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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dec 30, 2008 By Request: Top 10 Reasons the Broncos Aren’t Going to the Playoffs

  1. San Diego is better. First and foremost, it must be admitted that the 8-8 Chargers are better than the 8-8 Broncos, but you would have a hard time convincing me that either team deserves the playoffs over the New England Patriots. And you simply couldn’t convince me that either deserved to be hosting Indianapolis at home. While I understand the excitement on the part of the Chargers and their fans, the truth is that there just isn’t that much to be proud of in the AFC West this season.
  2. The Broncos defense. The defense was, at best, mediocre this season; most of the time it was truly bad. Somewhere deep inside, though, I knew that they had a perfectly horrid game in them. In the biggest game of their year they managed to play their worst game of the year. There has to be a prize for that somewhere. Honestly, the level of talent on the defensive side of the ball is at its lowest in my memory.
  3. Champ Bailey. While Broncos fans were happy to see him back, it was obvious that he wasn’t healthy.
  4. Jay Cutler. While Cutler has thrown for a tremendous number of yards this season, it’s obvious that he isn’t really quite prime time yet. More on that later, but there is something lacking both in his leadership style and his personal decision making that resulted in far more turnovers this year than there should have been.
  5. Mike Shanahan. Of course, more on his dismissal later, but while Shanahan actually cobbled together a good offense, his defensive personnel decisions have been mostly horrendous over the last few years--and that includes his revolving door at defensive coordinator. I love Shanahan and I admire the record that he earned as a head coach with the Broncos, but I wasn’t sad to hear that he had been dismissed. The only thing that I hope is that whoever fills that head coach position is someone up to the task. ‘09 could be pretty rough.
  6. Inconsistent running game. Of course, this isn’t anyone’s fault--that the Broncos could continue to find bodies to fill the role of running back throughout the season was an amazing feat in and of itself. That many of those backs looked solid is a testament to the talent, depth, and scheme. That there were games where the Broncos couldn’t quite get the running game going in the right direction is singularly unsurprising.
  7. Tackling. When the defense wasn’t out of position, it was missing tackles. I’d love to know how many times this season a Broncos defender found himself alone in the backfield with a running back or a wide receiver and then missed an open tackle.
  8. Third down futility. Occasionally, the defense would manage to get opponents into third and long. Regularly, they let the opponent convert with big plays. Big runs, big passes, big penalties--they were always willing to do what it took to help the other team convert.
  9. Jason Elam. While it isn’t his fault, the decision to let him go definitely haunted the Broncos a few times this year. That personnel decision may still turn out for the best, but the kicking game definitely suffered in the second half of the season. There were times that Matt Prater looked good, but his inconsistency on the mid-range kicks and his inability to put his kickoffs into the end zone really hurt.
    Special teams. Where the kicking game flailed aimlessly, the coverage on kickoffs was particularly bad. The special teams play this year was not as disastrous as the defensive play, but it had its horrific moments.
  10. They obviously had something better to do. Instead of winning one of their last three games or bothering to show up against teams like the Raiders, the Broncos obviously had something better to do. Not sure what that might have been, but there were times where the effort simply wasn’t going into the game and I have to imagine it was going somewhere else instead.

The Broncos--a young team loaded with spectacular talent on offense--might want to remember the failure of this year so that they can address their own shortcomings next year. They failed to make the playoffs by just one game--a game that probably would have saved their coaches job, would have given them a platform to build on for next season. Instead, they ended ugly and they’ll have a new head coach next season.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Top Ten Reasons the Broncos Lost to Buffalo

