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If I only Had a Dime For Every Idiotic Season Preview

Part of the fun of all this is getting to read all the blabbering trash that pollutes the internet.  I try not to add to it, and at if you can count on one thing regarding this site it's my thoughts are my own and I'll try to at least put some thought to them before sitting down in front of my Texas Instruments Word Processor.

An example of this trash?  The purely unbiased Broncos season preview put together by Bob Gretz of  Now, think about that.  Someone that covers the Chiefs for a living is giving his opinion of how the Broncos will fare in 2007 is just, well, I don't think I need to explain it.  

In the quest for equal time, however, let's take a look, together, at what Gretz thinks of the Broncos chances as we head into the new season.

I am going to break his rather weak attempt at analysis into separate parts so that each can be given the attention it deserves.  

Say this for Mike Shanahan: he's not afraid to make a decision. His personnel moves in recent seasons have fallen under the category of having no fear, because if he makes a mistake, he just makes another decision.

And there have been mistakes, in both the draft and free agency. Shanahan and the Broncos are still trying to figure out how to have post-season success without John Elway. Seems like Elway has been gone for a long time now. It's been eight seasons since No. 7 retired. In that time, Denver has made the playoffs four times with an overall post-season record of 1-4. The Broncos have won just a single division title (2005) without Elway.

Last year had to hurt the most. First, the Broncos were just 4-4 at Invesco Field, where they love to crow about their home-field advantage. They needed only to win at home, in the season finale against San Francisco, to earn another trip to the post-season. The Broncos couldn't get it done, losing in overtime to the Niners on Joe Nedney's field goal that put the Chiefs into the playoffs. That hurt even more.

Then tragedy struck when rising cornerback Darrent Williams was murdered in a post-game shooting. Later in the off-season, backup fullback Damien Nash died of a heart failure during a charity basketball game.

A lot of things went wrong in `06 for the Broncos. Although owner Pat Bowlen doesn't act like a man getting impatient, that's not the case with Shanahan. He's spent the last two years making all sorts of free agent deals, bringing in various veterans on both the roster and the coaching staff. This year, he's bumped up his defensive staff considerably, adding coordinator Jim Bates. He also added a new special teams coach in Scott O'Brien, cut loose from Nick Saban's staff in Miami.

And, as the Broncos get ready to head to training camp, they could have as many as 10 new starters this season, six on offense and four on defense.

My Take -- You are going to see a theme rapidly display itself.  Gretz loves to bring up the fact that the Broncos loss to San Francisco the last week of the season catapulted the Chiefs into the playoffs.  I have spoken many times before about the complete fantasy world the Chiefs live in.  Somehow Gretz, and many in Chiefs-Land, think that getting embarrassed by the Colts in the first round was, indeed, a success.  Becuase of that the Chiefs have avoided a necessary rebuilding in hopes of making some sort of run with Damon Huard or Brodie Croyle at quarterback.  Oh, and speaking of quarterbacks, Getz mentions Mike Shanahan's lack of success in the playoffs post-John Elway.  Umm, can someone tell me when the Chiefs have had playoff success, in the last, let's say, 35 years?  Oh yea, they haven't.

But the big change everyone is watching for this season is at quarterback, where Jay Cutler begins the season as the starter. Shanahan tried with Brian Griese. He tried with Jake Plummer. Now he's trying with second-year No. 1 draft choice.

Many NFL pundits are quick to re-confirm Shanahan's genius status with his decision to bench Plummer last year and play Cutler. Some have written and said that Cutler is already one of the NFL's best quarterbacks.

Cutler may well become one of the best in the league, but the rush to judgment belies the facts. Cutler completed 59 percent of his passes last season. He did throw nine TD passes against five interceptions, that's a good first-year ratio. But the Broncos were just 2-3 in those starts and again, failed to make the playoffs.

Those five games have also given opponents, especially in the AFC West, plenty to study with the young quarterback. How he handles himself this season will provide much more evidence of his long-term viability to be the next Elway than what he did at the end of last year.

The question is whether Cutler has enough help with that offense. Tatum Bell ran for 1,025 yards last year, but then anybody runs for over 1,000 yards with the Denver blocking group. All that got him was traded to Detroit. Travis Henry was picked up from the Titans; he ran for 1,211 yards last year with Tennessee. The Titans ran a blocking scheme in the run game similar to what they do in Denver, so Henry should be able to make a quick transition. Second-year guy Mike Bell is still around as well.

Veteran receiver Rod Smith is coming off hip surgery and as of a week ago, he'd still not begun running. Javon Walker stepped up last year and hauled in 68 passes for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns. Veteran No. 3 receiver Brandon Stokley was signed as a free agent after playing in Indianapolis, but he's coming back from an Achilles tendon injury that cut short his `06 season. Big money was spent in free agency for tight end Daniel Graham from the Patriots. He's not much as a receiver; just 21 catches for 235 yards last season.

