Friday, August 14, 2009

Pre-Season Hilarity: Broncos v/ 49ers (Updated)

So, the Broncos defense looks like they’re picking up right from where they left off last year.

Which is sad for me.

On the plus side, Brandon Marshall was found not guilty, so he can get right back to the crucial business of trying to get out of Denver.

Which is sad for me.

On the plus-er side, the offense is showing some promise. Not huge plays, but efficient plays, and Eddie Royal and Brandon Stokley look like they’re ready to play.

Which is, well, actually it’s nice for me.

For the record, early in an exceptionally meaningless first quarter of a first pre-season game, Orton is looking pretty good. His arm strength is nowhere near Cutler’s and he works much harder to give the ball some heat, but his accuracy has been good, his field vision has been good...and, damnit, he just threw an interception. And it was entirely his fault.

Which gets us back to sadness.

The second interception (to Dre Bly, former Bronco) is even more painful. But the third is almost funny.

No it’s not.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

About Those Broncos and the 2009 Draft

Consider this, unquestionably, a critique. Consider it, too, a series of predictions (of a sort).

Good. Good athlete, good skills, good pick, good guy.

Too expensive. Decent player, potential starter, but not worth trading a first round pick next year to pick up a roll of the dice in the second round this year.

Promising. Potentially a very good player. While there is a lot to pick over this time through, I’m going to give this one some time to grow on me.

I just don’t get it. Why Knowshon Moreno? Last year the Broncos ended up with a surprisingly decent rushing attack considering all of the injuries that they sustained. What was amazing was how productive many of those rushers were when they played--and the kind of injury plague that they had last season isn’t likely to strike again. Aside from that, the Broncos brought in four expensive running backs in the offseason to compete with those guys from last season. So, heading into the draft, the Broncos had JJ Arrington, Correll Buckhalter, Andre Hall, Peyton Hillis, LaMont Jordan, Andrew Pinnock, Ryan Torain, and Selvin Young on the roster. They let PJ Pope and Michael Pittman go in the offseason and Tatum Bell hasn’t been re-signed after stepping in as a last-minute (and damned decent considering the lack of time to prepare for his role) fill-in for all of the injured backs last season.

There is a lot of talent on that list. The Broncos weren’t a team in search of an offense (although a little more scoring and a little less of the red-zone give-aways would have helped); this was a team that was near the bottom in pretty much every defensive category. It wasn’t just bad coaching, either. There was a serious lack of talent on that side of the ball. Every Broncos fan who wasn’t saying a prayer for a trade up to get Sanchez was probably sitting back and hoping that the first few rounds went to shore up that defense. Using a first rounder on a running back--even one who sounds as talented as this--just wasn’t what we were hoping for.

Don’t imagine that I think Moreno will be a bust because I’m guessing he’s going to be a heck of a player. I just think that the team had much bigger needs that could have been addressed with this pick and that their current talent is more talented than McDaniels seems to believe. The comments at the link above are significantly more positive than mine, but I just don’t see it.

As an aside, and speaking of Broncos cast-offs, teams who are looking for quality back-ups might do well to consider picking up Tatum Bell. He played hard and smart last season. Behind a good line with the right scheme, Bell can still be a player in the NFL.

For that matter, Jamie Winborn should be playing somewhere, too. I was surprised when the Broncos let him this off season. He’s a high energy, big effort, smart linebacker who might not have the same physical skills as some of the top names in the league, but who makes a great back-up who showed a talent for big plays and getting himself into good position to make plays. And, not to be unkind, but he was far more productive than a few names on the Broncos current roster. Like Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder, for instance.

In fact, Winborn had more tackles last year (99 with 74 solo) than both Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder had in the last two seasons. Combined.

Now, back to the draft…

This is out of order, but what the hell? Of all the moves and all the picks, this one puzzles and worries me the most.

First, the Broncos weren’t really in dire need of a new tight end. Second, they traded their third round picks to move up to the second round to pick this guy--and I think he would still have been on the board in the third if they had waited. In fact, he well have been available in the fourth round and (by his own admission) he was thinking he might have to go the free agency route to find a team. He wasn’t the only one surprised that he was picked so high.

