2006 season recap
Winds of change
Head coach Mike Shanahan had his eye on the future when he grabbed quarterback Jay Cutler with the No. 11 overall selection in the 2006 NFL Draft. That future was Dec. 3, when Cutler took over the reins with five games to go in the season and with the Broncos in playoff position at 7-4. But the team went 2-3 and failed to reach the playoffs. Shanahan might have sacrificed the playoffs, but now Cutler enters '07 with some experience under his belt.
Key camp questions
Is Travis Henry poised to have the best season of his career?
The Broncos can seemingly put the hot-dog vendor at running back and have him produce 1,000 rushing yards. Henry, however, should be an upgrade over that option. In fact, even with second-year back Mike Bell available, Henry could be the best option Denver has had since Terrell Davis. Henry resurrected his career with 1,211 yards for Tennessee last season.
How will Jay Cutler respond in his first full season as the starter?
Assistant head coach/quarterbacks Mike Heimerdinger loves a quarterback with a strong arm. Cutler gives the Broncos that dimension with a stronger arm than his predecessor, Jake Plummer. Fortunately for Cutler, he won't have to do it on his own, with the addition of Henry, receiver Brandon Stokley and tight end Daniel Graham. Cutler was impressive as a rookie, recording more touchdowns (9) than interceptions (5), so this could be a big season for him.
Can the rebuilt defensive line come together quickly
The defensive line will benefit from having Champ Bailey and Dre Bly on the corners. Smothering the receivers will give the defensive line some extra time to get to the quarterback. That should help with the development of rookies Jarvis Moss and Marcus Thomas.
Key position battle
On the spot
Shanahan raised a few eyebrows when he selected Jay Cutler and drew some scrutiny when he put him in during the '06 playoff drive. Denver went 2-3 in Cutler's five starts, as the team finished out of the playoffs much to the dismay of the Broncos fans who still have visions of John Elway in their head. And you have to wonder how much patience they will have with Cutler -- and the coach who anointed him
One of the brightest young quarterbacks in all the NFL, Cutler showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie and now enters his first full season as Denver's top starter. A terrific sleeper candidate, Cutler is well worth a middle-round choice as a borderline No. 1 or No. 2 fantasy quarterback.