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Broncos lose structure with Nolan’s departure

With new coordinator coming in, Denver will start over on defense — again. Matt Bowen

Print This January 19, 2010, 11:55 AM EST

I don’t like the idea of Mike Nolan leaving the Broncos.

Yes, we can sit here and speculate all we want about the comments from both Nolan and head coach Josh McDaniels, call it a “mutual agreement” and all the other nonsense that comes along when someone gets fired under the table — or leaves because of a better opportunity.

But, the bottom line here is that Denver just lost a very good defensive coordinator, only to be replaced by — shockingly — another Bill Belichick disciple from New England, as reports are that Dean Pees is on his way to Denver.

The Broncos made a huge jump this season with some veteran additions that played well in Nolan’s scheme. I understand that the Denver defense did contribute to the club’s 2-8 finish after the 6-0 start, but the point here is that you have to have some sense of structure and stability as a football team.

And now, those defensive players who are returning have to start over with a new coach and a new scheme. It doesn’t matter what type of front Pees runs, because the terminology will be different, as will the meetings, the techniques and the way this team practices and prepares for Sundays.

It will all change, and the Broncos will start over again.

Is this what McDaniels wants, or is this a sign of a young coach who might be in a little over his head? Again, this is just speculation. But when you have the type of collapse the Broncos did after the hot start — with multiple bouquets being thrown your way — followed by the news of Nolan leaving town, it is hard not to wonder what is going on out there in Denver.

Nolan’s unit finished 7th in total defense this season. Veterans Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey had excellent seasons in his scheme, from my perspective, and Elvis Dumervil produced big numbers. They were plus-7 in turnover ratio and were on the right track to installing a defense that could work hand-in-hand with McDaniels' offensive system.

Yes, the run defense was porous — especially in December — but that can be corrected over the course of an offseason, especially when the players know what to expect from their defensive coordinator going into mini-camps and OTAs.

Players want structure and good teams have that solid structure on both sides of the ball. But, that has been removed in Denver.

Time to hand new playbooks out in Denver for the defense — again.

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41

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