He didn’t have a distinguished career, he doesn’t have a history of being much of a receiving threat, and, yes, he can block but so can every one else on the Broncos squad. One of the great things about Shanahan was how he preached that everyone blocks in the running game and blocks hard. This just wasn’t their biggest need and they gave up their two picks in the third to get him when they didn’t have to. Let me put this as plainly as I can, even if he is a great pick, they didn’t need to give anything away to get their guy--it was a royally bad decision that leaves them as spectators until the fourth round and watching talent slip away that could have helped with their real needs.

The silver lining is that McDaniels seems to have picked some good citizens, some high-effort guys, and all these guys could all be starters.

But he didn’t plug all the defensive holes that most fans and experts hoped to see filled. Is this a sign of arrogance, bad strategy, or some strange genius that the rest of us will catch onto slowly over the course of the next two seasons?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Looks Like Jay Cutler is Going Bye Bye (Updated)

The Broncos-Cutler rift looks like it is going to be resolved with a trade. This is disappointing since Cutler is a talented young quarterback and it seems that there should have been some way for the Broncos and Cutler to bridge their gap--but I still leave most of the blame in Cutler’s corner for having taken word of a potential trade as being something personal rather than what it was: a business transaction. When he refused to return the phone calls of the team owner, he was making a really bad decision.

CBS4 has learned that disgruntled Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler is no longer in Denver and is done negotiating with the team. Cutler will not be attending Monday’s voluntary team workout. Sources tell CBS4 he has told the Broncos to trade him.

Cutler and his agent met face-to-face with the Broncos Saturday where no progress was made between the quarterback and his new head coach.

I hope that wherever he lands he will be successful. By all accounts, he’s also a very good citizen who has given quite a bit to the Denver community--and he will be missed in many ways. But this ending was his choice. 

Read the story.

Update: And ESPN has a story that gives a much more sympathetic ear to the Cutler side of the story. Read it here. Doesn’t change my overall feelings, but it does give Cutler the opportunity to say his piece.

I would still hope that there is a chance to fix the situation--but these guys are suffering a serious communications issue. And here’s another take that brings Bill Belichick into the story.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Broncos Who Need to Grow Up a Bit: Quarterback Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler needs to grow up a little.

Football is a business and sometimes people get traded--especially when there are sweeping changes in coaching staff, systems, and personnel. Acting as if he’s untouchable, as if the world revolves around him and his still-uneven skills, is just another sign of the kind of immaturity that is unlikely to lead to a championship ring in the near future.

Cutler told The Post he feels his relationship with McDaniels has “taken a few steps backward.”

“I don’t know if the relationship is irreconcilably broken,” Cook said. “But I know that as much as he’s meant to the organization and that ballclub, if there were attempts to trade him, then I think Jay Cutler is 100 percent right to be more than just a little bit miffed.”

Cutler is 17-20 with no playoff appearances since supplanting Jake Plummer late in the 2006 season, and he’s known for his petulant, moody personality in his dealings with teammates and the media alike.

“There’s an awful lot of smoke for there not to be a fire,” Cook said. “If they were in fact trying to trade Jay Cutler, then I think that’s a situation that’s going to cause a very serious problem for the organization.

“If they weren’t, maybe he forgives and forgets. But if they were, that’s going to be a very difficult situation to repair.”

He’s a quarterback with tremendous potential, but he really needs to understand his role in the organization--that of a highly skilled, important, and valued employee who can either be a leader of men or a petulant boy when things don’t go his way--so that he can become a more productive member. I love watching him play and I still think he has the skill to bring the Broncos to a championship some day, but more and more I find myself wondering if he’s really just a Jeff George-like figure that will be mostly forgotten when his career has ended.

NFL careers are short. Even the long tenures don’t often have more than a few close brushes with national championships (which is one of the reasons I still marvel at John Elway’s five Super Bowl starts), and if Cutler can’t find a way to start leading his team to playoffs, the truth is that the team might be better off with someone who shows less physical talent and more leadership ability.

