Broncos Thoughts and Musings - Redskins Week

Another week in the NFL, and the Broncos didn't win this time, either. The earth remains in orbit, and the stock market didn't crash (again). Once again, some of the fan base is breaking its ankles in their haste to jump back off the bandwagon. Many of them will climb over people's heads to jump back on next week, too. It's the way this season is going. 

One nice thing about getting older is getting a longer perspective on things. Patience, like age, can be a useful thing. You tend to lose the idea that the immediate is as daunting as emotions want to paint. You can, if you're lucky, learn that experiencing more wins than losses is actually enjoyable. You lose some of the urge to demand constant perfection of the world. You realize that your will never manifest that yourself, and you recognize that trying to require it of those around you makes you - and them - miserable. It's a rigged game. 

The Broncos look good to me. I'm aware that they have weaknesses, but they also just played two excellent teams, one on the road. They didn't win, and they're probably not in that league yet. But they won against San Diego on the road, as well as beating three division leaders in Dallas, New England and Cincinnati. If you rate their overall performance, they're exceeding nearly everyone's estimations. Don't waste too much time worrying and insisting that things are in peril.  We've won 3 of every 4 games. Enjoy it. 

Let's talk Broncos!

 

Hamilton and Concussions

 


I'd like to talk for a few moments about Ben Hamilton's situation. When he spent some time out with a major concussion, I immediately became concerned. I used to see mild to moderate brain trauma cases in my clinical days and even designed a new treatment format that seemed to be very effective, so I knew how troubling that injury can be. What's just as troubling is that the medical field has been incredibly slow to admit that each concussion is a serious life event.

Some players are never the same afterward, just as many non-players will have problems with concentration, thought and emotions throughout the rest of their lives. Brain injuries are serious stuff. 

In poking around, I was temporarily soothed by learning that offensive lineman relatively rarely suffer concussions. What I didn't realize at the time was that this information was put out by the tools of the NFL, which has a huge investment in keeping people believing something that we have long known is nonsense - that NFL players don't have a provably higher rate of concussive dementia than the population at large. I don't know a doc personally who believes that crap, but it's still out there. 

What they didn't tell us was that offensive lineman do have a lower rate of concussions. However - they have a significantly higher rate of non-concussive head blows. If you've had a major concussion in the past, that can leave you with issues of concentration, slower reflexes and a whole slew of other issues. Since Hamilton didn't have a major history of inducing penalties and has since returning, it's impossible to rule out the concern that he may be suffering from a chronic level of post-concussive syndrome. Is that my clinical diagnosis? Of course not - I've never met the man, much less done an intake workup on him. But it concerns me as one potential explanation of the situation, and I'm pretty sure from my own history that many of his docs aren't taking this as seriously as they should. Sometimes, we can be incredibly slow to admit that things your great-grandmother knew were true - like head injuries can last for a lifetime, whether our current testing shows it clearly or not - are really true. 

I wish the man well. It's time to accept that he will probably not be with the Broncos next year and to move forward in whatever way is best. The middle of the O-line will be a major priority in the draft and/or free agency this upcoming year. Count on it.


Football 101: Timing Patterns

 


I read a lot of comments after the Steelers game that showed me one thing - we can all learn more about the game. Several of them dealt with plays in which the receivers weren't there to absorb the pass on a timing route, and a couple dealt with Knowshon Moreno. I thought it might help to clear the air. 

When a timing route is called, the QB and receiver are essentially entering into a pact. The QB agrees to throw the ball to a space that the receiver hasn't reached. The receiver agrees to get there on time to make the catch. The O-line agrees (and this might also involve a running back and a tight end or two) to protect the QB until the throw can be made accurately. All of them have to do their jobs well for the pattern to be successful. 

On the first INT by Orton, Moreno was picked by the NT. As a result, he didn't get there and the pass was to open space. One of the defenders moved in and made the pick, but you really can't blame Orton. All he can do is make the throw. The running back (in this case) has to fight through and get to the ball. That didn't happen. 

Oddly, the same thing happened on another play, but the outcome was pretty much the same. He wasn't where he had to be and the pass was incomplete. The fans who bemoan that the pass was 'out of his reach' don't really understand the nature of a timing route. You cannot, from our viewpoint, know if that's an accurate statement or not. Might be - it happens. But all we really can know is that the receiver didn't get to where the ball went on time. Nothing more. 

Every Kiss begins with Who?

First off: The winter/Xmas commercials are back, and just as tiresome as last year's. Of a particularly high irritation factor is that one about the connection between kisses and jewelry. Not in my life, brother. 

In much younger days, many kisses began with Miller Lites, Bud Heavies, bottles of good wine and the occasional glass of well-aged mead. One remarkably memorable occasion began with Cuervo Gold, but that was a long time ago. If I had to pony up jewelry just to get kissed, I knew that I was dating the wrong lady. 

The two greatest inventions of the last 100 years were the fast forward and the mute button. Trust me on this one. Danged commercials...

