Tales from the SunnySide: Pats vs. Bolts

It’s sunny down here on the waterfront today. People are skipping work and heading for the surf, and those who do show up at theirjobs are spending their lunches and breaks enjoying an unseasonable warmth and perfect weather. That’s one thing about Sandy Eggo; the weather is as perfect as a bear could want. The trench coat and fedora make for second looks by the local constabulary, but there’s no a law against being a bear, and no reason not to be here looking at the SunnySide. But there’s a stink coming off the waterfront that isn’t fish and it isn’t rotting seaweed. It’s the smell of a season that was cracked open too early and is starting to fester.

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Tales from the SunnySide: Requiem

They’ve been here before.

A year ago, this same Chargers team was 2-3. They found a way to get fired up that time; they won their final 8 and they became the talk of the league. A Super Bowl was next on their horizon. Their lineup was too deep, too powerful to stand against. No one could challenge them in the division; certainly not the ‘rebuilding’ Broncos. Their place in the playoffs was marked and reserved. This would be their year. And everyone knew it. Everyone said so. The town rang with it like an echoing gong.

I walked around the town today and listened to the people, and there was a new note in their voices. The tone of resignation, of a sadness that spoke to me of years past; promises unfulfilled and power unmanifested. The people aren’t talking about Super Bowls anymore. They’re talking about failure.

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After a day of reflection…

Here are some thoughts, about yesterday's game, and the season at the 5 game mark.

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The 30 front

I thought the use of the 30 front last week was garbage, and the Broncos got away from it quickly.  Today, however, it worked very well, and they used it a lot.  On the one hand the Broncos have the wrong kind of personnel for a 3-4 look.  The linebackers and Elvis Dumervil are smaller than you'd like for it, and Dewayne Robertson is not really a NT, which is why we got him for a bag of footballs from the Jets.  On the other hand, it's undoubtedly easier to find 4 good LBs on the Broncos than it is to find 4 good D-Linemen.

For one thing, Dumervil seems to be back.  He dominated Jeremy Trueblood today.  The LBs and Safeties also tackled much better today.  The soundness of the defense and the patience of the offense combined to win today.  I'm very pleased with what I saw.

Originally posted at MHR

Tales from the SunnySide: Chargers vs Miami

It was raining on the waterfront here this morning. A chill autumn wind blew in the city of the Sandy Ego – it blew all the way from the coast of Miami. By halftime, it was blowing the visiting Bolts clean off the field.

The Chargers squad was tussling with the Fighting Fish on a rainy Florida afternoon, and the Fish won easily. It looked at times as if Parcells was pulling a New England on Norv Turner’s team – he must have been reading the San Diego playbook to be anticipating their tendencies on both offense and defense so well.

On defense, the way for a shorter player to guard a 6’6 WR was shown in clinic form as Goodman blanketed Chambers; perfect timing and great leaping ability made up for a vertical challenge. On the other side, the Miami O line moved the Chargers off the point of attack at will, and the SD LB and secondary were made responsible for ball carriers over and again.

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Tales from the SunnySide: Spencer Larsen

 "Called the "heart and soul" of the Arizona defensive unit, opposing offensive coordinators feared the dominant and versatile defender. " NFL.com

Spencer Larsen is a unique man and a unique player. As the Broncos look to solve their problems on defense, many of the powerful players in their fledgling youth movement are receiving substantial observation. Looking at Spencer Larsen is easier than it is with most – you only have to look for the ball when the Broncos are punting or kicking off.

In an age when athletes in the NFL are barely old enough to drink alcohol, Spencer Larsen is beginning his professional football career at the creaky age of 24. Born March 4 1984 in Mesa AZ, Larsen is a devout Mormon who took two years off of college to perform his mandatory and much loved mission for his church. In an age of bling and entourages, Larsen sees life through a very different lens. He and his wife Ann, who he met on his mission, simply put his signing bonus in the bank when it arrived. Shrugging, Larsen said, "We’ve never needed that much money." Money isn’t what’s important to this powerful young middle linebacker. Family, church and dedication are. He and Ann have a young son, Tyton, who is named after the Denzel Washington movie "Remember the Titans. They also have a young child on the way.

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Clady Earns Recognition

This is definitely a SunnySide kind of article – Doug Farrar analyzes Clady’s work on the first TD drive against the Saints. The full article also deals with the Wildcat formations that the Miami Dolphins employed against the Pats – I recommend it highly. Here is the Clady excerpt:

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Things My Eyes Saw and My Brain Thought: Week 3

As always, this is based 100% on games I watched....

1. Javon Walker looks finished.  He got no separation all game long.  Another former Bronco, Ashley Lelie, appears to be Oakland's best WR on a play-to-play basis.

2.  JaMarcus Russell has serious accuracy issues at this point.  I didn't see anything in his mechanics which led me to believe that there was a problem, but he's missing his targets a lot.  Interestingly, the training wheels are being taken off a little bit for him lately, and it remains to be seen how he handles that going forward.

3.  Jason Peters is supposed to be a big star at LT for Buffalo, but I don't see it this season.  He's been getting beat by pass rushers, and he had a particularly long day matched up against Derrick Burgess.

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Broncos statistical analysis

Lots of good threads and posts are out there, and I won’t re-hash what’s been said. We are 3-0, and we have KC up next, so 4-0 should be well within reach.

I saw some stats that should soothe a few souls out there and wanted to pass them on. The play of our linebackers in the game was pretty fair – I saw Boss out of position a few times, but Shockley is a tough guy to defend. Boss’s 5 tackles and 4 assists were third on the team – DJ Williams led all with a rousing 14 tackles and 2 assists, while Nate Webster came in 2nd with 7 tackles and 5 assists as well as a rumbling, stumbling great TD run. Those three led the team.

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Cutler vs Elway

This is something I’ve been thinking on for a while, and I wanted to share it with the folks at MHR and ask their opinion. There is a lot of discussion right now, including another thread that started with Cutler being in the current list of the top 5 QBs, something I consider well deserved. What we're seeing from this very young man at the beginning of his third year is truly extraordinary.

As I mentioned once before, he has compiled a 90.0 passer rating while completing 62.7% of his passes with 31 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in 22 starts. Those numbers put him in the same class with perennial Pro Bowlers Carson Palmer and Donovan McNabb during the early stages of their respective careers. His season 1 and 2 stats are up there with Peyton, Brady, Marino and, yes, Elway.

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