Jussel Column Aug. 10, 2009

When it comes to the Broncos in 2009, no one has a clue what’s going to happen

Some who claim to know about such things look at the glass as half empty.

Good Denver Bronco fans look at the chilled mug as half full of a favored Boston lager, a pilsner half full of Coors, or a pint half full of Farmer’s Friend or Red Truck.

Sure, the Broncos have some problems. Checked your stock portfolio in the past year or two?

Don’t we all?

The Broncos have a new coach. The old one wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire.

The Broncos face a miserable schedule. So do the San Diego Chargers.

Brandon Marshall has a boo-boo and, boo-hoo, wants more money. I have a new knee and owe a pile of black chips to a casino in Mesquite.

The Broncos have a new quarterback who has to learn a very complicated new offense. The Chicago Bears have a new quarterback who has to learn how to hand the ball off and, on those rare occasions when he does have to pass, no receivers of note.

Tit for Tat. Ying and Yang. Kong vs. Godzilla.

For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

No matter what we think, there is only one thing certain about the new-look Denver Broncos and the upcoming season: No one has a clue what is going to happen.

Tony Kornheiser, fresh off his stint as Monday Night Football television analyst and host of the best show on television, PTI, says the Broncos are a sinking ship, bound for the depths of the National Football League.

Mark Schlereth, former Bronco, current ESPN analyst and seemingly always a Bronco booster, can’t see much success in Denver this coming season, saying, “Their stock is down.

They’ve got the Brandon Marshall (situation) … and their front seven is garbage.”

John Clayton, also on ESPN, says the worst move in the AFC West this offseason was Denver’s conversion to the 3-4 from the 4-3 on defense: “They don’t have enough interior linemen to make that work,” he says.

Doom and gloom is piled high.

Don’t you see what is going to happen?

The national sports story of the year is right in front of us.

What if new coach Josh McDaniels actually knows what he is talking about? What if his cocksure attitude — straight-ahead, no-holds-barred, no-prisoners-taken — actually works and works quicker than anyone (except McDaniels) believes it will?

While much has been made of his age — he is, after all, only 33 — much more could and should be made of the fact that he has interned long and hard for the widely acclaimed best coach in the league, Bill Belichick, and was the architect of an offensive system that has set the league on its collective ear for the past several seasons, last year with a second-string quarterback who hadn’t started a game since high school.

And much could and should be made of the fact that McDaniels is the son of one of the best high school football coaches in history, Thom McDaniels of McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio. McDaniels the younger has been attending two-a-day practice sessions religiously since he was 4 years old. If through nothing else but osmosis, he should know more football than you or I ever will.

What if the sum total of that knowledge actually works quicker than any of the three naysayers above believe it will? Stranger things have happened.

I realize that my “half-full pilsner” attitude might appear a bit overboard here.

But I also believe the doom and gloom spouted throughout the football world about the demise of the Denver Broncos is an overreaction.

The reality of the situation is that the Broncos have only to compete with the best of the AFC West, the Chargers. Get the better of the Chargers once this year, beat up of the hapless Raiders and split with what should be an improving Chiefs team and Denver will again be in the playoff hunt.

The Chargers caught up with, then passed, the Broncos last season to win the division, but were not nearly the caliber of eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh and certainly not of the caliber of the Chargers squads of the previous four seasons.

Again, using the “what if” question … what if the Chargers, who have done very little changing in the offseason, are in a holding pattern, maybe even on the decline?

What if the Chargers, who like Denver, face the entire rough-and-tumble NFC East as well as Baltimore and Pittsburgh, again roughly 8-8?

Could a Denver team that is clearly not in a holding pattern again finish roughly 8-8 and hang with the San Diegans?

It is possible. Until proven otherwise, let us not relegate McDaniels and his new team to the dregs of professional football — not until the glass, mug, pilsner or pint is proven to be more than half empty.

Bartender, kindly fill my mug.


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