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Evaluating the Maroney trade

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 15, 2010

I’ve been saying ever since the end of last season that biggest priority for the Broncos offense needs to be running the football consistently.  For the talk I hear about the quarterback position or the receivers or a dislike for Josh McDaniels’ way of doing things, people keep ignoring the most basic thing that makes any offense successful at any level of football.  There were too many times last year (and before as well under Mike Shanahan) where the Broncos were simply not effective in short yardage or goal to go situations.  The Broncos have made attempts to address this situation, making a point to draft several offensive lineman in addition to using a first round pick on Knowshon Moreno last season.  I still think Moreno has the tools to be an elite back once he can stay healthy, and I like Correll Buckhalter’s ability to be a change of pace back. The Broncos this week added another back to mix in Laurence Maroney, and it might be a low risk move that pays off.

In acquiring Maroney, the Broncos sent to New England what essentially amounts as a sack of footballs in exchange.  All Denver had to surrender was a fourth round pick in 2011, and the Broncos received a sixth round pick in addition to Maroney.  Not a bad move to acquire a player who was a first round pick in 2007, and at times has shown an ability to be an elusive back.  Maroney had five 100-yard games as a rookie in 2007, which is exactly five more than Moreno had as a rookie last year for the Broncos.  Maroney wasn’t as effective last season, and battled a few injuries, and eventually fell out of favor with Bill Belichick.  The Broncos are hoping that reuniting Maroney with Josh McDaniels, who was Maroney’s offensive coordinator with the Patriots in 2007 and 2008, will result in a revival of sorts for the beleaguered running back.

The question is how will this affect the Broncos’ backfield?  It will be interesting to see how the Broncos work Maroney into the mix given that they currently rely heavily on Moreno and Buckhalter.  Moreno ran for 60 yards last week and looked healed from his preseason hamstring injury.  Buckhalter was less effective, with perhaps the lowlight of the day being his lost fumble in the second quarter that negated a Broncos drive where they had eaten up eight minutes of the clock.  I have a feeling the Broncos will not rush Maroney into the mix, but as the season goes along it wouldn’t surprise me if he was as involved as the other two.  Plenty of teams are operating on a running back by committee system (which makes fantasy decisions very stressful on game day), so a three man mix in the backfield wouldn’t be unprecedented.

It seems at least in the short that Maroney was brought in to be a backup.  Considering the Broncos invested a first round pick in Moreno, I would think his status as the starter is safe.  However, it wouldn’t surprise me if Buckhalter’s untimely fumble last week played some role in this.  While I think at the end of year Moreno will still be the team leader in rushing, but it could end up that Maroney has his share of yards as well.  The bottom line is this is a very low risk move for the Broncos being that they gave up virtually nothing.  even if Maroney provides depth as a backup, it could be enough to help the Broncos be able to run the football, which more than anything else will allow them to win more games.

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Week 1 Loss Doesn’t Mean Disaster

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 13, 2010

First of all, let’s get the Tebow garbage out of the way.  He had 2 carries for 2 yards.  He was a complete non-factor.  He is not the story of this game, contrary to seemingly every other recap of this game that I have read.  I realize he was back in Florida, but come on people, let’s talk about the folks that actually were a factor in this game.

-For whatever reason, David Garrard always has great games against the Broncos.  He tied a career high with three touchdown passes and completed 76 percent of his throws.  He didn’t make a single mistake during the contest.  Naturally this was because I benched him in my fantasy keeper league this week.  The Broncos pass defense for whatever reason couldn’t contain Garrard or get much pressure on him.

– On the flip side the Broncos’ run defense actually did a decent job against Maurice Jones-Drew, who rushed for 98 yards but needed 23 carries to get it.  The Broncos also stuffed him on a big 4th and 1 play in the third quarter.

– Offensively the Broncos showed a lot of positive flashes.  Kyle Orton threw for 295 yards and a touchdown.  There was an Eddie Royal sighting with 8 catches, which means he has already achieved more than 20 percent of his reception total from last year.  Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Daniel Graham all came through with big receptions.  Unfortunately for the Broncos Orton threw an interception at the worst time in the final minute, but other than that play the passing game looked solid for the most part.

– The running game still needs some improvement.  Knowshon Moreno actually played fairly well considering he missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, rushing for 60 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown.  Correll Buckhalter however only finished with 15 yards and had a costly lost fumble that ended a drive where the Broncos had controlled the ball for more than eight minutes.  I will acknowledge that some patience is needed with two rookies (J.D Walton and Zane Beadles) starting in the middle of the offensive line.  The bottom line though is the Broncos must run the football with more consistency if they want any opportunity to win in this league.

Overall I thought the Broncos actually showed well on the road with the exception of the final score.  Of course the turnovers need to be cleaned up and so do the penalties (the Broncos had seven of them for 70 yards, including two personal foul penalties on Jacksonville’s go ahead touchdown drive).  It remains to be seen how good the Jaguars will be this season, but it looks as though the Broncos may not be the last team that David Garrard has a good game against this year.  Give the Jaguars some credit, they made some defensive plays when they had to (Aaron Kampman’s sack of Orton on Denver’s first drive was very critical, knocking Denver out of scoring range), and they also were able to move the football effectively.  In many ways this can be looked at as a game the Jaguars won as much as or more than a game the Broncos lost.

