Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Say it Ain’t So, Brett
Packers fans are in mourning today--and some are probably still in denial. Brett Favre, one of the game’s best quarterbacks and most interesting personalities, is calling it a day.
After his amazing performance last year--critics (like me) who said he was well past his prime were proven incredibly wrong--I had thought that he would take one more stab at Super Bowl glory. I’m sad to see him go.
Friday, February 15, 2008
A Sad Day for Broncos Fans
Today will be a sad one for Broncos fans, although one that most probably expected. Wide receiver Rod Smith--a stand-out talent, a great guy, and, I hope, a man who will still be involved in the Broncos organization in a coaching role--has been placed on the reserve/retired list.
His achievements were of will and preparation. While he was, obviously, physically gifted, it was his drive to excel that made him the great player that he was. His first few years weren’t notable except that he learned his trade, he practiced, he studied film, and he made himself into the kind of wide receiver that quarterbacks beg for. Over time, he proved his value and it would be good to see him pass on his attitude and knowledge to another generation of receivers.
If the Broncos do not find a useful way to keep Smith involved in the organization, they will be a lesser team for their failure.
He will undoubtedly be added to the Broncos Ring of Fame, and, I can only hope, be given one last moment in the spotlight next year--a chance for fans to voice their appreciation. Only a couple Broncos have found their way to the Hall of Fame, but I think that this is another name that will be added to that short list.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Super Bowl: Final Impression
Congratulations to the Giants for doing what no one would have imagined a few games into the season. It wasn’t the most exciting game (until closer to the end), but it was a gritty performance.
Go Peyton’s brother!
On the other hand, how classless is it that most of the Patriots and Belichick had left the field before the final, ceremonial kneel down. Classless, rude, self-centered, arrogant, and amazingly poor sportsmanship. It makes me feel better when I think what it must mean to lose the perfect season after going 18-0.
Belichick is one of the game’s best coaches, no doubt, but his personality makes Ron Paul seem downright Churchillian in nature.
Now, back to the important part: a brand new House is coming up next!
Okay, one other thing: the MVP should have been someone on defense. The offense did enough to win, I suppose, but it’s the defense that gave them the opportunity to do so.
Monday, January 21, 2008
About That Super Bowl…
Firstly, let me say that it seems so right that San Diego would lose again (sorry, Don). They had a better season than I expected, but their record wasn’t as strong and their ending was, essentially the same as last year’s exit. It just took a little longer to get there. But it was tough cheering for the Patriots.
The Pats deserve this, though. I never, ever thought I would see the perfect season--and I think I gave Miami a better shot at losing all their games this season than I gave New England for finding a way to win it all the way through. While Coach Belichick remains an irritating figure in the game, there is no denying that he has put together one of the most dominant teams of all time--not just this year, but over the last seven years. The Patriots earned this trip in a way that, quite literally, no other team ever has.
It was a little tough for me to watch the Packers lose, though.
I was one of those people who was saying that Favre needed to retire last year. I said that he had lost some of his talent and that there was no way that they could build a team quickly enough to be a playoff contender with him as quarterback. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did he have the talent, but so did the team. Yesterday’s game wasn’t the prettiest, but it does little to take away from his great season. I hope he comes back for at least one more round.
Speaking of that, I hope Tony Dungy comes back, too. Not only has he been a great coach, but he’s been an upstanding figure in the NFL. With none of Belichick’s antics, Dungy put together a team that has played at the top level for years. It would be sad to see him go and hard as hell to replace. There will be mourning in Indianapolis if he decides to retire.
Now, at last and improbably, we have a Brady-Manning Super Bowl. It’s just the wrong Manning. Congratulations to Eli for playing so well in the playoffs and proving that Archie and Peyton aren’t the only Mannings to make their ways to the big game. The Giants had a season the few expected and deserve some congratulations, too.
Still, in my head, Eli and the Giants don’t match up particularly well with the Patriots. While I wouldn’t mind being wrong, I don’t see this one being an exciting game and I imagine that most people watching will be more interested in seeing how the Patriots close out their season than there are those who believe the Giants have a shot.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Congratulations Miami Dolphins
Still, undeniably, the worst team in the NFL for 2008, but they avoided setting a record that may well have stood as long as their “Perfect Season” record has managed to stand. A winless season would have made this once great franchise the butt of jokes for years to come.