Jack Williams

When people are talking about Jack Williams' release, this may put things more clearly: Williams was beaten out last year by Josh Bell. That's the same Josh Bell who auditioned for the Cleveland Browns last week and didn't get the job. When you can't land on the Browns' defense, you're not exactly pushing the top ten in the league, you know? If McD believes that Ty Law can be a part of this thing, well, he said the same thing about Andra Davis, Ronald Fields and a few other folks. I like his batting average so far. 

Some have claimed that the Williams example is different because he might play better in the future. Sure, that might happen, but it might happen more quickly if he receives a professional kick in the pants and finds out that he's not cutting it on the field. If he's not showing signs of improving, and that seems obvious from the situation, I can't question why the Broncos cut him loose. Look to CBs in the upcoming draft and/or free agency.

Sporting News Magazine

 

As part of the price of getting the War Room info, I also receive the site's magazine. Like all of them, some issues resonate, others don't. This week's was interesting on several levels. 

First, they noted that it's a copycat league, which is not exactly hot news, but they did a nice job of identifying some trends that go into that. The first one listed was a supposed move to younger head coaches, and Josh McD was, appropriately, the poster boy for that blurb. I'm honestly not sure that it's an advantage to be younger or older, but it's an advantage to be smart as heck and to have a lifelong background in football. Kudos to the coach on the job he's done. SNM claimed in talking about the 3-4 trend that Dom Capers and then Dick LeBeau had 'originated' the 3-4, but then backtracked and said that many teams used it in the 70s and 80s, with Denver being the admitted role model. That Capers/LeBeau was the origin modern version is a fair statement.

The mag also listed its midseason awards, and several current Broncos were front and center. Elvis Dumervil trailed DEFENSIVE MVP Darren Sharper by only 4 of the 99 votes (the votes were taken among current, active players). Dumervil also won the BIGGEST SURPRISE PLAYER (17 votes) with Kyle Orton tied with Brett Favre for second at 13 votes apiece. Josh McD walked away with COACH OF THE YEAR although he'll be fighting Sean Payton for the full-year award. 

Orton and Dumervil traded positions for the MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER, with Orton winning with 7 votes and Doom in second taking 4, tied with Drew Brees and Darren Sproles. That one surprised me - in what universe is Brees or Sproles anything other than a great player and teammate? The folks who underrated them have been kidding themselves, but that's free of charge as well as common and sometimes amusing. 

Two players that Broncos fans are familiar with got high ratings on MOST OVERRATED and BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT. Shawne Merriman tied with Terrell Owens as the MOST OVERRATED (I don't know why they needed a color-change on the letters, bigger font, bold and caps to make the categories obvious, but that's how they did it) and Jay Cutler was just behind them. Cutler and Merriman also garnered votes as BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT. Cutler, it should be noted, did a nice job on Sunday against Arizona, but once again finds himself without a defense and currently doesn't have the receivers or O-line that he needs either. He also did well in completions - 29 of 47, 3 TDs and only one INT with 369 yards (sacked 3 times) - but once again did better at creating yardage than points, especially in the first half, when he was 20-29, 195 and got only 7 points.  

What I laughed about with regard to those two categories was not that those two players were in each, but the bizarre logic behind it. Merriman is coming off a surgery that tends to take two seasons to recover from and folks are dunning him for not being at next year's level. Like him or hate him, that's pointless. The same goes for Cutler - I spent the offseason pointing out that Chicago didn't have the O-line or receivers to win consistently and other members dissected their D in detail (I was mostly down on the secondary, and haven't changed my tune). Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but it's also kind of useful in logic and those two categories were sheer CYA.

The Sporting News also put up its recommendations for this year's All Pro - Ryan Clady and Elvis Dumervil were first team. Congratulations to both!


Wildcat/Wild Horses

 

The same issue talked about the Wildcat and its variants, which was interesting. They list the Broncos as being one of the teams that doesn't use it, which is both true and false, depending on your specific definition. More interesting was the followup article on Saints coordinator Gregg Williams, who held Miami to running the Wildcat 14 times for 27 yards. For those who didn't see the game, the WC seems to be mostly limited to a run-play formation, which is a huge weakness. Based on that, Williams blitzed both corners and one safety whenever the WC was set up and drove MIA insane by doing so. The Wild Horses has a big advantage there.  

The Wild Horses not only gives us a chance to peek at the defense, it's also set up to become a passing attack. Since the rest of the league is running out of the WC at least 80% of the time, this makes our attack unique. That's something that the Steelers found out on the first drive Monday night. The Broncos didn't really stay with it, but it showed why the formation is unique among the versions of the WC that are out there. 

The Price of Arrogance

 

I had some pretty irritated reactions to my recent comment that the players on the Chargers who were arguing on the sidelines, acting out and taking their arguments to the media are guilty of 'arrogance'. It seemed that the term 'arrogance' irritated folks as much as having their players called out and I was inundated with comments that I was 'arrogant' for saying that they were arrogant (Very subtle and witty, folks. There were at least a half dozen people making that incredibly insightful weak pun). 