I think ultimately this is a game Denver could have won, but a week one loss does not necessarily mean disaster.  It does mean the Broncos have less margin for error next week when they host Seattle, but it’s not like a 1-0 start has done them much good in recent years.  I think this has the look of a team that has potential to improve as they progress through the season, especially with so much youth along the offensive line.  The Broncos have some talent in place, and I’m certainly not ready to give up on them after one game. They certainly didn’t embarrass themselves the way the CU Buffs did in California, and I think there is something this team can build on.  Are they a playoff team?  Probably not right now, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be in the race by the end of the season.

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Week 1 & Season Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 9, 2010

Well clearly the first week of the NFL season somehow snuck up on me.  Here we go for a quick hit preview.  Think of it as quick hit thoughts on each team, a gut reaction if you will.  Teams are listed in predicted order of finish.  An asterisk indicates a wild card team.  Playoff predictions as well as selections for the week one matchups can be found at the end. 


1. New England Patriots (11-5) – I know better than to pick against them.  Tom Brady is in a contract year and there is a new infusion of youth.  Bottom line is this team wins more often than they don’t.  This is the safe pick.

2. New York Jets (10-6)* – The Jets made a lot of sexy additions to build off last season’s AFC title game appearance.  It’ll be interesting to see if Mark Sanchez can continue to improve and be an offensive leader. 

3. Miami Dolphins (9-7) – Miami’s offense got better with Brandon Marshall.  The question is will his attitude cost them?  Defense isn’t quite up to par with other division contenders.

4. Buffalo Bills (3-13) – Lack of offensive weapons and a mediocre defense equal a terrible combination.  I hope C.J. Spiller’s confidence isn’t destroyed running behind a terrible offensive line.


1. Baltimore Ravens (13-3) – I don’t see why everyone is so down on the Ravens defense.  It’s the same guys that have dominated for years.  Now they have a scary good offense to go with it.  Look out AFC.

2. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) – Cincy is here more because of their defense than because of the offense with all the egos.  I still somehow think T.O. and Ochocinco will co-exist and Carson Palmer will have a bounce back season, but they will miss the playoffs by a hair.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) – I somehow feel like I know this is wrong, but I don’t like their prospects in the four games without Ben Roethlisberger and their defense is aging.  If Rashard Mendenhall can’t stay healthy they’re done.

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12) – Jake Delhomme is way past his prime.  There is a complete lack of talent at virtually every position.  They’d better hope they can groom Colt McCoy in time to start next season.


1. Indianapolis Colts (14-2) – Come on, do you really think I’m foolish enough to pick against Peyton Manning?  He has all the old weapons at this disposal and the Colts are nearly unbeatable indoors. 

2. Houston Texans (11-5)* – It seems like this my annual surprise pick, but this time I think they’ll finally get into the playoffs.  There is too much talent on both sides of the ball for them not to.  If they’re 8-8 again this year, Gary Kubiak should be in trouble.

3. Tennessee Titans (8-8) – Chris Johnson is amazing, but he can’t do it all by himself.  The Titans are the epitome of a class organization, but they don’t quite have the goods to be a playoff team this year. 

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) – The Jaguars have Maurice Jones-Drew and, well, ummmm….  Jack Del Rio will be gone after this season.


1. San Diego Chargers (9-7) – Yes, this division will be mediocre enough that the Chargers can win it with this record.  They need to get Vincent Jackson and their other holdouts back in short order.  Fortunately Philip Rivers and their running game can carry them.

2. Denver Broncos (8-8) – I don’t know what to expect from my home team.  Frankly anything between 6-10 and 10-6 wouldn’t surprise me.  We’ll go in the middle.  They’ve already been beset by injuries and the schedule is very rocky.  Kyle Orton will have a very good season, but if the running game can’t get healthy, it won’t matter if Orton plays well.

3. Oakland Raiders (6-10) – The Raiders believe Jason Campbell is the answer at quarterback.  I still have reservations as long as this team is owned by Al Davis.  That said, they should be improved over last season.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (5-11) – The running game should be very solid with Jamaal Charles leading the way, but I’m still not a Matt Cassel fan.  Plus the defense doesn’t appear as though it’s going to be very good.


1. Dallas Cowboys (12-4) – This could be a huge season for the Cowboys since they are hosting the Super Bowl this year.  They’ll have enough to at least win the division, for it seems as though Tony Romo has finally figured out how to win.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) – Eagles fans may quickly regret running Donovan McNabb out of town.  Kevin Kolb is good, but he’s no McNabb.  Brian Westbrook could be missed even more. 

3. Washington Redskins (7-9) – Mike Shanahan will very much be in transition mode during his first season.  McNabb is an upgrade at QB, but do any of his running backs have anything left in the tank?  Plus the Albert Haynesworth saga has the making of a dark cloud over the defense.

4. New York Giants (6-10) – The Giants fell to Earth last season and don’t seem to have done much to change their personnel.  I like Ahmad Bradshaw in the running game and Eli Manning is capable, but something still doesn’t seem right.


1. Green Bay Packers (14-2) – I sense a big breakout year for the pack, highlighted by Aaron Rodgers who is without question the real deal.  The offensive talent is solid at every position and the defense overall might be the best in the league.

2. Minnesota Vikings (11-5)* – The Vikings are still a playoff team, but it remains to be seen if Brett Favre can stay upright for the entire season.  The loss of Sidney Rice to injury is significant, but the running game and defense are still among the best in the league.  If Tarvaris Jackson comes in, the record obviously goes south quickly.

