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Q&A with CBS' Charley Casserly

Posted Oct 16, 2011

CBS Sports' Charley Casserly talked with DenverBroncos.com about the AFC West outlook, the team's strengths and Tim Tebow as a starting quarterback.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With the Broncos off this Sunday for their bye week, DenverBroncos.com checked in with CBS Sports' Charley Casserly, a 16-year veteran National Football League General Manager and 29-year NFL executive for the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans, who you can follow on Twitter (@CasserlyCBS).

He touched on a number of topics, including bright spots for the 1-4 Broncos, how he sees the AFC West shaking out and his thoughts on Tim Tebow.

What do you think of the Broncos naming Tim Tebow the starting quarterback against Miami?
"I think it's the right move. I think (Head) Coach (John) Fox, when he went into training camp, when I talked to him, he said he was going to play the best player. Kyle Orton was the best quarterback coming out of training camp. One thing on that, it's hard when you have three quarterbacks to play all three and get ready for an opening game and be fair to all three. Somebody is going to come up short on playing time. Orton got the initial edge and deserved to start. I can see the thinking there. But as you're going through the season so far, there have been too many mistakes, too many turnovers -- the team is 1-4 at this point. It's logical now to make a move when you have an option to make a move. Tim Tebow is an option. So I think you're doing two things here. One, you're trying to give a jump start to the team and turn your play around at the quarterback position. But everybody has to get better, too. The other thing from a management point, having been a general manager, you've got to find out if Tim Tebow is your answer. What you can't do is come out of this season and not know where you are at the quarterback position."

How successful do you think Tebow will be in the NFL?
"I think that he's a guy that has improved a lot. Clearly he showed that in the preseason. I don't think anybody can sit here and accurately say how good he's going to be until he gets a chance to play. I know that's a stock answer. But this is a guy that would've benefitted a lot from an offseason. There was no offseason. In training camp and preseason, he didn't get the majority of the snaps in the games, but he improved. He's only played a little bit in the season, which really was last Sunday, and that's not a fair evaluation. The amount of practice time he got in the Denver offense was certainly minimal, and probably most of it came on a certain package of plays to take advantage of his running ability. So this will be more of a fair shot, the next amount of time he plays here, to see what he can do. I think people at this point -- it's one thing to judge him in college, but right now I'd hold off any judgement until he plays and give him the benefit of the doubt."

What are your impressions of the Broncos overall this season?
"I think that there are a lot of positives on the offensive side of the ball. Willis McGahee is certainly one of them. He's been a nice surprise running the ball. I think the offensive line is starting to come together -- that's a positive. I think when they can get all their receivers healthy, they've got a nice mix with Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal, Eric Decker and obviously Demaryius Thomas hasn't played yet, but down the road that should be a positive for them. I think the offense, when they get healthy, and if they can not turn the ball over and make some positive plays, you can see a jump there. Defensively, I think the pass rush with (Elvis) Dumervil, when he's healthy, and Von Miller, you've got a real positive there. Getting Champ Bailey back last week, he showed what he could do against Vincent Jackson. The defense is a work in progress. It's a new system. I think players are still adapting to the system as far as executing their assignments. Injuries have certainly been a big factor on defense."

Did you expect Von Miller to have a big impact right away?
"I thought he would on the pass rush. In watching him in college, I thought that he was very explosive off the football. He had a knack as far as having an instinct when to make a move, and I thought he could accelerate to finish the move. So I thought those things would carry over right away. Playing the linebacker position I think will take some time. There's going to be a transition in that, and that's what he's going through, but I think the Broncos got themselves a fine pick, and I don't know why at some point this guy can't be a Pro Bowl outside linebacker."

What do you mean by McGahee being a "nice surprise?"
"It's been a little bit of a surprise -- I wasn't sure what he had left when he left Baltimore. I'd have to say his production has been a surprise, but obviously it's something that Denver was astute enough to make that decision to sign him, and you should credit Denver for that."

Have you been impressed with Eric Decker's development in his second season?
"I have, and it's not surprising. I liked this guy coming out of college. I thought it was a good pick when Denver made it. I think the guy has hands, separation and was what I call pro-ready. In talking to the coaches at the University of Minnesota, they thought this guy was smart, had a good sense of routes, and that's what I saw when I watched him in college. It's not surprising to me the guy has developed the way he has."

Which position group do you feel is the Broncos' strength?
"I like their receiver group. I like that a lot. Lloyd is a good veteran, Royal is a guy that can run, Decker, like we've talked about, and then you've got Demaryius Thomas, who hasn't even gotten on the field yet. That's a pretty good group."

How do you see the AFC West playing out this season?
"I think San Diego is the favorite at this point. They're probably the most solid team. The Raiders are going to hang around and give people fits. The question I have there is their pass defense and pass offense -- is it going to be good enough over 16 games? Their defense against the run hasn't done really well -- they picked it up last Sunday and played more to their level. Kansas City has fought themselves back into the picture, but I just think that the injuries they have, that's enough to keep them out of winning the division. Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki at tight end -- I'm not sure they can replace those players adequately enough to win the division again."

Where do the Broncos fit into the equation?
"You're not out of it at three games back. It's too early to be out of it in any situation. They come back with Miami after the bye, and that's a crucial game to win for a lot of reasons -- one, for the record, and two, for a confidence and momentum factor. It's crucial."

After five weeks of the season, who do you think will be playing in the Super Bowl?
"I would say the two best teams in the conferences right now are Green Bay and New England. I think Green Bay has got an excellent chance. New England, that might be a little bit more wide-open. They're flawed on defense. Green Bay is a bit flawed on defense, but they'll get better. I'm not sure New England is going to get better on defense."