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Injuries a Concern; A Time For A Change

What a weekend for the Guru where Bronco football is concerned.  Many thanks to all the Bronco fans that I had the opportunity to party with this weekend, and to my friends on the OrangeMane and BroncosFreak.  Also a special thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Cutler for coming out and the awesome time at Panini's.  I can honestly say that I feel 100% confident in the future of the Denver Broncos, and more specifically Jay Cutler.  Thanks again!

All that being said, there was a game played, another double-digit win, but I did come away from this with a bad taste, and a new opinion on our quarterback situation.  First, let's take a look around the web --

Injuries will be a concern -- For the first time this season the injury bug has reared it's ugly head.  After a week of pub about the return of Gerrard Warren to Cleveland, the D-Lineman left early in the game with a sprained Right Big Toe.  Warren had a similar injury to his left foot in the pre-season, causing Warren to miss most of training camp.  After the game, Warren was seen on crutches, and had this assessment --

GERRARD WARREN -- I tell you what, that one wasn't this painful.
he offensive line was also struck, with starting left tackle Matt Lepsis injuring his   right knee during the Broncos' first scoring drive.  According to Shanny, Lepsis will undergo an MRI today, with more information to follow --
MIKE SHANAHAN -- We'll find out how serious the situation with Matt is...
The Broncos do have some depth on the offensive line, with Eric Pears doing a decent job in the absence of Lepsis, though he did allow a sack.  The defensive line is not as deep, especially at tackle, where Demetrin Veal and Michael Myers were forced to play the entire game.
They have Amon Gordon on the practice squad, but he's coming off knee surgery and hasn't been practicing. Ebenezer Ekuban and Elvis Dumervil, both ends, played some inside during training camp and could make that switch again on a temporary basis.

"It is pretty key," safety John Lynch said about Warren's injury. "Hopefully, it's not as bad as it seems."

Tatum Bell also took some snaps off with a turf toe injury, allowing Mike Bell to get some game action.  T-Bell did return, and after the game felt optimistic --
TATUM BELL -- Mike (Bell) had a couple of runs and let me walk it off, everything was fine."

Offense Gives Browns Life, A Time For A Change -- This offense has officially reached panic stage for me, no doubt about it.  Sure I am a "a win is a win" type of guy, though I don't turn a blind eye to the truth.  But after watching the game in person, from the West End Zone which essentially gave me a coach's tape view of the game, I am convinced that we need to make a change at quarterback, and now.  There is no doubt in my mind that Shanny has something in mind, allowing Jake Plummer to throw 41 times against a team that can't stop the run, in bad weather, and even late in the game, with the game well in hand.  And if it was a test, Jake failed it with a vengeance.

The final numbers are bad -- 20/41, 209 Yards, 1 TD and 2 INT's -- but they are actually good compared to where they could have been.  The Browns easily dropped 3 other potential interceptions in the 3rd and 4th quarters that would have given Cleveland the ball in Denver territory.  Sure, there is a bit of luck involved every now and then, but I had a true sense of this game beginning to turn a bit after the Andre Davis pick, which in itself was a horrible, horrible throw and decision.

Jake now owns stats that are adding up to some of the worst of his career, and as we near the mid-point of the season no longer can we say, "It's still early..".  Jake has completed 53% of his passes, has 4 TDs to 7 INTs, and his rating is a paltry 60.4, and that's against some questionable competition.  Those days are over, with games against the Colts, Steelers and Chargers coming up, not to mention the Raiders and Chiefs on the road after that.

So, after the REPORT that Jake's leash is short than ever, does a change come now, with the team at 5-1, and on the cusp of a tough 4 game stretch?  In my opinion, Hell Yes!  And why not?  What are the arguments against it?  Let's take a look at the other two rookie quarterbacks, with their season stats compared to Plummer's this season --

Plummer -- 88-169, 984 yds, 52.1%, 4 TD's, 7 INT's , 9 Sacks, 60.4 Rating

V. Young -- 47-99, 512 yards, 47.5%, 3 TD's, 4 INT's, 5 Sacks, 56.5 Rating

M. Leinart -- 65-118, 742 yards, 55.1%, 4 TD's, 4 INT's, 9 Sacks, 71.4 Rating

Whether you like Jake, don;t like Jake, like Cutler, don;t like Cutler, the number don't lie.  Jake Plummer is playing like a rookie.  Leinart has outplayed him, and Vince Young, who by all accounts isn't ready to be a starter in this league, isn't far behind him.

In my mind, it's pretty simple.  With the schedule the Broncos have coming up, and with the way Plummer has played ALL SEASON, simply look in the mirror and ask, "Can we beat the best in the NFL with Jake Plummer at QB, and does it give us the best chance to do that?"  For me, right now, the answer is NO.  Sure, starting a rookie QB against a team like the Colts is against conventional wisdom, but Plummer is playing like a rookie right now, and if the numbers say that Jay Cutler conceivably gives us just as good of a chance to beat the Colts as Plummer, I'd rather play Cutler and take my chances there.  If you think we can't beat the Colts, or Steelers with Plummer, than I would rather lose with Cutler, because at least he is getting into game action.

All I ask is there not be a back and forth.  Watch the film, see what I saw from the end-zone, that Plummer was late in his decision making, and that the decisions he was making were poor. That he was late with the ball, and very inaccurate. Yes, the wind might have had something to do with that, but we don't play in a dome, and the weather is going to be a factor, especially in the playoffs. Cutler has the arm strength to neutralize the weather. It's time for Shanny to realize that there is no way that Cutler could do any worse that what you are seeing from Plummer!