Gut Reactions

Immediate analysis of NFL games and news

Gut Reaction: Week 7 - Broncos at Dolphins

Confirmation bias isn't just a river in Egypt.

This week, every Broncos fan will have a legitimate claim to their view.

Does Tim Tebow have what it takes to be the Broncos starting quarterback?

The score says yes.  So do the thousands of Tebowites who skipped church this morning to witness Tebow's 4th-quarter comeback.

But the game plan says no.  John Fox and Mike McCoy called this game like they couldn't trust their quarterback--or their team.  Without an onside kick recovery, an OT turnover, some amazing catches by Demaryius Thomas and Daniel Fells, and a Dolphins team that ran a prevent defense that only prevented them from winning, this game is a loss to a brutally bad team.

The Broncos had fourteen days to create a game plan for the Miami Dolphins.  It was clearly thirteen days too many.  They could have done better by simply letting Tebow use his old Florida playbook and flying in Urban Meyer.  At least they would have converted a 3rd down before the fourth quarter.

This game did nothing to resolve the quarterback issue for the Broncos, but at least it was exciting in the end.  That's more than the Broncos have had in a long time.

(Update & Correction:  The coverage noted in the last two drives was clearly NOT prevent, quarter coverage, it was nickel, deep-zone coverage)

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Gut Reaction: Week 5 - Broncos vs Chargers

After five games, I've seen enough.  The Kyle Orton era is over in Denver.

Orton may very well play more games this year as the starting quaterback.  Today, though, things broke bad--really bad.

Today's NFL is about making plays, whether they are scripted or not.  The Broncos simply don't have enough time build the perfect offensive line around Orton so he can become the next Troy Aikman.  They've barely got enough draft picks to fix the defense.

I've said this before: In a vacuum, Kyle Orton is the perfect quarterback.  If he has time to sit in the pocket for four or five seconds, he'll rape and pillage.  Unfortunately, that's not the game of football.  You can't call max protection on each and every play.

The game is messy.  Half of the plays the offensive coordinator calls are going to bust.  In short, the vacuum Kyle Orton needs doesn't exist.  It never will.

It's got nothing to do with Tim Tebow.  Tebow may or may not be the answer.  This is Kyle Orton evaluated against Kyle Orton.

He might be the best quarterback on the roster.  But he's not the quarterback 11 games from now.  He's probably not the quarterback in two weeks.

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Gut Reaction - Al Davis is gone

My biggest punch line is gone.

Goodbye, Al Davis, we're going to miss you.

Davis died today at the age of 82 at his home, presumably with his middle finger still pointed at the NFL and at Roger Goodell.

If you were hoping for a rosebud moment, keep hoping.  Davis wouldn't give Goodell the pleasure.

That's exactly why Davis was good for the game, of course.  Unlike today's NFL, replete with waves upon waves of lawyers, and a commissioner whose plastic emotions--whether they're reserved for concussions or for passionate fans--are as transparent as bottled water, Davis was a football guy first.

He wore his emotions on his jumpsuit.

Davis used lawyers, but only because he knew that punching Goodell in the face would result in wounds that would heal.

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Gut Reaction: Week 4 - Broncos at Packers

He pulls a knife.  You pull a gun.

Unless all you've got are plastic spoons.

He sends one of yours to the hospital.  You send one of his to the morgue.

Unless all you can do is help them to the end zone.

The Denver Broncos tried to play with the big boys of the NFL today.  What they got was the Packers' way.

Today's loss shows just how far the Broncos have to go before they solve any conflict through violence, coverage and tackling.

The final score matters little at this point.  All I can remember is the image of Aaron Rodgers showboating in the endzone with his title-belt celebration.

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Gut Reaction: Week 3 - Broncos at Titans

Today was classic John Fox football.

Play tough defense. Shorten the game.

Don't give up huge plays.  Manage field position.  

It's a recipe that will keep you in the game until the fourth quarter.  What it won't do, however, is ensure a victory.

To get the win, you have to make the big play when it's needed.

Tennessee made the big play.  The Broncos' big play was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

You may not like John Fox's cooking.  It may not be tasty.  It might mean that the game will be in question until the final two drives each week.

