I want to start this post by thanking everyone here at MHR. It has been refreshing to find a group of like minded people who love to post/debate the finer points of the Broncos. I have been a long-time reader in the background and have come to thoroughly enjoy the array of talented and thoughtful columns, opinions, and insights shared by MHR members. I live on the fringes of Raider Nation and Broncos news is... shall we say... a little light? The only joy is after the Raiders suffer a beatdown by the hands of my favorite team and the local fan base comes whining over the airwaves of the local sports radio talk channel to commiserate.
I have been a fan of writers such as Peter King and Michael Lombardi and have come to enjoy how they approach a myriad of issues around the league in their column. In the same vein, I wanted to start a post detailing some of the issues (specific to the Broncos, but also touch on other relevant issues around the league). This is mostly for my own benefit to capture some of the loose thoughts circling around in my head and put them to print. To the jump...
Elvis Dumervil and the Offseason
It was great news when Elvis reported to the OTA this past week. A true class act to come in despite all the madness around his contract situation, the tender, the CBA, etc. The guy has been nothing but a class act and I'm confident something will be worked out with the FO to make sure this guy is in a Broncos uniform for years to come. However, I'm nervous about what seems to be a dangerous precedent set by our FO.
The precedent? A slow, reactive approach to contract negotiations with our core players.
Example: In 2008, Casey Wiegmann was signed as a UFA after being dropped by his longtime team, the Kansas City Chefs. After signing with Denver at a nominal amount (I believe the minimum), Casey went on and had a sensational year (after the retirement of long-time great Tom Nalen) – starting 16 games and being voted to his first Pro Bowl. This was a clear case where a player had out played his contract. Naturally, Casey thought he deserved a pay raise. He approached the team and publicly aired he would rather retire than play on the under-market contract. The FO remained quiet, but asked him to honor his contract and it would be looked into. After Casey showed up for OTAs and played the good employee, he was rewarded with a new 2-year deal. Now, I realize Casey struggled in 2009 and the team went in another direction this year, but like Elvis, the answer to a new contract for a deserving veteran seems to be a "let’s see" approach once you come in and play the good trooper. Casey and Elvis have been (and were) good troopers, but I don’t see these attributes shared by many other NFL players.
This practice (on the exterior) looks similar to the Patriots front office. The Patriots have done well with a core group of veterans through their championship years, but it seems to be catching up to them now. The Rodney Harrisons, Teddy Bruschis are gone and left in their place are the young group of players developed internally by the team. However, you start to see those young players turning into veterans outperforming their contract (Vince Wolfork, Logan Mankins) who now openly express their anger at the organization, threatening holdouts, an MSM bonanza! Could this be the reason for some of the diminished play out of the Patriots team? Brady mentioned the veterans weren’t listening to Belichek last year resulting in some of the underwhelming results of the team – but can you blame them when the players see the treatment their teammates receive from the organization (especially ones who seem to be towing the company line)?
I recognize we have a relatively new administration, a new team-first attitude, a CBA showdown drama about to unfold, but we have come accustomed to a strong organization where players want to come and play. But to maintain a strong organization where things like loyalty, team-first attitude are the mantra – it has to be a two-way street. Instead of letting these issues fester in the press, can’t we get ahead of these issues, talk to agents, and take care of our own? Let’s get Elvis that contract and show our team that the right way will be rewarded the right way. I hate to think what will happen as our next wave of free agents come up for contracts (or outperform them) and we get to live through another offseason of listening to a slow front office.
Now, I recognize there will always be contract issues to work out (and some aired publicly), I’m merely pointing out a trend I hope our team can escape as we bring in the type of players McDaniels is looking for. I think he is doing the right things – I just want to keep the players who are doing the right things. Let’s not continue this Belichek trait so we can keep the team competitive.
Tim Tebow - The Lightning Rod
When I first learned we had drafted Tim Tebow, I was sitting in my hotel room in the middle of mainland China (business trip) thinking – what the heck are we doing? Tebow!? I have gradually warmed to the idea and have been generally impressed by the kids’ attitude and demeanor. But wow, the venom generated by so many of the MSM about this guy! What is it about him that makes all these people so outspoken about him?
My opinion is this. If you ever have a chance to draft a franchise quarterback, you do it. No questions asked. Look at all the teams still looking for a franchise quarterback. When was the last time you saw a consistent effort out of teams like Buffalo, Cleveland, Minnesota (before Favre), Detroit (before Stafford), the Colts (before Manning), even the Broncos (before Elway and after). A franchise quarterback changes the whole mindset of your team. He instills his will in the team and wills it to win. And sometimes, he has to moxie put the weight of the team on his shoulders and win the game himself. Elway had this in spades. Manning, Brady, Montana, Favre… I think you get the point. Now think about everything you have heard from Tebow from his college career (not the mechanics or whatever silly bias the MSM throws at him). Does he not fit this bill? Thinking about this and what McDaniels has said to this point in the offseason, I think I see what he (Josh) sees in him and why he risked so much to go get him. So he’s not ready yet (or maybe?), but when you have a chance to bring in a difference maker at the QB position and transcend your team, it’s not a question.
· Oh, the offseason. Hope blooms anew. And Raider Nation screams about how things will be different this year and how last year was an aberration. Sorry, not buying it. Jason Campbell is an upgrade for them, but he does not fit the vertical game this team is built around. The offensive line is porous. Yeah, they had a good draft. Well, guess what, starting a rookie crop is a first class ticket to a top-5 pick in the next year’s draft. Sorry Raiders, you are on your way to another 5-11 year (cue small violin in the corner)
· The Jets are being touted as the team to beat next year in the AFC East. I think this team is a classic example of replacing balance with bling, role players with name players. Call it the Washington Redskin model. We’ll see how it works for them. But I don’t think this is a team as close as they seem to think they are
· Speaking of the Redskins, I’m curious to see how the first year of Shanahan will play out. I have all the respect in the world for Shanahan and think he is an unbelievable coach. But his GM abilities are shaky at best. Getting McNabb was a coup, but switching the defense to a 3-4 and alienating your best defender (Haynesworth)? I think we are going to see the 2008 version of the Broncos (good offense, questionable defense) with this team
· Andre Johnson – did you just experience a brain fart and come to your senses? You signed a $60M contract 2-years ago and you starting whining about it? Could you really spend $60M in your lifetime? Maybe I’m calling out the wrong guy – Rick Smith, are you out of your mind? If I’m on that team, I’m very interested in this move. If the Texans make a move on the contract, I’m calling my agent!
I hope you enjoyed my post and welcome your candid thoughts. Thanks for reading!