This is the next part in our series of previews of the Eagles 2009 opponents. Joining us for this feature is Dave Schwab, who writes about the Eagles at his site Eagles Lincs.
We continue with the Eagles slate of games against the AFC West. Today, Dave previews the suddenly significant week 16 home matchup the Eagles have with the Denver Broncos. With the subtraction of Jay Cutler, the Broncos are almost certainly not as good as we first thought they'd be when we saw them on the schedule... but the addition of Eagle legend Brian Dawkins makes their visit to the Linc perhaps the most anticipated home game of the year.
Dave's full analysis is after the jump.
The Denver Broncos make a rare visit to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Eagles in week sixteen. The December 27th match up scheduled for 1:00 P.M (EST) features two teams clearly going in different directions. While the Eagles have established stability this off season, putting the right pieces in place for another championship run, the Broncos’ off season has been nothing but turmoil.
Denver’s troubles started when they lost their last three games of the regular season to finish 8-8 and out of the playoffs. Owner, Pat Bowlen thought it was time for a change, so he fired long time head coach Mike Shanahan and hired New England’s offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels to replace him. While that move did not sit well with many of the players, the fact that the new head coach tried to sign free agent quarterback Matt Cassell, infuriated their current Pro Bowl QB Jake Cutler. The issue could not be resolved and Cutler was traded to Chicago. To make matters worse, their Pro Bowl wide receiver, Brandon Marshall is now demanding a trade over a number of issues, primarily money. These two players were the primary reason the Broncos’ offense was ranked second overall and third in passing last season. These two players will not be easily replaced and production will undoubtedly drop off.
Denver’s defense had their fair share of problems last season as they were ranked 29th out of 32 overall. They were equally as bad against the run, ranking 27th as they were against the pass, ranking 26th. While they have tried to address some of these concerns this off season, it doesn’t appear it will be enough to turn things around right away.
Overall this team has its hands filled heading into training camp as well as the regular season. McDaniels has already seemed to lose control of a team he hasn’t even coached a single game for. He will need to instill a sense of confidence that he can run this team and his players can trust him. This will not be easy after the way he has handled some player personnel issues so far. They have replaced a Pro Bowl QB in Cutler, with Kyle Orton who has yet to show he can be successful in this league. They are on the verge of losing a wide receiver that led the team in total receiving yards with 1265 and was ranked 3rd overall in the league. The only thing in their favor is that they play in one of the weakest divisions in the league, the AFC West. The only concern the Eagles may have is that they could be facing a team coming into this game with a 7-7 record that still has a chance to win their division.