Did Jay Cutler quit on his team today in Chicago?
As much as I hate Cutler, I want to say yes. But the truth is, we really don't know. Cutler had the same poor mechanics when he came out injured during the third quarter as he had on the first series. So it's hard to tell from his play.
The early story coming out of Chicago is that Cutler has torn ligaments in his knee; it was Lovie Smith's decision to keep him out of the game.
You'd think that might stop the fans dead in their tracks and give them some measured perspective.
For the most part, it has (outside of some Bears fans burning Cutler's jerseys). One can't say the same for current and former NFL players, though.
Cutler isn't just being criticized by players, he's being crucified.
Quick, what do the remaining playoff teams have in common?
Yes, all of them could double up the Broncos. But I was thinking about something else.
All four teams are ranked in the top ten in both takeaways and defensive 3rd-down efficiency.
What's the lesson?
Don't pee on an electric (de)fence, that's what.
Oh, and the Broncos need an electric fence real bad.
Now, on to The Positives, the Negatives, and the Who The Heck Knows from this weekend.
Although the Broncos did not play this weekend, I have to tell you - I didn't miss them one bit.
It was time to put this season out to pasture. Did we really need to see another backyard Slip 'n Slide party from the defense?
Sure, I could have used a few more game tapes on Tim Tebow. And I would have liked to have watched Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas work themselves into more consistent wide receivers. I would even have enjoyed listening to Brian Xanders tell us that he would have drafted Arian Foster instead of Knowshon Moreno if not for Josh McDaniels' Napoleonic tendencies.
But, of course, it's time to move on. So let's get to some smaller Gut Reactions from this weekend. I'll do my McDaniels' best to keep everything Broncos related. What does that mean? I guess it means I won't (supposedly!) tell Brian Xanders.
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.
And God said, "Let there be two halves."
How could the Broncos look so bad in the 1st half and so good in the 2nd?
They let their quarterback play one on TV.
The first half was one of screens (slip, bubble, running back, silver?). The Broncos' coaching staff either didn't trust their young quarterback or they simply wanted to continue to take his development as slowly as possible. Did they realize they were facing the league's worst defense in the Houston Texans?
The 17-0 deficit was actually a blessing in disguise. It forced the Broncos' coaches to finally unleash the Tebow. In the 2nd half, they had no other choice.
Tim Tebow may be a lot of things (young, inexperienced, and still under development), but there's one thing he's not--boring. He gave the Broncos energy today. Energy to burn.
Bill Walsh, the original gangsta of QB evaluation, once wrote:
"He [the quarterback] must be courageous and intensely competitive. He will be the one on the field who is running the team. His teammates must believe in him or it may not matter how much physical ability he has. If he is courageous and intensely competitive, then other players will know and respect that. This will be a foundation for becoming a leader."
Today, Tim Tebow proved he's a leader. He made plays; he was intensely competitive; he was courageous as hell. I think most would agree that the foundation that Walsh spoke of is there in the Broncos' first-round draft pick.
But we ought not confuse intensity with the passing tree.
Without Josh McDaniels around, we've been told that Dove Valley was like an episode of Leave it to Beaver this week.
How appropriate then, that their opponent brought out an offense from the 1960s.
With only a Skelton crew, the Cardinals pared their playbook down so far, even Eddie Haskell could have called signals. The Broncos should have given the Cardinals the business today.
Instead, the Broncos were the ones on the business end of yet another hunka junk. Four turnovers in the first half? Six for the game? Gee, Broncos fans, that's swell.
Ellis, I think you were a little hard on the
Beav Josh on Monday. You can spin "integrity" and "passion" all you want, but that narrative has already gone stale.
Forgive me if I'm not blown away by Joe Ellis' press conference today.
Although I understood the words that were coming out of his mouth, I ended up missing most of the meaning.
Let me see if I can get this straight. Ellis admitted that the organization burdened Josh McDaniels with too much responsibility; he admitted that the organization had not intended to give McDaniels so much power, but that it somehow had "evolved" to that point; he admitted that McDaniels would end up being an excellent and successful head coach in the league; he admitted that McDaniels was in the top of the league in game-planning; he admitted that the organization needed to do more to help McDaniels with all the responsibilities that came with being a head coach.
So the best course of action was to send the guy packing.
I guess Ellis was correct when he said, "We don't have a plan for moving forward."
Trapped in Kansas City.
Surrounded by evil.
Low on gas.
On a day in which the Broncos could have used his arm, Kyle Orton had nothing in the tank.
Arrowhead Stadium in December can do that do a guy.
Wrecks, sighs, and videotape.
The wreck: losing at home to a team who is in rebuilding mode.
The sighs: the Broncos' continued futility to convert on 3rd downs, lack of quarterback pressure, inability to tackle, and turnovers (on both sides).
The videotape: The Rams' offense seemed to confuse the Broncos after their first drive with their normal misdirection and bootlegs; their receivers and tight ends had more space than Buzz Lightyear. Their defense, as Brian Griese pointed out from the radio booth, confused the Broncos all game, blitzing eight defenders on one play, only to drop eight defenders in coverage the next.
Quick, someone call Steve Scarnecchia and get him back on the payroll (and rolling footage). The Broncos could have used six more minutes of film today.
Despite a late surge, some luck, and some conservative play calling by the Rams, the Broncos' season took another shot to the chin today.