Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels can coach offense, but their player procurement was abysmal overall.
That leaves Broncos coach John Fox, G.M. Brian Xanders, and VP John Elway with a lot of work to do. Here’s what we think they should do after the lockout.
1. Sign a starting defensive tackle. And then one more.
This could be the biggest roster hole in the league. After passing on Marcell Dareus with the No. 2 pick, Fox is currently staring at Kevin Vickerson and Louis Leonard atop the depth chart. Fox admitted he must address the position in free agency.
2. Decide on Dawkins quickly.
Brian Dawkins is among the team’s leaders. He may have to take a paycut from his $6 million salary to come back after the Broncos drafted two players at the position. It’s a delicate decision for a new staff because Dawkins is so respected.
3. Trade Kyle Orton if the price is right.
Denver’s quarterback quandary is a tough one. Does this staff truly believe in Tim Tebow? Do they need to see him practice for a few weeks before committing to him?
It makes sense to deal Orton because he’s not under contract for 2012. But we’d only do it for a halfway decent draft pick (third round) or it’s not worth hurting the 2011 Broncos. Orton is probably the best quarterback at present on the roster and that’s not worth dumping unless you get something significant in return.
4. Find a complement to Knowshon Moreno.
We don’t rank this as high as the Broncos seem to, but it’s still an important move. The team may need to sign two players because there is very little behind Moreno. (LenDale White? Lance Ball?)
The Broncos beat writers all seem to think Moreno is headed for a reduced role. That means DeAngelo Williams could be in play.
5. Convert defense quickly.
About that switch to the 3-4 defense we installed two years ago . . . yeah, guys forget that. The transition to Fox’s 4-3 scheme could create more problems than solutions in year one.
Robert Ayers is playing a position he wasn’t drafted to play. Guys like Elvis Dumervil and D.J. Williams can fit in any scheme, but other front seven parts are less clear. Middle linebacker is open, with rookie Nate Irving having a legitimate chance to start.
No. 2 pick Von Miller seemed like an ideal 3-4 outside linebacker; instead he’ll play the strong side.
6. Get the wide receivers healthy.
Second year player Demaryius Thomas may not be ready for a while after Achilles surgery. Eddie Royal is coming off hip surgery. This is a deep position for Denver, so they should be able to survive in the meantime.
7. Add defensive end depth.
Another 4-3 problem. After Dumervil and Ayers, this is a shaky group.
8. Show John Elway in public a lot and keep blaming Josh McDaniels for everything.
That should buy the new regime a year until the fans get restless again, because this roster has a long way to go.