, 16 TD, 17 INT
Trent Edwards—Buffalo Bills
I like the addition of Owens, but not the loss of Marshawn Lynch to start the season.
Edwards isn’t as bad as people think, and now he has a sound offense around him. He’s a borderline top-15 quarterback, and depending on how he looks in pre-season, could crack that barrier quite easily.
Proj: 3,555 yards, 26 TD, 14 INT
Chad Pennington—Miami Dolphins
This is probably Pennington’s last hurrah with Miami, and something tells me the exciting juice that this offense had last season has all but dried up.
Pennington still doesn’t have enticing options, and he’s got two quarterbacks breathing down his neck.
He’ll be serviceable to start the season, but you won’t claim your league’s championship if he’s your starter.
Verdict: He’s a stop-gap
Proj: 3,100 yards, 17 TD, 14 INT
Ben Roethlisberger—Pittsburgh Steelers
If he endures a Super Bowl hang-over, we could see some bad numbers.
Because, as we’ve learned, the less Big Ben throws, the better he is.
He’s still a fantasy quarterback with solid weapons around him, so don’t be afraid to snatch him up.
Proj: 3,470 yards, 23 TD, 18 INT
Brady Quinn—Cleveland Browns
Personally, I think Derek Anderson has the better arm and size, but Braylon Edwards favors Quinn, and the organization is more likely to run with the young, more familiar face.
Quinn is actually a good, young quarterback, and I’m not sure why Eric Mangini isn’t higher on him.
Regardless, aside from Braylon “Mr. Drop” Edwards, Quinn has no weapons.
Verdict: Things could get ugly
Proj: 2,899 yards, 20 TD, 20 INT
Carson Palmer—Cincinnati Bengals
He was awful last season, going 0-4 before bowing out with an arm injury.
However, his weapons are still potentially elite, and if he can return to form, could easily put up numbers that will have you kicking yourself for passing him up in the fourth round.
Verdict: Possibly ends the season as a top-5 passer
Proj: 3,884 yards, 27 TD, 17 INT
Joe Flacco—Baltimore Ravens
Flacco proved to be a capable game-manager, and has reportedly looked good over the offseason.
However, the Ravens are likely to base their offense around the run, and Flacco doesn’t have superstar options surrounding him.
Verdict: See Chad Pennington
Proj: 3,335 yards, 18 TD, 16 INT
Vince Young—Tennessee Titans
Call me crazy, but I don’t see Kerry Collins finishing the first half of the season as the starter.
He’s up there in age, which makes a regression or an injury extremely likely, and if things aren’t going well, he’ll be benched rather quickly.
Young may not have a cloudless head on his shoulders, but he still can make things happen with his feet.
Verdict: Young might surprise some people
Proj: 2,467 yards, 15 TD, 13 INT, 430 r yards, 4 TD
Peyton Manning—Indianapolis Colts
Manning loses Marvin Harrison, Tony Dungy, and two other important assistant coaches.
That doesn’t mean he’ll suddenly lose his touch, but there’s only so much Anthony Gonzales and Austin Collie can make up for.
Verdict: Draft him below Tom Brady, for sure this time
Proj: 4,300 yards, 33 TD, 19 INT
David Garrard—Jacksonville Jaguars
He lost Matt Jones, but gained Torry Holt.
Something tells me Garrard won’t really notice.
Jacksonville’s offense is all about grinding it out, but they were forced to put the ball in the air more last year because of an atrocious offensive line.
Verdict: A better line means Garrard is good again
Proj: 3,090 yards, 20 TD, 12 INT, 260 r yards, 3 TD
Matt Schaub—Houston Texans
Schaub has too many weapons to fail. The only problem is, he needs to stay on the field.
If he can play even 13 games, he’ll put up huge numbers, while leaving everyone guessing, yet again, what he’d do if he played a full season.
Still, with Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Steve Slaton, and Owen Daniels, the future looks good for Schaub.
Verdict: He can lead your team to a title
Proj: 3,800 yards, 25 TD, 16 INT
Philip Rivers—San Diego Chargers
If Rivers’ defense can back him up, unlike in 2008, he could easily approach last year’s numbers, and possibly even surpass them.
With a healthy Antonio Gates and LT, Rivers is more confident than ever.
Verdict: Draft him like he’s Tom Brady
Proj: 4,270 yards, 30 TD, 16 INT
Jeff Garcia—Oakland Raiders
I just don’t see the JaMarcus Russell experiment lasting more than three or four losses in 2009, and wouldn’t be shocked to see him benched in the pre-season.
As long as Garcia wins a few games, Al Davis will let him start. After all, he brought him in for a reason.
Verdict: Nobody in Oakland is worth your while
Proj: 2,300 yards, 15 TD, 9 INT
Matt Cassel—Kansas City Chiefs
Cassel is in a new place with a huge drop-off as far as offensive weapons. He still has good experience from last season, combined with his solid arm and good athleticism.
However, we’ll all be left wondering what could have been, had Tony Gonzalez not been traded to Atlanta.
Verdict: Stay away in year one
Proj: 3,700 yards, 22 TD, 23 INT
Kyle Orton—Denver Broncos
Orton was putting together a solid season in Chicago before hurting his ankle. Once he came back, he played admirably through injury, and didn’t have the best options out there.
In Denver, he’ll have a friendlier offensive line and system, as well as excellent receiving options.
Verdict: Orton could make the leap to elite
Proj: 3,600 yards, 24 TD, 16 INT
The NFC Edition will be made available, depending on the reads/comments for this article. Thanks for reading, and for those basketball enthusiasts, check out my NBA blog: www.robertsroundballreport.com
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Monday, June 1, 2009
Categories: Fantasy Football
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