In Part 3 of Luff Rumblings, I want to start by saying: I miss you guys. Between working way more than my lazy behind is accustomed to, buying a house, buying a car (a more tedious process than I ever thought possible), seeing a new gal (read: victim), and other such miscellaneous jackassery, I just haven't had the time to hang here and contribute as much as I used to... Sad times.
So, it feels good to be typing away once again, hanging on the precipice of completion, whereupon I will disperse my rumblings into the intrawebz, to be read by my favorite strangers who share a common bond: a love for the good guys, THE Denver Broncos.
So follow along while I get my rumble on!
You're worried about our running game, I'm not.
That's not a Marleyesque, "Every little thing, is gonna be allright" type statement. It's more a "sign of the times" statement.
Here's the thing, we all know the running game ain't what it used to be in this league. Here is a list of the top 10 offenses last year according to points per game: Saints, Vikings, Packers, Chargers, Eagles, Patriots, Colts, Giants, Ravens, Texans. The theme: they pass the ball, and they pass it well. Every one of those teams was a pass first, run second unit. As a general rule, they use the pass to set up the run as a change of pace. The Saints had a good running game last year, a running game that was completely set up by their tremendous passing game. The Vikings have a pretty dang good running back, and they've had him for several years now. When did that offense get really potent? It happened last year, when they got a quarterback who could command an offense, coupled with one weapon who came into his own (Rice) and another new weapon brought into the fold (Harvin).
Now, let's look for one of those running teams in the PPG rankings... we have to scroll all the way down to #15 to find the first "run first" team. It's the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are followed by the Titans at #16. The Titans with the best running back in the game. Get my drift?
We're all pretty edumacated on all things NFL here on MHR, so all that stuff was probably unnecessary. The point I'm trying to make is this, we are becoming one of those "pass first, run second" teams. We have that quarterback who can command an offense, we have the weapons right now (and better ones on the way when Thomas and Decker get healthy and comfortable). We spent high round draft picks on two offensive linemen who are better at pass blocking than run blocking. Our incumbent offensive linemen still remaining excel as pass blockers. Are we seeing the theme here?
Josh McDaniels knows what wins in this league, and he is building our offense to do just that. On the flip side, there's another reason I'm not worried about our running game, and I"m going to address it because I've seen some people showing a little too much concern over our lack of a running game thus far in the preseason. That reason: All the guys that make our running game go, are friggin' injured. The injuries are the concern, not what the product will be when those guys return.
Here's a promise from me to you, and you can hold me to it. When we get Knowshon, Buckhalter, Larsen, Graham, Quinn, Clady, Kuper, and Harris all back and fully healthy, our running game will not be a problem in the least. I promise.
And couple the revelation that we're missing all our key running pieces right now, with the fact that our passing game is going to lead the way in the future, and I'm not worried about it. Nope, not a bit.
And I'm glad. I was never a fan of Akin Ayodele as a Bronco, and I wish the man well, but it makes me feel good about our defense moving forward that we cut him.
Let me explain... I watched Ayodele play for the Cowboys a few years back, when they were a sub-par defense. He wasn't a player then, and he isn't a player now. He's one of those guys who's just good enough to earn himself some playing time, but he's always going to be a weak spot when he's out there. He has the tools to make a play here or there, but in the end, he's going to take more off the table than he puts on. We brought him in because he is an experienced 3-4 linebacker, but he was ultimately a glorified camp body.
Here's why I like the move: If the coaches feel like we can cut a decent and experienced 3-4 linebacker in favor of some of our younger guys, they must feel pretty good about what we have there. Definitely better than most of us do. As far as where this leaves the team, I think we're going to see a starting unit of Ayers, Williams, Haggan, and Moss. We saw some pretty awesome flashes from Jarvis last week in the pass rush arena, let's hope he can hold his own in the run game as well. I think the Ayodele cut was made with an eye toward moving Haggan back to the middle, spurred on by a new-found courage and reliance on Jarvis Moss. We'll see how it shakes out.
Adding on to this, I feel the exact same way about Nate Jones. Same deal with this guy, he played for the Cowboys during the same time Ayodele was there, and made the move to the Dolphins with him as well. His story is the same, an experienced safety/corner who knows how to play, but is surely nothing special. There was a lot of talk around here when we picked Jones up that he was the 3rd corner we've craved. He also had an added bonus: he excels at blitzing the quarterback from the corner position. Again, I wasn't excited about Jones making our final roster, I'm still not, and I still don't expect him to. A lot of people are also saying he will make the roster because of his versatility and his ability to provide depth at two positions. I don't see it. I hope, and expect, Nate Jones to be listed in the next list of cuts. And if that happens, I will be equally happy, because it's a sign that our young corners and safeties are a better option for this club moving forward than an experienced, yet ultimately inconsequential veteran. It means our recent youth movement and team building strategies are paying off in the secondary, as I think they are in the linebacking corp.
On the Pointlessness of the Preseason (as far as we're concerned)
I wanted to delve into this as a result of a thought that came to me when Ayodele was released. As John said in his news flash on the front page a little while ago, Ayodele started in the game against the Lions. When these things happen we, as fans, rush to some rash conclusions that are predominately wronger than wrong. I groaned when Ayodele entered the game as a starter, and you all know why, because I have no faith in the guy to make a consistent positive impact for us. However, we can all see now that McDaniels and Wink put Ayodele into the game as a starter as his last chance to prove to them that he deserves a spot on the roster. They wanted to see what he could do against a team's first unit, while running with the big dogs. Unsurprisingly, he didn't impress. This was just another stark reminder among a long line of them that the preseason is very important to a football team, just not when it comes to a fan's perception of things, and especially not in the win/loss column.
Living in a Fantasy World
No, I'm not referring to my constant state of sometimes unwarranted optimism regarding all things Broncos. I'm referring to the National Football League's wicked little offspring. The thing I've avoided for so long, but have finally fallen victim to. I'm now a
proud scared owner of a fantasy football team. GASP!
You see, I'm a football purist. I'm a fairly young guy at the ripe old age of twenty five. Most guys my age and even significantly older than me are long and regular participants in the world of fantasy football. This will be my first go round. And I'm nervous. I'm not worried about failing miserably as a fantasy owner... I'm not even worried about the endless needling I'll receive from my buddies if that happens. What I'm worried about is this: falling victim to the "numbers mindset", as I like to call it. I believe flashy numbers and statistics are endlessly overrated in the sports world, and this is the very thing Fantasy thrives on. I pride myself in looking past the numbers and the rankings, and seeing what's really going on with a football team. Looking at the meat and potatoes, instead of the newfangled Kobe steak topped with truffle.
I am most definitely being overly dramatic here, but I just needed to share my fear with you all. Please, feel free to assuage my fears, tell me I won't turn into a football moron who thinks Matt Schaub is the next Peyton Manning because he scores well in my fantasy league.
Oh oh, one quick side note... I'm thinking about naming my team, "Baby Carlos". What do we think?
Welp, it was fun fellas. I just had some thoughts I had to get out, hope I didn't ramble incessantly. See you next time.