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The Brandon Marshall Debate - Some food for thought

I know, I know. I just can't help myself. It has been well stated that everyone here has a niche. Me? I try and get people to think. I'm not trying to pass my opinions on to you. That's the MSM's goal. No, I simply want to provide as many angles as possible in order for you to make YOUR OWN decision. No matter what you decide, at least you will be informed - and knowledge IS power.

Such is the case with all this Brandon Marshall nonsense. If you listened to MHR Radio last night you already know where this post is going. If you didn't, and you want to hear it, look on the right sidebar and you will see the player. Give it a listen.

First, if you haven't read it, here, in his own words, is Brandon Marshall's explanation for what is going on -

Clearing the Air…

To whom it may concern. Life is filled with change, and where I am in my life now change is probably best. It’s hard leaving an organization ran by one of the best owners in all of sports, and someone who’s been there for me through my ups and downs. The hardest thing was hearing Mr. B wish me luck in the future, but we both came to the conclusion that this is probably the best thing for me to grow on and off the field.

I thank the Denver fans who embraced my emotion and play on the field and showing me love every time I step outside my door.

It seems that Broncos fans are once again divided about what the Broncos should do, and of course, people are looking to lay blame. Let's start trying to piece together what is going on and what might happen.

First, for all of you blaming Josh McDaniels for this, please explain. This is a contract situation. This has nothing to do with McDaniels. I know it is easy, and convenient to lump all these situations together, but the Head Coach has nothing to do with why Brandon Marshall is not in camp.

We have talked about all the reasons Marshall is making a play for a new deal now. I'm not saying I necessarily blame him. The career span of an NFL player is short to begin with and they need to make a lifetime's worth of money when the gettin' is good. Marshall also knows he has a ton of risk associated to him, both on and off the field. Hell, we don't even know for sure he'll fully recover from his hip injury.

There is also the question of whether his production will drop off in the new offense. If you ask me there is no way Marshall puts up the numbers he did in 2007 and 2008. The Broncos offense is going to be much more balanced, getting all of the weapons involved. Marshall likely knows this after looking at the playbook and knows that it could hurt his long-term value should he wait until next season to get a new deal.

For some, that last paragraph might give you all the reason you need to hate on McDaniels. Some of you might believe the Broncos should make Marshall the focal point of the offense. Did that really work?

There seems to be a lot of doom and gloom in Broncos Country, and I am trying to figure out why. Should I join you?

In 2007, the Denver Broncos offense, with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, finished 21st in scoring. The New England Patriots offense, run by Josh McDaniels, finished 1st. The Pats scored nearly twice as many points per game than the Broncos(36.8 - 20.0). I know, they had Tom Brady. Not fair, right?

Okay, in 2008, the Denver Broncos offense, with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, finished 16th in scoring. The Patriots? They were 8th. The Pats scored nearly 3 points more per game(25.6 - 23.1). Sure, that's close, but does anyone here think, on paper at least, that the Patriots offense in 2008 had more talent than Denver?

Who would you rather have?

  • Jay Cutler or Matt Cassel
  • Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley or Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Jabar Gaffney

  • Peyton Hillis and the Broncos' run game or Sammy Morris and New England's?
  • Daniel Graham/Tony Scheffler or Ben Watson?
  • Broncos O-Line or Pats O-Line?

With the exception of Randy Moss, you might take the Broncos in every category above. Yet, despite having more talent, the Broncos scored fewer points. Execution beats talent. The Patriots offense executed better than the Broncos, especially in the Red Zone.

The Broncos had a 'great' quarterback, a 'great' wide receiver, not to mention a top O-line, and two offensive masterminds in Mike Shanahan and Jeremy Bates, yet were out-executed by Josh McDaniels. McDaniels did more in New England with less.

Marshall did catch a lot of passes last year - 104 - but managed only 6 touchdowns. That works out to be less than 6% of his receptions. Conversely, Larry Fitzgerald caught 12 TDs in 96 receptions(12.5%). Calvin Johnson, playing on a team that went 0-16, scored 12 TDs in just 78 receptions(15.4%).

In 2007, it was much of the same. Marshall caught 102 passes and 7 TDs. Around 6% again. The top two TD receivers, Randy Moss(23.8%) and Braylon Edwards (20%) once again more than doubled Marshall.

In '07, Marshall averaged 13.0 yards/catch. That was good for 42nd in the League. In '08, Marshall dropped to 12.3YPC, good for 91st. Sure, many of his catches were highlight material, but where are the results??

If anything, I think Marshall could have a bigger impact in this offense, especially in the Red Zone, because his combination of size and speed is an asset in the McDaniels offense. The Patriots really didn't have a player like Marshall, and Marshall, despite being the Broncos #1, is not the same type of player as Randy Moss. How Marshall doesn't recognize what he could be this season baffles me, especially in terms of TDs.

So, with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, the Broncos finished 15-17 over the past two seasons. The Broncos were 21st and 16th, respectively, in scoring. Why the doom and gloom? Where were the results? I know, the defense was to blame, right? I'd agree if the Broncos were getting beat 50-48 every week, but they weren't. The high-flying, prolific attack, centered around #6 and #15, scored fewer than 20 points 14 times the past 2 seasons. That is nearly half! The Broncos were a combined 2-12 in those games. Where are the points?

The past two seasons, with Cutler and Marshall and this prolific offense, the Broncos lost 11 games by 14 or more points. ELEVEN!!!

In 2007, they lost games by 18, 38, 37, 14, 18, 20

In 2008, they lost games by 14, 34, 21, 20, 31

In those defeats are losses to Detroit, twice to Oakland, Kansas City and 3 times to San Diego.

Is that progress?? Is that acceptable?? Of course not!

What the Broncos were doing before WAS NOT WORKING. Josh McDaniels, having studied the Broncos, both from afar and as the Head Coach, is setting out to change that, so I'll ask again, why all the doom and gloom?

This isn't Kool-Aid, folks. These numbers are real. They are numbers that directly relate to wins and losses. I'm open to hearing why the offensive execution was so bad while at the same time Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall were so great.

I stated last night on the show that the Broncos, should they trade Marshall, need to ensure they get talent for talent. To me, it starts with a 1st-round pick and a player. Any team that pays that price will likely want to work out a new deal with Brandon. I'll ask you, would you write a check today guaranteeing Brandon Marshall $20-$30 million?? It's easy to throw millions of dollars around when it isn't ours, but knowing the risks, on and off the field, would you write that check?

For the record, I want Brandon Marshall to be a Denver Bronco. I think he can be very successful in this offense, and I think the Broncos will reward him, WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT. As we sit here today, June 17th, the Broncos have no idea about the physical condition of Marshall. He needs to prove he is healthy. If he wants to rehab in Florida, fine. Come the end of July, however, he needs to show up and play football.

As for McDaniels, give the guy a chance. His track record, in terms of Super Bowl wins, getting production out of star players and getting production out of guys that never started a college football game, has earned him that.