Just sayin’.

Read the story.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Short Super Bowl Commercial Reviews

The Dorito’s “Crystal Ball” commercial was week. Undoubtedly cool on paper, it was too obvious, too obnoxious, and poorly presented.

That was a waste of a few million bucks.

Update: Bud Light and Conan O’Brien was mildly cute, though. Which is probably the nicest thing I’ve ever had to say about anything involving O’Brien.

Does anyone else get the feeling that the Steelers are going to spend the day bullying the Cards in brutal fashion? I’d love to see Warner walk away with the win, but I just don’t think that Arizona has the talent to win this one.

Update: Bridgestone Mr & Mrs. Potato(e) Head ad was really cute. And I was glad to see her lips fall down the mountain, too. On the other hand, the Castrol Edge King of the Monkeys ad fell flat to me. Not as bad as the new The Fast and the Furious movie, but pretty horrible.

The second Doritos ad--I shall call it “Wish Fulfillment"--was pretty weak, too, although it’s badness was overshadowed by yet another idiotic GoDaddy.com spot. I’m not a stickler for good taste, but the GoDaddy ads are so ridiculously juvenile and obvious in intent. Wish they’d spend some of that ad money on trying to fix their dismal user interface.

Just sayin’.

Update: Cars.com David Abernathy ad had a strong Wes Anderson vibe. I’m torn--it got my attention, which is good, but it had almost no payoff in the end, which is bad. Dunno.

Update: Hate the eTrade babies. Hate hate hate. Which is okay because I liked (liked liked liked) the Bud Light sketching guy ad. Because I’m a sucker for humor involving potentially major injuries. And for Chester Cheetah--I used to do a killer impression of the mutant love child of Chester Cheetah and Freddy Krueger.

For some reason.

Update: Okay, I have to send a special love note to the Heroes v/ NFL greats ad--having Elway fly in like Superman was an inspired touch.

And, yes, I’m ridiculously biased on the subject.

Update: Okay, I really like both the Priceline Negotiator ad with Shatner coaching a husband on how to convince his wife that they can afford a vacation. Shatner’s continued willingness to laugh at himself has made him one of the most likable (and, yes, cheesy) stars in Hollywood. I also liked the 1st Bank identity protection ad--funny, effective, creative, and timely.

Last Update (Probably): And now I’m bored by both the game and the ads. I’m moving on to a baked potato swimming in tasty chicken chipotle chili. Yum!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Appalled, Disappointed, Sad, and Proud (And Proud Some More)

Firstly, I am appalled. Whatever message was intended, whatever he wanted to say with the “drunken negro cookies” in honor (?!) of our President, it not only defies sense, but it is in hideously bad taste. He deserves the boycott that is sure to come.

Secondly, I am disappointed. Not gravely, but enough that it brought to mind one of those bits of Kipling that springs up in my mind from time to time:

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-’alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.

Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy how’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

You can read the rest here, if so inclined. I read it first, if memory serves, in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers--a love letter to the bloody infantry--and it’s always stuck with me.

I am saddened by the death of Shane Dronett. It’s hard to say precisely why because I never knew him, don’t know if he was a great guy or not, and know nothing about him other than the fact that he left behind a wife and two children, that he was a pretty good player, and that his teammates seemed to like him quite a bit. Maybe it’s just because I know that a guy has to be feeling pretty low to want to kill himself--and, yes, I know and even agree with the idea that it’s a selfish act especially in light of the family that he left behind. But it’s still sad.

Thank goodness there’s a little happiness on this list, too.

I’m ridiculously proud of Mr. Lady’s nomination for the 2009 Bloggies as Best Candadian Blogger. You’ll have to scroll sideways to get to her category, though, which annoys the living hell out of me. Anyway, she may be a freakin’ lefty, but she’s our freakin’ lefty and I hope you’ll all help me stuff the ballot box on this one. The fact that she’s not actually a Canuckistanian by birth, on the other hand, I can’t help with.

I’m just as proud of my friend, Diane, for her cool elephant. No, really, check it out. She’s wonderfully talented and about as nice a woman as you’re ever likely to meet.

