Pat Bowlen opened up his wallet in recent days, signing three strong defensive linemen: Jarvis Green (formerly with -- surprise! -- New England), Jamal Williams (an ex-Charger) and Justin Bannan (a Baltimore Raven). And while these players are closer to the end of their career than the beginning, all of them seem like significant upgrades capable of improving the squad in two absolutely vital categories: stuffing the run and generating a consistent pass rush.
Which leaves just one question: Why didn't the team do something like this last year?
In January 2009, when Josh McDaniels was chosen to coach the Broncos, I was among many observers who wondered why the hell Bowlen had decided to hire an offensive expert when Denver's biggest problems involved the defense. As I wrote at the time:
Anyone who's watched ten minutes of a Broncos game over the past three seasons understands that the squad's lingering mediocrity is almost entirely attributable to a way-below-par defense. In particular, the Denver D has not been able to generate a consistent or credible pass rush, thereby allowing opposing signal callers of all talent levels to pitch a tent in the pocket and methodically complete passes all over the field.
Then, to compound the confusion, the Broncos used their first round draft pick last year to choose running back Knowshon Moreno, who didn't exactly tear up the league -- in the process bypassing defensive stud Brian Orakpo, who could have become a cornerstone stopper for years to come.
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Oh yeah: There was also that whole Jay Cutler debacle you've probably heard about -- and while he may prove to be a "sniveling NFL superdouche" the Broncos are better off without, Kyle Orton isn't most people's idea of a long-term answer at QB, despite some scattered strong moments last year.
Granted, the Broncos did obtain some significant new defenders during the previous offseason, including Eagles veteran Brian Dawkins, and while the results weren't exactly sterling, particularly during the second half of the season, they were a notable improvement over the year before. But if Joshie McD and company had put their focus on defense last year, the season could have turned out a helluva lot differently.
From that perspective, the acquisition of Green and company represents a lesson learned for the Broncos braintrust -- one that took them a year to figure out even though fans understood it all too well.