  1. Another running back bites the dust. After a great start to the game, PJ Pope left the game with a hamstring injury--and though Selvin Young and Tatum Bell did their best to fill in, it was obvious that Pope was the best-prepared running back for the game. Unofficially, this was the millionth Broncos running back to leave a game because of an injury this year. Which is pretty freakin’ amazing.
  2. The Broncos offense notched up lots of yards but not a lot of points. Too many of their drives ended in field goals (or a missed field goal or a turnover late in the game) instead of touchdowns. 
  3. Defense that gave up too many big plays.
  4. Defense that gave up too many yards after the first contact.
  5. The Broncos lost the turnover battle--and they didn’t win too many games this year where they were on the wrong side of that number.
  6. Cutler’s interception on the two yard line while driving for what would have been the winning score is far from his only turnover in the red zone this year. He’ll never not be compared to Elway while he plays in Denver, but while he has thrown for a ton of yards this season--more by far than Elway ever did in any single season during his career--he hasn’t really earned that Elway mantle yet. Elway started in five Super Bowls in his career. Elway had the Broncos in the playoff ten times during his career (including three of his first four seasons and a Super Bowl appearance in his fourth year). Cutler has the physical abilities to be an amazing quarterback, but he still has a good distance to go before he’s truly one of the elite players in the league.
  7. A final offensive series in the first half that was purely inept. It was an ugly series that carried over to their first few series of the second half. As brilliant as their first couple drives were, they never quite regained that original footing.
  8. The strategy of kicking short to keep the ball from the Bills’ returner ensured that the Broncos lost the war for field position in a really big way. Big and ugly.
  9. The Bills were down early but never lost composure. They played a smart, steady, and clean game and absolutely earned the win.
  10. The football gods thought that a final game showdown between San Diego and Denver--two of NFL’s most mediocre teams playing in one of the NFL’s weakest divisions--would be an awfully funny way to end the season for one of these nearly-deserving teams. Whoever wins next week (and, of course, I still hope it’s the Broncos) will be hard-pressed to say that they truly earned the trip to off-season glory. Although San Diego has gone on a late winning streak that has killed off the three game lead that the Broncos had with three games left in the season. Whatever happens, though, the AFC West will be sending an 8-8 team to the playoffs this season. The sense of pride would be minimal.

There have been a ton of injuries and some bad luck for the Broncos this year, but that’s just football. In the final analysis, barring some surprise Super Bowl, this is going to be a tremendously disappointing season. Much of the early season badness can be traced to a bad defense, but the late season mistakes seem just as likely to come from the offense, the special teams, or the coaching staff. There is tremendous talent on the offensive side of the ball and a few shining lights on defense, but they need consistency, passion, and more talent on defense (and to a lesser extent, on special teams) to make this a really good team.

They had their chances today, but they failed to capitalize time and again on those opportunities. As I said: disappointing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Great Pay-as-You-Go Email Marketing

In my life, I’ve worked with a number of providers for email marketing (not spamming--I’m an ethical kind of marketing guy) and found most of them both expensive and lacking in some key area. One of the things that I continue to dislike about my current provider is that I have to pay a subscription.

My email marketing efforts go in waves. Most of the second half of the year only sees me sending out a few thousand a month at very most, but then in December and the first few months of the year, it can jump to 30,000 or so per month. That means that for most months I’m not even coming close to my subscription and that for a couple months I actually pay an overage. Unless I actually remember to change the subscription from one month to the next (and I don’t), I’m wasting money.

Which is one of the reasons that I decided to look for a better service that fits my particular needs. And I found it.

Along with a reasonable pay-as-you-go rate, the reporting tools are great, the list management tools (some of which would be a significant extra cost with my old service) are better and easier to use, the interface is friendly and more consistent, and it’s easier to pull in my custom layouts. While on a per-mail basis, it’s actually a little more expensive, the truth is that I will save money by killing off a subscription service that is mostly underutilized.

I’m thrilled. I’m thrilled in a way that would be hard to explain to folks who aren’t involved in this part of the marketing process.

Point being, if it sounds like you have some of the same needs as me, you might want to give Campaign Monitor a shot for one of your mailings. I’m betting you’ll be happy with the results.

