It is time to get things going. Training camp started this week with rookies and selected veterans reporting to Dove Valley. Soon the rest of the players will be in; full squad practices begin on Friday.
It was an offseason of change for the Broncos. They have a new head coach and coaching staff, a new set of quarterbacks and a revamped roster.
Here are my choices for the top three moves the Broncos made in the offseason. Since I already wrote about the quarterback position in the last blog, I am not considering what happened with that position for this list.
1 – Signing free agent safety Brian Dawkins. I know, he’s 35 years old. By NFL standards, we all know that is getting up there. But I love the move.
First off, Dawkins is an upgrade to a position the Broncos needed to improve. Maybe he has lost a little speed but I can’t believe that the Broncos would make the financial commitment they made to him if they thought he had lost that much.
Secondly, Dawkins is a winner. I know, he never won a Super Bowl with the Eagles. But they were contenders seemingly every year and he has plenty of playoff experience. You can’t measure how important that is.
Finally, Dawkins, by many accounts, is a terrific locker room presence. He just doesn’t take any you-know-what. He is a consummate pro who keeps the atmosphere right in the locker room. The Broncos need that and I think Dawkins will prove to be a huge addition both on and off the field.
2 – Drafting running back Knowshon Moreno. The two sides will get a contract worked out; I don’t believe there will be a prolonged holdout. I absolutely loved it when the Broncos drafted this young man in the first round. He has speed and strength. It looks like he can make some things happen on the edge and yet doesn’t appear to be afraid to stick his nose inside and get tough yards there.
Plus, he showed himself to be a capable receiver out of the backfield in college. That’s just another weapon the Broncos could have and could be a way to get Moreno the ball in the open field.
I believe that, assuming he doesn’t miss too much training camp, Moreno will emerge as the No. 1 running back. Think of what that does for the Broncos’ depth at the position. The Broncos’ running game should be better than it was a year ago and that will only help Kyle Orton and Chris Simms. It will help time of possession, which then keeps the defense off the field. And it should help field position, too.
3 – Hiring Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator. This has been a merry-go-round of a position the last few years and while I can’t say I know X’s and O’s, I sure like this hire. He has experience in the job, having served in the same capacity with the Giants, Redskins, Jets, and Ravens.
He has also been a head coach so he knows what it is like to sit in that seat and have to make decisions. While I have confidence in Josh McDaniels’ ability to be a good head coach, it won’t hurt him to have a guy like Nolan right there to share ideas with.
More than that, though, and I don’t want to make this sound derogatory towards previous men who have held this position for the Broncos, but it seems like Nolan has a plan of what he wants to do and he is working towards implementing that plan. They want to be a 3-4 team and they’re taking the steps, based on the personnel they have, to run that scheme.
Yes, the Broncos’ defense has a lot of improving to do. I think under Nolan’s leadership, that unit will be better.
Not including the quarterback situation, what moves do you think were the best ones of the off-season for the Broncos? I would love to get your thoughts.
Thanks for reading. Later this week, I’ll look at the start of training camp.