Good win, guys. Congratulations.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Bobby Petrino, You Jerk
Bobby Petrino abandoned an Atlanta Falcons team going through a helaciously difficult season after only 13 games. He jumped ship to head back to the college ranks--apparently the pro game was just too tough for him and, without Michael Vick, so was coaching a team that lost its best player to his own damned stupidity.
Apparently a twenty-four million dollar, five year contract doesn’t buy much in the way of loyalty from some people.
Disappointing. More disappointing than National Review’s official endorsement for the GOP’s answer to John Edwards’ hair.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Denver v/ KC: C’mon, Ref…
I wasn’t going to write about the Denver Broncos/KC Chiefs game today until the game was over, but the refs just forced me to my keyboard. Brandon Marshall, one of Denver’s two great Brandons for the season, was just penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. Why? Because after catching his second touchdown of the day, he celebrated by running through the end zone, grabbing a couple handfuls of snow and throwing them into the air. It was completely spontaneous and not much like hiding Sharpies and cell phones on the field. That, apparently, constitutes a celebration with a “prop"--and was probably a good call in the sense that it abides by the letter of the rules.
But, c’mon, ref, that’s just stupid. The players should be allowed to enjoy themselves a little bit, shouldn’t they?
I haven’t seen much of the Chiefs this year, but from watching them during the first half, I would say that they have two glaring problems: an offensive line that isn’t playing with any consistency at all and a receiver corp that isn’t playing quite as well as their quarterback. There were a few dropped passes in the first half that not only should have been caught, but would have had the Chiefs closer at the half.
Now, that aside: the Broncos are obviously winding up a terrible season, but, boy, do they have a few young players that might be huge in this league. Obviously, Jay Cutler has the potential to be one of the league’s better quarterbacks, but Selvin Young has been playing really well. Brandon Marshall has the makings of a top notch wide receiver and Elvis Dumervil (at just 5’11") already is one of the league’s best young defensive ends.
There is talent--and there is young talent--on this Broncos team.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Samari Rolle Acts Like a Child
Samari Rolle throws a temper tantrum in trying to prove his manliness. Which really can’t help his cause much.
Running to tell mommy that the big, bad man wasn’t nice to you isn’t the best way to prove that you’re all grown up, Mr. Rolle. If you were a man, you’d leave it on the field where it belongs. For the record, Rolle is wrong: Phil McKinnely (number 110) played offensive tackle for six years with the Falcons, Rams, and Bears. Not that having a pro football career is a good indicator or maturity, either…
I was torn between wanting to see New England’s perfect season end last night and my habitual dislike of the players on the Baltimore sideline. When the Baltimore defense came apart at the end with multiple, stupid fouls following a series of mistakes that led to New England’s final touchdown, I knew that I had to decide on the side of habit and just enjoyed the flurry of personal fouls and general stupidity.
It was a better game than I had expected.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Priest Holmes Retires
He was a great player for so many years and it looked like his return might play an important role in keeping the Chiefs heading in the right direction this year. Unfortunately, injuries have cut short his return and Priest Holmes is retiring.
A great player and, from what I’ve heard, just as strong a citizen, it is a shame he didn’t have one last season in his banged up body. Here’s hoping that whatever life holds for him next will be as rewarding as his NFL career.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Broncos v/ Titans: The Ten Point Review
Tell me about those Broncos. Who are they?
All that aside, could the NFL see two really big record broken this season with the Patriots going unbeaten through the Super Bowl and the sad Miami Dolphins going winless through the end of the season. If you had asked about that at the beginning of the season, I would have said that there was no chance. I’m starting to think that it could happen.
The Patriots this year are devoted not just to winning games but to destroying opponents. They have been amazing and it’s hard to imagine any team beating them (barring injury, that is). Miami, by comparison, looks like they could lose nine of ten to the Raiders, who I thought would be the worst team in the league. Not a good season to be a Dolphins fan.
Whatever. The Broncos, even with all their mistakes and poor play, are back up to .500. They are tied with the Chargers and are leading the AFC West--for now at least. That is much less a comment on the Broncos than it is on the state of the AFC West in 2008.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Broncos v/ Chiefs: The Ten Point Review
Yes, I’m stealing my own lazy method for movie reviews and using it for the Broncos game. My sense of guilt is overwhelming.
Bonus Point: Welcome back to Priest Holmes. It was good to see him running again (although, I would be lying if I didn’t admit I was happy that he was on the losing side).
