Gut Reactions - Week 17, Broncos-Chargers

Despite all of the excitement late in today's game, the Denver Broncos just finished the season a woeful 4-12.  This was their worst finish since the War of 1812.


So what do the Broncos do now besides pick 2nd in next year's draft?  Bring in their own war veteran, John Elway.

Good luck, John.  I know you're about the closest thing to Chuck Norris the Broncos have ever seen, but the NFL you left a dozen years ago isn't the NFL you're about to re-enter.

You once drove 98 yards while being pelted with dog biscuits.  That's going to seem like a cakewalk compared to what you're getting into now.

Your owner wants to win now; the boss' right-hand man is a guy who measures success by dollars spent per box seat; your general manager is a guy who just said that the ideal way to win in the NFL is to run the ball half the time;  after you find a head coach, your other order of business it to try and figure out who is going to be the franchise's quarterback for the next decade.

Oh, and the fans?  They've seen so much drama in the last two years, they'd prefer an re-run of Lost to yet another Broncos front-office change.

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Week 17 Open Thread

Enjoy the games, and Go Broncos!!!

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The Jesus, The Generator and the Experts - Week 17

Our weekly picks have finally come to an end.

But has Peter King reached the end of his rope?

This little jaunt into weekly oblivion started as a statistical experiment (and a way for us to fill space on our blog).  Could a random number generator (RNG) beat a group of so-called experts at picking football games?  We threw in some picks from Doug and I just for fun.  Then we added my cat Jesus Quintana (cat meaning cat, not bowling partner) into the mix for an added dose of humor.

Next week, I'll summarize some of the statistical lessons we've (probably) learned, but until then you'll suffer through another week of Quintana's upset picks and Peter King's smugness.

Next year, we plan on making this more user friendly and letting Fat Man's users participate.  That means there will be a weekly and ongoing tally of how smart this community of Broncos fans really are.  Consider it a sort of wisdom of the Fat Man crowd if you'd like.  I have no doubt it will tie the room together.

Let's see how things went down last week. 

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Season finale Lard 1-2-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Klis has apparently squeezed an extra day out of Brian Xanders PR Week™. Heck, why not? After all, the guy got his PhD in football from Dan Reeves. Xanders strangely talks about the Broncos' "history and heritage" of running the ball well. This is concerning - running a sports team is about looking forward rather than into the past. Winning in the NFL is about passing - passing to set up more passing, and running to keep defenses honest. We've been over this before, but it cannot be overstated - successful passing correlates to winning; successful running does not. Yet, Klis states that one of Xanders' missions for the Broncos is to balance out their pass/run ratio. Hopefully Xanders understands that a more even pass/run ratio should result from offense efficiency (by passing), rather than an expressed goal of running the ball more.

Now, I've certainly been critical of the blatant PR push for Xanders this week, but please don't confuse that with me calling Xanders incompetent. Surely I don't believe that Josh McDaniels was responsible for every smart decision during his tenure and Xanders for every poor one, nor do I believe the opposite. Like most things, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. But this week has felt like a snow job, and frankly it's insulting to the collective intelligence of all Broncos fans, even if some of them are buying it (you know where to find those folks). Yet, the way Xanders sounded on the radio on Monday and is now citing the Broncos' history as a reason to run the ball more aren't making me feel so great about the guy...

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Team identity, the Broncos and the Steelers

The always excellent Mike Lombardi wrote another fine column on Wednesday - this one on the coaching carousel - which coaches are still on the ‘hot seat’ - and why. I think it should be required reading for the Denver Broncos' front office. Lombardi has a long history with the Broncos, and his insights should not be taken lightly - he’s among the minority of writers who have been involved in nearly every facet of the game, and he’s worked with Denver. 

His reference to the Steelers comes near the end of the article - it points to the biggest vacancy on the Broncos, and it isn’t the head coaching position. It isn’t the GM either, nor is it the scouting setup; rather, it’s the utter lack of a clear team identity. This has been Denver's problem for years now, and it’s far past time to figure this one out. Josh McDaniels tried to instill one, but the time and effort it would require wasn’t going to be accepted (although the team is starting to see in retrospect that he did a lot of things right). In the wake of his scapegoating firing, Denver should take the opportunity to make some hard decisions. Frankly though, plenty of solutions are already in place.

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Happy New Year! Lard 1-1-11

Good Morning, Dear Readers - and Happy 2011 to you and yours! Thank you so much for being here - without your remarkable support, TJ, Emmett and I would just be three guys emailing each other about the Broncos from our moms' basements (in our underwear, of course). Granted, some visitors may view us as doing precisely that, but it is your loyalty that has given us the confidence everyday to write about our favorite team, and hopefully to improve continually. Thank you for sharing your opinions, for challenging us, and for your suggestions. IAOFM is growing faster than we had ever envisioned, and that is undoubtedly a result of your endorsements.