The big question is a re-built offensive line. The right side will be completely different this year, with Cooper Carlisle and George Foster out and Chris Kuper and Erik Pears in. Matt Lepsis is back at left tackle after missing most of last season with a torn ACL. The offensive line is a question mark to start the season.

My Take -- Sure, there are questions surrounding Jay Cutler.  To insinuate, however, that the 5 whole games Cutler started to end 2006 are going to give the rest of the AFC West "plenty to study" might be the dumbest thing I ever heard.  Cutler was utilizing about 10% of the playbook.  Yes, he made some rookie mistakes, but Cutler has had the entire off-season to prepare.  Unlike the Chiefs, which are allowing a quarterback controversy to engulf the atmosphere around the team, the Broncos have complete stability behind the center.  That's a big deal to an offense, trust me.  

To prove that Gretz simply opened the Stats page to do his research, he innanely reports that TE Daniel Graham is "not much of a receiver; just 21 catches for 235 yards last season".  Hey, genius, the Patriots CHOSE not to use Graham as a blocker.  Graham has been a solid receiver at every level and I have a feeling he's looking forward to showing the Chiefs just how little he can do catching the football.

Lastly, just becuase you haven't heard of the guys on the O-Line doesn't make it a "big question".  There is alot of talent, much more than the Chiefs have now that Willie Roaf and Will Shields have hung it up, and the Chiefs will see that this season.

Defense has plenty of changes. Signed through free agency, acquired through trade or selected in the draft are linemen Sam Adams, Jimmy Kennedy, Alvin McKinley, Jarvis Moss, Tim Crowder and former Chiefs DE Carlos Hall. At linebacker they added Warwick Holdman and in the secondary it's CB Dre Bly.

The big change is at middle linebacker. Veteran Pro Bowler Al Wilson is out, and moving inside is D.J. Williams. Whether Williams can handle the role remains unknown. He's been a disappointment in three seasons playing on the outside, finishing sixth on the team in tackles last year.

Of all the position battles in training camp, D-Line will be the key for this defense. With six guys added to what returns from last year, there's a logjam of bodies. Whether it's a logjam of talent remains to be seen. Last year, rookie Elvis Dumervil was the surprise, leading the team with 8.5 sacks.

My Take -- Good job simply listing the new names on the Broncos defense.  Highly in depth, with the research to prove you are a skilled journalist. Did a Chiefs scout tell you that D.J. Williams has been a disappointment?  He had a great rookie year, and while his numbers have dropped the past two seasons, Williams has also changed sides to make room for Ian Gold.  Moving to the Middle looks to be a perfect fit for Williams and I think he is going to have a huge season.

As for Elvis Dumbervil, I'm glad you brought him up, since he had more sacks as a 4th rounder than Tamba Hali, the Chiefs big-time 1st Round pick from last season, did while seeing more action.

Champ Bailey tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with 10 and he's about the best there is in the business on the corner, although he seems to have a lot of trouble staying with Eddie Kennison. Bly replaces Williams on the other corner and that's a step down. Safeties Nick Ferguson is ordinary while John Lynch still contributes, but he's lost a step.

My Take -- Gretz has now lost all journalistic credibility.  Sure, he begrudgingly admits that Champ Bailey is the best in the business, but couldn't do it without reminding us just how intellectually mal-bourished he is.  Bailey has trouble keeping up with Eddie Kennison??  Please.  Dre Bly is a step down from Darrent Williams?  Sure, in the long term, but right now Bly is a better player.  I have been critical of our safety situation, but when did "still contributes" become a proper description for a Pro Bowler?

Special teams did not contribute much to the team last year. Veteran kicker Jason Elam remains among the league's best, hitting 27 of 29 last year and he was a perfect 20 of 20 inside the 40-yard line. Punter Todd Sauerbrun is back on the team, after he was released last year when he served a four-game NFL suspension. If his head is right and with the help of a mile-high altitude, Sauerbrun can be a force. He'll also likely kickoff, unless Shanahan decides to keep last year's punter-kickoff man Paul Ernster.

The return game got little or nothing done for Denver last year. Williams handled punts and he's now gone. David Kircus had the team's long punt return of the year (42 yards), but he's facing off-field problems. On kickoffs, veteran Quincy Morgan joined the team late in the year and had a 64-yard return. But overall, the Broncos finished 11th on punt returns and 24th on kick returns. Their coverage teams finished 5th on punts and next to last, 31st on kick coverage, giving up an average return of 26.9 yards.

Mike Shanahan has made some changes. He did before and those didn't pay off. He's trying again.

My Take -- Gretz gives nothing much more than a statistical run down of the Special Teams, essentially blowing off the finish of his "column".  Of course, he has to end this masterpiece with a dig at Shanahan.  

Overall, the piece is garbage. A biased view I was expecting.  Ill-informed and shallow, well, I expect more form a guy employed by a team website to cover football.  

Oh, and lastly, it was a disgrace the way Gretz talk about Darrent Williams, saying Williams was involved in a "post-game shooting", and later proclaiming that Williams "handled punts and now he's gone".  Classless to say the lease.