3. Chicago Bears (6-10) – I sense major disaster with the Jay Cutler-Mike Martz marriage offensively.  Given Cutler’s league leading 26 picks last year, an offensive designed on throwing all the time doesn’t seem like a good idea.  The running game is only so so, but the defense may keep them in games. 

4. Detroit Lions (5-11) – Detroit seems like they are improving, but it still appears 2011 is their target.  They are developing young talent, and they may exceed expectations.  If fans are patient, the team is moving in the right direction.


1. New Orleans Saints (12-4) – The Saints appear to have all the pieces necessary to have a shot at repeating.  The same cast of characters as last year can’t be bad thing in any way.  The only question is how will they handle the pressure of repeating?

2. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)* – I think the Falcons will return to the playoffs this year.  Matt Ryan is an excellent quarterback and the running game and receivers are in place.  This team is capable of winning the division if breaks go their way.

3. Carolina Panthers (7-9) – The Panthers are in transition with Matt Moore at QB.  I think it’s almost certain Jimmy Clausen will start before the year is over.  The defense is not as good as it was but the running game will help win them some games. 

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) – A young Josh Freeman still has a lot to learn about playing quarterback in the NFL, but he has talent.  This is a young team that simply doesn’t look like it’s going to be very good. 


1. San Francisco 49ers (9-7) – Both west divisions will be highly mediocre, but San Francisco looks like they might finally be able to break through.  There is immense talent at the skills positions on offense, the question is if Alex Smith will finally be ready to take advantage of all of it.  The defense is as solid as they come. 

2. Arizona Cardinals (8-8) – They lost a lot of talent (Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, and several defensive players).  Derek Anderson is no Kurt Warner, but he still has talent around him.  Still, a drop off is inevitable.

3. Seattle Seahawks (6-10) – Pete Carroll is inheriting an odd team.  Matt Hasselbeck has been very injury prone at QB, and frankly the overall talent level leaves a lot to be desired.  It’s hard to respect Carroll after he left USC in such a mess.

4. St. Louis Rams (4-12) – Sam Bradford is the real deal.  The problem is he has no help.  Steven Jackson is still a terrific back, but he’s bound to get worn down if he’s asked to do too much.  The defense is very young. 

Playoff Picks:


Wild Card games: (6) Texans over (3) Patriots, (5) Jets over (4) Chargers

Divisional games: (1) Colts over (6) Texans, (2) Ravens over (5) Jets

AFC Championship: (2) Ravens over (1) Colts – Baltimore’s defense figures out Manning


Wild Card games: (3) Saints over (6) Falcons, (5) Vikings over (4) 49ers

Divisional games: (1) Packers over (5) Vikings, (2) Cowboys over (3) Saints

NFC Championship Game: (1) Packers over (2) Cowboys – Lambeau advantage too much for Cowboys

Super Bowl Pick: Ravens over Packers.  I like Baltimore’s complete team, they have the passing game, the running game, and the defense.  This is in every way a complete team, and I like them to take the whole thing this year.

Now for quickie week one selections:

– Saints over Vikings: This is a fantastic way to kick off the season tonight.  I like the Saints largely because of the emotion of the home crowd, but this will be very close and entertaining.

– Dolphins over Bills: Miami’s new weapons are enough to beat a struggling Bills team in a tight division contest

– Bears over Lions:  An upset by the visitors wouldn’t surprise me, but a hunch says the host Bears pull this off.

– Titans over Raiders: Complete mismatch, Tennessee rolls at home behind Chris Johnson

– Patriots over Bengals: I almost went with the visitors here in a mini-upset, but picking against New England is usually a bad idea in Foxboro

– Panthers over Giants: This is a coin flip game.  I don’t think either team is very good, but I’ll go with the Panthers in a mini-upset

– Falcons over Steelers: Dennis Dixon is under center for the Steelers.  This presents a huge problem.  Matt Ryan and Roddy White lead Atlanta to the road win.

– Buccaneers over Browns: My sympathies if you’re stuck with the dud game of the week.  Tampa Bay wins a boring game at home.

– Broncos over Jaguars: Maurice Jones-Drew will get his yards, but I think Kyle Orton is in line for a nice year.  This one won’t be pretty either, but I think Denver takes it.

– Colts over Texans: I do think Houston is line for a breakthrough season, but I decided I’m not picking against Indy unless they give me a compelling reason to do so

– Cardinals over Rams: Arizona may be down this year, but they’ll have enough to beat one of the worst teams in the league

– Packers over Eagles: Aaron Rodgers begins what should be an outstanding season.  I think Kevin Kolb will struggle in his real action as the starting QB

– 49ers over Seahawks: Seattle has one of the loudest crowds in the league, but I think the Niners’ running game will carry the day

– Cowboys over Redskins: Washington will be fired up for Mike Shanahan’s first game, but the Cowboys are much better. 

– Ravens over Jets: I think the Jets will be good, but as you saw above I think Baltimore is winning the Super Bowl.  They are going to open with a bang.

– Chargers over Chiefs: Arrowhead hasn’t hosted a Monday night game in years so it will be rocking, but the Chargers will want to show they are still the class of division. 


