Gut Reactions

Immediate analysis of NFL games and news

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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Gut Reaction: Preseason Week 2 - Broncos vs Bills

Marcell Dareus wanted to make the Broncos pay for not taking him with the second-overall pick in April.

Perhaps another day, big guy.

Tonight, it was Von Miller who brought the punishment.  Miller showed why he's been compared to Derrick Thomas.  His first step is supersonic.

He broke the speed of sound (and the ankles of the right tackle) several times tonight in the Broncos' 24-10 victory over the Bills.

Both Miller and the missile known as Rahim Moore made it clear that the Broncos did not miss with their first two draft picks.  They were part of a defense that, for the second straight week, kept the opposing offense from doing any noticeable damage.

This defense--even without Ty Warren--will make things interesting this season.  If they can get to third down quickly, they might even be more than interesting.

They might be finger-licking good.

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Does ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating correlate to winning?

By now everyone has weighed in on ESPN's new Total Quarterback Rating (TQR) metric.  

Most of the critiques have centered on the following perceived shortcomings of the model:

  1. The Clutch Index.  In short, can one really measure clutchness?
  2. The proprietary nature of the model.  In short, only ESPN knows what goes into the recipe.
  3. The dividing of credit.  In short, we rely on ESPN's video reviewers to tell us how much credit a quarterback contributed to each play.

Since I waited two fulls weeks to react, I didn't want to beat the same drums.  Better stats people than I had already contributed to these discussions. 

Instead, I decided to take a different angle altogether.  I simply decided to look and see if TQR correlated to winning.

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Gut Reaction: Preseason opener - Broncos @ Cowboys

Before you can walk, you'll need to crawl.

Or you can just watch Ryan Clady bury some dude in the turf.

For all of the talk about Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, and even Brady Quinn, the real story of the Broncos' offseason should have been the running game.

The Broncos--for the meat of the game tonight--controlled the line of scrimmage from both sides.  Their third-string defense ultimately gave up the game 24-23, but by that time, the verdict on the Broncos' toughness had already been rendered.

This year, the Broncos will run.  This year, the Broncos will stop the run.

While one half of a preseason game does not a season make, it appears as if the additions of John Fox and Dennis Allen are going to bring respectability back to the ground game in Denver.

That, and a lot of versatile defensive linemen.

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Broncos sign Ty Warren

Adam Schefter is reporting that the Broncos have signed longtime Patriots Defensive Lineman Ty Warren to a 2-year, $10 million deal with $2.5 million guaranteed.  I discussed the prospect of having eight quality NFL D-Linemen, and now it seems likely that the Broncos have nine.  Warren has primarily been a DE for the Patriots, but he grew up as a DT for the Texas A&M Aggies, and I expect that he’ll mostly play inside for the Broncos.

Warren is 6-foot-5 and weighs 300 pounds.  He missed the entire 2010 season with a hip injury that he suffered in training camp, and he was released last week when he failed the Patriots’ demanding physical.  Evidently, the Broncos have a less rigorous one.

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