Get used to it--oh, eat your veggies, too.  John Fox wouldn't have it any other way.

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Gut Reaction: Week 2 - Broncos vs Bengals

Pulled groins to the left of us, twisted ankles to the right, and here we are stuck in the middle with who?

Yeah, that was Tim Tebow you saw split wide today.

Who says John Fox isn't creative on offense?

A plague of locusts injuries forced the Broncos into the unconventional today.   So did two turnovers and some sloppy penalties.  In the end, they survived, 24-22.

Kyle Orton said it was one of the best wins of his career.

Given that one more injury at tight end would have forced Russ Hochstein into the role, Orton is probably right.

Let's take the win and get out of here, Broncos fans.  I can't stand the thought of Hochstein trying to beat a linebacker up the seam.

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Gut Reaction: Neither Tebow nor Orton

Last week, I mentioned John Elway's true intentions--get a quarterback in 2012.

Woody Paige confirmed this yesterday with Sandy Clough, based on hours of conversations with Elway and John Fox--namely, that the Broncos like neither Kyle Orton nor Tim Tebow (you can get the meat of this at the 13-minute mark).  Brady Quinn isn't even in the equation.

I've been asked how I can make such a claim.  Rather than repeat myself endlessly, I'll let Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power say it brutally and wonderfully:

Judge people by the results of their actions and maneuvers, not their words. Machiavelli calls this “the effective truth,” and it is his most brilliant concept, in my opinion. It works like this: people will say almost anything to justify their actions, to give them a moral or sanctimonious veneer. The only thing that is clear, the only way we can judge people and cut away all of this crap is by looking at their actions, the results of their actions. That is their effective truth.

This isn't about liking Tebow or liking Orton.  If you want to debate who's better and who should start, feel free, but it's not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about accepting John Elway's behavior for what it is, and not for what we hope it to be.  It's a simple matter of paying attention to the organization's actions rather than their soundbites.

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Gut Reaction: Week 1 - Broncos vs Raiders

Let me start with a question.

Did you think when the Broncos fell behind by a score of 23-13 early in the 4th quarter that Kyle Orton was going to lead them back?

Nah, me neither.

That's your 2011 Denver Broncos.  They are a team in limbo--stuck between Orton and a guy the Broncos claim is sharing 2nd-string status with Brady Quinn (when they're not leaking how bad his mechanics are).   On the horizon is the secret that John Elway keeps to himself--he's taking a quarterback with his first pick next year. 

Tonight did nothing to change that.  Those boos you heard weren't just Tebow cheers in disguise.  They are the outcome of a fan base that knows the truth.

The truth is this: the Broncos' defense played well enough for them to win tonight. They'll continue to play well enough to win.

Can the Broncos' offense stay out of their way?

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Gut Reaction: Preseason Week 4 - Broncos @ Cardinals

"That's about as bad as it gets," said John Fox at halftime.

He was describing the Broncos' play, but he could have been talking about the team's depth.

Here's something you can take to the bank--the Broncos will scour the waiver wire like crayfish.

Will they look for an offensive lineman, a defensive back, or a defensive lineman?

They'll probably grab one of each, and top it off with a running back for good measure.

The Broncos' second- and third-string units were as exciting as a Peter King fashion statement in their loss to the Cardinals tonight.

They will certainly test the theory that depth matters in today's NFL.

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Gut Reaction: Preseason Week 3 - Broncos vs Seahawks

The Denver defense decided to travel back in time tonight.

Their destination?  The year 2005.  You remember that year, don't you?  It was the year the Broncos didn't allow a single yard on defense--or so it seemed.

The Broncos' first-team defense allowed the Seahawks only 39 yards in the first half tonight in their 23-20 victory.  By the end of the 3rd quarter, that total had hardly increased.

Was that Al Wilson or Joe Mays out there tonight?

Okay, I won't get too carried away.  The Broncos were playing the Seattle Seahawks; they were facing a young offensive line.  It's the preseason.

Things won't always be this way.  Will they?

Tonight, I'll dream dreams of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.  There will be a stopwatch.  It will start at 00:00.  Three seconds later, Miller and Dumervil enter the picture.

The stopwatch explodes.

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