We resolve in 2011 to bring you the finest and most thorough Broncos analysis and commentary around, and we resolve to do so while making you think, smile and laugh in the process. Sadly, our offseason arrives tomorrow evening (although in some senses it began the day Josh McDaniels was fired), and there will be plenty to ponder: a new head coach with new schemes, a new CBA (hopefully), and of course the 2011 NFL Draft. We have several exciting ideas to help enrich the IAOFM experience, and we look forward to sharing them with you. Again - thank you for your readership, and may the new year bring you great health, happiness and fortune.

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The Broncography of Brandon Lloyd

As the 2010 season approached, speculation and dark commentary abounded regarding how Denver would clearly be unable to replace the 100+ catches and 1,000+ yards of production that they had come to expect from Brandon Marshall. How could they replace his blocking, which had always been one of Marshall's strong suit? What could Josh McDaniels possibly be thinking (a question which ignored the common rumor that Mike Shanahan had considered cutting Marshall outright, just to get him off the team)? The national sports media were overwhelmingly critical of Denver’s move to trade Marshall.

There was nothing new there - they’d been critical of nearly everything Denver had done since the day they hired McDaniels. A few writers, here and there (mostly here) noted the many options that Denver had in the receiving game, including new acquisitions DeMaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, practice-squad promotee and former track star Matthew Willis, and returning veterans Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Lloyd. Among tight ends, Marquez Branson had been injured and Richard Quinn was struggling to find his game, but Daniel Graham was still playing well. The trade of Alphonso Smith for Dan Gronkowski was yet to occur, but there was clearly no shortage of possible options for receiving. At this point, though, no one could have predicted Lloyd’s league-leading performance.

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If not Kubes → Fassel? Lard 12-31-10

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Mike Lombardi is hearing that if Gary Kubiak does not become available, then Denver's next choice for head coach may be former Broncos OC and Giants HC Jim Fassel thanks to his strong relationship with John Elway. Fassel had been an assistant coach at Stanford while Elway was there, and Fassel's 1993 arrival in Denver led the QB to a much higher level of efficiency, which Elway would carry through the rest of his career. Fassel is known as a quarterback guru, primarily for his work with Elway and for helping revitalize the career of Kerry Collins with the Giants - but most of his NFL career was spent coaching QBs who are towards the end of their primes, including Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason and Steve McNair. Still, if Tim Tebow is the future (and he sure looks the part), bringing in a head coach with plenty of experience working with QBs makes sense - especially one with the wisdom to hire John Fox as his first defensive coordinator.

Although Fassel led the Giants to SB XXXV (where they lost to Baltimore), his tenure in New Jersey was one of wild inconsistency; in seven seasons, Fassel's G-Men made three playoff appearances but also had three losing seasons and blew a 24-point third-quarter playoff lead in San Francisco in 2002. Most recently, Fassel has coached Las Vegas to two UFL titles.

Friends, have fun ringing in 2011 however you celebrate; be safe, and if you're drinking, please don't drive!

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A Second Helping of…Brian Xanders

Call off the bloodhounds.  It appears as if the search for a general manager was over before it even began. 

At least you'll have a shiny new John Elway doll to distract you.

Enter Brian Xanders...stage bereft.

According to multiple reports, Pat Bowlen, Joe Ellis, and John Elway will make it their first order of business to give Xanders full control of personnel decisions next week.  For an organization set to have one of its worst records in franchise history, this seems a little rash.

Right now the NFL is teeming with hungry and talented GM candidates, but the Broncos already have their inside man.

Within one week of ending the season?

If only the Rooney Rule applied to the search for a general manager.  It would at least force the Broncos to interview candidates for the job.

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Xanders PR Week Lard 12-30-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Apparently it's Brian Xanders PR Media Tour Week, or didn't you hear? First, Xanders goes on radio with Vic and Gary Monday and says he got his PhD in football from Dan Reeves, that he spends 90% of his time scouting, that he's more than a cap guy, and finally he issues a "no comment" on the Peyton Hillis trade. Next up, an article on that repeats those first few points verbatim and then completely disavows Xanders from the Hillis trade by stating that Josh McDaniels went rogue on that one. It's a very fluffy article, one that reads to me like a PR piece - spoon fed perhaps by the guy with 'marketing and media relations' in his job description - Joe Ellis.

It sure makes Xanders out to be a swell guy - he's hard-working, started at the very bottom, and has Charley Casserly (who has been media guy for over 4 years now and works for NFLN) and an anonymously-quoted agent vouching for him. The article not only disconnects Xanders from several of the most controversial moves the Broncos have made over the past two years, but it goes so far as to say that Xanders was either vehemently opposed, was left out of the process entirely, or had much better ideas that lost out (like drafting Clay Matthews Jr.). Heck, it even paints him as partly responsible for the Falcons' best decisions (hiring Tom Dimitroff and Mike Smith, signing Michael Turner and drafting Matt Ryan).

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