Monday, January 19, 2009

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.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Broncos Embrace the Ugly

Ugly is the only way to describe the Broncos’ loss to New England. Well, perhaps not the only way. You could also say it was inept, hideous, disappointing, and plain old bad. And there are no excuses for the Broncos who lost an ugly, but winnable game last week--a game that showed up every shortcoming that the Patriots exploited tonight.

Like turnovers. The team saw two early, promising drives end on Dante Hall fumbles, saw Jay Cutler throw a couple picks, and saw Patrick Ramsey add one of his own. For a time, the offense looked like it could work its way back into the game, but the turnovers and bad penalties stole hope away every time.

But, Zomby, what about the injuries? That’s no excuse for such poor play and the Patriots could match the Broncos injury for injury if it came down to comparisons. Certainly, it didn’t help that Cutler injured his hand on the very first offensive play of the game--that that had nothing to do with Hall putting the ball on the ground twice early. Certainly, it hurt that both Baileys (Boss and Champ) left with injuries, but the game was out of hand well before that point. Champ Bailey’s absence only proved two things to me: that without him no one on the Broncos’ defense can be relied on to cover a good wide receiver and the Broncos defense really is as bad as advertised.

Because as much as the Broncos offense may have dropped the ball (sorry), the defense played a listless and fruitless game. Big plays, bad tackling, dumb penalties--you name it, they did it.

The Broncos used up their good luck early in the year and haven’t made their case for having earned the top spot in the AFC West. Only the weakness of the conference sees them still looking better than the uneven Chargers and woefully bad Chiefs and Raiders.

Not much in the way of happy thoughts could possibly be attached to a game this phenomenally bad.

None of which changes the fact that Obama supporters are using the accusation of racism against McCain-Palin supporters with sickening regularity and little in the way of evidence. I had thought that race problems in the US were decreasing, but the hysterics and the baseless claims of racism for the pedestrian crime of disagreeing over which candidate would better serve as the United States’ next president.

I’m not stupid. I know that there really is racism in the United States. I know a woman who won’t vote for either candidate--Obama because he is black and a liberal and McCain because he picked a woman as his running mate. Not because he picked Palin, but because he picked a woman. I know other people that aren’t convinced that Obama isn’t a secret Muslim and won’t vote for him based on that worry.

I’m not stupid. But that doesn’t mean that every slight or misunderstood word (cakewalk?) is a sign of racist intent. The repetition of the accusation without evidence speaks volumes about the bad faith of the accusers--these aren’t folks debating or having a reasonable conversation, these are folks hitting out with one of the bluntest of instruments.

False accusations of racism (similar to rape) just cheapen and deaden people to real acts of racism in our country.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

One Thought on the Broncos Loss

I could write a lot about the Broncos’ loss to the Jags today--about ball control, about ball protection, about strange play calls--but I think this is the best thing that I can say right now: today’s game was an extension of the last game, with all it’s positives and negatives, but without the happy ending.

Everything goes better with a happy ending.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

