I must admit, it has been a little strange to watch the playoffs without the Broncos taking part. Before the season began, I remember people asking me how I thought the Broncos would do. My response was I thought they would have a record in the 7-9 to 9-7 range and thought they would have a chance to make the playoffs.
In the big picture, the Broncos ended up pretty much where I thought they would. There are so many uncertainties when a new head coach and a new coaching staff take over. The fact the Broncos went 8-8 and missed the playoffs wasn’t discouraging to me. I thought they took some good steps, and I’ll talk about those in a moment.
What made the season so tough was how the Broncos arrived at their final record. When any team starts 6-0, one expects more than a final record of 8-8 and missing out on the postseason.
But in stepping back a little, which is always tough in light of a 2-8 finish, I still believe the Broncos did some really good things this year.
Here are a few of them.
1 – THEY ESTABLISHED A FOUNDATION. With a new coach, this only happens in time. Coach McDaniels clearly had some challenges in his first year and he and his staff handled those challenges. One can agree or disagree with the information out there about how they handled those things, but now every one has a much better idea of his style, his way of doing things, his expectations and all of that.
The tough part about establishing a foundation is that the expectation to win doesn’t change while that is going on. So much of the work of getting into a comfort zone is intangible. It is hard to measure progress. But I believe there was progress. I also believe this will be critical to the team’s success moving forward.
2 – QB KYLE ORTON GOT A YEAR IN THE SYSTEM. People can debate whether or not Orton is the long-term solution at quarterback. I think he is plenty talented to be a playoff-caliber, even championship-caliber quarterback for the Broncos. That topic is for another day.
Even in his first year in Coach McDaniels’ offense, Orton played pretty well. Certainly there is room for improvement but it was also far from a disaster. Now he can build on that. He already has a working knowledge of the offense. He has run it in game situations and had success doing so. Now it can start to become second-nature. Does this guarantee success? Of course not. But I have to believe it will really help.
3 – THEY STARTED 6-0. I know they dropped off after that and they have to figure out why and work to fix the reasons. I can’t however, completely dismiss the fact that they played really well early in the season and showed that they can more than compete. We all know that they have to do so for 16 games, not just six.
But it wasn’t a miserable season. Disappointing finish? Yes. Mystifying in many respects? Yes. But the cupboard isn’t bare. And to me, the glass is still half-full. I fully expect the Broncos to build on the 2009 season and be better in 2010.
I’ll continue to post throughout the offseason. As always, thank you for reading. If you have some final thoughts about the season, feel free to post, keeping them appropriate and constructive in nature.