Happy Fat Man Friday, friends. On Sunday, the Broncos will plays the Chargers for the second time this season. What’s changed since October 9th? Well, on the surface, the answer is everything. Tim Tebow took over the Broncos offense in the second half of that game, with his team trailing 23-10 and looking sluggish. Tebow then rallied the team to fall just short of winning at 29-24, as a pass into the end zone on the game’s final play was nearly caught by Matt Willis in the typical Hail Mary crowd. On that day, the Chargers improved to 4-1, and the Broncos fell to 1-4.
Since then, the Broncos are 4-1 on the strength of an improved defense and running game, as well as some timely plays by Tebow. The Chargers are 0-5 in that same period and have gotten really banged up in the process. I can’t see any way that their season isn’t over, in terms of playoff meaning, at this point.
Happy Victory Tuesday, friends. Today, you’re going to get a Serving of thoughts on the Chiefs game, and something to Digest about the Jets, since that game is being played on Thursday night. Get excited, because it’s a two-fer Tuesday. Ready… BEGIN!!
1. Sunday’s win came in an unusual way, but you should never apologize for a victory. One of the Denver reporters got a little smart-assed with John Fox, and asked if he’d ever coached a game like that before. Fox kind of smirked, and said that yes, he had. It turned out that he won that one too. Jake Delhomme was out, and they pounded the hell out of the Falcons that day and played good defense.
For the last two weeks, the Broncos have gotten in touch with their physical side on offense, and a creative and effective running game has led to back-to-back road AFC West victories against both of the Broncos’ most hated rivals. For a Denver Broncos fan, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Somehow, though, being a Broncos fan has gotten to be more complicated than that. Somehow, everything came to revolve around the Quarterback, and sides have been chosen; everybody seems to have a bias one way or another, and the Broncos and Tim Tebow keep confirming it, whatever it is. For a while this was amusing, but it’s really kind of tiresome to me at this point.
A wise man once said, "Certain things have come to light, man."
He could have been talking about defending the zone read.
As I scouted the Kansas City Chiefs this week, I could have focused on the Chiefs' running game or Matt Cassel's limited ability to stretch the field. Instead, it made more sense to continue to make fun of the Oakland Raiders. That's because the Raiders' stupidity is as instructive as any scouting report. This is especially true when considering the zone read. Let's face it. The Chiefs are going to see a ton of it tomorrow.
The Broncos--if we believe Jeff Legwold--ran some version of the zone read 17 times against the Raiders. Football coaches are creatures of habit: they go with what works. So unless the Broncos suddenly decide they want to unleash Tim Tebow's pocket awareness, it's likely they are going to pull the same stunts they did against the Raiders.
Will it work against the Chiefs? Well, dude, we just don't know.
Until we find out, though, let's take a quick look at how they might defend it.
Happy Friday, friends. Today we Digest the Kansas City Chiefs, who’ve had a really weird season. They lost key players in Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki and Jamaal Charles early on, and they lost their first three games huge, being outscored by a total of 109-27 in those games. They then went on to win four in a row, beating Minnesota and San Diego at home, and Indianapolis and Oakland on the road. Just when it seemed that they’d figured out how to play good undermanned football, they got crushed 31-3 at home by the Dolphins last Sunday. As TJ would say in Gut Reactions, who the heck knows?
Today, we’re going to try to figure out what the Chiefs really are, and what we can expect to see on Sunday afternoon. Really, what do you call a team that’s been blown out three times, blown out the first-place Raiders once (when they caught them on a Kyle Boller/rusty Carson Palmer day), and gone 3-1 in games decided by less than five points? That’s what we’re going to try to figure out today.
When the Broncos played the Raiders in Week 1, the Raiders gashed the Broncos for 190 rushing yards.
There were a lot of flaws in the Broncos' defense. The big plays, however, had a consistent theme.
Joe Mays couldn't make a play.
The Raiders' strategy was simple enough--stretch the edges of the defense and make Joe Mays play to his weakness.
Mays, as we all know, is a thumper. Facing him heads up inside the hole is a losing proposition for anyone.
The Raiders haven't been into losing for awhile. So they simply made Mays go side to side.
Let's take a look at a few examples.
Happy Friday, friends. Today, since the Broncos have already played the Raiders this season, we’re going to leverage the article I wrote before that game, and I’ll focus on where things have changed between then and now. Then, we’ll talk about how the Broncos can work toward a better outcome this time than the 23-20 opening night loss they took at home.
We all hate the Raiders, and they hate us too, but it seems that they’ve built the sort of team that has been giving the Broncos trouble over the last couple seasons. They’re big, physical and fast, and those are three good things to be as a football team. Luckily, they're still the Raiders, and they still make dumb trades, so we have that going for us.
Tomorrow's game features two young quarterbacks who still have a lot to prove.
For Matt Stafford, it's if he can stay healthy. For Tim Tebow, it's if he can play quarterback at all. A lot has been said about Tebow's mechanics, decision-making abilities, and abilities in the pocket. Most of it comes in the form of generalities. This includes heaping portions of the words "intangibles" and "pocket awareness."
The two quarterbacks are separated by about 600 throws in the NFL. That's the rough equivalent a full season. As I scouted the Lions for tomorrow, what kept coming up over and over again was just how Matthew Stafford had improved in his presnap reads, getting the ball out on his drops quickly, and trusting his instincts.
If Stafford is what Tebow want to aspire to, then what exactly does he need to do to improve?
Let's remove the hype and the emotion; let's remove the stats; let's simply see.
Perhaps then we can find agreement.
Happy Friday, friends. I watched some Lions-Falcons on Thursday evening, and I think this game looks a little better for the Broncos than I thought it did a few weeks ago. Teams are figuring out how to play the Lions, and there were a lot of lessons to be taken away from this game.
This may be shorter than a usual Digesting piece, just because the Lions aren’t doing anything tremendously complicated. They’re trying to execute, and lately, they haven’t been getting that done very effectively. There are reasons for that, which we’ll now explore:
Happy Friday, friends. I hope you're hungry, because today we're going to munch on some Dolphins that got caught in the nets. The Broncos travel south to sunny Miami, where they've never won a regular season game. Since the Dolphins seem hell-bent on winning the Suck for Luck sweepstakes, it's looking like the Broncos will have a solid chance to end that streak. Can you hear the zealots? Tebow is the greatest ever! He did something that no Broncos QB has ever done!
Personally, I'd be happy with continuous improvement from Tebow, and effective overall play. If the Broncos get that, and if the defense plays like it did in the second half vs. San Diego, I feel pretty good about their chances to improve to 2-4. If not, there's always next week. Anyway, let's get on with the show. As En Vogue once said, Now it's time for a breakdown.
Game Watched: Dolphins at NY Jets (Week 6)
Despite being well bred, well read, conversant in all manner of topics in multiple languages, and possessing an uncanny and impeccable taste for the finer luxuries in this world, I admit--during moments of weakness--a passing yet substantive fancy for tramping and a penchant for lap-dance discussions; after all, there exist, as a matter of due course, those occasions upon which nary a second should pass without thrusting erect (oh yeah) and headstrong into those crevices of the human mind that have proven baser and more carnal.
In short, it's fun to argue. I find great comfort in it. If one can't anonymously jump on the internet and falsely lord over others with jargon, statistics, and outright buffoonery, where can one truly suck the marrow out of life? Nowhere, that's where. One's girlfriend or wife (or special lady friend) simple won't stand for it. So on a Saturday like this, there are two options: 1) rake the lawn; 2) argue about Tim Tebow.
I'm picking the latter, thank you.