The Soapbox Week 12: Rams at Broncos Edition

~ Bellowing winds gale ~ With the warrior's last breath ~ Fades away to shame ~ (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

All this time, I've been secretly implementing the master plan...

I feel good, friends. I feel healthy and  at peace with the world. Now, if only I could say the same thing about those darn Broncos, huh?

Two straight losses is no laughing matter. Six losses in seven games is do-or-die time. I'll make no bones about it: we're 3-8, and no matter how much Pat Bowlen wants to fool himself we're not going to make the playoffs this year. At all. We have a grueling upcoming stretch as well, with three straight road games staring us right in the face, including at division rivals Kansas City and Oakland. Our season may be lost, but the NFL will chug along and we will have to be there for the ride.

If wholesale changes are to be made, they will have to be made in the maelstrom. If Tim Tebow is to start, he will be thrust into a hostile environment in Oakland early in the process. If Josh McDaniels is coaching for his life, we will see a game against a 3-8 Cardinals team be treated like the AFC Championship.

And, more importantly than anything else I will say today: If we fire Josh McDaniels now or at the end of the season, we will commit ourselves to entering into another long-term rebuilding process, during which we will continue to be one of the worst teams in the NFL.

I hope you all had a happy, healthy Thanksgiving, and I would like to wish each and every one of you a very happy holiday season. More after the jump...

Whereupon you will all consent to be my minions!

  • Quick hitters! The other day, I mentioned that Knowshon Moreno is quietly putting together a pretty solid statistical run. I don't normally like stats because they are easily manipulated and can be used to front unsound arguments, but in this case I believe they do not lie and KnowMo has looked like a true bright spot on this team.
  • Another stat that interests me: Eddie Royal, Brandon Lloyd, and Jabar Gaffney all have over 50 catches and 500 yards on the season. Two more: Knowshon Moreno and Demaryius Thomas, have 20 and 200. All are under 30 years old.
  • My last stat: Eddie Royal has 12.2 yards per punt return, good for second in the league, and that's not counting his touchdown against the 49ers that got called back. He looks explosive back there, and as mentioned above, he quietly is on pace for 74 catches, 802 yards, and 4 touchdowns. On top of that, he has not missed a game so far this season.
  • The offensive line looks better than it has all season, and that excites me for the future. Ryan Clady will be back to 100% next year. Ryan Harris will as well, although I'm not sure if he'll be a part of the team in the upcoming years. JD Walton looks solid, and has improved in each of his last few outings. His push on Knowshon's TD was gorgeous. Zane Beadles looks the part at left guard, although we really need more tape on him there before a full evaluation can be completed.
  • On defense, the list of positives is considerably more paltry. Well, actually it is a dearth, even. Hmm. Did I tell you I love Joe Mays?
  • Remember when Cortland Finnegan sucker-punched Chris Kuper when he had his helmet knocked off in week 4? No? Well, remember it real fast and then go watch Andre Johnson whip his little punk ass. Doesn't it make you feel good?
  • So I beat the Water Temple the other day, and during the Dark Link fight I used nothing but the Master Sword. No fairies, either. I beat him silly. I am very proud of myself. And the Temple itself only took me two hours this time.

Coaching Points and Introspection

I decided to lump these two sections together this week, because they tie together so strongly. Usually in Coaching Points, I try to evaluate what our gameplan was heading into the game. I try to point out areas that must have been focused on in practice, weaknesses we tried to mitigate, tendencies we attempted to cover up. The ultimate goal is to try to determine whether the gameplan was founded or unfounded, and how it could have been changed to be successful.

This week, however, I can't do that. Every week I DVR the game so that I can watch it at least twice. I have a stigma about writing about things I haven't seen, and I like to make absolutely sure I know what I am writing about by watching the game a second time. This week, though, FOX decided to go bonkers and not show most of the first quarter of the game. So I never got a chance to see anything until we were already up 10-0.

With that completely destroying the entire premise of my weekly column, I decided to frantically grasp at straws make Introspection longer and more relevant. I've kind of been feeling that Introspection is the ugly stepchild of the Soapbox anyway, so this is a good chance to make it better.

Anyway, last week I mentioned that Introspection is the evaluation of one's mental processes, and that I would try to stick to this definition when writing the piece for the near future. So today I want to examine Josh McDaniels' player evaluation processes, because it's a hot topic and everybody is also doing it. The common sentiment is that Josh McDaniels has made a lateral move from 2008, as we have a high-powered but flawed offense and a weak defense. The group think contingent says that he should have kept the offense in place while trying to fix the defense, and that line of thinking was echoed by none other than John Lynch during the broadcast of Sunday's loss.

I have one problem with that solution: by taking it, we are settling for something inferior to perfection. Our 2008 offense was flawed, and the players were spoiled prima donnas. They were pretty damn good, but they also had the maturity of babies. If we would have kept all of them in place and completely overhauled the defense, would we be a playoff team now? Sure, probably. But would we have the opportunity to win a Super Bowl? With Jay Culer and Tony Scheffler? Hell no.