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Bad news for Broncos backfield

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 3, 2010

The Broncos received some really bad news today regarding their running game. Adam Schefter reports that LenDale White is out for the season after tearing his Achilles. This is devastating for the Broncos, who are still waiting for Knowshon Moreno to get healthy and just getting Correll Buckhalter back. White was going to miss the first four games of the season due to suspension anyway, but now the Broncos won’t have him at all this year. White was expected to be the goal line back and help shore up some of the team’s red zone deficiencies. Now the Broncos will have to rely on Moreno and Buckhalter to carry the running game this year.

This is why I hate preseason. White got hurt in a completely meaningless scrimmage on artificial turf. Of course injuries can happen at any time, but this one occurred in a game that didn’t count and now the Broncos are without one of their key signings for the year.

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Football is back baby!

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 2, 2010

Today all feels right with the world again.  Tonight is the start of the college football season.  After a month of useless NFL preseason scrimmages, we finally get to see some real football that means something.  I am actually somewhat disappointed that I am stuck watching the Broncos and Vikings backups tonight when I could be watching actual college football.   At least I’ll be able to do that on Saturday, and we will be treated to an excellent slate of games during the first weekend.  I will be at Invesco Field at Mile High for the Rocky Mountain Showdown between Colorado and Colorado State, but I will also be keeping an eye on a number of other great games.  In fact I have Monday night blocked out to watch what should be a dandy between Boise State and Virginia Tech.  If Boise State has any hope of crashing the national championship party, they must win this game, a tough task to be sure in Washington D.C., which makes this a de facto home game for the Hokies.  As always there are a lot of college storylines to keep an eye on:

The last season before realignment: This will be the final season for Utah and Brigham Young in the Mountain West Conference.  The former is headed to the Pac 10 next year and the latter is going independent in football while joining the West Coast Conference in basketball.  The MWC will fill their shoes in 2011 with Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State (all leaving the WAC).  This will also be Nebraska’s final salvo in the Big 12 (headed to the Big 10), and probably the last Big 12 hurrah for Colorado as well (the Buffaloes are trying to head to the Pac 10 in 2011 but may have to wait until 2012 for financial reasons).  Will this year be the final time we see the storied rivalries of Utah-BYU and CU-Nebraska?  I would say Utah and BYU would be nuts to not schedule each other in a non-conference game after this year, but something tells me this might be last we see of the Huskers and Buffs for awhile.  While the changes coming in 2011 are not as bad as they could have been, it will still be significant, so enjoy this year’s conference setup while it still lasts.

New Coaches: I have to admit that while I am rapidly starting to despise Lane Kiffin, I am still curious to see how he’ll do at USC.  He inherits the mess left behind by Pete Carroll, including a hefty probation.  They still have top 15 talent so they should be fun to watch.  I hope that Tennessee rebounds from the mess that Kiffin left there after just one year.  A large part of me hopes that they succeed while USC falters, because I think Kiffin did not treat Tennessee fairly in any way.  We also of course have Brian Kelly taking over at Notre Dame, and again I think he did his former program (Cincinnati) absolutely wrong.  I don’t blame him for taking the ND job, but he should have at least stuck around at Cincy to coach them in the Sugar Bowl last year against Florida.  They way he left his players hung out to dry before that game is absolutely despicable.  For that reason, it makes Notre Dame very difficult to root for as long as Kelly is the coach.  Here’s hoping Butch Jones can keep things going in Cincy for those fans.

Other notable coaching changes include new Big 12 coaches in Kansas (Turner Gill) and Texas Tech (Tommy Tuberville).  As much as I hate KU being a Mizzou alum, I think Gill is a great coach and will make KU really good in a few years.  It will also be weird to see Florida State without Bobby Bowden roaming the sideline.  Bowden was forced out, ahem, excuse me, retired, and now Jimbo Fisher takes over the program.  Other coaching changes in BCS conferences took place at Virginia (Mike London now in) and Vanderbilt (Robbie Caldwell).

Who will win the Heisman Trophy: While it is not stated so, it is obvious that only quarterbacks, running backs and receivers are eligible for this award.  Otherwise, Ndamukong Suh should have been a landslide winner last year.  When I saw him person last season I was blown away by his ability to dominate the line and control the game defensively for Nebraska.  Alabama running back Mark Ingram won it last year, but he will have a hard time repeating this year because it’s almost impossible to win it twice.  He will also miss the first part of the season due to injury.  This year’s race appears to be as wide open as ever but the favorite in my mind is Jake Locker, quarterback for Washington.  My darkhorse candidate is Noel Devine, running back for West Virginia.  Another possibility?  Boise State QB Kellen Moore.  This would be the ultimate sign of respect for non-BCS programs if he were to win it.

Who will win it all? The trendy pick seems to be Alabama to repeat, and they are certainly up there with the top contenders.  I think Florida is always dangerous in the SEC as well.  I think Ohio State appears to be easily the best team in the Big 10 on paper (no disrespect intended to Iowa, but last year was a clear fluke and they’re going to fall hard), while of course Texas and Oklahoma are always there in the Big 12.  I also think Nebraska is a darkhorse there to make a challenge for the BCS berth.  Oregon and Virginia Tech are the best teams in their respective conferences, but I don’t see either challenging for the national title.  Boise State and TCU certainly believe their names should be in the hat, and if either or both go undefeated like last year, they will have a strong case.  In the end I think Oklahoma is going to have a bounce back season from last year’s injury riddled campaign, and I think the Sooners will square off against Ohio State in the title game.  I think Boise State loses to Virginia Tech this weekend, and that will knock them out.  I think TCU could go undefeated, but if they do the BCS will once again work against them.  In the end I’m a Big 12 guy, so I’m taking Oklahoma to win it all.