Update: Kindly linked by my twice-a-year football nemesis. Thanks, Nathan. You can also read his post on the game here.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Denver Broncos: Coming Together as a Team
It was good to see the Denver Broncos come together as a team today against the Detroit Lions. Unfortunately, it was a brilliant team effort aimed toward losing.
Dropped passes, missed coverage, bad protection, injuries, turnovers, bad passes, anemic running, lackluster effort, odd coaching decisions, and even a missed field goal. About the only person who didn’t do his best to contribute to the loss today was Todd Sauerbrun, whose punting was actually damned good.
The Lions deserved the win and outplayed the Broncos in every way, but the nasty truth is that the score should have been far more lopsided. Against a truly good team--say a Patriots team who really love running up the score--this would have been one of those Nebraska v/ William and Mary of Southwest Missouri’s School for Young Women. The Broncos, as bad as they looked, probably looked better than they should have because Detroit spent most of the first half scoring field goals instead of touchdowns.
How bad are the Broncos? They were having a hard time winning when they had their starting team; now that they have lost a safety, offensive linemen, a couple wide receivers, and, perhaps, a quarterback, the Broncos have little in common with the team from last week much less last year. They have lost talent, leadership, and experience through injuries and off season personnel decisions leaving this team frequently looking lost and confused (especially on defense where they also saw a change in coaching and defensive philosophy).
So, back to the question: how bad are the Broncos? They’ll be fighting with the Raiders for last place this year, and that says an awful lot.
This season is shaping up to be the worst Broncos team that I’ve seen in years and this game is, undoubtedly, one of the worst that I’ve ever seen them play. It’s also a tragic waste of a season for some of the Broncos’ older players (Champ Bailey, for example). It’s become an accidental rebuilding season with very little in the way of promise for next year.
None of which changes the fact that I just had a great freakin’ week of vacation where I enjoyed sun, sand, and far more booze than was healthy. Big thanks to Don and Jerry for posting and keeping the place interesting while I was gone. In fact, it’s probably a more interesting place for my absence, which is about as painful as another Broncos loss.
But well spent vacation time. Yeah, that’s nice for me.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Denver Broncos: The Fans Are Angry Edition
Today’s home game against the Chargers showed a couple of nasty things about the Broncos. Perhaps most notably, by the end of the game, it looked like players on both the offense and defense had stopped even trying. Not that they were as focused or aggressive as you might have imagined in a home game against a division opponent after playing some pretty bad football during the first quarter of the season; still, the lax defense on the long touchdown run in the fourth quarter and the weak efforts on offense after that made it seem like the Broncos just didn’t care anymore.
The fans in the stands seemed to agree. With nearly ten minutes left in the game, the stands were mostly empty, the typical loud environment sounding--at least on TV--more like a high school football game than a pro game.
Most losses are team efforts. I’ve said before that the Broncos are weak on kick returns, and that proved true again today. I’ve also said that the Broncos and Cutler turn over the ball in bad situations too often, and that showed again today (with, at this writing, one interception, one fumble on a kickoff return, and one fumble after a long reception). And what has been a bright spot through much of the season--the running game--never got started as Denver’s offense went all lopsided (a total of 18 rushing attempts with just 6 minutes left in the game) after giving up an early 14 points to the Chargers.
The real story continues to be the defense, though. The defense has gotten worse every week this year, and their performance today was grotesque.
The Broncos gave up a 2nd and 33 to the Chargers. They gave up long passes, long runs, and let the Chargers (again, as of this writing) 66% of their third downs. When the offense managed to score a meager field goal with a minute left in the first half, the defense found a way to let the Chargers march quickly enough down the field to match that field goal before the half was over--and, of course, the points were set up by a long run.
As advertised, the rushing defense is ugly. That lack, though, is starting to have an effect on the passing defense, too. For that matter, the Broncos got absolutely no pressure on Rivers all day. A look at his passing stats would give you a hint as to how the Broncos new (accidental) unpressure defense is working. And don’t even imagine that the defense has been taking the ball away from opponents; the Broncos are digging a hole in the plus/minus turnover department.
Mike Shanahan, the fans are angry.
What can the Broncos do to right the ship this year? That’s tough. Not only have they brought in players--a tactic that has worked, marginally, better for the offense than the defense--but they brought in new coaches to improve the defense and the special teams. This experiment has been a brutal failure.
