On football: Cutler’s gone, what’s next? | VailDaily.com

On football: Cutler’s gone, what’s next?

Ian Smith
Vail, CO Colorado

The Denver Broncos got worse on Thursday.

They also got better prepared for the future.

Let’s face it, if Jay Cutler didn’t want to play for the Broncos (I’m not buying his last-minute back-pedaling), then Denver did about as well as it could. Chicago gave the Broncos two first-round draft picks, a third-round pick and a veteran QB.

I’ll take it.

Cutler or not, the Broncos weren’t going to make the playoffs in 2009. Not with that sad-sack of players they call a defense.

Now, Denver can rebuild. Yes, it will take time, but with four first-round picks in the next two years, the Broncos can draft talent and fill holes.

Cutler is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league. The problem was not his arm, it was his attitude. The QB needs to a be a leader, a guy who is first in line to do whatever the coach says.

That wasn’t Jay. It probably will never be.

When you employ a coach who believes in every player doing their part, no questions asked, then one who constantly pouts needs to go. Believe me, I hate New England sports with a passion, but give those guys credit, their system works. The Patriots have won three Super Bowls since 2002 and almost went undefeated in 2008 before losing to the Giants.

Moving forward, here’s what Denver must do now.

Draft quality defenders

With its haul of draft picks from Chicago, Denver is in good position to do whatever it wants in this year’s draft. The Broncos should use their No. 12 pick and the Bears No. 18 to build depth on defense.

One of Denver’s biggest weaknesses for as long as I can remember, since Simon Fletcher any ways, has been a lack of a pass rush. Use one of those two picks on a pass-rushing end. Or better yet, trade one of the picks for Julius Peppers, who desperately wants out of Carolina.

The other first-round choice should be used on a linebacker. Southern California’s Ray Malaga would bring an instant attitude to the Broncos at middle linebacker.

I also wouldn’t be opposed to packaging the two first rounders to move up in the draft to select USC’s Mark Sanchez. By most accounts, Sanchez is extremely accurate. That is probably more important in the Broncos’ new offense than arm strength. It’s not like Tom Brady or Matt Cassel possess a cannon for an arm.

Quarterback questions

Kyle Orton is not the long-term answer at quarterback. He’s a stop-gap. The bearded-one is from Altoona, Iowa, home of Adventureland. Or it is the other way around?

Either way, that’s probably the coolest thing about him. My older brother played basketball against him in high school. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make him a good quarterback.

In the very near future, the Broncos will need to draft or sign a quality QB. It doesn’t have to be someone with a rocket arm like Cutler, but rather a someone who will play within the system.

Denver owns plenty of talent on offense with Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Tony Scheffler, Ryan Clady, Ryan Harris and others. The Broncos just need a solid QB to spread around the ball.

The fans have a part in all this, too. They need to be patient. With the trade of Cutler, Denver won’t be winning big anytime soon.

Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or ismith@vaildaily.com.

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