College football is back, enjoy the season folks!

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18 game season? Why not?

Posted by mizzou1028 on August 26, 2010

You’ve probably heard by now that the NFL is targeting 2012 for an expansion of the regular season from 16 to 18 games.  I think ultimately I am on board with the owners on this one, although there are plenty of reasons to hesitate. I so agree with some of the reasons from folks that think this is a bad idea, but I don’t think any of them are a deal breaker.  I think this is a case where the benefits end up outweighing the negatives.

I think the single biggest reason to do it is it would cut down on preseason football.  I don’t think there is any question that preseason football is the biggest rip off in sports.  Season ticket holders across the league are forced into paying full price to attend these useless scrimmages.  No one can say with a straight face that preseason NFL even closely resembles the regular season product.  I’m a football nut, and the only reason I watch every play of the Broncos’ preseason games is because I’m being paid to as part of my job.  An 18-game regular season would also mean a reduction in preseason from four to two games.  This seems like a no brainer that most fans would want to see two more meaningful games as opposed to two extra scrimmages that don’t count and feature many players who ultimately won’t make the team.

Fewer preseason games would also include the benefit for teams and players of less training camp.  Football has evolved considerably from even 15 years ago, for players are now keeping in shape year round, and thus don’t need lengthy training camps to get ready.  This is also another argument for reducing the preseason.  Four games are simply not necessary to get ready.  They don’t play any preseason games in college, and that has never seemed to be a problem in regards to the quality of play in week one.  I’d much rather see more games that count and reflect the true nature of the product as opposed to scrimmages where both teams are openly attempting not to win.

Now, I do acknowledge the problems with this.  The biggest one would be increased risk of injury given two extra regular season games, but to me this argument is voided completely by the removal of two preseason games and a shorter training camp.  Teams can lose guys to injury at any time; preseason, regular season or practice.  Just ask the Broncos about losing Elvis Dumervil for the season in a one on one drill.  It is unavoidable that these things happen, but I don’t believe there is any increased risk with a regular season game over a preseason game for any particular player.

One concern might be that some of the later games could be rendered meaningless if a team clinches too early and elects to rest players.  We’ve already seen cases where teams have sat guys for the last week of the year or even the final two weeks after clinching a division title or home field advantage.  While this is possible, it’s something that’s already a problem now anyway.  It is also equally possible that we could see even more fantastic races down the stretch for playoff positioning.  I think there would be enough excitement down the stretch that this wouldn’t be any bigger deal than it is now.

What about the record books?  This is a problem that baseball experienced when it went from 154 to 162 games.  When Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1927, he had eight fewer games than when Roger Maris hit 61 in 1961.  Football could have similar issues with records for yards, touchdowns, etc.  For example, a running back would only need to average 59 yards a game to crack the 1,000 yard barrier for the season if it were 18 games.  The flip side of that is that this milestone is already less impressive than it was even 10 years ago.  More and more backs are already hitting that barrier now anyway, so what if more hit it over 18 games?  I say make 1,500 yards the new rushing milestone and this isn’t a big deal.

Of course there is the issue of player salaries.  The players of course would want to get paid for the two extra regular season games.  Their salaries are based on a 16-game schedule, and thus they do not get paid for preseason games.  This would also mean the owners lose one of two preseason home dates where they get full gate receipts and the players don’t see a dime of it.  It is perhaps fitting that the collective bargaining agreement is a really hot topic right now with a lockout perhaps looming in 2011.  If the owners want to push this through, the players are going to sign off on it as part of this agreement.

Despite the issues that come up with an 18-game season, I think more football is never a bad thing.  Two more games that count at the expense of two that don’t is not going to dilute the product.  If you were talking about making it  a year round operation or something like that, then dilution would be a valid argument, but this is a modest enough increase in real games not to be the case.  I think the extra meaningful games will only enhance pro football.  Are you really going to watch every play of your team’s fourth preseason game when all of your key players are going to see little to no action?  Unless you really want to see the guys that are about to get cut, you’re not missing much there.  Will you watch two extra regular season games?  Of course you will.

I think this will ultimately happen, and I think it will ultimately benefit the NFL.

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Settle down on Tebow, please!

Posted by mizzou1028 on August 18, 2010

I am extremely sick and tired of hearing about Tim Tebow.  Look, I hope he succeeds.  I really don’t want to see yet another first round pick wasted by the Broncos a la Marcus Nash or George Foster.  I hope Tebow can learn how to play in the NFL.  What I am getting infuriated by are headlines such as the following from supposedly reputable news outlets:

“Tim Tebow will start for Broncos this season” – Orlando Sentinel

“Tebow will start by December” – Miami Herald

“Tim Tebow mania overtaking Broncos” – USA Today

“Orton will have Tebow monkey on his back” –

Whoa, slow down people!  So far all Tebow has done in the NFL is lead one touchdown drive in a preseason game against a vanilla prevent defense played by third stringers, many of whom will probably be bagging groceries in two weeks and not playing in the NFL.  He has done NOTHING to give even the slightest consideration that he can be an NFL starter.  The fact is way too many people are praising Tebow’s performance Sunday night.  I’ll admit he threw a beautiful pass to Matthew Willis that was dropped and he did show some guts on his touchdown run, but Tebow’s mechanics still need a lot of work.  He still holds the ball too low when he starts his throwing motion.  You think Dwight Freeney wouldn’t knock the ball right out of his hand?  Even on Sunday night against third stringers, Tebow got bailed out by the tuck rule on what otherwise would have been a Bengals’ fumble return TD by virtue of Tebow’s poor throwing mechanics.  He still has a lot to learn about reading NFL defenses, and if he keeps running like he did on Sunday night, someone like Ray Lewis is going to really bust him up.