12 Observations Evenly Divided Between the Broncos and Other Stuff That Caught My Attention Today

  1. Broncos Find a Defense. The same crew that made KC look like offensive powerhouses last week somehow held Tampa to two field goals over the course of 58 minutes of game play. And they did it by getting pressure on the quarterback, sacking the quarterback, and playing strong against the run. Tampa’s per rush average was good (6.3 yards per carry), but that doesn’t count the times that the Bucs came up empty on third and short through much of the game.
  2. Did They Even Pass on Champ? I know that through much of the first half, the Bucs failed to attempt a pass in Champ Bailey’s direction. Does anyone know if that held throughout the game? I can’t remember. Bailey is having an interesting season. With so few passes against him, he hasn’t made the splashy interceptions or big hits (except when he cheats up for run support--in which case he’s been nothing short of spectacular); but he’s shut down a good chunk of the field every games. He changes the game just by showing up. I wonder if that’s enough to get him into the Pro Bowl this year?
  3. They Picked a Good Time to Show Up. Speaking of the Broncos’ D, it’s a damned good thing they showed up today. The offense was something close to pedestrian. It was nice to see Brandon Stokley have such a solid day, though (six catches for 52 yards and a touchdown). He’s far more talented than some people realize and when Royal went down with an ankle injury the passing game didn’t much suffer.
  4. Jane Smiley is, Indeed, an Idiot. And Steve Green has the proof.
  5. A Musical Abomination. During today’s game, Toyota ran an ad (over and over again, damnit) using the Fixx’s song “Saved by Zero"--a remade, re-imagined, totally screwed up version of the song. In fact, the first time I heard it, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was listening to; it was the second time that the ad came on that I fully realized the horror of what had been done. Presented here is a short playlist of songs from the Fixx that you might remember if you are of a certain age. It doesn’t change Toyota’s screw up, but at least you might enjoy the trip down 80’s Pop Lane.
  6. Sometimes Turnovers Kill, Sometimes They Don’t. One of the Broncos’ big problems last week was the turnovers. Between the two ugly fumbles, Cutler’s pair of bad passes, and the Chiefs the Chief’s aggressive defense, the turnovers hurt bad. Not only did the Broncos take better care of the ball today, but their one turnover didn’t much hurt.
  7. That is Some Serious Free-Range Stupidity. Some days it seems that common sense is dead in the U.S. Know what I mean?
  8. More Stupidity. No, I don’t care if Biden is sporting a little Botox. I do care about fundraising irregularities in the Obama camp, but a little potential vanity on Biden’s part doesn’t quite reach me as a serious voting issue.
  9. What’s With Passing on Third and Short? Last week and this week the Broncos attempted passes on third and short (one or two yards to go) in important situations where grinding out a few first downs could mean a lot in the game. I like the confidence in the passing game, I like the bold play calling through much of the rest of the game, but with a guy like Pittman in the backfield it wouldn’t hurt to use the ground game to control the clock and the pace of the game. And, yeah, I’d probably be saying something very different if they hadn’t failed to convert.
  10. In Case You Missed it... I do care about fundraising irregularities. It’s not a make or break issue (generally), but it matters.
  11. Yeah, Olbermann is an Ass. See what I mean? To be fair, though, I did think that Lowry’s commentary was a bit over the top and the idea of O’Reilly as a debate moderator is laughable. Just sayin’.
  12. A Win is a Win. It wasn’t the most exciting and it wasn’t the prettiest, but it was actually a pretty strong win today for the Broncos. Especially since San Diego and the Chiefs both lost today. The Raiders didn’t fall any further behind, but I have to wonder how they’ll respond to their mid-season coaching change. My guess is that it won’t be pretty.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

JaMarcus Russell Shows Something That Al Davis Apparently Can’t: Class

I enjoyed seeing JaMarcus Russell reacted remarkably well to the (not entirely unexpected) firing of Raiders former head coach, Lane Kiffin, and the controversy that Al Davis tried to stir up by trying to drive a wedge between Kiffin and Russell. It helped confirm my belief that the biggest thing wrong with the Raiders is the hag of an owner that has driven the team into the dirt.

Russell did not watch the televised news conference announcing Kiffin’s firing and acknowledged he was disappointed by the move. He also defended Kiffin’s decision to bring him along slowly as a quarterback, a move that has been criticized as the Raiders got off to a slow start this year.

“Hey, with the mistakes I made in the Jacksonville game [last season], if I had gotten out there early, at the beginning of the season, things would have been flying a little faster for me and who’s to say, I might have did a lot worse,” Russell said. “I appreciate his time sitting me down. I learned a lot from it, and once I got out there, everything kind of slowed down for me.

“I appreciate the opportunity he gave me to play in the National Football League. I wish for him to go out and get him a job, because he’s a good guy, a good coach. I don’t look for him to sit around long; he should be able to get a job somewhere.”

It speaks well for the man that he refused to allow himself to be drawn into the controversy and he had only good things to say about his former coach. I can’t yet say whether he’ll be a great quarterback for the team, but it would seem that he has the right attitude for them to build a team around.

