Like most fans, I have my favorite Broncos and my not so favorite Broncos. This bias stems from a collage of what I see with my eyes, the stats they collect over a larger sample size, their contract and draft position. As I lack tact, but not blunt force, my opinions are not well guarded state secrets.
I want to recognize some Bronco players I didn’t like leading into the 2012 season primarily due to preexisting biases that clouded my judgment. For those of you expecting me to holla at Lance Ball or Joe Mays, you will be disappointed.
Let’s start with Mike Adams. He’s boring. He’s 31, played college ball in obscurity at Delaware, wasn’t a high pick and was signed off the perennially bottom feeding Cleveland Browns. Most of us would rather have Quinton Carter starting opposite of Rahim Moore. If you remember, Carter picked off Big Ben and Tom Brady in back-to-back playoff games last year. Those were the last two games in which Quinton played. Quinton is just 24, has untapped upside and was an Elway/Russell draft pick. But you know what, as boring as Mike Adams is; he’s also consistent in his effort and play. Outside the Houston game, Denver wasn’t really abused by an abundance of long pass plays and didn’t give up the big run often either. Adams didn’t take a lot of penalties and didn’t miss many tackles. He was a 15 game starter (missed the San Diego home game?) on a secondary with a top-5 defensive ranking in passing yards surrendered and fewest yards allowed per attempt. Top-10 in terms of reducing the opposition QB’s passer rating. Good stat categories in which to excel in my not so humble opinion. R Moore developed very nicely paired with Adams so I’m going to make the logical assumption Adams influenced that in some positive way. Denver enjoyed a nice blend of experienced veteran play mixed with young athleticism in our secondary. They are clearly a well-coached group so secondary shout-out to the GM and coaching staff. Adams stat line is pedestrian. No INTs, 2 forced fumbles, two recoveries, 11 passes defensed, one sack and 80 combined tackles. Mike Adams may not have a starter position available to him in Denver next year. I think that will be targeted for Quinton Carter or possibility a draft pick. But this is 2012, we’re 13-3, have the #1 playoff seed and a top defense, one on which Adams starts. So Mike Adams, this holla is for you.
DTs (as a group of three). I was pretty much outright hating on our DTs heading into the season. I was pleased we drafted Wolfe and M. Jackson, but came to realize early on that neither was going to play DT as their primary position. So that left us with a past his prime Justin Bannan, a total nobody in Mitch Unrein, a middling injury hampered Kevin Vickerson and complete? in Ty Warren that ultimately gave us nothing but good community service. Heading into the preseason, this looked like the worst group of DTs in the NFL. By far! Seriously, by far! No high draft picks here, none with a past history of NFL or college excellence (Bannan made a nice career for himself as a role player), and no star skill-set player like Suh or Gerald McCoy. If you told me heading into the 2012 season that this group of three DTs would anchor the NFL’s #2 rush defense, I’d have told you what a football idiot you were. “Hi. I’m McGeorge and I’m the football idiot. Don’t always listen to me”. Elway and Co are not as stupid as I. Like Adams, the NFL is a not for long business and Vickerson will be a 30 year old UFA this offseason. He should chase his UFA $$$ and we should use a 1st or 2nd round pick at DT for his replacement. I’d double down with another late round pick at DT for depth. I’m extraordinarily shocked, pleased and proud of these three Bronco dudes. These guys allowed the fewest rushing TDs of any defense in the NFL, 2nd fewest YPC and 3rd fewest rushing yards total. I’m not cherry picking random stats here either. These are the big dogs of rushing D stats, based on a full season no less (as complete a sample size as you’ll find). And our Broncos freaking dominated them! Holla at your DTs! And for you ex-Orton fans that like you some blue collar, try hard “lunch-pail” players, may I suggest switching your allegiance to Mitch Unrein. There should be more Mitch Unrein jerseys in the South Stands of Invesco or whatever the hell our stadium is called nowadays. They should be worn extensively at Westminster mall, in south Colorado Springs and in Greeley. Unrein is Colorado kid from Eaton. He is your guy… guys.
