I am sitting here at DIA waiting to get on my plane home. It was a great trip, and I am already looking forward to next year. The news of the past 16 hours or so, however, have started a firestorm within Broncos Country, and try as I might I just had to give my opinion BEFORE getting on the plane.
FIrst, let's start with the injury to Elvis Dumervil. This is a crushing blow, no doubt about it. We'll investigate options the Broncos have in the coming days, but I wanted to focus on some of the drivel I've been hearing/reading the past hour or so since the prognosis broke.
There are people out there, Broncos 'fans', that are actually laying blame for the injury at the feet of Josh McDaniels. I have heard/read 'fans' saying that McDaniels' physical camps are to blame, that something like this would have never happened under Shanahan due to the lack of contact. I nearly threw up in my mouth.
THIS IS FRIGGIN' FOOTBALL!
The drill, a one-on-one blocking drill between Elvis and LT Tyler Polumbus, happens in every camp, every day. With Ryan Clady already on the shelf for an unknown amount of time, don't you want his possible replacement, Polumbus, going up against the NFL's sack king from 2009? Of course you do. This could have happened at any time - lifting weights, taking out the trash, fill in the blank. Anytime!
Of course, those blaming McDaniels know this, but they see this as an opportunity to blast the coach they see as the reason for everything bad that has happened to the Broncos. Their feelings on the coach have so jaded their mind that they have actually ceased to become fans. That's right, I said it. If you think Josh McDaniels is the reason Elvis Dumervil go hurt, you are NOT A FAN!
That is not a statement I make lightly because I encourage opinion here at MHR. It is the foundation on which MileHighReport was built. But even I have my limits, and blaming the coach for an injury, on the football field, during Training Camp, crosses the line.
We are all pissed about Elvis, to put it bluntly. Even moreso for me since I put Dumervil on the cover of the Broncos Annual. I see him as the present and future of the Broncos more than any other player. That's why he is on there. But, like the team itself, we need to get over it, and fast, and figure out how to compensate. The Broncos will, and we'll move forward. Until then - a speedy recovery to Dumervil! Broncos fans are pulling for you!
On to LenDale White. Again, the McDaniels protagonists are out, calling the coach a hypocrite, among other things, for apparently going against his 'team-first, high-character guy' message. This is more gray that the topic above, and I can certainly see that side of the argument. Let me, if I may, explain why that doesn't fit.
When coaches talk about high character guys, team first guys, etc, to me they are talking about the team leadership. The leaders in the locker room, the guys that dictate the tempo inside the building. These are usually the guys that get the big-bucks too - your quarterback, receivers, big-time vets. You get the idea.
For the Broncos, those guys are Dumervil, Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton, Champ Bailey, Brian Dawkins, etc. I am likely leaving a few out, but you get the idea. Those are the high-character guys - they are also the locker room leaders. When McDaniels speaks of 'team-first, high character' guys, it is these guys, at these positions he is talking about. Dumervil's character is a huge reason the Broncos gave him the big contract he deserved. It also played a role in why Brandon Marshall is in Miami.
Role players, like White, can have baggage because the leadership is already in the locker room to deal with it. On a larger scale, it is the reason the Patriots traded for Randy Moss a few years ago. They had the leadership in the locker room to handle Moss. The Broncos feel they have the leadership to handle White.
And honestly, what is the risk? He screw up, he's gone. Plain and simple. You can't compare bringing a guy like White in, while deciding not to give Brandon Marshall $40 million. Completely different risk levels.
White provides the Broncos with the short-yardage back they didn't have. This wasn't a move they made because of injuries to Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter. If it was, Kolby Smith would still be on the team. This was a move made to bring in a different type of running back. Smith, Lance Ball, Bruch Hall, Toney Baker, all similar types of backs. After watching those guys for the past 4 practices, McDaniels and Co. felt they needed to upgrade the position.
If White works, the Broncos have a motivated player that scored 15 touchdowns - most from short-yardage - just a couple years ago. If it doesn't, the Broncos are none the worse for wear. White is gone and the team makes due with what it has. Low risk, high reward. Welcome to the business of football.
They're calling for me to board, so I will leave this conversation to you. Fans don't have to agree with every move a coach makes. They don't have to like him. Fans DO NEED TO SUPPORT THEIR TEAM. They need to stay anchored to some kind of reality. I hope that makes sense.