I like the improvement of J.D. Walton from last year, but I don’t see Denver running fourth and inches through his slot at this point, and I’m not sure that he ever will be that guy. He’s just not hitting with enough of a punch to drive people back, ala Tom Nalen. I’m sorry to compare him to one of the best from Denver’s past, but Denver wants to consistently be in the postseason playing for the Lombardi Trophy, and you won’t get there without a very good or elite center. Right now, J.D. doesn’t seem to be that. I like him, and he’s growing, but the lack of power and leverage are too often issues. J.D. snapped to two Heismann winners in college (including the one in Denver) but as important as his position is, they’re going to let him grow into it, or find a guy who can get those last inches. I’ve never heard anyone speak badly of Walton, and my only complaint is with his technical game - he’s tough-minded, he’s willing to mix it up and I like his moves to the second level, but he’s not dominating DTs. In a team that’s made no bones about going with a running attack, one of the three interior linemen have to be able to create that push. Right now, I haven’t seen it. To be clear, I like Walton and Chris Kuper in particular - I also follow Zane Beadles’ tweets and he’s the kind of guy I’d love to have a beer with, but he does have his balance troubles, and that can’t help Walton, either.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Benson previews tomorrow's game for PFF, and he's expecting the Broncos to utilize a more conventional rushing attack since KC will presumably will be better prepared for the read option than they were last time. On defense, Benson figures that although Von Miller's struggles since he injured his thumb have been well chronicled, he should impact the game matching up against Barry Richardson - the worst right tackle in the game according to PFF's grading.
For PFF's latest Scramble column, Benson writes that the turning point for Denver's season may have been Chris Harris' interception of Carson Palmer and subsequent 60-yard touchdown run by Willis McGahee. It was a remarkable sequence of events, one that should not be underestimated. I think people look back at the 38-24 final score and recall the game as a thumping by Denver, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. The first half was all Oakland, and the Broncos running game didn't really dominate until that McGahee run to end the third quarter. Denver was 2-5 at that point, and here we are eight weeks later and they've got a chance to win the division tomorrow. Incredible.
Denver safety Brian Dawkins is doubtful
Denver safety Brian Dawkins is doubtful for Sunday’s game against Kansas City with a neck injury that has been bothering him for several weeks. He did not practice all week. It will be up to rookies Quinton Carter and Rahim Moore to anchor the defense in a critical game against the Chiefs. Denver will win the AFC West with a victory over the Chiefs and former Denver quarterback Kyle Orton.
If Denver losses, we may not see Dawkins in a Denver uniform again. He is 38 and there is concern in Denver about the neck injury. He has been the unquestioned leader of the team since he arrived as a free agent from Philadelphia in 2009.
For Kansas City, running back Jackie Battle (foot) is out and safety Jon McGraw (ankle) is doubtful to play Sunday.
Denver's Tebow now officially a 'super hero', thanks to Marvel
The three pieces, rendered in full color, are the work of Marvel comic artists Bong Dazo, Scott Koblish and Todd Nauck and all depict Tebow in various states of on-the-field action. One shows Tebow racing downfield while a scoreboard behind him shows the “visitors” with a (temporary?) 14-7 lead with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter. Marvel says Tebow has been “nothing short of a super hero” for the Broncos this season due to his heroics, which makes the work of the artists appropriate.
“Like the Marvel heroes who pull off last minute victories, Tim Tebow has fans around the world on the edge of their seats and believing that in our own lives - when time is running out and all looks lost, we can dig deep inside and use our various strengths to triumph over insurmountable odds,” said Marvel Custom Solutions spokesman Bill Rosemann.
Na na na na na na na na...Tebow!
Rams' Lloyd will follow McDaniels
“I can’t even lie about that,” Lloyd said. “I’m tied to McDaniels. He uses me differently than other offensive coordinators used me in my entire career. He uses me as an every-play receiver. The short game, mid-range game, gimmick passes, deep balls. I do everything in this offense as opposed to other coordinators who would just run me off as the deep guy; run me off into double coverage and then say I’m not open. So I really like how Josh uses me within the offense. I’m extremely comfortable in the offense.”
When informed of those comments by Lloyd, McDaniels replied: “I appreciate that, and he knows I feel that way about him, too. I would love to have an opportunity to continue working with him. I think you grow fond of certain players; you grow fond of all of them. But some of ‘em you may get closer with than others, and that’s definitely true with him.”
Chiefs Week will be that much more interesting if it involves Josh McDaniels, Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd all suiting up for KC, won't it?
