Yesterday, we lost a game to a bad team in terrible fashion. It happens. Why did it happen? The temptation to speculate, extrapolate, and call for changes is incredibly strong. And yet, we must resist that temptation. The worst thing about the Denver Broncos right now is not that they lost so badly to the Raiders yesterday, but that we're 2-5 in danger of having our season prematurely terminated. For all the improvement of some teams in the AFC West, however, it is not so strong that a season is over at 2-5. I don't believe we'll make the playoffs, but what I'm saying is that when it comes to the state of the organization, what you should be looking at is the seasons, not one game.
Now, here's what I think happened yesterday. The game started out with some bad luck. The safety bit on the wrong guy on the Zach Miller throw, and Miller walked in for a touchdown. Then, in lightning fashion, two turnovers were quickly made into Oakland points. We were in dire straights. Only the greatest of teams, the toughest of teams come back from this point.
The key for us at this point is two-part, I think. Firstly, too many of our leaders are sidelined with injury. This is almost primarily on defense. But one way or the other, when we were down 21, we needed some guys to step up and rally the team, and they weren't there. Or, leastwise, they weren't dressed for the game, and if you're not one of the 22 then your impact is minimal.
It might be nice, at this point, to see a red-faced coach spraying spittle and trying with every fibre of his being to exhort the players back into the game from the sidelines. But, as I said, if you're not one of the 22... The problem is not necessarily McDaniels. That's not to say that he might not be part of the problem. But when you get blown out, in my opinion, the problem is lack of leadership and pride on the field.
Now, I notice that a good deal of the leadership on this team is on defense. And what leadership there is is kind of old. Where's our leadership on offense? Where's our young leadership? Guys may be skilled, they may be smart, but where are the leaders? Doesn't it seem that the Broncos need to take a page out of the book of recent Chiefs drafts? The Chiefs (if I recall) drafted a bunch of team captains from college. When your team lacks direction, you need leadership. You love a coach like Rex Ryan, etc., but you still need that leadership on the field.
I honestly believe we're still going to win some games this year. I hope we will get our leaders back from injury, and they can help turn around the spirit of the team. However, the true solution lies in the future. It is not so much who we have to get rid of, but who we need to pick up.
If there's any problem with our coach, it's that his youth has not allowed him yet to develop his leadership. But still, as I said, we need leadership on the field. McD will develop. In the meantime, we have Tebow, and if he can adjust to the speed of the game then we will have 1 leader on offense who will not accept mediocrity. We also need a leader on the O-Line, preferably at Center. I don't know if Walton will be that. Nasty is nice, but you've got to take control if you're the center or it puts too much on the QB, especially if he's a rookie or 1st year guy.
We need a MLB that is an outspoken leader who can also lead with his play. MLB is a key, key position on defense where you need a strong leader. We need a young D-Lineman who can provide some leadership. And a stud safety who can hopefully provide some leadership to the secondary. If Bruton can play well enough to start, he might fill that. Or not.
I believe now that the main flaw with our drafting was that we were valuing intelligence almost ultimately. Intelligence is nice, but on the field it only translates into awareness. You need more than awareness on the field. Awareness, intelligence, fleetness of foot, none of this means anything if you don't have willpower. Willpower is what makes you refuse to get blown out, refuse to stop playing at 0-21.
Willpower, however, is not as easy to draft for, to be sure. As I suggested before, the surest indication may be team captaincy in college, although that is surely no guarantee. If our personnel evaluators are either not valuing this trait (willpower/leadership), then that is a terrible flaw. If they cannot recognize it, then they need help. As this team needs help.
What if our problem all along was not the lockerroom disruption of Marshall/Cutler types? What if it was lack of will? Lack of leadership? Cutler had to go because that is absolutely, without a doubt, a position you need leadership at, and if he didn't have it then he was a liability. But we didn't just magically cure the problem by cutting him. A guy who "doesn't make waves" at QB is not enough to keep the Offensive unit staunch.
Is that what Orton is? A guy who doesn't make waves? Don't judge by this game, but I say I have yet to see him take the ball at the 10 yard line with the game on the line and say "Failure is not an option" or "We have them right where we want them." I have no idea what he does say, but the point is I don't feel like I've seen him yet be clutch. He's competent. We saw proof of that when Chris Simms took over, and we saw a true abomination with no skill or leadership at QB.
This is what I feel we should look for in the rest of the season. Where are the leaders. Orton should play the rest of the year because starting Tebow would only be throwing him to the lions. Let our young O-Line get a year under their belts at least before you stick Tebow back there. For now, let's watch Orton and look for that clutch quality that indicates leadership. So far, all I have seen (with the exception of one part of one game) is late-game sputters.
What I'm saying is don't give up on every single part of this team just because we got blown out. Change may be in the wind, but it should not be dictated by 1 loss, no matter how bad. It's the portfolio. Right now the portfolio shows that sometimes we just have "bodies" out there. That's fine for a bureaucracy, but for a football team, it won't do. For now, the only thing we could do is change which bodies are out there. For better or for worse, we have to wait until the offsesason.
For now, please don't go overboard and take this game and allow it to make you say that every player and every coach on our team is garbage. That's simply not true. We have some good guys in the squad and in the staff. No mater how bad the loss, it's only one game. It only counts as 1 loss on the season. McD has a lot of good traits. I'm no football guru, so I'll leave that for others to outline. But for now, we've got some intelligence and some talent on the team. This offseason, we need to get some leadership that can come in and be the cement on our squads.
I apologize for the length of my post and its somewhat rambling way. But this site is being flooded with negative kneejerk, and I felt some counteraction was needed. You have every right to be negative. But let that simmer for a bit until it brews into something constructive. Save the kneejerk for the DP forums, mmm-kay?