Happy Friday, friends. I’ve been sick lately with a cold for the last few days, so I decided that going a little light today was better than nothing, since I wasn’t able to go heavy. On Sunday afternoon, the Broncos play the Pittsburgh Steelers. I respectfully dislike the Steelers, but I disrespectfully hate their idiot fans. You probably know a few, but I know a lot of them, living two hours from Pittsburgh, and they’re just insufferable. The Steelers fan knows nothing about football, and all they can say is “Six rings.” Unfortunately, it looks like a lot of the yahoos will be at the game on Sunday, due to some piker Broncos fans selling off their tickets (to a playoff game!!!!!!!)
I don’t really love the Broncos’ chances in this game, but making the playoffs is an accomplishment worthy of using your tickets on. I don’t know, I’m the guy that says you should support your team even if you don’t like a specific player or a coach, and around here, I feel like that makes me old-fashioned sometimes. In fantasy football, we can all pick which players to like! <vomits/>
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Dave Krieger decided to
debunk dig into this ridiculous notion that the play calling is completely* to blame for Denver's recent offensive struggles. So, he asked John Fox why the team hasn't utilized more screens and quick slants. Here's what the coach said:
Everybody's mush-rushing us because of Tim's ability to scramble. They're not really rushing. Really, the screen pass and the draw play are typically for a very aggressive, penetrating, up-the-field style of defense, and because of the style of run game we have, we're not getting that.
Krieger also checked in with Brian Griese, asking him about the so-called "conservativeness" of the offensive game plan:
I don't agree that the play calling was too conservative. We talked at halftime about coming out and throwing the ball, play-action, specifically on first down, and Mike McCoy did that on three successive downs in the third quarter, called those passes. And the thing that happened was Tim Tebow didn't feel comfortable letting that ball fly and brought the football down and either took a sack or got a minimal gain.
So, the plays were called and Tim, for whatever reason, whether it was confidence, whether he wasn't able to see well enough, or whether he just got nervous, I'm not sure what it was, but he did not look like the same player that he was during the six-game winning streak.
* I just realized that I didn't quite express my point clearly this morning, thanks to a comment from BRASO (Thanks for that). I don't mean to suggest the play calling is completely blameless, but I find calls for Mike McCoy's head to be ludicrous.
Astute IAOFM readers know that the formal version of the 4-3 defense was created when Giants DC Tom Landry [Lombardi, Landry and the invention of modern football] slid rookie draftee Sam Huff back from the middle guard position to the area a couple of yards back, giving him a better view of the QB in an increasingly pass-oriented game, and creating the position of the middle linebacker. Huff was a hickory-tough man who defined the middle linebacker of the day. On one play, he was knocked flat and unconscious. With several teeth broken and blood pouring down his face, he picked up his helmet, got oriented and headed back onto the field. He was that tough a player. It was no surprise that he has made the Hall of Fame - he also had a defensive line that was the original, if less famous, Fearsome Foursome.
By now you're all really tired of reading/hearing how bad Tim Tebow was on Sunday and has been for the past few weeks. So, let's just get to the numbers. They speak for themselves.
Last week, Tim ranked 25th in ANY/T and was tied for 32nd in NY/T with Matt Cassel - out of the top 40 quarterbacks in terms of pass attempts. What did his 30-touch, 66-yard, two turnover performance against the Chiefs do to his rankings?
Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Woody Paige says that unless the Jaguars hire Mike McCoy away to be their head coach, the coaching staff will likely remain completely intact next season. He writes that of course, John Elway is quite happy with the job John Fox has done, and to expect Fox to be here at least another three years (the length of his contract).
Woody also says the football operations are truly under John Elway's oversight, with no meddling from Pat Bowlen or Joe Ellis. And regarding Kyle Orton, he writes that "he was a distraction, had lost interest, and the Broncos wanted somebody else to pick up the $[2.6] million."
As for the current QB, naturally Woody seems to think that Tim Tebow is a surer thing than is Matt Flynn, and his proof is that Matt Cassel hasn't set the world afire (Hmm, why didn't he compare Flynn to Matt Schaub? Oh, right). His guess is that Denver will draft Arizona QB Nick Foles and sign a veteran like Josh Johnson. Finally, more WR blame and a suggestion to sign Ray Rice. Good one, Woody - because signing veteran runners to megacontracts is always the sensible thing to do...
The Broncos are again without S Brian Dawkins at practice today due to the neck injury referred to two weeks ago as potentially being a career ender. FB Spencer Larsen is also out of action and expected to miss Sunday's game against the Steelers as a result of a knee sprain suffered against Kansas City.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh addressed their injury-plagued running back corps by adding Chad Spann from their practice squad and placing LB Chris Carter on IR to create space for him on the roster. The promotion of Spann was prompted by the season-ending knee injury to Rashard Mendenhall and the strong possibility that Mewelde Moore will be unable to go due to his own knee injury.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Most of the injury talk concerning the Steelers has centered around who will be absent for Pittsburgh (RB Rashard Mendenhall, S Ryan Clark), but unfortunately for Denver, the Steelers should be getting a pair of key players back in time for Sunday's game. Starting left guard Doug Legursky and linebacker LaMarr Woodley are expected to play; HC Mike Tomlin described Legursky as having a "strong chance" of returning to the starting lineup, and he said Woodley "is going to be capable of playing in the football game."
Legursky had missed the season finale against the Browns, and Woodley has been out for six of PIttsburgh's last eight games.
Denver has signed LB Brian Iwuh and released S Kyle McCarthy to create a spot for him. Iwuh is an ex-CU Buff who was a top special teams player for the Bears but was unexpectedly released on November 29th at a time Chicago was considering extending his contract. Iwuh is in his sixth NFL season, having spent his first four years with Jacksonville before joining the Bears in 2010, and has been credited with 115 tackles, one sack and three forced fumbles in his career. At the time of his release by the Bears, he was their leading special teams tackle with 14.
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:
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.