Tony Carter - Holllllllaaaa! I wanted Denver to cut you and keep Squid. Let me heap shame upon myself for that not so brilliant idea. Your pathetic tackle attempt on Dennis Pita aside, you’ve blown my mind in 2012. I obviously hated you at Florida State, but I knew who you were because you were a play maker for FSU. How you went undrafted was a mystery to me then, but I simply assumed the scouts knew something about you I didn’t. So when you bounced around the league and didn’t flash much in your Denver playing time prior to the 2012 season, I wrote you off as a dime a dozen CB that could be replaced by your average Canadian league football player. The play that got me to notice you in a more flattering light was a bizarre one in a bizarre game. You were called for PI vs. the Falcons in week 2. In this play, you mirrored the WR and didn’t so much as lay a single finger on the guy, whom was well covered. When Matt Ryan’s pass fell several yards short and incomplete (I think on purpose due to the coverage), the replacement hack threw his flag. (Tangent time) That was an epiphany for me for several reasons. Most notability, I realized the clowns officiating that game were Atlanta fans or in the pocket of Bookies. I see bad calls every Sunday, but when you make a call so egregiously awful, one where you truly don’t see an infraction but call one anyway, the ref is tipping off his desire for a particular team to win. I hated watching football during the replacement ref debacle. Vegas sleaze-ball types were injecting money into the hands of refs that knew their time in the sun would be but a brief one. And in America, we praise those that “strike while the iron is hot”. This money affected outcomes. Of course you also had actual NFL fans posting on Facebook about games they were about to officiate that involved their own teams. This was Goodell’s lowest moment, in a year of low moments for him. It was an unmitigated disgrace to “The Shield”. Denver lost that game to Atlanta because of the officials. And none of those games were enjoyable to watch due to the replacement scabs that ruined them. (Tangent over) But on that play, I noticed Tony Carter’s sublime quickness. With DBs, you need a few physical traits to excel. One of these qualities is the ability to mirror a WR’s movements. This is done effectively thru lateral quickness and first step explosion. If you want to know why Alphonso Smith is a bust, it’s because he doesn’t possess either. Tony can also flip his hips and run straight line with WRs. On top of having plus quickness and speed, Carter has displayed good hands and play making ability. Tony has two TDs this season. Two more TDs than Champ Bailey. He possesses several attributes you seek in a CB, especially a nickel CB or #2 CB. In a passing league, know that Tony Carter is playing his last few games in Denver. He’ll be an UFA after this season and he’ll draw interest around the NFL from smart teams that create a role for him and have the salary cap room to fit a CB that can cover the smaller, quicker WRs, of which, every team in the NFL should have at least one. Think Stokely, Welker, Mike Wallace or DeSean Jackson. Tony Carter is short and small. You won’t see guys like him going in round 1 because they can’t match up with #1 WRs and win. But you don’t draft or sign every CB to cover #1 WRs. And not every WR is DT or D Bowe. We’re very lucky to have Tony Carter this year. I can’t wait to see him on Welker instead of Chris Harris. I think Carter will be a key reason why we limit the Pats the 2nd time around. Don’t kid yourselves about Tony Carter saying in Denver at a discount. He is 26 and entering his prime. This is his one chance to land a big UFA contract and his agent will whore Tony Carter’s services to the highest bidder (capitalism and a free market working at its most efficient). It won’t be Denver because we have more pressing needs in 2013 (Clady) and esp. 2014 (Decker, Beadles, Ayers, Walton and Woodyard). Let us enjoy and appreciate this vastly underrated player a little while longer because he’ll be in Oakland or Indy next year chasing around our WRs. Can you say compensatory draft pick? It’s been a while since guys like Heyward were leaving Denver for greener UFA pa$ture$.