It shouldn't surprise anyone that I called the players out on this, though. I've said the same thing about Broncos players such as Brandon Marshall when he did the same, not to mention Nate Webster, Jay Cutler and a half dozen others. Players who aren't about the team first are about themselves first, which I consider to be the definition of ego and arrogance and an invitation to disaster as a team. I understand that folks believe that if you're not a fan of a certain team, you shouldn't use that term, but it is what it is. 

To put this in perspective, I was interested to note that Bill Belichick referenced the same problem recently. Jimmy Johnson had once made a comment that only a limited number of teams will beat you - the others will self-destruct each year. In response to that quote, Belichick said,

 

Jimmy probably said the same thing to you that he once said to me: "You’re really only competing with about 10 teams a year. If you just say out of the way, the other 20 teams will screw it up themselves. Whether it’s ownership or personnel or coaching or some combination of factors." Ego, internal struggle, something will happen to two-thirds of the teams, that was Jimmy’s theory. That leaves you with about 10 teams that you’re going to have to really battle with. Those teams have it together. They’re going to make good decisions and if you play bad football, they’re going to take advantage of it. They’re going to find some undrafted guy or some middle-round pick or some veteran free agent who is going to spark their team. Pittsburgh is always going to be there. Indianapolis is always going to be there. They may not win it, but they’ll be there. You’re going to have to beat them. Philadelphia is going to be there. Yeah, [quarterback Donovan] McNabb might get hurt one year and they might go 7-9, but they’re going to be there. You’re still battling them on every front.

This is exactly what I'm referring to when I get on certain teams or payers about their ego or their arrogance. If your players are acting out on the sidelines, if they're talking about their unhappiness in the papers, they're contributing to the opposing team's success, and that's just pointless. No matter what team it shows up in, I'm going to point out that it's a bad idea. Seriously, what's the argument in favor of what a good idea it is? This is what the best teams don't do.

 

A perfect example of this kind of arrogance from this week's games? Tommie Harris, Chicago Bears DT. Harris is a very good player with a very bad attitude, which got him benched for the Cleveland game. The Bears aren't stopping the pass and their pass rush has been lacking, but their run defense remained stout and he's a key element there. So, during a game in which the Bears later lost two more members of the secondary (SS Al Afalava and CB Charles Tillman) Harris got so self-involved that he threw a blatant sucker punch at a defenseless opposing player (OT Deuce Lutui) who was already on the ground, 64 lousy seconds into the game. That might cost the Bears his services  for that game was well as (potentially) this coming Thursday as he sits out a suspension. Since Chicago is on the line, with two more losses perhaps costing them the playoffs for a third consecutive year, that action stands out as the boneheaded play of the season so far. The Johnson Principle - handing over games by self-centered actions - is in full swing.

 

When a Bronco does it, I'll call that player on it as well. But, just because I'm not rooting for a certain team doesn't make it any less arrogant or any less foolish when it happens. I really don't care if it's your team or not - it isn't a very bright thing to do. One thing that I like about this year's Broncos - each person that I've listened to has taken the loss on himself and talked about the team in a positive and supportive way. That's just the way it ought to be. 

Final Thoughts - What's On the Line

 

In regards to the running game, LG, C, and RT are exposed at the moment. One is due to injury while the others will have many wondering, "what the hell happened"!?

 

Say hello to my fast...

by dcrespo7 on Nov 10, 2009 3:23 PM PST reply actions   0 recs 

 

It's a good, valid, and ultimately important point. I don't really wonder what happened - Hamilton hasn't been the same since the injury, whether they are linked or not. Casey Wiegmann is losing to the only player he ever will again - Father Time. Tyler Polumbus would/will need time to get his own timing and communication down right. We like to believe that everyone can learn instantly, but it usually doesn't work that way, sad to say.  Ryan Harris will be back, perhaps, which would help, and Chris Kuper has been a rock. Ryan Clady has some sophomore stuff going on, but he's fine. Polumbus will show us how vulnerable we are by the time Harris makes it back.

 

Let's be fair. There's no way that one team could have solved anything else in this little time. The changes in this team are tremendous, quick, and have generally been effective. When you have a major weakness get exposed during a season, sometimes you need a little time to fix it. It's this team's first season together, so it's not like they've had a decade to work out the kinks. 

 

Washington might be the tonic that we need. Traveling is never easy - statistically, I've seen that it affects winning substantially, so this will not be considered a cakewalk. We need a decisive win, whatever the score. Still - that's a doable goal. I don't see losing the last two games as that big a deal - we've won a lot more than we've lost and both teams had tremendous games, a fact that seems to have escaped many fans' attention. We need to make some adaptations, and I look forward to seeing what they are. 

 

Go Broncos!

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