I’m saying this to bag on Tebow.  He is just like any other rookie at the position.  He has actually had a pretty good camp and seems way ahead of Brady Quinn for the backup spot.  The fact is that Tebow is a project that will need time to transition to the NFL.  I do like his intangibles in terms of locker room presence and leadership, and I do admire his toughness on the field and willingness to do anything to win, but physically he’s got a ways to go before he can be an NFL starter.  This is not a Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco scenario where he is likely to come in and make that kind of impact right away.  Those guys made impact as rookies, but were also much more equipped to make the transition to the NFL because they had the physical tools.

Look folks, Kyle Orton is so far ahead in the race to be the Broncos starting quarterback this season that Tebow can’t even see his tail lights.  Orton has had the best camp of any player on the team.  He is throwing the ball with much more velocity and accuracy than he did last season, and all he did in his first preseason appearance was lead two touchdown drives against a playoff team from a year ago.  Unlike Tebow, who played against many players who are not likely to make the Bengals’ final roster, Orton played against the first team unit.  Oh, and Orton did this without any running game to help him because all of Denver’s running backs are injured.

I feel like people are so blinded by Tebow mania that it has long gotten beyond ridiculous. He is a rookie.  At that, he is a rookie that is a project.  Kyle Orton is playing incredibly well, and I think he may in line for a Pro Bowl type season (yes you read that right: Pro Bowl).  The only way that Tebow starts a game at quarterback for the Broncos at any point this season is if Orton gets injured, or the Broncos’ season has completely fallen off the wagon (say 3-7 or worse).  The only way Josh McDaniels will even think about starting Tebow at quarterback this season is if this season becomes a lost cause and he is looking ahead to next season.

I feel very strongly that this Tebow mania is very unfair to Orton and I feel like no one is acknowledging how well Orton has performed in this training camp.  I will even take it a step further and say that anyone who thinks Tebow should be starter over Orton either doesn’t know much about how football is actually played or is highly delusional.  Tim Tebow may blossom into a starter eventually, or he might not.  Until he does, let’s say off and give him time and a chance to develop.

For now, this is Orton’s team, and I think it should be really obvious that is best for the Broncos in 2010.

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Please, stop with the injuries!

Posted by mizzou1028 on August 9, 2010

First of all, my sincere apologies for being a big delinquent and not posting anything for the past three months.  I have slapped a big penalty on myself and promise to post with a lot more regularity.   It is not a coincidence that I am posting on the night of the first NFL preseason game this year between the Cowboys and Bengals.  Honestly I happen to find preseason football completely useless, primarily because it is nothing more than chances for players to get injured.  I am fearful of what this preseason is meaning for the Broncos, because they have already had a dozen players suffer injuries of varying severity during the first week of training camp, and we’re still a week away from the first of Denver’s meaningless four scrimmages.  Of course I realize that players can get hurt at any time, I just get extremely frustrated when they occur during the preseason period during a time in which we’re a long way away from any kind of meaningful football.

The biggest injury of course is that to Elvis Dumervil, who led the Broncos with 17 sacks last year.  No one else on the team had more than four.  You don’t have to be a football expert to see that this is a major blow to the Broncos’ defense.  The Broncos know how important Dumervil is, for they signed him to a $58 million extension over five years just weeks ago.  It appears in a best case scenario that the Broncos MIGHT see Dumervil in December, although it seems like the smart move would be let him have the season ending surgery to repair his torn pectoral muscle and make sure you don’t lose him for more than just this season.  The Broncos will obviously miss his ability to rush the passer.  What makes it worse is the guy they were counting on to replace Dumervil, Jarvis Moss, is out for a couple of weeks at least with a hand injury.  The good news for the linebacking core is that Robert Ayers, last year’s first round pick who had no sacks, has dominated training camp and looks like he is showing great improvement over last season.

While Dumervil is lost for the season, the Broncos are optimistic that most of the other injured players have a chance to ready for week one at Jacksonville.  Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and Correll Buckhalter (back/neck) both suffered injuries on the first day of training camp.  This one day after the Broncos traded J.J. Arrington to the Eagles for special teams ace Joe Mays, a move that made sense at the time given Denver’s desire to upgrade the special teams unit, but made a lot less sense after the running core had been significantly depleted with the injuries.  Denver signed LenDale White to add some depth in that area and give them someone who could run the ball during the preseason besides guys who are sure to get cut, and then White got hurt as well during his first day of practice with the Broncos.  Worse for Denver is that White is facing a four game suspension from the league, so he won’t be available until October anyway.

Then there are the injuries to the wide receivers.  First round pick Demariyus Thomas, who was already dealing with a foot injury suffered before the draft, re-aggrivated the injury while making a spectacular touchdown catch in practice Saturday night.  Third round pick Eric Decker also suffered a foot injury during a goal line drill in Saturday night’s practice.  The good news is the Broncos don’t believe either of these injuries is serious.