Four days after a billboard in Denver on 58th Avenue one block east of Interstate 25 publicly called for coach John Fox to bench Orton in favor of No. 15, the quarterbacks decided to begin fining Tebow every day that it remained up.
No one ever gave him a reason, but according to sources, this was it: Tebow never made any attempt to publicly admonish the divisive gesture by the fan base. So they fined him. For six days. Until he eventually replaced Orton and there was no longer a reason for the billboard to exist.
During that span, while fans were up in arms after the team started 1-4 with Orton under center, there were never any confrontations between the players. Never tense words exchanged. Never anything that would indicate a problem at all except for the strange and awkward situation surrounding that billboard. But all of it—even if unspoken—was not unnoticed.
Of course Tebow wouldn't say anything to admonish the billboards. Why would he purposely hurt his FRS/Jockey/Nike brand?
Some things really are more important than football.
Speaking of Orton, the Chiefs will make an effort to sign him this offseason and bring him back for another year to compete with starter Matt Cassel…[Sam] Bradford will know soon that the Rams won’t be picking a quarterback with the first or second pick and that they will hopefully parlay that pick into a much-needed infusion of talent…Something tells me the next head coach at Penn State will come from the pro ranks…The word out of Tampa seems to indicate that Raheem Morris will be coaching his last game on Sunday.
Mike Martz is not expected back with the Bears even though head coach Lovie Smith seems annoyed with all the questions. Martz has told people that he did not sign an extension and is not going back. Who would the Bears go after? Maybe Jay Cutler’s former offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, who is now available. Last time the Bears had a position open they wanted to talk to Bates, but he took the Seattle job before they had a chance.
Plenty of interesting nuggest from Lombardi today - having Josh McDaniels reunite with Kyle Orton in KC, and Jeremy Bates with Jay Cutler in Chicago? Ugh, the memories...
He’d appreciate if you didn’t remember the public missteps he had with Browns management about his contract renegotiations, the medical advice he took from his agent to skip a game when he was sick, and the closed-door meeting he had with teammates who reached out to the foundering running back. And please, most of all, don’t recall the many times Hillis proclaimed he doesn’t believe in the Madden Curse. Because he does.
“No doubt about it,” Hillis finally admitted Thursday. “Things haven’t worked to my favor this year. There’s a few things that happened that made me believe in curses. Ain’t no doubt about it.”
Oh, and here's what he said back in May about the Madden Curse:
Actually, I don’t even believe in curses. It’s really sad how many people believe in curses. This is football; everyone gets hurt. If you run the ball 40 times a game, you’re going to get banged around and get nicks and bruises here and there, but I don’t pay too much attention to that. I’ll let it take care of itself.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Bucky Brooks dug into the film of Denver's last three games, and within them he sees a blueprint for stopping Tim Tebow and the Broncos offense. He says that in response to Denver's success running against sub packages, both the Bears and Bills decided not to allow the Broncos to dictate personnel. A Jets coach raised this point with Brooks, and the numbers appear to support the strategy - even more so than Brooks cites. Against the Jets, Bears and Bills, the Broncos averaged 127.3 rushing yards per game, while in the other seven games since Tebow took over, Denver ran for a staggering 217.9 yards per game. Of course, the last time these two teams faced off, Denver ripped off 244 rushing yards against Romeo Crennel's defense, and two weeks ago the Broncos ran for 252 against Bill Belichick's guys.
As for the passing game, Brooks points to teams' use of man coverage on Denver's wideouts (and a heavy reliance upon Cover-1), with the Bills focusing on locking up Tebow's primary read, and he says teams are relying upon a four-man rush to contain Tim within the pocket, rather than blitzing and risking an open lane for Tebow to escape through. The question, of course, is whether Tim will be able to start beating this one-on-one coverage with his arm, and whether the Broncos will have some viable wrinkles to get the running game going against what may be a solid game plan for stopping them.
Definitive guide to Black Monday and the 2012 coaching carousel
Win or lose Sunday at Denver for Romeo Crennel (although a win and a 2-1 interim head coaching record makes the rationale a much easier sell), there’s a pretty good shot he gets elevated to the full-time gig. League sources then expect Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli to go out and hire Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to the same post in Kansas City, with the expectation that McDaniels will be let go when Spagnuolo is canned. Pioli will then have made his own locker room very happy with the retention of the popular Crennel, who he likes and greatly respects, but also will have put in a place a succession plan with the arrival of McDaniels, who could use another couple seasons to let the radioactivity from his failed Denver head coaching tenure die down. Crennel is 64, and gives Pioli a trusted short-term coaching option. McDaniels is 35, and gives Pioli a trusted long-term coaching option.