There's a problem. A big problem. Whether you want to believe it or not, right now, on Saturday, August 21, 2009, there is a huge problem between the Broncos and Brandon Marshall. For some of you this is not anything new. It is not for me either. I am trying to bring the rest of you on board, the ones that have your fingers in your ears, shouting "La-La-La-La" hoping it will all go away. It isn't, at least it doesn't appear to be.
I asked the question last week if you felt Brandon Marshall had quit on the Broncos. Nearly 1,450 of you responded, with 79% saying "Yes!". Yes, I know some of you wanted a third answer, the "I'm not sure" choice, but what fun is that. This site is all about having an opinion. It's okay to do that on MHR because you won't get criticized for it, as long as it is given respectfully. So, no, there's not going to be any "I'm not sure" choices in polls here. That number, 79%, is a strong indication of how many of you feel.
After I wrote it, there was a lot of talk about the media blowing everything out of proportion. Talk of reporters baiting Marshall into saying things, or taking comments out of context. There was the infamous, "playbook" line by the player and the diplomatic response by the coach.
"See, it isn't really that big of a deal" everyone said, or at least those who want to ignore the truth.
Me? I don't listen much to what people say. Coaches and players are schooled from Day 1 on how to be as bland as possible. Marshall, by his agent no doubt, is being told to take the high road, as much as possible, because 31 teams in the NFL are watching how he handles all of this very closely. "I have never asked for more money" "How can I be unhappy doing what I love?"
Josh McDaniels has been schooled by some of the most media-savvy coaches in the business - Nick Saban and Bill Belichick - on how to avoid the media mind games. "Everyone plays the scout team", "Not knowing the playbook is no big deal". "Brandon will play when he is ready".
All of those things are nice to say, but I look at actions. They do speak louder than words, you know.Think about what has happened during Training Camp. When I was there, Marshall was practicing every day. He was working with the first and second team. The fact that he had little knowledge of the playbook didn't seem to hamper him. Then came the hamstring injury, ironically on a play that Marshall was working with the first team, that kept Marshall out of practice for 10 days. Marshall was still attending all the meetings, going to rehab, still part of the team.
Then came the trial last Friday, the acquittal, the directive from the team to the players not to be "too happy" for Marshall and Brandon's meeting with Joe Ellis and then Josh McDaniels. Since that moment, Marshall has yet to take a meaningful snap with the offense, at any time, on any level.
No, Marshall has played the scout team. That, in and of itself, tells you he is healthy. Injured players don't play the scout team, no, that honor goes to players that are not going to be a meaningful part of the upcoming game. He also stood with the DEFENSE the entire time. Yes, the same player fighting to learn the playbook, played scout team defense and stood with the defense in between sessions. That doesn't have the looks of a player concerned with learning the offense.
The last bit? With All-Time leading receiver Rod Smih talking technique with Eddie Royal, Marshall was off talking to a Special Teams coach. Smith, of course, was once a mentor for Marshall. Little is known as to why that stopped.
Guys and gals, this has NOTHING to do with the playbook. Think about it, if Brandon Marshall were traded to a team tomorrow, he would be on the field next weekend. Would he know any of the playbook? Don't be fooled.
The last bit of evidence you need happened last night when the Broncos left for Seattle sans #15. Not playing in a meaningless Preseason game is one thing. Not being invited on the airplane to be with the team, on the sideline with your teammates, is another one entirely. Injured players, like Brian Dawkins, for instance, usually do not go on road trips, favoring to rehab and work out at the home facility instead. Air travel(read pressurized cabin) doesn't feel too good on broken bones or muscle pulls either.
Brandon Marshall is 100% healthy. He has said this to the media in Denver, and said so on the Michael Irvin Show on Wednesday. I played much of that interview on MHR Radio Thursday Night.
So why leave him at home? Did Marshall wish to not make the trip, especially considering he would likely not play? Did the team decide the Marshall situation was too much of a distraction? Is this all a huge smokescreen?
Think back a couple years ago. The Patriots traded for Randy Moss. There was a lot of hooplah surrounding Pats Training Camp and Moss. Moss practiced very little early on and barely played in the Preseason. There were even articles coming out of New England that Moss could be cut before the season started because of the money. It turned out to be a ploy. Moss started practicing once the "open" portion of camp ended. All he did that season was catch 23 TD passes.
I bring this up because the open portion of Broncos Training Camp has ended, for the fans and the media. Now, the media gets 10 minutes or so at the beginning of practice to check things out then are forced away. This is when the 'real' work begins, as team begin to gameplan for the season. Could the Broncos, and Josh McDaniels, bring Marshall back at this point? Could this all be a huge smoke screen? One never can tell.
We all will know soon enough. Depending on who, and what, is the driving factor behind all this will determine what actions we see from the team in the coming week. For the record, I could care little if Marshall plays in the preseason at all, but at some point, if he is going to be a factor in the offense, Brandon Marshall will have to begin working with the #1 offense.
All we can do now is wait and see. What I don know is the Broncos offense has had success with Brandon Marshall and they have had success without him. And while I know the Broncos are more talented with Marshall on the field, it remains to be seen if the Broncos are a better TEAM with #15.
With the preseason 1/2 over, we'll soon get an idea.