On offense, Travis Henry has been strong and Brandon Stokely was a great pickup. On the other side of the ball, Simeon Rice might have been a bad idea, Sam Adams hasn’t worked out well, and Dre Bly hasn’t performed as expected. Much of that failure, I believe, is that the Broncos moved away from their disciplined, fast, light defense and decided to go with a bigger, less mobile defense that has been torched weekly by opposing teams.
The biggest, first fix for the Broncos has to be on defense and it may be as simple as firing the defensive coordinator, Bob Slowik, sitting Sam Adams (releasing him if they can find someone talented, younger, and quicker to replace him) and accepting that this season just became a “rebuilding” year where images of taking the division are already dead.
Too early to give up? Perhaps, but the Broncos haven’t shown any significant growth on defense, little growth on special teams (less the kicking, which has been solid past the first two games), and not nearly enough strength on offense to overcome the other problems. In fact, the offense hasn’t played particularly well; it’s only when comparing it to the Broncos defense that the offense starts looking okay. The Broncos aren’t getting too many chances on offense right now--the defense is letting the opposition stay on the field with long drives--but they certainly aren’t capitalizing on the opportunities that they do have.
Sticking with a losing strategy on defense and a coordinator whose defensive philosophy simply isn’t working is basically the same as saying to fans, “Sorry, we’d like to continue to lose this week.” Making a change on defense--including shaking up the roster--might give fans (and players, although I doubt that they would admit it) a little hope that the Broncos might win a few more games this year and even find a way to be a decent team next year. Unfortunately, there are some older players on the team who deserved better this season.
The Broncos aren’t just underachieving at this point--regardless of the talented players on the team, they simply aren’t doing anything positive in any phase of the game. There are some pieces that just don’t fit. They are well past the point where they can excuse the lapses with talk about the new players or new coaches; they’ve been playing together long enough that they should be playing well now. If they aren’t performing, either the coaching schemes aren’t working or the players aren’t executing--either of these things comes down to coaching in most cases, though.
I try to stay pretty level-headed about my team, and a trip through the Denver posts on this site over the last five years would show that to be true. I don’t often fall into the “my team is next to Godliness” trap, but I also try to be reasonable about bad games. Bad games happen and not ever game is going to make me smile. Point being, I don’t think I’m overstating the Broncos problems at this point--they are broken to the point where fixing the team is going to require some pretty tough decisions. Last year, they were one good game away from being in the playoffs. This year, the playoffs aren’t even on the table. Fans would be happy to see the team get back to being competitive in all its games and maybe even finding a way to win a few.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Travis Henry, You Jerk
I hope the report isn’t true, but Travis Henry has a rather spotty past when it comes to substance abuse, so it isn’t hard to believe the current rumor that he has failed another drug test and faces a year-long ban from the league. If true, Henry will have wasted a year of his career--and likely face some kind an attempt from the Broncos to recover a portion of his rather large signing bonus--for an infraction that he could and should have avoided.
So, to recap:
That’s the obvious stuff. There’s some less obvious stuff that bothers me nearly as much.
Wasted year and wasted talent.
The only upside is that Selvin Young shows some promise and Mike Bell is talented, too. Whether either of them is ready to be a full time starter, though, is open to speculation. Since Henry didn’t practice this week--suffering from ankle and knee injuries--at least the starting offense has been practicing with the backs who they will likely be working with for the rest of the year.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Diagnosing the Broncos
The Broncos lost again--as most people expected. This time, at least, the loss was to one of the league’s best teams.
The Broncos got off to a good start against the Colts, scoring the first ten points of the game and rushing for well over 100 yards in the first half. The Colts, being the Colts, got themselves right back into the game with smart, almost mistake-free play. Meanwhile, the Broncos made a few costly, unforced errors that kept them from getting back ahead.
So, what’s wrong with the Broncos? From the least important to the most important, these are the things that I think are wrong with my team this year.
1. Special Teams
2. Passing Game
For all the praise of his poise, Cutler has had some brilliant mistakes in these first four games. His interceptions have lead directly to a ton of points for Broncos’ opponents; they’ve also messed up some vital scoring opportunities that might not have won games, but certainly would have made those games a little different. On top of that, his pressured attempt at a lateral to Selvin Young earlier in the year almost lost a game; if it wasn’t for Young’s quick-minded save, the Broncos would be 1-3 instead of 2-2.
