Is there a SunnySide?
You have to wonder. Like all, on both sides of the issue, my first response was total shock as I beheld Stinky Schlereth trying to talk it through on ESPN But, I can see a SunnySide.
Like most, I think that Pat Bowlen has something not too far up his sleeve. I don't know who or what. Although I fear the eternal revolving coaches that so many teams suffer from, after a few hours reflection, I had to admit – after 3 seasons like the last three, and three games like the stinkers we ended on, anyone but a Coach For Life would be polishing his resume. But, although I'm not sure that I agree with the decision, I’m starting to see why.
Simple things - Tackling is a fundamental. We don’t. So is gap discipline. We don’t have any. Period. We use very good man CBs in the worst ways we can. We keep trying to play to not lose and our players don't seem to have any motivation. We generally don't put the time, effort and draft capital into our D. And I have to ask myself why.
Several defensive players have noted that they don’t create the schemes, just play the games and you hate to hear that from your guys. That doesn’t excuse the lamentable lack of fundamentals that we saw all year, though, and it makes the issue worse. The D has no personality, and one of the MHRs own rightly noted earlier this year that you have to have a program. We have one on offense, but the other two areas? No. Our ST is as execrable as the D and no matter how nice Scottie Obrien is and how cool his computer presentations are, he's not getting it done.
The D didn’t know if it was a 3-4 or a 4-3 and to this day I’m not sure, because if that was a 4-3 it was one frighteningly bizarre version of one. From our dalliance with Cover-8 to the incessant playing of quality man CBs 10 yards off the ball and one of the games top gambling CBs playing constantly without safety help, to our refusal to blitz when it WAS working? This became theatre of the absurd, and whatever else Pat is, he’s a football man and he knows more about the game than most owners. It had to gall him. Slowik wasn't getting it done.
The players are talking about not making the decisions. The fans are wondering who is – and why. Consider, for a minute, our constant, weird knee jerk moves on personnel. If we look at the past few years, no one, repeat NO ONE has been able to explain our personnel moves. A safety goes from practice squad to starter to fired in 10 days – as if you fire people for not being better than being on the practice squad would indicate. What the heck is that? Looking at the jumps to take flyers on the old, the weak of character and the injury-prone, the has-beens and never-weres, we as fans have taken the bad with the tremendous good Mike could bring. I believe that Pat made the decision that the good, great as it has and can be, isn’t cutting it against the bad. And he may well be right.
Last year had a lasting and odious effect on our d line. It may take some years to negate – and although it’s true that it was Bates, Shanahan sat and signed off on each increasingly bizarre decision. Remember how they seemed to be coming faster and faster? It led unerringly to this year, when we couldn’t pressure a QB to save our bacon, and that sizzling sound we heard was opposing QBs and RBs having record weeks. And if we think back, that’s been going on for years, too. I think that our last really good DC was Greg Robinson, and he was fired after a successful season. I’ve never quite gotten over that one, but I have to admit – after some reflection, it’s been a pattern with Mike that I don’t understand. He has one of the best O minds in the game and deserves the HOF seat that he will almost certainly get, yet he seems almost contemptuous about his defenses. But our D is setting records, and they’re not the kind we accept here in Broncoland. That has to stop, and I hope that one outcome of today is that it will.
Whether Spencer Larsen is a potentially solid starting MLB in today’s NFL will never be answered with him either sitting at FB or recovering from trying to play as a three way guy. You know why it isn’t done anymore? It’s because you’ll kill the guy who has the guts to say, "Anything you want, coach." And that’s why he was sitting on the bench, injured, while Nate Webster showed us in that brutal final game why no one else would ever start him. And we all had to wonder, even those, like me, who believed that with a change to HC instead of Lord of the Manor and with a gutsy DC, with the Goodman’s reminding us why we used to look forward to the draft, that we could still hammer our way to the playoffs and deep into them and perhaps to the land beyond.
In the end, to me it came down to five questions. I believe that the MHR faithful are the best informed football fans on the web, so I’m asking what you think. In each, the 1st options taken together would, I believe, take us to the Super. The second options would take us to the cellar. If it’s the #2’s, Bowlen was right.
1. Shanahan would have let the Goodman’s get us the players we needed OR He would always make plays for the offense at the expense of the D
2. Jay Cutler is progressing well OR Jay Cutler is leveling off or regressing in his growth
3. Mike would have let a top DC build the other side of the ball OR He wouldn’t
4. The players are willing to play their hearts out for Shanahan and his staff OR They’re not
5. Those taken together - Bowlen was right OR