Following the burden of four losses, and continuing through the lighter job of a Thanksgiving turkey-down being visited on the NY Giants, I've been busy in the film room. The Broncos had gone through a hard stretch of the season and I wanted to know why: What changed? What made them goats after weeks of success? The game film was the only place to find out.
"A man's own observation, what he finds good of and what he finds hurt of, is the best physic to preserve health." - Sir Francis Bacon
It isn't news that football is a rough, hard-hitting sport. Our modern combination of the stratagems of chess and the violence of unarmed territorial warfare has a bare-knuckle history, in which simply being willing to use the forward pass was once considered a sign of weakness; in which playing hurt was and is a mark of excellence rather than a failing and which sometimes pits the health of the players against the financial and strategic considerations of the teams and the league itself. Football is still constantly finding and reinventing itself, just as it has over the past 100 years. One thing that has changed over those scores of years is the perspective of players and fans alike: We are discovering that while we will cheer on anything that brings victory a step closer, fans and the league increasingly also want the best for the health of the players. It's leading to a sea-change in the way that we observe and handle the issues of injury in the NFL.
Friday, ten days ago, an upstart proved that they are serious about taking down a champion. The Denver Nuggets invited the LA Lakers into the Can and requested that they bring their lunch. They promptly took their lunch, ate it in front of them and gave back the bag, filled with wrappings and trash. The final score was 105-79 and it wasn't even that close. It was the kind of statement that puts a conference on notice - we're here, we're serious, and the road to the Finals is going to run through the Rockies. Deal with it.
Things change. In the case of the Broncos, the changes have come fast and have shaken people up. From the moment that Pat Bowlen announced that he'd fired Mike Shanahan, most of our preconceptions about this team have been thrown into the fire. What remains is different from anything we expected about this offseason.
Topping the list has been the situation that resulted in the Cutler trade. Chris Simms was brought in as a highly-paid backup and will now compete for a starting job. Kyle Orton was a rumor and a name that crossed some website - now he's a household name in Denver, and fans debate his background and skill-set with fervor. And there is still the specter of Jay Cutler and what he was able, and not able, to accomplish last season.
I have always believed in magic.
From the promise of sunrise to the infinite painted beauty of sunset, our world is filled with magic. A child's smile, the scents in the air after a soft rain, a lover's touch, the mountains' beauty and an infinite number of other phenomena can be understandably labeled as 'magical'. Magic plays with us in our daily lives, often unseen, never far from the moment.
Another week in the NFL, and the Broncos didn't win this time, either. The earth remains in orbit, and the stock market didn't crash (again). Once again, some of the fan base is breaking its ankles in their haste to jump back off the bandwagon. Many of them will climb over people's heads to jump back on next week, too. It's the way this season is going.
One nice thing about getting older is getting a longer perspective on things. Patience, like age, can be a useful thing. You tend to lose the idea that the immediate is as daunting as emotions want to paint. You can, if you're lucky, learn that experiencing more wins than losses is actually enjoyable. You lose some of the urge to demand constant perfection of the world. You realize that your will never manifest that yourself, and you recognize that trying to require it of those around you makes you - and them - miserable. It's a rigged game.
The other day, I was ambling about in some stat sites. An article went up about Orton and I decided to gather some stats and some research together - the better informed the argument, the more cogent it can become. I also recognized that I would need a bit of help putting together all the stats, since I wanted to find the bad as well as the good. I gave a yell to TJ 'lebowskibronco' Johnson, who was kind enough to pitch in on this article. It's from both of us.
I appreciate the recent post by Broncos Cheer regarding Kyle Orton. I loved the following discussions, and many posters made excellent points on both sides of the issue. Several folks were arguing against the long-term position of Kyle Orton as the QB of the Broncos, and that's a legitimate concern. I'm very upfront about my disagreement with that position, despite my enjoyment of the arguments on both sides. However - in my own mind, this issue can be aided by being subjected to a small amount of logic, a little history and the value of observing progressions. Kyle Orton's career is an obvious progression that will shed a lot of light on what his future with the Broncos will be.
I've been hearing a lot about Terrence Cody of late. I hadn't really had a chance to make any kind of decision on how I feel about the player and with the onset of a classic SEC LSU/Alabama contest, I thought that this kind of high-stakes matchup would be a perfect chance to find out if this is a player that I'd like the Broncos to consider or not. The week before, I spent some time wandering though the draft sites and the news media to get a little background. These are the things I found.
I found myself looking around the 'Net at stats and articles, as I often do. The outcome was an increased emphasis on examining our defense (since the offense was already a big part of Part II) and a longer look at the Baltimore Ravens. Their situation brought out a chance to talk about the history of the passing game in the NFL as well as the inevitable upcoming game prediction, so settle in and let's take a walk through the last of the October BT&M.
One of the great stories so far this year is the synergy between Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton. It doesn't take a football genius to see that they are nearly perfect for each other. As always, McDaniels likes to keep things understated. There are no stars in his locker room. When he coached Tom Brady, he would regularly make a point of calling him out in from of the team, as did Bill Belichick. the message was simple - no one is above the rest of the team. Orton is exactly the guy to take that approach with - he is one of the rare players who wants to know where his game is weak, no matter the wins.