Penalties and turnovers hurt, like a kick to the groin. Every coach will tell you that they can kill a drive faster than a Darrius Heyward-Bey crossing route (the groin of the Oakland Raiders). In fact, you hear about penalties and turnovers so often in post-game press conferences, you would think that play calling had little do do with the results of the game.
And often this is the case. The team that does the best job executing its own individual game plan is usually the winner. Penalties and turnovers are simply markers along the way.
But when you chart every offensive play in a given season, you tend to only focus on the big picture (trends, downs and distances, player values) and forget about just how large a role penalties and turnovers really play. Each holding call, each interception and fumble, each turnover on downs, and each missed field goal--each one of them were a piece of what became the 2009 Broncos offense. So I thought that I'd take a brief moment this week in the middle of all of the draft analysis, to explore, using expected points value, penalties and turnovers.
You know I never
I never seen you look so good
You never call the plays you should
But I like it
And I know you like it too.....
If you're ever in a jam for awesomely-bad 80s music, so bad that it's actually good, you don't have to look much farther than the band Poison. This little ditty, Talk Dirty To Me, is classic lipstick metal, so shallow that it's profound. So non-existential, it's almost existential. And it's a lesson for NFL coaches.
Be aggressive. Don't play it safe. Wear eye liner.
Well perhaps the third is optional (unless your the new Al Davis hire). But the first two should be requirements for all NFL coaches.
4...3...2..1...Kyle behind us...
passing, hurling....floating weightless
calling, calling...(Denver) home...
When I put these weekly columns together, I have so much 80s music to chose from it's almost criminal. This week it was a close competition between Motley Crue's Shout at the Royal or Falco's Rock Me Kyle Orton. But ultimately I decided there simply wasn't a better way to introduce the 2009-passing game of the Denver Broncos than with reference to this song by Peter Schilling in 1984, which was also covered in 2009 by Shiny Toy Guns. I personally could listen to either version 50 times in succession--the equivalent to the number of seasons the Raiders will wait for the playoffs--and never grow bored.
He just ran....He ran all night and day....
...Knowshon couldn't get away.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of the 2009 Broncos season (aside from knowing that Raiders fans continue breeding) was the lack of a running game. You've heard the storyline, but let's review the major plot points again:
Well I'm a stat-grinder, play-cruncher.
Now can we really keep our wide receiver?
Got no brains, he's insane.
McDaniels says that he's one big pain.
Brandon's like a laser, a 6-streamin' razor
He's got a mouth like an alligator.
But I want it louder. Sack power
Should we keep Elvis when it strikes the hour?
There are a lot of opinions on Brandon Marshall, Elvis Dumervil, and Tony Scheffler these days. Despite Marshall's verbal group hug during the Pro Bowl, the prevailing wisdom is still that the Broncos are going to look to trade (after tender offers) both Marshall and Scheffler, while making their best effort to retain the man-child sack leader in the NFL.
One of the big questions going into the 2010 offseason is deciding exactly what, if anything, the Broncos are going to do about their linebacker position. Given that Coach Don Martindale has been named to the defensive coordinator position, it's clear that that Broncos both like his style of coaching and appreciate what he's done with a group that was cobbled together from continuing players, castoffs from other squads and players from Denver moving from different positions.
It says here that Martindale has been one of the top coaches on the team, and if they move him up to DC, I hope that they can find someone nearly as good to take his place. By the way, for those who asked - the style of defense and the terminology were part of the package that Josh McDaniels impressed Pat Bowlen, Joe Ellis and Jim Goodman with. It's not going to change, so there will be continuity.
I'm going to be honest with you.
I haven't a clue who the Broncos are going to draft right now.
I don't know Tim Tebow's 40-yard dash time. I'm sketchy on how many times Taylor Mays is going to bench press 225 pounds. And Mike Iupati's biceps? I'm guessing they are pretty large.
But a draft expert I am not. Coincidentally, the real draft experts like Mel Kiper, Jr. aren't either, so I guess I'm in decent company. At least I saved on the hair spray.
So if you wanna get mocked, I apologize in advance.
After reading two of BShrout's articles this week, I liked them both very much. The article on the running game was very interesting to me, and I thought I'd bring a little extra info to your attention. Most of it probably isn't new.
The points that were made on the comments were quite accurate. One of the things that came out was that it was very effective for Denver, under Mike Shanahan, to use the passing attack to get ahead, and use the running game to close out the game. This is taken directly from Bill Walsh, the inventor of the West Coast Offense. Although other coaches have used this same line over the years, he understood (and used that phrase in an interview I saw with him) the phrase "Pass to score, run to win". At the very least, he based much of his system on it. Lots of teams know this principle and use it - as in, all of them - in degree.
Love--like defensive coordinators--is a game of easy come and easy go. Just listen to the McDJ on the radio.
Now that Mike Nolan is heading to Miami to work on his South Beach tan, we are left to ponder (at least for a few days) the fate of the Denver Broncos defense. And lonely Broncomaniacs everywhere want to know:
Was is somethin' we did or somethin' we said? Did our words not come out right?
We may never know the exact reason. What we do know is that Mike Nolan is gone. And it's not sitting well with a lot of us. The latest rumor from the Boston Herald is that McDaniels wasn't a fan of the number of times Nolan blitzed this year so the marriage had to end. Personally, I'd like to see the Broncos blitz on every play of the game, but that's why I'm just a stats guy. Either way, as much as we may need a reason for Nolan's departure, we may never get a good one. He may have left Denver because he's an East Coast guy. He may have left because he wants to work with Bill Parcells. Perhaps he left because he's a closet Jennifer Lopez fan.
If you've seen the movie Necessary Roughness, I'm very sorry. Those are two hours of your life you're never getting back.
If you haven't, I'll save you some time. The best part of the movie was watching Kathy Ireland play the role of Lucy Draper, a female placekicker. For a few brief scenes, placekicking somehow seemed...slightly more interesting.
But outside of the rare and fictional supermodel, placekickers don't get a lot of attention. Most often they are known for either making or missing a late-game kick (i.e., Scott Norwood), or for their ability to shut down an all-you-can-eat-buffet like Sebastian Janikowski.
But we should make an exception for Matt Prater. Not only should we be talking more about him, but we should acknowledge one fact right now:
Matt Prater, despite playing at altitude, and without ever having done a Sports Illustrated bikini shoot, was the best kicker in the NFL in 2009.