And, no, I haven’t been paid or asked to write about them and I have no expectation that I will be rewarded in any way for pimping their services.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Realizations of the Week

Watching the Blagopalooza of Fun and Corruption, listening to the pundits, politicians, and writers discussing the Chicago machine, I have come to realize something that came as a bit of a surprise to me: outside of the folks in Louisiana, you would have a hard time finding a group or citizens with a higher toleration for corruption than the people of Illinois.

Don’t misunderstand: I’ve always known that politics in Illinois tend to the debauched. What I didn’t quite get was precisely how compliant the voters were and just how nonchalant they seem to be about the reality of their politicians. Hopefully a successful prosecution of Blagojevich (please, God, please) will teach the politicians that the path of perfidy runs the real risk of sending you to jail; and hopefully that same prosecution will teach Illinois citizens to hold their system to a higher standard. 

Return to Form for Owens

Didn’t you just know that Terrel Owens would return to his poisonous form? He’s seemed to be a good team player and said all the right things--until he couldn’t handle it anymore.

While the Dallas Cowboys were trying to downplay a possible rift between Terrell Owens and Jason Witten, the two nearly came to blows on Friday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram first reported Saturday.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, according to team sources, confirmed an incident occurred at the Cowboys training facility when Witten tried to engage Owens in a conversation about a pass route. Owens told Witten to stay away from him and called him a name. The two exchanged words before being separated.

Now he’s crying and bringing unneeded attention to his team like the Terrel of old.

In a strange way it’s kind of nice to have the old TO back. He’s an ass, yes, but it’s always an entertaining break with normalcy, isn’t it?

According to the stats, TO’s whining is also baseless. Over this season and the last few years, he’s actually seen more pass attempts come his way and come away with fewer catches than his sworn arch-enemy. Ouch.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ideas for Job Hunters, Part 1

If business in the world’s oldest profession is suffering a little under the weight of a world economic slowdown, perhaps you should consider moving to the world’s second oldest profession.

As has been noted previously, there really isn’t that much difference between the two.

I suppose I should be mildly impressed that Rod Blagojevich wasn’t willing to whore himself out cheap.

But I’m not.

Update: Jonah gets the tone right for this. Completely.

He’s just a crook. A good, old-fashioned, crook. I know I’m supposed to be outraged, and in a certain sense I am. If he’s guilty of all that’s alleged, I hope they throw him in the stoney lonesome until the Chicago Cubs win the World Series or 2025, whichever comes second. But in another sense, this is just plain enjoyable. It’s like when you watch “Cops” and the idiot burglar tries to hide beside a tree in the dark, even though he’s wearing light-up sneakers. It’s like when Dan Rather dares the world to prove he’s a clueless ass-clown. It’s just good stuff.

Reading the transcripts, this story is absolutely hilarious. I’m glad they caught they guy, but you can’t ask for a more stereotypical bit of Chicago corruption than this. If it had all been in a movie, I would have said that it was over-the-top and unbelievable. It will be a pleasure to watch this story unfold.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Will Results Matter More Than Political Posturing?

Offered without comment (beyond the post title).

Reacting to news that over half of borrowers have failed to keep up with their mortgage payments even after the terms of their loans have been modified, Office of Thrift Supervision director John Reich on Monday said that focusing on job creation might be a better use of federal dollars.

“I do have a concern about money for loan modifications, particularly with such a high range of re-default,” Reich told participants at a conference in Washington organized by the Office of Thrift Supervision. “Focusing on job creation is a better way to focus federal dollars than on a loan modification process may be only partially effective.”

Reich’s statement clashed with Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairwoman Sheila Bair over the best way to use government funds to end the financial crisis.

Reich’s comments were focused, in part, on Bair’s controversial proposal that would use $24.4 billion of a $700 billion government bank bailout program to modify loans. Bair argues that her proposal, which isn’t supported by outgoing Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, could avert 1.5 million foreclosures. Reich also referred to a job creation stimulus proposal put forward by President-elect Barack Obama.