The Broncos did cancel their scheduled practice on Sunday, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it was partially because they were concerned other players might get injured.  I do think it’s fair to say that most if not all of these injuries have been fluke in nature and they don’t appear to be the result of anything related to the team’s training or practice regimen.  Of course there are other teams that have had the injury bug bite them during this preseason, but clearly there is no injury around the league that is near as significant as Dumervil’s.  Factor in the other injuries the Broncos have suffered, and Denver has clearly been the most injury riddled team in the league so far in camp.  It needs to stop, or else the Broncos’ season will be stopped dead in its tracks before it even has a chance to get rolling.

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Tebow in Denver

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 23, 2010

Let’s cut to the chase with this: the selection of Tim Tebow by the Denver Broncos at number 25 overall is without question the craziest, riskiest pick I have seen from an NFL team in years, maybe ever.  Here you have a guy in Tebow who just two months ago was being projected as a fifth or sixth round selection, largely due to a poor performance in the Senior Bowl and his showing the scouting combine.  We were told there are major flaws in Tebow’s mechanics and footwork.  Many still think he is nothing more than a backup quarterback at best.  There are others however who have seen him work insanely hard to improve his mechanics in the past two months and value his intangibles of hard work and leadership, thus valuing him much higher.  Rumor has it the Broncos weren’t the only team targeting Tebow tonight.  Reports have the Buffalo Bills as extremely disappointed, and others say perhaps the Patriots or Vikings were hoping Tebow would fall to them.  Bottom line: Tebow is perhaps the most polarizing player I have ever seen.  People either love him or hate him, there is no middle ground, and how he does in Denver will almost certainly define the Josh McDaniels era.

I think it is safe to say that the pick was a surprise, no surprise is too soft a word.  Let’s try shock.  That’s much better, I would say everyone in Broncos Country, and heck the entire league, was shocked to actually see Tebow selected in round one.  Many think he was selected too high.  Clearly, Josh McDaniels values him enough to have made him a first round selection.  This does seem very curious considering the recent trade for Brady Quinn and the other needs on the roster, not the least of which is the offensive line, of which there is no center currently on the roster.  I think it is safe to say that Tebow will not be starting at quarterback right away.  Right now that job still belongs to Kyle Orton, although he will certainly have competition breathing down his neck.  I could see Tebow being used initially in short yardage situations, perhaps some Wildcat formations, and basically deployed at specific times in a game to try and generate an impact.

Frankly, I think it will take minimum two and probably three seasons to truly judge this pick.  It will take time for Tebow to develop, and maybe that’s the problem that many fans have.  People want impact players in the first round, guys who will step in right away and make a difference.  Broncos fans are upset that Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall have been traded and they are having a hard time seeing what the Broncos got for those two players.  My views on Cutler are very clear (short version: if he keeps leading the league in picks, Chicago can have him) and Marshall was clearly someone who no longer wanted to be in Denver.  While the frustration is understandable, I think it’s clear that McDaniels wouldn’t have made those moves if he didn’t feel they made the team better.  Clearly he thinks Tebow can help.  So in that regard, I say let’s give the guy a chance to see what he can do before we label the pick as a bust.

Here is what I like about Tebow: His track record at Florida is outstanding.  He is the winner of two national championships, and his stats were off the charts.  The guy won games, he proved to be a superb leader in the huddle and in the locker room.  He has many qualities you want in a quarterback; he exudes confidence, has an ability to take charge, is very intelligent, and knows the playbook inside and out.  With his skillset he can also be very capable as an H-back type out of the backfield, and he is as tough as they come on the field.  He is one of those guys who is the first to arrive at practice and the last to leave.  This is a guy who will do whatever it takes and then some to improve, be a leader and win football games.  He has proven adept to running Urban Meyer’s offense at Florida, which is more similar to an NFL offense than that used by many other colleges.  He is in many ways an ideal teammate.  He is a team first player all the way, someone who will not worry about contracts or individual stats.  He is also not a guy who will get in trouble a la Ben Roethlisberger.

Now here is what I don’t like about Tebow: His improved mechanics have only been on display for two months, so it will be very interesting to see how he will do against real NFL competition.  I still wonder if he has the ability to throw the deep ball, something that was noticeably absent in the Broncos offense last year.  I also pause when I think of how many other Heisman Trophy winners and good college quarterbacks have struggled mightily in the NFL.  The NFL is completely different from the college game, so there is no guarantee his success at Florida will translate to the Broncos.

There is another reason I have not to this point been the biggest fan of Tebow, and it’s perhaps one that won’t make me very popular.  While I admire his character off the field, I am not at all a fan of the way he sometimes uses football as a launching pad for his personal and religious views.  It is for this reason that I have found him to be a very difficult player to root for.  I realize this sounds strange considering he hasn’t gotten himself into any embarrassing trouble, and this is not to say that I resent him for his views.  Plenty of NFL players share Tebow’s views, you just don’t see them using the NFL to fuel political or religious agendas.  I would say the same thing whether I agreed with Tebow or not: there is a time and place for expression of such views, and game interviews and press conferences are not the time.  I guess what I’m saying is I don’t want the starting quarterback of my team telling me that his off the field views are correct and that mine are wrong.  I do respect that he is very confident in himself and who he is.  Obviously I don’t want Ben Roethlisberger on my team, or anyone else who would behave as irresponsibly as he has, so I’m not saying the Broncos shouldn’t draft/sign players of good character.  Tim Tebow has very good character and I admire him for that, and I’m glad the Broncos are pursuing players with high morals.  I just think at times Tebow has gone overboard with his message.

