One won the Iowa straw poll five months ago and is now trending in single digits on the day of that state’s caucus vote. The other made the playoffs despite a three-game losing streak to end the regular season with a .500 record. See? They’re exactly the same!
We decided not to do Chewing the Fat on Sunday, as New Year’s Eve recovery efforts remained underway at 4:15 PM ET. I went out of my way not to overdrink on Saturday night, so I’m pretty spry, and I decided to do a running diary of both the Broncos game and the one between the Raiders and Chargers. I’m hoping for simultaneous excitement that comes across as compelling writing. If the games disappoint, at least you’ll get my on-the-fly thoughts on both games.
Step into my man-cave:
Ryan Clark won’t play in Denver, Mike Tomlin says
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark will not play in the team’s wild-card playoff game against the Broncos in Denver because of the adverse effects playing at a high altitude has on a condition Clark has. “I met with him and informed him I am not going to allow him to play in the game,” Tomlin said. “It was an easy decision for us. When looking at all of our data, we came to the determination he is at more risk so we are not going to play him. It’s that simple.” Clark has sickle cell trait, a condition that caused serious problems for him when the Steelers played in Colorado in 2007. Because his major organs were deprived of oxygen, Clark ended up losing his spleen and gall bladder.
During the Broncos' winning streak, belief began to matter more than game plans. Here at IAOFM, we're happy to bring it back:
Captain Comeback Week 17: 2011 Regular Season Review
But Sunday’s game at home against rival Kansas City, with the division on the line, was most troubling.
When does “he just wins” come to an end? How does a four-game losing streak sound? That might just be the motive John Elway was hoping for all year to go another direction next year.
Maybe Denver can pull off the upset, which would only blow up Tebow-mania to a new fever pitch, and send Elway into a tizzy from the press box as he begrudgingly displays his approval
If you had to pick a game from the Wild Card schedule to show up in next week’s Captain Comeback, this would be the one, right?
Wild-Card Games: What the Film Says
This could be a surprisingly tough matchup for the Steeler offense, and not because running back Rashard Mendenhall is out (ACL)...No chance the Steeler offensive tackles hold up one-on-one against Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.
The Steelers are more of a zone defense, although corner Ike Taylor is a world-class press-man defender (expect him to hold Demaryius Thomas to under four catches) and William Gay, Keenan Lewis and Bryant McFadden are capable of handling untalented wideouts man-to-man. Whatever coverage the Steelers choose will work…The Broncos will have trouble breaking 200 yards of total offense.
Tracking Tebow, Week 17: Stuck in reverse
Tebowmania reached a crescendo last month, after the Broncos went from 1-4 to 8-5, but now that the new-car smell has worn off and Tebow apparently doesn’t possess otherworldly powers, reality has set in…We’ve talked about it previously, but the concern with Denver’s read-option offensive philosophy was that eventually, defenses would catch up to it, as was the case with the wildcat several seasons ago. Unlike the wildcat, however, teams appear to have figured out the option in weeks instead of months.
The result: the Broncos conventional rushing attack, headed by Willis McGahee, is as good as ever. But with each game, Tebow become less a factor in the running game. When you couple that with his erratic passing skills, that makes him something less than one dimensional.
Source: Bears release GM Jerry Angelo
“There isn’t anyone like him,” Angelo said. “I’ve always believed that 60 percent of evaluating quarterbacks is based on intangibles, and he has all the ones you’d want. He has talent too, but the main thing that drives [the Broncos] is his teammates’ belief in him. You hear people talk about his religious beliefs—and that’s O.K. I’m strong in my faith as well. But I believe there is some divine intervention associated with what’s taking place.”
That quote from Jim Trotter's SI cover story on Tim Tebow pretty says all one needs to know about Jerry Angelo's methods for talent accumulation.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis naturally fields a bunch of questions blaming Sunday's loss on the coaching staff, namely Mike McCoy. Yet as he notes, Tim Tebow attempted 51 passes over the past two weeks, and he completed just 19 of them. Somehow that's the coaches' fault? Oh, brother.
Meanwhile, Dave Krieger raises an interesting point - will sneaking into the playoffs the way they did (by winning a tiebreaker over one slightly underachieving 8-8 team and a fellow craptastic one*) serve to set the franchise back in the longer term? Will they commit to building around this offensive offense they've been running?
* I know, you are what your record says you are, right? And the Broncos must be better than the Chargers and Raiders because the rules say they are, right? Not quite. Thanks to our friendly Pythagorean wins, we can divulge that the Broncos and Raiders were 8-8 teams that more closely resembled 6-10 teams, while the Chargers were more like a 9-7 team. Blech.
Denver has reportedly signed Jeremy Jarmon, Cyril Obiozor and Ramzee Robinson to future contracts. Jarmon had been acquired by the Broncos in exchange for WR Jabar Gaffney in July before failing to make Denver's 53-man roster in September. The 24-year-old DE was originally taken by the Redskins in the third round of the 2009 Supplemental Draft. Obiozor is a third-year LB who has had stints with the Packers, Chargers and Rams, while Robinson is a fourth-year CB who was a seventh-round pick by the Lions in 2007 and has also been a member of the Eagles and Browns.
Add McCoy, O’Brien to the Jags interview list
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Jags will interview Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. John Clayton of ESPN reports that Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy also will be interviewed.
O’Brien can be interviewed during the bye week. McCoy can be interviewed, with Denver’s consent, after the wild-card game, if the Broncos win. Neither man can be hired until his team’s season ends.
Mike McCoy has become the latest whipping boy of the Tebowites, but he did extract seven wins out of a QB who can't throw. Just a few weeks ago, McCoy was seen as a coach molding the Denver offense to his QB's strength(s). Apparently that's the impression that has stuck around the league...