Happy Football Sunday, friends. I want to run through some thoughts relating to today’s Broncos-Panthers game in Charlotte. I watched the Carolina-Washington game from last week, and I came away feeling like the Panthers have a good amount of talent, certainly more than I'd thought. They’re not a proficient team, though, and their execution comes and goes.
1. I think this is a great test for the Broncos, because it’s a second consecutive early road game in the Eastern time zone, and because with the talent the Panthers have, they’re definitely capable of winning the game.
I frequently talk about proficiency, and I believe that the Broncos are becoming a proficient team, one which expects to execute consistently. Proficient teams show up at 1pm in downtown Charlotte and handle their business against less proficient teams. In so doing, they ensure that they’ll win their division, and they stay in the mix for byes and homefield advantage in the playoffs. This is what the Patriots and Colts did throughout the 2000s, and I’ll be looking for Peyton Manning to preside over a businesslike victory today.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The tumultuous, torturous offseason for D.J. Williams is finally nearing an end, although the linebacker is taking another hit in the bank account to get there.
According to Mike Klis, the man named Genos will be officially back with the Broncos tomorrow under a renegotiated (trimmed) contract, the details of which have not been released.
It's been a dramatic eight months for the ninth-year player, starting with news in March that he'd been suspended six games for providing a non-human urine sample after allegedly fumbling the bottle it had come from. D.J. attempted to fight that suspension by suing the NFL in federal court, but that suit was dismissed in June.
In the interim, a mistrial was declared in the first trial for his 2010 DUI case, and then he tweeted out a page from the Broncos' defensive playbook, albeit not one featuring any truly sensitive material. Still, it was another judgment error in a Denver career littered with them.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Unfortunately, but to no great surprise, Tracy Porter has been ruled out for tomorrow's game in Carolina.
Chris Kuper, who will be out two to four weeks with his latest ankle injury, is the only other player who didn't practice; the other six Broncos listed on the injury report were full practice participants Friday and are listed as probable.
As has become Denver's wise habit for early East Coast games, the team flew to Carolina yesterday - a day earlier than they do for other road affairs - and the team's PR crew is sharing photos from their travel experience through the organization's Twitter account.
Broncos LB Von Miller: If I sack Cam, I'm doing 'Superman'
If Miller, the Broncos’ bespectacled outside linebacker, sacks Carolina quarterback Cam Newton on Sunday, he’ll forgo the dance he calls the DeSoto Shuffle in favor of something else far more recognizable: The Superman – Newton’s signature touchdown celebration.
Miller, tied for second in the NFL with nine sacks, is already envisioning himself pretending to rip off his white Denver jersey, just like Newton does.
“That would be great,” Miller told USA TODAY Sports Thursday afternoon. “I hope I get a chance to do it.”
Von Miller: obnoxious glory boy, or respectful competitor with a sense of humor? Discuss...
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! The Colts (6-3) whipped the hapless Jaguars (1-8) 27-10 last night for their fourth straight win, avenging Jacksonville's only victory of the season.
Andrew Luck ran for two scores, and although I wasn't paying close attention, I heard Mike Mayock and others in the studio mention at least three times that Luck's athleticism is underappreciated. Well, gee - why might that be, Mike?
It's the same reason people wonder if Eric Decker is the next Ed McCaffrey, or why everyone was in such a hurry to say Peyton Hillis was the second coming of John Riggins.
No, this is not racism.
Rather, it's intellectual laziness, where people who spend their lives studying football and breaking physical traits and talents down to the nth degree, are somehow unable to see past the color of a player's skin (meaning, the people who are doing the underappreciating, not necessarily Mayock).
No matter their focus, whether on sports, politics, or anything else, statistical models have always been targets of intense criticism.
The number crunchers can test their methods all they want, and even show their work as they did for their high-school geometry midterms, yet ultimately, the old-schoolers will say there's no match for experience and intuition.
But by now, even those data-allergic folks have to admit the 2012 Broncos are pretty good, right?
With the squad sitting at 1-2 after three weeks, Brian Burke's data said the Broncos were the third-most efficient team in the league. Three games later, following the historic comeback in San Diego that evened Denver's record at 3-3, they had reached the top of Burke's rankings.
Updated 5:33pm ET
Good Morning, Broncos fans! We've been saying since before the season began that fullback Chris Gronkowski wouldn't be seeing many offensive snaps. Or at least, that he shouldn't be.
Not sure why Jeff Legwold & Co. believed otherwise, unless they were just willing to believe whatever sound bite John Fox and Mike McCoy provided them.
And now that Virgil Green is becoming more involved in the offense following his four-game suspension, he's taking some snaps at fullback. We'll disagree with Legwold's claim that Denver's large scoring deficits have been the reason for Gronk's limited play, especially since Chris has hardly played offense in the games when the Broncos didn't trail big, including Sunday.
The biggest factor is using the no-huddle offense and substituting less, which requires players be versatile pieces that can be moved around a formation. That's clearly not what Gronkowski is.
However, that doesn't mean Gronkowski has been a wasted acquisition; as Legwold notes, Gronkowski has been active in all eight of Denver's games, and is second on the team in number of special teams snaps to David Bruton.
Amendments don't change leagues' stances on marijuana
Though voters in those states approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday legalizing recreational marijuana, the drug remains illegal under the NFL’s and NBA’s substance abuse policies, league spokesmen said. “The NFL’s policy is collectively bargained and will continue to apply in the same manner it has for decades,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told USA TODAY Sports Wednesday morning. “Marijuana remains prohibited under the NFL substance abuse program.”
And here I was hoping the Broncos could use the marijuana angle for player recruitment.
Oh well, you can't win them all. Take solace in the fact that there's still alcohol (and the ad revenues that come with it indirectly to the NFL). After all, who wouldn't prefer this to a guy craving Doritos:
Two thumbs up for not vomiting!
Happy Wednesday, friends. Today, since we’re at the halfway point of the season, I want to revisit the series of articles I wrote in March and April about the Manning offense, and update them. If they’re going to live on as strong reference material, they deserve an update.
In advance, let me say that you shouldn’t take this as a victory lap, although I was right about a lot of stuff. And don’t even get me started on how right I was about the results of the Presidential election. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Here is a set of links to the whole series of articles: