The injury to starting left tackle Ryan Clady is an obvious blow to the Denver Broncos. However, as Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison said after practice Thursday, "The biggest disappointment is for Ryan himself."
It is very disappointing for a fine young man and excellent player. Nevertheless, the reality is that the football season moves forward no matter what.
"I love being coached," said Quarterback Peyton Manning about Dennison.
Of course, it goes without saying that Manning loves being coached. Especially when the coaching is at a high, intelligent and stimulating level.
And therein lies the solution.
Let John Elway and the Broncos' personnel bring in talented players—which they've been doing since Elway's return to football operations—and let the coaches coach.
A significant part of everything the team does on offense will fall under the wing of Dennison. Rick has been a favorite of mine ever since he arrived as an unheralded free agent linebacker from Colorado State University.
He made the team and played for the Broncos from 1982 to 1990, a nine-year span in which he played both defense and special teams.
Before returning to Dove Valley this year, he previously coached the Broncos from 1995 to 2009. During that time he worked as an offensive assistant and special teams coach, before coaching the offensive line and finally becoming offensive coordinator.
If you weren't counting, those above cited years make him the longest tenured Bronco player and coach combination of all-time. 2015 is Rico's 25th overall season in Denver.
He also has a master's degree in Aeronautical Engineering from CSU. So, while it is quite true that coaching football is not rocket science, Dennison is in fact a rocket scientist.
Manning's comment is a hint at the preparation and intellect that Dennison brings to his work coordinating the offense. As he said after Thursday's practice, "All good players—great players—love to be coached."
Coaching does not so much involve the yelling and screaming that gets air time in short video clips. Instead it involves meetings, planning, questions, answers, challenges and feedback—things that belong in a classroom setting, which is where they spend a great deal of time. They spend more time in the classroom than they do on the field.
So, the loss of Ryan Clady is a tough pill to swallow. But, as Dennison said, "We're going to do what we do best. We are the 2015 Denver Broncos."
Not any other version. Not any other year.
We would all do well to remember that it is only late May. It's a long way from the start of the new season.
When asked how concerned he was about not knowing who would be at left tackle Dennison said, "I'd like to go into the first game [knowing who will be on the line]. Preseason, I could care less what we are thinking."
He says the team will go into the first regular season game "knowing what we are going to do."
I really enjoyed watching Dennison's career evolve during his previous time in Denver. There never seemed to be a job he was given that he could not do. And, of course, he was a member of five Super Bowl teams in Denver: three as a player in the 1980's, then consecutive world championships of Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII in 1997 and 1998.
The development of young players is a key part of coaching and we have coaches here with a proven track record. Elway has said that in addition to free agent talent the young guys we have should get a chance to grow and develop.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak, Dennison and offensive line coach Clancy Barone are veterans of the professional football offenses. They understand the diversity of offenses that each new season brings.
There is a lot of offseason left and plenty of time for roles to be filled. Sometimes that can happen in a way that no one ever considered. Young guys can take the field and make it happen.
I have a world of confidence in this coaching staff and so, too, should Broncos fans.
It is never just about one player. That is why football is the ultimate team game.
We all feel terrible for Ryan Clady and wish him a quick recovery. But in the meantime, there is big-time coaching talent evaluating players and positions. I have every bit of confidence in the final product.