Read the rest.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Is Stupid Just Something that Travis Henry Has to Do?

Travis Henry, a talented running back and a ridiculously dumb human being, is facing a new round of legal problems.

Former Broncos running back Travis Henry was arrested yesterday along with an accomplice for a large cocaine sale out of Centennial, according to federal authorities.

Charges were filed against Henry and James Mack this morning in U.S. District Court in Denver, according to a news release by Jeffrey D. Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge of the Rocky Mountain Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Not content to screw himself out of his football career, Henry is now moving on to bigger and better screw-ups.


Read the story.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Broncos Thoughts of the Day: There’s No “D” in DenverEdition

One of us is in Vegas. And it’s probably me. Which is why this will likely be the only post from me until Wednesday--but the game was so fun that I just couldn’t help myself.

  1. Predominantly orange looks kind of strange now, doesn’t it?
  2. I like the “I’m a PC” ads. They own’t convert me, they won’t make me suddely believe that Vista is anything other than the abomination that it is, but the ad I saw was very nicely done. Does this spell the end of Apple’s “Mac Gently Mocks PC” ads?
  3. Man, if the Broncos could find a defense, they would be monsters. Rushing three for most of the game simply doesn’t get the job done--especially when it means you’re giving a quarterback like Drew Brees a ton of time in the pocket. Yes, the D did manage a fumble recovery and a late-game third down stop that were important to the win, but they also gave up huge yards throughout the game and almost saw the win get away from them.
  4. Fair is fair, though: that was a great goal line stand at the end of the first half. I can’t believe that Sean Payton ran it up the gut four times straight, but however questionable that play calling was, the Broncos answered the call with four straight, perfect stops.
  5. Which was tainted a bit by the Denver offense promptly giving up the safety and the Broncos’ special teams blowing the free kick. Damage: two points for the Saints and a missed Gramatica field goal--which, I had no idea that “Gramatica - Miss” was going to be the theme of the day.
  6. Is every game this year going to be this uneasy down the stretch?
  7. Turnovers kill. Absolutely kill. The Broncos were lucky to get past their mistakes, weren’t they?
  8. But two missed (and entirely makeable) field goals can be even worse.
  9. Three wins and no losses should feel better than this, shouldn’t it? Not that I’m complaining too much: the Broncos early schedule gives way to a whole lot of road games later in the year and they’ll need to build up as much of a buffer between themselves and the Chargers as they can.
  10. This team has used an entire year’s good luck to this point in the season; they need to find a way to win sans football god intervention. Right now they look like a team taht will make the playoffs, but it’s hard to imagine them winning a championship. The defense is too soft and the offense takes the kind of risks that will, sooner or later, catch up with them. But they’ll be fun as hell to watch and they might manage to set a few records along the way.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ten Reasons the Broncos are 2-0

  1. Shanahan’s gutsy call on the two point conversion...
    In the last half minute of the game, Mike Shanahan set himself up to either return to genius status or to be reviled by all of Denver for at least the next week. Down by a touchdown, beneficiaries of a favorable call (the second really big call of the game that went for the Broncos--and more on that later) that kept the ball in the Broncos’ hands, Denver pulled to within one point with a great touchdown pass from Jay Cutler. Typically this is an easy call: go for the extra point and get the game into overtime.

    There was no hesitation on the Broncos sideline, though, and the call was for a two point conversion. Instead of taking the safe play, Shanahan gambled on winning now--a gamble that left him either hero or goat for the week.

    Hey, hero.

