Elvis has left the building. Gosh all mighty, I can't believe I just wrote that line! But not because I'm sad, mostly because it's too easy and cheesy.
I'm disappointed by the loss of Elvis Dumervil, but I ain't gonna sit here and cry about it.
And I don't fault John Elway for asking Doom to reduce his contract - the gamble that started this whole mess. The reason I don't fault him is because it worked, and because Mr. Elway won that bet. Dumervil agreed to a greatly reduced contract that saved the team a ton of money. And he even signed the contract. Sure it came in seven minutes too late, but Elway's initial plan was a win. I can't blame him for the fax fowl up.
And I don't really blame Dumervil all that much either. Guess I've just never been the type to hold a grudge or spend a lot of time bad mouthing an ex. Well, I should note that Jay Cutler doesn't really count in that little analogy. I still hate his whinny little face with a passion. And I'll still sit and talk shit about him all day and until the cows come home.
Anyway, Elvis Dumervil was a great Bronco in a lot of ways, a great member of the community, a good leader and a terrific pass rusher. I wish him well on every day except for those days that he plays against us.
And with that, the best way to get over an ex is to get underneath somebody new. Or behind them, in this case.
And now that you've gotten that filthy analogy out of your head, it's really just time to find a new player or two that we can all get behind. Somebody to support in the now and someone to hope for in the future. I'm told there's more than one way to skin a cat and so here are a few ideas to kick things off...
With Dwight Freeney or another situational stop-gap now poised to join the team, it probably starts for us by defining his likely role... which is for him to play as a rush-end on the money downs. And then maybe more?
Most folks take the stance that Freeney's days as a full-time end are over. They'll point out his relatively old age, his poor recent stats and the fact that he's been on a pretty strict snap count for the last two years or more. But there is another side to this argument, and although this side hasn't been barked as loudly thus far, that doesn't mean it doesn't have some bite.
Some would have you believe that Freeney's poor 2012 production was due to him suddenly being forced into a 3-4 defense that didn't fit his skill set, that he was miscast. They would then say that his 2011 production was generally down due to playing on a horrible team that couldn't even force other terrible teams to pass very often.
After explaining why Dwight Freeney's recent down-turn in production shouldn't be viewed in such a dark light, this relative minority would also argue that Dwight Freeney will have an easier go of it on the base downs here in Denver - considering that the other three starters on our line weigh a combined 965 pounds... before lunch. These brave men might even argue that although Freeney isn't good against the run... neither was Dumervil. They'd reason that Freeney's deficiencies could be masked by an otherwise great DL and a great Defensive Coordinator, just like Dumervil's deficiencies were masked last year. After all, this Elvis guy pretty much never left the field, and yet we still ranked within my favorite category in pretty much all aspects of the defense: Elite.
So the question is, did Dumervil turn a corner? Or were his deficiencies simply masked by scheme, coach and surrounding talent, such as Von Miller? If they indeed were simply masked, then couldn't Freeney's same deficiencies be masked in the same way by the same men?
Careful with that one now, I almost convinced myself. Still might be a poisoned apple, though, so don't underestimate the sneakiness.
Moving in a slightly different direction, some will say that it's not as much about Freeney or Abraham's run-defense as much as it's about their age. They old. They're beat up and brittle. The toll of the game has taken its toll on their bodies and on their stamina. Some people just can't be effective in their role as a pass rusher if they're kept on the field too much.
Now that last line, that's just truism 101 - although that doesn't necessarily mean it's the case with Dwight. Whichever way you're leaning, though, we need a plan in the short term and we need a plan in the long term. So, hopefully we're at least asking the right questions and moving in the right direction. But are we?
False. Do not listen to the box. The box is trying to trick you. The box is not your friend.
So, here's a crazy thought: What about moving Von Miller over to RDE on a permanent basis?
The case could be made that Von Miller's not a rookie anymore. Well, and it wouldn't even take a good lawyer to win that argument, but you get the point. Von Miller has already adapted to this level of competition. The game has probably 'slowed down' for him. He's adjusted to the speed of the NFL. He can take on more, and he can learn something entirely new.
Von Miller is pretty good against the run and he sets the edge pretty well, also. He's tall enough and has the frame to add a little weight, and he certainly has the speed to beat left tackles off the edge. He's got extensive experience playing as a defensive end already, even if it's been mainly been on passing downs.
Opponents of this idea would primarily preach the "don't fix it if it ain't broken" mantra. Von Miller is the best linebacker in the NFL, and so it's probably not a good idea to start trying to tinker with the design of a Ferrari. They would say that he's a little light and that being good against the run as a linebacker isn't the same as being good against the run when you're up on the line going against the big boys full time.
There's some merit to both sides of the conversation, but I think it's a conversation worth having. For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, tinkering with what you do well in order to fix something that's unrelated might not be a very wise idea. But then again, this is Von Miller we're talking about. Line him up at safety and he'll find a way to get it done.
And I truly believe that.
Here's another nutty idea: Why not just switch up to a full-on 3-4 defense? You've got Big Vick, Pot Roast and the Wolfe, all of which would make for a terrific starting line in a 3-4 defense. You've also got your rush-linebacker already locked up in Von Miller. The other linebackers could be a bit of a problem. Or not. But I'll tell you what: This idea isn't as crazy as it sounds. The most important pieces are already in place.
Conventional wisdom, my friends. It's the enemy here. The US army would still fight with bow & arrows if nobody ever thought outside the box. We'd live in straw huts without electricity, using sticks and stones to start fires.
My ideas are still evolving, but I'm done crying over Dumervil. It's time to figure out this mess that we're left with. And I'm just not sure it's a situation where a conventional solution is the best approach.
Oddball thinking sometimes works. The following excerpts were written in a post titled The Von Miller Mold, more than a full month before the 2011 draft. Mind you, this was at a time when Miller was still seen strictly as a 3-4 rush-linebacker, and he wasn't really yet in consideration as a top-5 pick - certainly not for us.
"We only have one proven pass rusher and need at least one more. We only have one sure fire starter at linebacker and need at least one more. Von Miller could fill both of those roles with a single draft pick. Miller could start at linebacker then move to Ayers' DE position on passing downs - moving Ayers inside for those downs. Obviously not all passes are "obvious", though, so Miller would still drop in coverage sometimes and would eventually excel in that aspect, too. We would also need a coverage linebacker to fill in for Miller when he moves to DE on passing downs..."
"But make no mistake, drafting Miller isn't the easy choice. It means we'd have to mold him and build around him. And Dareus is still the logical choice. Nonetheless, I've now moved on to Von Miller from Marcell Dareus - representing my first change at the top pick and the first time I've advocated any ypick at #2 other than Marcell."
There isn't a single 4-3 team in the league that uses their best pass rusher like we use Von Miller. So I'd say it was pretty unconventional thought at the time, and it ended up being right.
Maybe today's solution really is as simple as putting Robert Ayers in for the base downs and Freeney in for the money downs. Or maybe not.
I'm just not sure exactly what I believe yet. Seems like only yesterday that Elvis had me at hello.
And now he's dead to me. Next...