When the going gets tough, the tough simply reach into the vault.
It's a slow week, so I thought I'd revisit a subject I've touched upon several times before--namely, the subject of luck. Which NFL teams got lucky in 2010 and which teams got the shaft?
Before I jump into numbers, let me preface everything I'm about to show you with the notion that defining luck is problematic by itself. One man's missed 26-yard field goal is another man's great push from the interior of the defensive line. And as we've all seen, stripping the ball may very well be a skill, but recovering the fumble is almost entirely random chance. So we should accept going into the topic that we'll likely not agree on the premise.
This may look like I'm already backing from the data. So be it. I'm fine with that. I've become much less of a stats guy over the last two years anyway. Thus, I've lost my attachment to the outcome, you might say. Very zen of me, isn't it?
The view is also grounded in several points. First, as I've broken more tape down over the last several years, I've realized that individual stats in the NFL are somewhat limited. Let me give you an easy example.
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.
Just when you think it's safe to turn out the lights, Brian Xanders scares the hell out of you.
Like most Broncos fans, I was beginning to accept that Joe Ellis, John Elway, and Brian Xanders simply won't discuss what Xanders did or didn't do under Josh McDaniels' reign of fire. Despite the fact that Elway and Ellis are now presenting the Broncos as an open choose-your-own-adventure book--complete with Twitter requests for head-coaching candidates--I was beginning to move on with the understanding that the fans are supposed to readily accept that the search for a general manager wasn't going any farther than Arvada. I was even prepared to drink some Xanders-laced Kool-Aid. He can't possibly screw up the 2nd-overall pick, I thought.
But then came freaky Friday.
Fat Man blogger TJ “The Dude” Johnson posts The Dude’s Mail Revue on Thursdays, in which he takes your questions and gets your opinion about the state of the Denver Broncos.
You wanna roll your way into the semis?
Drop TJ a question: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(NOTE: No marmots were harmed in the writing of this revue)
TJ, I'm laughing all the way to the NFC Championship game, while the Broncos are saddled with the #2 draft pick. Thanks, Broncos fans, for giving us the franchise quarterback we needed here in Chicago. I noticed your silly post the other day on Cutler. Do you really believe that garbage? Rick Reilly is a complete hack as are you. Both of you obviously have had a problem with Jay Cutler from day one. And even if that stuff is true, who really cares, idiot? Since when does listening to John Elway mean jack? You're just jealous we're heading to the Super Bowl, while you're stuck with a guy who still can't even take a snap from center and spends more time with the bible than he does his playbook.
--CutlerBearsFan, Aurora, Colorado
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.
Still wish the Broncos had Jay Cutler after all this time?
I don't. Josh McDaniels may have done a lot of things wrong, but one thing he got right was to send Jeff George's clone packing.
Cutler could win a hundred Super Bowls and I wouldn't care; the Broncos could finish at the bottom of the AFC West for a decade, and it wouldn't bother me. As long as I'm assured Jay Cutler will never throw another pass for the Denver Broncos, I'll be content.
This recent article from Rick Reilly hasn't received too much attention from Broncos fans, and rightly so. The Broncos have been pretty busy hiring a coach. But just in case there is anyone out there who thinks the Broncos would be better off with Cutler over any of the Broncos' quarterbacks, take a look at Reilly's article.
For those that can't bear to look, I've got some highlights.
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.
Over the last several weeks of analyzing Tim Tebow's throws, I've come to believe he is already making great strides in his pre-snap reads.
This shouldn't have come as much of a surprise. After all, Urban's Meyer's offense at Florida was, in part, predicated by reading both safeties and their position relative to the line of scrimmage. When Josh McDaniels (hiss!) said that Tebow and he were at the whiteboard for hours upon meeting, he wasn't lying (no one knows if Brian Xanders was informed of the whiteboard incident). Tebow wasn't completely green at reading defenses pre-snap like many college quarterbacks are.
But unfortunately for quarterbacks, the defense rarely stands still after the snap of the ball. What first appears like an outside linebacker blitz is actually a zone coverage to the flat. What appears like middle-zone coverage is actually a delayed linebacker blitz.
Last week the Chargers did some interesting things post-snap to confuse our hero. We'll take a look at one such play today in The Playbook Abides. This will help us gauge Tebow's continued growth and development.
Yesterday, my senses failed.
I thought I was ready. I told myself I wasn't going lose my perspective just because the greatest Bronco of all time was now given the position of lower deity at Dove Valley. I was ready to watch the entire spectacle with a critical eye. I would not be fooled by the glitz and glamor of Elway's five Super Bowl appearances.
But then something happened. Elway stood up and showed enough enthusiasm to light the building on fire. He even said the magic words, "Mile High Stadium."
It was a pure mindfreak: a supernatural occurrence beyond comprehension.
I lost all perspective and objectivity. Hours later, drunk off the euphoria of hearing Elway talk about the championship days, I still couldn't bring myself to rational thinking.
I turned on the radio; I wasn't the only one.
Here's another video in our ongoing FICTIONAL video series The Really, Really Blind Side.
If you missed our first video, you can check it out here.
In this installment, Joe Ellis and Brian Xanders go back to the 80s with a little Poison.