  2. Brandon Marshall’s return...
    Brandon Marshall--eighteen catches for 166 yards and a touchdown--had the kind of day that Eddie Royal had a week ago. That is, brilliant. His first game back after the one game time-out was as good as Broncos fans had hoped, and he’s shaping up to be one of the best receivers in the league.
  3. The rest of the receiving corps...
    And the rest of the Broncos did pretty well catching the ball down field, too. Six other Broncos caught at least one pass on the day with tight end Tony Scheffler’s six catches and two touchdowns really standing out. Eddie Royal didn’t have the kind of week that he had against the Raiders, but his five catches, touchdown, and reception for the two point conversion were all important to the Broncos winning the game. This team knows how to throw the ball. Or, more precisely, Jay Cutler knows how to throw the ball…
  4. Jay Cutler...
    What a great game. Take away the one interception--on a ball that he never should have thrown--and his four touchdown, 350 yard day was superb. He is starting the season in Pro Bowl form. Did the Broncos get the best quarterback of the 2006 draft? Maybe so. He did put the ball on the ground twice today, though, and the game could have gone in a very different direction.
  5. The running back committee...
    For the second straight week, the top three running backs for the Broncos each averaged more than four yards per carry, with Selvin Young going for a gaudy 9.8 yard average. I’m not entirely sure that the Broncos will end up with a 1,000 yard rusher this year, though it’s not beyond either Young or Hall to make that mark, but I feel pretty certain that the Broncos are going to keep running the ball successfully this year. Young and Hall both have good moves, speed, and strong legs and Pittman, who has become an important part of the rushing offense, is showing his value, too. Great stuff.
  6. The offensive line...
    Coming into the year, I was worried about the Broncos defense getting pressure on quarterbacks, giving up too many yards on the ground, and not closing the deal when they get opposing teams into third and long situations. My next biggest fear was an offensive line. While I’m still wondering why the Broncos couldn’t put the Chargers away when they had a big lead, why they let the Chargers convert some long third downs in the second half, and how they let San Diego’s Sproles do so damned much running, receiving, and returning the ball, apparently I didn’t really need to worry about the o-line. Cutler has time to pass, running backs are finding lanes, and defenses are getting pushed around on the goal line.
  7. No Merriman and very little Tomlinson...
    San Diego could have used Shawn Merriman and a healthy LT. Just sayin’.
  8. A defense doing just enough...
    While the Denver defense didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence today--they gave up big plays, watched long third downs converted with regularity in the second half, and had serious problems in coverage--they did do just enough to win. Included in “just enough” was forcing San Diego to settle for field goals twice when it looked like they were marching for touchdowns. If both of those second half drives had ended in seven points instead, the game wouldn’t have been a giddy, weird Broncos win. It would have been a tremendously disappointing loss.
  9. A newfound willingness to score touchdowns...
    Last year, the Broncos scored pretty regularly. Unfortunately a lot of those scores were field goals. This year has been different: the Broncos are scoring touchdowns--lots of touchdowns--and they are doing it from everywhere on the field. Short or long doesn’t matter: Shanahan’s team has remembered how to score big points and it is serving them well.
  10. The football gods looked upon them and smiled...
    Two reviewed calls went the Broncos way that shouldn’t have--although both calls were also completely in line with the rule book. Both calls involved possession (Champ Bailey’s interception and Jay Cutler’s late fumble) and both possessions ended in Broncos touchdowns. Luck only plays so much of a role in life, but today chance might have taken center stage. The Broncos won’t win too many games with this kind of luck, and might not win too many games with this kind of performance.

    Not that I’ll complain too loudly. I’m greatly appreciative of the kindness of the football gods.

Update: Darren does the play-by-play. Apparently he was also in the San Diego locker room after the game--and I’d love to hear the raw sound bites from that excursion.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ten Thoughts About the Broncos Opener

