AFC West: Matt Cssel
Recap: The Broncos had one of their best days in the 25-game Josh McDaniels era. Denver led 35-0 in the second quarter and it had its second highest point total in team history. It was a perfect response for a team that lost 59-14 to Oakland in its previous home game.
Biggest area to fix: pass defense. Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel threw for 469 yards. Now, most of it was in garbage time, so it’s not that big of a deal. But the point is, Denver did allow 469 yards in the air. With Philip Rivers on the horizon, that needs to be fixed.
Biggest area to build on: Denver's fast start. The Broncos scored on its first five offensive possessions and it had 21 points in the first quarter. The Broncos had scored just seven points in the first quarter all season. Teams that start fast often win.
What to watch for: Denver, 3-6, can work its way back in the AFC West race with a win at 4-5 San Diego next Monday night.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
My take: Denver moved up four spots to take him two years ago. He has been injury prone and he has made virtually no impact in his first two NFL seasons. Now, the former defensive end is a third-string linebacker in Denver's 3-4 defense. Two starting linebacker are hurt and the team hasn't drafted anyone at the position yet. This is not a good sign for Moss, who could have a difficult time making the 53-man roster.
My take: The Chiefs may be saying this is an open quarterback competition, but it would be a complete shock if Cassel is not the Kansas City quarterback in 2009. Thigpen played solidly for Kansas City in the second half of last season. He needs to focus on getting better and playing well in the preseason so he becomes attractive to other teams as trade bait.
A great look at the life and times of Todd Marinovich.
My take: Marinovich has always been a fascinating subject. Nearly 20 years after he was taken by Oakland, the former quarterback remains a stunning study.
A look at A.J. Smith's draft history.
My take: Holes can be poked into any draft list, but Smith has done a solid job drafting in San Diego. The Chargers have one of the better rosters in the NFL and the primary reason is because of Smith's draft history.
|Doug Pensinger/Getty Images|
|Quarterback Jay Cutler was unhappy about his name being mentioned in trade talks.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
No matter whom you side with, or whether the Broncos' fractured relationship with franchise quarterback Jay Cutler gets repaired, the Josh McDaniels era in Denver has started on shaky ground.
No team in the NFL has dealt with such unnecessary controversy this offseason.
The entire organization must learn from this. Under the tandem of owner Pat Bowlen and coach Mike Shanahan, the Broncos were known as a team players wanted to play for.
After the McDaniels-Cutler fiasco, that could change. Denver may not be looked at as such a desirable destination after McDaniels engaged in trade talks for Cutler last week, reportedly having considered bringing on board Matt Cassel, who played for him in New England.
The Broncos have announced they will not trade Cutler now and the two sides are expected to communicate soon in an attempt to mend fences. Even if Cutler and McDaniels, who Cutler has maintained were building a strong, new relationship, can find a common ground, it will hover over the 32-year-old coach as he tries to turn around Denver, which stumbled in the final two seasons of the Shanahan era.
|The best moments from Jay Cutler in 2008.|
Denver must learn a valuable lesson from the saga. Things like this just can't happen again. Yes, it could all end well, but this was a serious warning sign for a team that is trying to restore its winning ways.
Here are three areas Denver must pay attention to as it tries to move forward from this public relations disaster.
Bowlen must take charge: Bowlen is not used to being in the spotlight for such drama. It mus be eating at him.
Bowlen has a reputation around the league as being one of the better owners. He is smart, gives his team what it needs to win and his main business interest is the Broncos. He loves his team and he is a daily presence.
He must become a bigger presence. In fact, Bowlen must live up to his own words. It starts with him. He seemed to get that when he fired Shanahan. He made a point to say that he would be making the final call on matters.
Under Shanahan, it was well known in league circles that Shanahan ran the show in Denver. Bowlen is a quiet, shy, nice man who has believed his football people should run the football side.
Still, many thought Shanahan took advantage of his ultra-long leash and there were no checks and balances in Denver the past couple of years. Bowlen seemed to sense public perception by making a point of saying he'd be more involved after firing Shanahan.
But, the word around Denver was that McDaniels, 32, was given the keys to the house in the early stages of his Denver tenure, just as Shanahan was.
Now that this Cutler situation has blown up in Denver's face, perhaps Bowlen truly will take charge.