That's what it's all about. Winning the Super Bowl. No one cares if you go 10-6 and lose a wild card game. If Josh McDaniels came here and saw that the offense was flawed and that he could not win a Super Bowl with it, then he was absolutely entitled to blow it up. Anything else would not have gotten us anywhere. Anywhere at all.

Now, did he do the greatest job in the world? Probably not. Are we going to win a Super Bowl with this offense? Doubtful. But the pieces are in place and we only need a couple more pieces for this unit to become dominant. It doesn't have the flaws of the '08 model either. Now, this has been achieved mostly at the expense of the defense, and for that unit the future looks bleak. The only player on that unit that we could possibly build around as the cornerstone is Elvis Dumervil, and he is out for the year.

It will probably take at least two years to fix this defense, and that is if we allocate all possible resources to that effort. We can do it, though, and we have some good pieces in place. That is a topic for another week, though, and I will discuss it thoroughly when the time comes.

Freeform Jazz Odyssey

"Man, if you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know."

Story of my life: The Denver Wolves, in which you find out how much of a nerd I am...

As a child, one of my weirder hobbies was to imagine myself as the quarterback of some made-up professional football team. Now, a lot of kids do this, but my OCD and I took it a few steps further than your average everyday fantasies. Beginning at a young age, I would actually write fake newspaper articles about my exploits every week. Naturally, when you're five yeas old, everything is ridiculous up to eleven, and I frequently had myself go beyond the impossible with regards to some of the occurrences: my team (then the Warrensburg Tornadoes) would win the Super Bowl every year, I would pass for 1,000 yards in a game, the mascots would start an all-out-brawl between the fans... You know, the works.

As my article-writing skills developed, I decided that I needed to implement some kind of backstory for all this. Rather than having myself play some new random team every week, I wrote out a detailed league of 24 teams to replace the NFL in my fantasy world. I assigned divisions, wrote out power rankings, and even designed uniforms and stadia for all the teams. I traded myself to the Denver Wolves and we went about dominating the newly-named American Football Association. It eventually got to be a bona-fide endeavor, to the point that I wound up so backlogged with history that I couldn't catch up with the present, and I put the whole operation on hold until it was forgotten entirely...

Until one day a couple of years ago I stumbled across the league infrastructure papers that I had conveniently saved on my grandma's space-age era MacIntosh computer processing unit (or whatever they called computers in 1997). I decided that it might be fun to re-imagine the league using all of the football knowledge I'd learned from being backup JV quarterback. The first thing to do was reinvent most of the teams, who'd previously had remarkably unwieldy names (Hawaii Iguanas, Rage of Austin, TX) and were located in absurdly remote places (Cooperstown, NY, Helena, MT). I expanded to 32 teams and went about giving each one new uniforms and a new history.

Naturally, my first order of business was to give all the names of everyone involved a serious dose of awesome. Ordinary players like DJ Walter and James Hickites became supermen named Theo Jackson and Slade Baldwin (other notable examples: Byron McClane, Victor Crowley, Riddick Washington, I could go on and on). All of the historical figures were named after rock and roll icons, like the Wolves' founder, Geoff (Pete) Townshend and Commissioner Victor (John) Bonham. The teams themselves got cool, quirky personalities based on their local environments (Birmingham Roosters, San Antonio Rebels, Miami Suns...) I had a lot of fun with the design of the league.

Contrastingly, and looking back on it, somewhat soberingly, I made everything a lot more realistic. Players got injured, I threw interceptions, my team battled adversity every week. We'd miss a game-winning field goal or allow a fourth-quarter comeback, and the fans would question the coach and myself. Sometimes we did not make the playoffs. Once I ejected myself for fighting. I started the new league with the intention of doing one fake season every year. The reset began in 2014, ten years from the date I restarted the league, and what would have been my rookie year if I made it to the NFL (AFA).

I made it to 2019 with the Wolves never having made it to the championship (Richard [Randy] Rhoads Derby).

In the end, what was it? A metaphor that gives away my steadily opaquing realization that life is not a fantasy? An indictment of my inability to dream, highlighting my loss of something along the way? A grueling realization that I would never make it as a football player and should focus instead on other endeavors? Or perhaps some cruel masochistic assault on my own subconscious, to try to answer all the cosmic questions and somehow put a definition on my own existence?

I wouldn't want to go into which fantasy is better, but I will grant you some advice to take out of it as my first Fortune Cookie to Live By since Week three: Don't ever forget how to dream like a child.

And, you know what? That 2020 season ain't over yet. (Or even started yet). Maybe there's some hope for the Wolves this year after all.

Allow me to play you out...

Today, I play you out with a song that I believe Josh McDaniels will be happy to personally sing to you in fifteen years, regardless of the result of his tenure here:


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