  1. I’m not saying there should be a mercy rule, but...
    Pro sports don’t need mercy rules, but it’s hard to avoid thinking that the Raiders fans deserved some anesthesia by the end of this one.
  2. Don’t make too much of it...
    While the Raiders might be as bad as advertised--and I still expect them to end up at the bottom of the AFC West heap--I’m not so sure that the Broncos are quite as good as they seemed. Denver is tremendous on offense, but the defense was playing against a team that happily shot its own toes off all night. Aside from two good drives (one ending in a turnover and one ending in a touchdown) the Raiders were hideous bad all night and didn’t even show a lot that could encourage fans for the rest of this season. The late touchdown pass hardly counts since it came when the Broncos seemed to have lost a little interest in the game.
  3. Eddie Royal...
    On a night where Brandon Marshall was serving his one game suspension for rampant tomfoolery, the rookie Eddie Royal made his case for being one of the big picks of this year’s draft. Not only did he catch a lot of balls (9) and put up a lot of yards (146) for a touchdown, but he did it most of the night against Oakland’s best cover man, DeAngleo Hall. If he does this regularly, he’s going to be a big star--and Denver will be well served by having this guy playing opposite Brandon Marshall. Impressive as hell. He’s also smart--he did a bunch of little things that made him look like a seasoned vet.
  4. The running game...
    The Broncos didn’t feature one back tonight, they featured all of their backs tonight. Three rushing touchdowns and some big yards on the ground weren’t the big part of the running story. The big part was that the top three rushers all rushed for more than 4.5 yards per carry--Andre Hall rushed for 6.1 yards per carry and Selvin Young rushed for 5.1 yards per carry.
  5. Jay Cutler is a star...
    Jay Cutler is a damned fine quarterback. He’s got a hell of an arm, he sees the field well, and he’s making smart decisions. If he stays healthy, this is shaping up to be a hell of a year for him.
  6. Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates...
    Spending that much money on Seinfeld (at least I assume it took a big chunk o’ cash) and the best you can come up with is “adjust your shorts?” What a dumb, dumb ad.
  7. Al Davis...
    I still say that the biggest malfunction in the Raiders organization--aside from a relative lack of talent and a clueless coaching staff--is Al Davis, the guy who bullies his staff and makes the majority if the personnel choices. He is the head of a dysfunctional family that hasn’t been even passably good over the last four years.
  8. Still not convinced about the Broncos pass rush...
    The Broncos defense did get good pressure on the quarterback today--one of their key weaknesses over the last few years--they did it on a team that was playing from behind early. When the game was out of hand for the Raiders, the Bronc’s defense took chances and really pushed the Raiders around. But will that translate into any of the better teams in the league? Not so sure.
  9. Next week...
    The home opener against San Diego will be a much tougher test for the orange and blue, especially coming off a painful and close loss.
  10. For now, though, it’s always fun to watch the Raiders lose...
    ...Especially when it’s the Broncos doing the bullying.

Update: Another man enjoying the moment.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

All Your Yards Are Belong to Us (Good Lord, That’s Getting Old, Isn’t It?)

Fantasy football--for all you mini Al Davises out there--could become a very different thing in the future. Or, at least, it could be come a little bit more expensive.

Apparently the NFL Players Association believes player statistics are something that belong to the player and that operators of fantasy football sites, like CBS Interactive--owe the NFLPA a little bit of licensing money.  Which seems mighty stupid to me.

CBS Interactive has filed a federal lawsuit in Minneapolis to clarify who can use the statistics that underlie fantasy football leagues.
CBS seeks a ruling saying that the players cannot control use of the publicly available numbers and cannot demand that CBS pay for their use.

Let’s just say that I’m on the CBS side of this argument.

Read the rest.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Brett Favre will Play for the Jets. Green Bay Weeps.

It just ain’t right.

The Brett Favre era in Green Bay is now officially over. But Favre’s legendary career is not.

The month-long saga has finally come to an end, with the Packers agreeing to trade their future Hall-of-Fame quarterback to the New York Jets, FOXSports.com has learned.

The exact compensation was not immediately known, but it is believed to be a single draft pick that increases in value depending upon how the Jets perform during the 2008 season.

I understand it all from the Packers point of view. I understand it from Favre’s point of view. I certainly understand it from the Jets’ point of view.

But it still won’t be right seeing Brett Favre playing in another team’s uniform. He has been the face of the Pack for so long now that it’s hard to think of him without them and, for a time at least, impossible to think of him without them.

All I know is that I wouldn’t want to be in either Ted Thompson or Mike McCarthy’s shoes if this season goes pear shaped for the Pack. The fans will be unforgiving if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t turn out to be the kind of player that the GM and head coach believe he can be.

Darling girl said it pretty simply the other day. “I kind of wish he would have stayed retired. Sort of ruined the near-storybook ending, didn’t it?”

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