Read the rest.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Clemency for Clarence Aaron

Our government shouldn’t be in the business of destroying the potential of a human life for what is, in context, a small transgression. A life sentence without parole for Clarence Aaron, who has already spent fifteen years in prison, is a joke on its own merits. When put in context of the others sentenced as co-conspirators for the same crime, the joke turns tragic.

Aaron’s five co-conspirators, including the drug ring’s kingpin, Watts, were arrested before him and cut deals with federal prosecutors to testify against Aaron in exchange for reduced sentences.

“The entire testimony was based upon what is commonly called ‘snitches’ or cooperating individuals — people that have been arrested and prosecuted for drug crimes who were seeking to have their sentences reduced by cooperating,” said lawyer Dennis Knizley, who defended Aaron at his trial in 1993.

“They were contending that Clarence was involved in drugs with them,” Knizley said. “The biggest problem in using cooperating individuals is that, one, they have a strained motive to not be totally honest on the witness stand. Second, it is simply their words.”

There was no physical evidence, no drugs, presented at Aaron’s trial.

Watts, who testified he was “a major crack cocaine distributor” who had made more than a million dollars dealing drugs and had six people working for him, was sentenced to 14 years in exchange for his cooperation.

He served seven years and 10 months and was released on April 28, 2000.

Robert Hines, Aaron’s childhood friend who asked him to set up the deal, got 10 years, but he served only four years and four months. Two others served less than five years.

Gary Chisholm, the Baton Rouge dealer, was also sentenced to life, but his sentence was reduced to 24 years, 4 months. His release is expected on April 25, 2014.

Aaron won’t be released.

“Aaron was the lowest man on the totem pole and he got the worst sentence,” said David Borden, executive director of Stop the Drug War, a Washington-based group that has pushed for Aaron’s release.

On average, Aaron’s co-conspirators, career drug dealers who knew better how to work the system, will spend about eight years in prison.

But Clarence Aaron, once a high school and college football player, a church-going member of the Masons, will grow old and die behind bars.

I support tough sentences for violent criminals and sexual predators; Aaron is a guy who made a bad decision, who took part in something that he shouldn’t have, and who is paying for it far out of proportion with his actions.

Not every recipient of a presidential pardon deserves the gift. For Aaron it would recognize the hefty price that he has already paid and it would allow him a chance to rebuild his life. That sounds like a pretty worthy cause to me.

Read the story.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Only In Boulder

Offered without commentary: Boulder Police: Stolen undergarment gallery online.

The gallery can be found here.

It’s times like this that I fondly remember those few years in my early twenties when I lived in Boulder. It’s a special place…

Hat tip to Dave Barry.

24 Obama Dingbats

Which, maybe not quite what you’re expecting…

Check it out.

H/T to Death by Kerning. Which, if you’re a design geek, should be on your RSS reader.

None of which changes the fact that Harry Reid is an idiot. Or that the story will still be how much more intelligent, well-informed, and worldly Obama believers are in comparison to their (assumed to be) backwards, redneck, gun-toting, racist fellow citizens. No matter the facts.

Unused Blog Post Titles, Part 1

I’m going through and deleting old posts that never quite saw the light of day. Things that I started writing and then thought, “Hmmm, probably shouldn’t go there.”

A recent--within the last three weeks--post was going to be directed at a person that I know and his entourage. I decided that it would be wrong to go so personal and so open on this site, though. That’s not what this joint is about. The post title? “Star Fuckers for a Pretty Dim Bulb.”

Heheh. That cracks me up; your mileage may vary.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Kids These Days…

I suppose we should be thankful that kids these days can’t shoot straight, but I’m disappointed in the extreme by the obvious lack of range time that would have yielded far better (and worse) results.

Call me conflicted. Which is, for most people, probably easier to remember than “Ishmael.”

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