Overall I think Tebow is a player worth taking a chance on because he is a sure bet to be a good teammate and he has the intangibles necessary to be a good quarterback and good leader of a football team.  While I may personally not care for the way he expresses some of his views, that doesn’t change the fact he is a person of good character and is someone who will clearly put the team first, and that is something that has been missing from the Broncos locker room, specifically at key positions.  I think in time if he continues to work on his mechanics, he can develop into a good quarterback.  Nothing is guaranteed of course.   There is no question McDaniels is taking a huge risk, especially if the Broncos could have gotten him at a later slot in the draft than the first round.  There is no way to know for sure, but the common opinion seems to be Tebow was selected too high, that the Broncos might have been able to wait until Friday to take him.  I think if Tebow turns out to be a good player that won’t matter.  If Tebow is successful, it might just restore the opinion of McDaniels in Bronco land.  It might be enough to make people forget about Cutler and Marshall and even Mike Shanahan.  If Tebow is a bust, McDaniels will be run out of town on a rail and his tenure will be defined by the moves he made and the risks he took.  He could well be remembered as the coach who blew up the Broncos.  What will it be?   It’ll probably be at least two years before we find out.

One footnote: Let’s not forget about Demaryius Thomas, the receiver from Georgia Tech that the Broncos selected three spots before Tebow.  Thomas is a playmaker with a body type very similar to Brandon Marshall.  He has the ability to make tough catches in traffic and McDaniels believes he is faster than Marshall.  He is the type of receiver that could be able to make an immediate impact alongside Eddie Royal.  I like this pick very much.  Now they need to address the offensive line.

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Marshall to Miami – Now let’s move on

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 16, 2010

By now you should know the specifics of the deal: Brandon Marshall has been traded to the Miami Dolphins for a pair of second round picks, one in next week’s draft (number 45 overall) and another in 2011.  At first I thought the Broncos got robbed, that they didn’t get enough in return for Marshall.  When looking at the receiver market around the league however, the Broncos actually did as well as could realistically be expected.  The Cardinals only received a third and fifth round pick for Anquan Boldin, and the Steelers got only a measly fifth round pick for Santonio Holmes.  It could be more than a reasonable argument that Marshall has not accomplished as much as those two wideouts, but at the very least Marshall is in their class from a talent standpoint.  While it would have been nice for the Broncos if a team signed Marshall to an offer sheet and had to surrender the tender of a first round pick, that just wasn’t going to happen because teams knew he could be had for less.  That’s just the way it works.

I know many Broncos fans are feeling frustrated because they feel like the talent of the team is being destroyed (Tony Scheffler is almost certainly on his way out too, perhaps to rejoin Mike Shanahan in Washington).  While I admit I am a little concerned about who will be there to throw the ball to in September (Eddie Royal MUST have more than 37 catches for starters), I think the move was so inevitable that Marshall’s presence in the locker room would have caused more of a distraction than it would have helped.  Let’s make no bones about this, Marshall wanted out of Denver.  He may have put on a happy face last year, and he did get his 100 catches, but he was never playing for the team.  Let’s not forget he did earn a one game suspension from Josh McDaniels at the beginning of last season, and only when he returned from that did he even start playing hard.  Let’s also not forget that he couldn’t figure out a way to get on the field in the finale against Kansas City, even though it was obvious (and even stated by McDaniels) that other players were gutting it out with worse injuries.  The fact Marshall was too hurt to play in a do or die game where the playoffs were on the line but managed to be on the field in the completely meaningless Pro Bowl just a few weeks later says a lot about his character or lack thereof.  Marshall was only concerned with a big payday and as far he was concerned he had his 100 catches.

As far as I’m concerned (I said this about Jay Cutler as well), if a player doesn’t want to be here, get rid of him.  Marshall had several reasons for wanting out of Denver, not the least of which is the Broncos weren’t about to reward him with a large contract when he is just one more transgression away from a major suspension by Roger Goodell.  Marshall’s off the field behavior has been questionable at best (which is probably the biggest reason he was a fourth round draft pick), and I frankly shudder to think of what might happen when Marshall takes his new paycheck to South Beach.  Marshall is certainly a very talented receiver, and I’ll be the first to say they just don’t fall off the tree, but in the NFL a good locker room environment is just as important as the talent on the field.  In this case, an unhappy Marshall was just going to cause more of a distraction.  Think of Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, and other receivers with large personalities.  How many playoff games have those receivers won?  Think about the distractions those receivers cause.  Good receivers are important, but good character is more important.  That’s why the Broncos made this trade, and really why they felt they didn’t have much choice.

I do think this a team with many more questions than answers.  I think this is a very important draft for the Broncos, for they still have major holes at guard and center along the offensive line.  They also could use another linebacker in the 3-4 scheme.  Speaking of linebacker, they need to figure out a way to make Elvis Dumervil happy.  Dumervil missed out on a big payday thanks in large part to the uncapped year as a result of the collective bargaining agreement not being renewed.  The Broncos did address the defensive line in the offseason and that should be much improved.  It will also be interesting to see if the Broncos try to tab a receiver somewhere in the draft, and of course how the quarterback battle between Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn shakes out.  The Broncos are definitely a team with major questions, but I am always the eternal optimist.  Let’s see what happens next week in the draft and we’ll go from there.

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