Updated: January 4, 2010 at 12:00 am
ENGLEWOOD – Change is coming for the Broncos. Denver's coaching staff, roster and even coach Josh McDaniels’ overall philosophy will be evaluated over the next three or four weeks, and difficult decisions will be made.
After an 8-8 record and a miserable finish, things won’t stay the same.
“I don’t know if it can get more interesting than this past offseason,” cornerback Champ Bailey said. “But it will be interesting to see who stays around and who goes.”
Last season the roster was gutted of many players who were brought in under Mike Shanahan, and that process could continue in the offseason.
“I know this: you can’t stay the same,” McDaniels said. “If the outcome you’re getting is not the one you want, you better change something. If you don’t change it, you’re going to be sorely disappointed the next season.”
Receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Tony Scheffler hugged in the locker room Monday like they didn’t expect to be teammates again. After the past week — in which both were deactivated and chided by McDaniels publicly for their accountability — the soon-to-be free agents seem destined to leave. McDaniels said no decisions have been made, and the decision to deactivate them last week wasn’t an indication of the relationship he had with either player.
Still, there is a sentiment that there was a divide between players McDaniels brought in and Shanahan’s holdovers. Holdovers like Peyton Hillis, Brandon Stokley, Eddie Royal and Scheffler all saw their production dip. McDaniels said that was not by design, and pointed out that Marshall’s production didn’t diminish.
“I think coach is working on taking those issues away,” Scheffler said. “If that means moving players out of here and getting his own deal going, that’s the NFL and that’s something you have to live with. That’s why there’s 32 teams.”
The Broncos have many decisions to make, and a lot will depend on the labor situation. Without a collective-bargaining agreement, key players like Scheffler, Marshall, quarterback Kyle Orton, guard Chris Kuper and outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil will be restricted free agents. The Broncos can also add an impact player with Chicago’s draft pick acquired in the Jay Cutler trade. They will have the 10th or 11th pick, depending on a coin flip with Jacksonville.
Although he will make changes, McDaniels didn’t want to say the Broncos will rebuild. He said he wants to improve on this year, and not go backward.
“We’ve got to do some things different and we’ve got to change some things,” McDaniels said. “If you stand there and just hope, hope is usually not a good game plan in the National Football League."