Did you guys notice the Denver Broncos fade in 2012? Did you notice a bunch of injuries pile up as the year progressed? A bunch of muscle pulls that down guys for a few weeks at a time? Muscle tears? I didn’t and I pay pretty close attention to the injury reports. So my biggest HOLLA goes out to not a player, but a training staff led by Luke Richesson. Off the bat, this isn’t my area of expertise. Far far from it. There are many vastly more knowledgeable posters at MHR than I in regards to human physiology, physical training and nutritional health. Doc Bear wasn’t my favorite contributor at the old MHR, but he knew his stuff in this area (and several others). His new site, It’s All Over Fatman, is a great site for football analysis. But it doesn’t allow for reader contributions like MHR does. And if one of you guys is an expert in this field and could take on a post about our new training staff, it would be a fantastic contribution to MHR in a fantastic year of football. It’s a big story the dolts at the DP have no idea how to write for lack of talent, lack of knowledge, lack of creativity, extreme laziness and hubris. They’d rather write about Peyton Manning or Tim Tebow because that is all they know or care to know about football. It also sells to their mouth breathing audience. Those clowns couldn’t analyze all-22 film, blitz philosophies or zone blocking to save their lives. So they certainly wouldn’t understand this topic.
I played football growing up. I had the same troglodyte coaches some of you did. Or if you’ve seen the movie Dazed and Confused, the coaches from that movie. Those were my coaches. They did everything the same way they were taught. No thinking, no understanding, just repeating what someone else had repeated to them in a hand-me-down coaching and training sessions. Olympic style lifting looks cool. It builds nice beach muscles and it’s what most of us know. It’s why I have a barrel chest, nice biceps, a bad back and can’t touch my toes or dunk a basketball. I should be a more useful athlete than I was/am. At the NFL combine, one of the marque tests is the 225lbs bench press. A test where guys lift 225lbs as many times as they can in succession. Let me ask you, what the F*!# does that have to do with success in NFL football? Ever wonder that? I have. If I remember correctly, Eddie Royal did very well in this charade of a drill at his 2008 combine. Can Eddie Royal run precise routes? Not really. Has he been injury prone? Yep. Muscle injuries too? Yep. Can he beat press coverage? Not so much. But damn can that guy lift 225lbs on the bench press a bunch of times in a row. He’s a shorter little David Boston, so of course San Diego would sign him. Eddie looks great at the beach, taco in hand.
I highly doubt Luke Richesson gives a crap how many times Eddie Royal can bench press 225lbs. If you read stories about Luke Richesson, you know he is pensive and proactive in his training approach. You learn that he completely revamped our weight room. He donated a lot of the free weights to local high schools so now you won’t see 10 Broncos standing around the bench seeing which one can bench the most in some homoerotic competition. Instead, Richesson considers the importance of core strength, not wasting time or movement, endurance, durability, flexibility, finding a player’s particular weakness in his muscle development and attacking that weakness. He focuses on body balance and nutritional health. It’s not about sheer power or looking awesome without your shirt. I suspect the old Denver training staff was stuck in many ways of early 20th century training. They did what they knew and what they knew is what they learned from their predecessors. Hand-me-down training. Several of us were, but no one at Dove Valley (or Woody Paige) was really questioning why Denver faded each year, why we had injuries piling-up, why other teams seemed faster, stronger, more durable or had better stamina. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until John Fox rode into town that someone questioned why we had an ineffective training staff. What a difference replacing them has made! A detailed account of Luke Richesson and his positive effects on our team is a story begging to be written by someone more knowledgeable than me. I look forward to reading it. A very loud and appreciative holla to Luke Richesson and his trainers. Money very well spent Pat B. Glad to see you reaping the financial rewards with each extra home-game Sunday. More fur coats and cowboy hats for you.
Go Broncos. Be thankful for this 2012 team. It’s a great one and I've enjoyed it intensely. It deserved a 2452 word post.