Ryan Clady said it best yesterday during his media conference call when he said, "We are stacked"... "It's Super Bowl or bust!" Amen brother, I couldn't have said it better myself. Its rare to have players (at least not the self promoting pompous clown type players) be so frank and candid about their team and the team's expectations. We know every team's goal is the Super Bowl, but only a handful of teams have realistic shots, and for the Broncos, they are perhaps the front runner. However, to have a player like Clady come out and straight up say that the Broncos are "stacked", wow, just wow! Normally players say they have a solid team, some play-makers (which was a fantastic t.v. show btw), etc, but they say that they need to improve or do this or that. Not Clady! He makes no apologies in saying exactly what the Denver Broncos are... STACKED!
So what do you do when you know you're the best already? You
Frauds Champions, the Baltimore Ravens.
#1. What I really, really, really want to see during pre-season GAMES is Trindon Holiday standing on the sidelines in street clothes. As this article's main picture shows, Holiday isn't exactly large in stature. The last thing I want to see is some bubble player launching himself at Holiday in order to make the roster. We all know that the pre-season is mainly for bubble players to show the coaches a spark that keeps them on the team. Well, when players go into games knowing that, and they know that we have a dynamic return game, there will be more incentive to destroy Holiday than most.
Some will say that injuries happen, so what's the difference between an injury happening during the pre-season vs regular season? While I agree that there isn't much difference, I'd much rather have an injury occur when the play it occurred on actually meant something.
Some will say that if Holiday is so frail, we might as well find out during the pre-season so that we can have a backup ready. To this I say hogwash! There is a huge difference between injury risk during the regular season as opposed to the pre-season. In the pre-season, Holiday might have some "play to put something on film for another team" guy launch himself like a heat seeking missile towards Holiday with bad intent in his eyes because he thinks that a ridiculous ESPN highlight hit will help him stick on the team, or catch on with another team. I'm not saying all players will do this, but it only takes 1 player doing this to destroy our return game for the entire season!
During the regular season, Holiday is more likely to get thumped or caught around the ankles and tripped up -vs- a crown-of-the-helmet-to-the-chin torpedo type hit which can easily be found in the pre-season. Besides, with Holiday sitting out every pre-season game, wouldn't that be better "grooming" for a potential injury replacement than having Holiday hog up precious reps? If Holiday goes down in Game 3 of the pre-season, that doesn't leave very much time for a backup to get comfortable; however, if Holiday simply never plays in the pre-season, then his backup gets 100% of the possible reps during game action to get acquainted with his protection unit.
This leads me to yet another possible point of contention, the "Holiday needs practice with the return unit!" Again, that's a garbage sticking point when it comes to Holiday. Holiday has the entire training camp to hone his skills (not that there is much honing that can be done). I mean, Holiday's biggest weakness, nay, his ONLY weakness is ball security. Getting unloaded on in a pre-season game won't help him practice catching the ball. Getting hit and fumbling isn't Holiday's issue, securing the ball out of the sky is his issue. He can practice that in Training Camp without getting hit. No amount of "game action" will help him catch a beach ball sized football out of the air (relative comparison because he's so small). He can get all the practice he needs in catching the ball in camp. He simply doesn't need "game situation" practice returning it. He's arguably the best in the league at that right now. Don't give me the Devin Hester talk, because Hester is a shell of his former return self. Him switching to WR was the worst career move he ever made!
For those of you insisting that Holiday is too raw in the return game and that he needs to polish his skills, feast your eyes on this...
If that is Holiday being raw, I'll take it! From what I can see, he follows blocks perfectly. He knows when to hide behind the big men, and he knows when to cut and move on by them. What more can you ask for? I certainly don't want him just following a wedge into a pile and getting tackled. When you have dynamic returners, they create their own space, they don't typically stay hidden behind their wall until a seam hopefully opens up. They usually see lanes immediately and then rely on speed to hit the hole before it closes. Blocking is certainly a must, and is certainly needed, but the difference between elite return men and average return men is vision and speed. From all accounts, Holiday is tops in the league in both categories.
"But what if you just have Holiday catch punts/kicks and then run out of bounds if he's about to get hit hard?" some may ask? To them I say this, "why bother having him in the game then? If he isn't going to try to hit a home run, why have him in there? Just let his backup do that work." Again, he's a dynamic game changer. We've never had a guy on our team like him. He doesn't need pre-season game action to break a game wide open because pre-season doesn't matter in the W/L column. He needs to simply practice catching the ball (which from all accounts he still can't do consistently). He can practice that at camp. Throw other training camp fodder to the wolves trying to make the team during pre-season games. Just keep our true "game changer" safely stashed away on the sidelines. Putting him in harm's way is about the last thing (next to Manning getting hurt) I want to see. There is absolutely no reason to have him play in any non-regular season games. We know what we have with Holiday. Use the Pre-Season games for what they are intended for: To find hidden talent, Period!
Peyton Manning and the offense can use their limited reps to gel, I get it. Manning, Thomas, Decker, Welker, Julius Thomas (?) Clady, Koppen, Franklin, Beadles, Harris, et al need the reps as a team because they need to be in harmony once the Regular Season starts, but Holiday doesn't. He's a one man wrecking crew. He doesn't need to practice precise route running because no such thing exists in the return game. He doesn't need to practice dropping back into coverage like our defense, or clogging up running lanes like our defense, because again, no such thing exists in the return game. What Holiday needs to practice is securing the ball upon initial contact with the ball. Let his blockers practice blocking for his backup during games, but Holiday? No, Holiday is just fine!