I still think that Cutler will mature into one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but he is young, inexperienced, and not quite so poised as we might hope. In fact, if Jake Plummer had made some of those decisions, the local media would have torn him apart. I have to imagine that the honeymoon will be over soon if he doesn’t come up with a game sans painful error soon.
Run defense is nearly non-existent. Pass defense has been solid, but has also failed to come up with the kind of turnovers that a Dre Bly/Champ Bailey secondary would be expected to have. It didn’t help, today, that stalwart John Lynch wasn’t on the field (aside: didn’t he look like he was being groomed for a coaching position when he was on the sideline today, though?)--but the pass defense simply hasn’t been as impressive as I’d expected. Part of that might be the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Give people quarterbacks like Manning too much time and even good pass defenses will usually let someone loose.
The worst part has been watching opposing teams convert long third downs almost at will. If the defense could stop opponents and give the offense a shorter field, we might see our boys start winning the war of field position. We might even see them score a few more points.
The Broncos have had reliably horrible starting position the whole season and that isn’t wholly because of the bad coverage on kickoffs. The defense simply isn’t doing their job; whether the talent on the field simply isn’t there, the players aren’t executing well, or the defense scheme is merely crap, I couldn’t say. I’m hoping someone on the Broncos defensive staff can find a clue, though. Otherwise this really could be an unpleasant season for a team that should be better.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Things I Like. Mostly.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Michael Vick, You’re an Idiot
His career already in question, facing a potential jail sentence for his role in dog fighting and animal cruelty, and with his reputation in tatters, Michael Vick has now submitted a pee test that is positive for marijuana.
What kind of stupid is this man cultivating in his head?
Folks who know me know that I don’t consider marijuana to be a dangerous drug, know that I support legalization, and know that my typical answer to a story of some celebrity smoking weed is, “So what?” That doesn’t mean that a person with a lot to lose is showing very good judgement when they choose to lose it on something as inconsequential as a puff of weed. That’s just not very bright. Michael Vick, right now, is just edging himself closer to losing that career, seeing a lengthy jail sentence, and becoming one of the most ridiculed men in the country--all this just a year after it looked like he was going to be set for life.
Again, what kind of stupid is this man cultivating in his head?
I’m sure that someone out there is using the “maybe he wasn’t smoking; maybe he was around someone who was smoking” defense. That doesn’t shore up my opinion of his mental acuity. The smart move for Vick right now is to get away from the friends and family members who helped him come to this point where he could destroy his future. Keep a low profile and only come up when the photo op is going to put him in a good light. The last thing he needs to be doing is putting himself in situations where he will just get into more trouble.
Vick--a football player with so much potential--just seems intent on making the worst decisions for his own future. That’s just stupid.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Jacksonville v/ Denver: Ouch
So, what went wrong for the Broncos today?
And that’s the shape of it. The team didn’t play too well today and had played barely well enough to win the past two weeks.
That said, the Broncos have a lot of young talent and a lot of potential. The two questions, coming away from this difficult loss, are these: can the defense come together to perform better than they have through the first part of the year, and can the offense start scoring points when they have the opportunities?
I don’t think the Broncos are a horrible team, but they sure looked like it in this game.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Patriots v/ Chargers: A Comment
I thought it might be so when I heard the news. I wondered after the first game of the season. Now I’m sure: Randy Moss was the steal of the off season.
He’s a jerk. He’s egotistical. He only plays when he wants to. All these things are true, but, damn: when he wants to play, he’s still one of the two or three best wide receivers in the league. The Patriots got him for next to nothing (which was fair since his value to the Raiders, a team that he didn’t want to play for, was next to nothing). As long as balls keep coming his direction (don’t get all excited there, Mr. Craig) and as long as the Patriots keep winning, he’s going to be a tremendous asset to an already powerful team.
I think that anyone who thought he had lost a step or any of his skills has been proven about as wrong as they could be; Randy Moss is back and he’s looking damned good.
Which doesn’t explain why San Diego is looking pretty vulnerable at this point of the season. Does anyone think that they might be missing the consistency and continuity that a certain former coach might have provided?
Raiders v/ Broncos: Just a Question
Why aren’t the Raiders starting Culpepper today? Their banged up quarterback doesn’t have the legs or the talent of a healthy Culpepper--and, from all reports, Duante is healthy.
Seriously, I don’t get it.
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