Mark it Zero

Mindfreak: Jake Locker on the Grassy Knoll

Something happened to Jake Locker on his way to becoming the next John Elway.

His senior season.

Does John Elway care?

At this time last year, Locker was both victim and beneficiary of the hype machine (the same machine that now has its sights set on Andrew Luck).  Had Locker declared for the NFL draft as a junior, it's very possible that he, not Sam Bradford, would be the QB for the St. Louis Rams.   

Consider what Mel Kiper Jr. said about Locker last April:

If you had to ask me right now who is going to be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, I would say it's etched in stone it's going to be Jake Locker. You can mark that down. Jake Locker, if he's not the No. 1 pick, it's an upset.

That's certainly high praise from the high priest of draft geeks (otherwise known as guys I could shove into a locker with one arm)

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Mindfreak: Brian Xanders has a plan (psychologically speaking)

If Brian Xanders has his way, the Denver Broncos are going to draft Nick Fairley.

How do I know this?  I'm speculating of course, but after watching all of his interviews five times over this week in an effort to build our wildly popular Brian Xanders Random Quote Generator, new information has come to light, man.

First, let me point out the obvious--the Broncos would like to trade out of the #2 spot.  If someone tries to claim that as an original thought or breaking news, flog them.  This fact has been widely known for weeks.  Xanders himself has said on numerous occasions that his general strategy (which is sound) is to trade down and accumulate picks.  So you won't find me claiming that mantle.

What I will claim is that Xanders is not your typical General Manager.  As I suggested  yesterday, the guy simply has a hard time with public speaking.  Moreover, he tends to get slightly animated and nervous, which causes him to search for what he likely perceives are high-quality football buzzwords.  Take this quote for example, which is included in the Random Quote Generator:

"We researched their personal character and their football character…we never want the character grade to bleed into the football grade."

Xanders' interviews are ripe with this sort of material.  What Xanders wanted to say here in simple terms is that the Broncos initially treat a draft prospect's play on the football field seperately from their potential off-field character issues.  In his search for fooball speak, the words fall short.

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Mindfreak: The Brian Xanders Random Quote Generator

Brian Xanders doesn't exactly fit the mold of what we expect from a general manager: He's got a double chin.  His clothes don't fit.  He has a tendency to rush his sentences, omit words, state facts as if they were original thoughts, and mix verb tenses.  Hell, the guy used to clean pools.

In short, he's everything Joe Ellis isn't.  It's for this reason, and the way he handled the recent re-signing of Champ Bailey, that the X-Man is starting to grow on me.

So I went back and spent an exceedingly long time reading and listening to interviews Xanders has given since he was named General Manger of the Denver Broncos for real.   At first, I mistook his responses for gobbledygook.  My mind went numb; my senses failed.  Soon, I was unable to determine the questions from the answers.  I fell into a Xanders-induced stupor.

When I came to, however, I realized that inside all of this undeciphered madness, Xanders had a plan.  After so many interviews, he's let a few things slip.  

Later this week, I'll tell you what I think that plan is.  Today, however, I wanted to have a little more fun at the expense of Xanders before I begin singing his praises.

So I gathered together a few dozen of the best quotes Xanders has given.  I plugged them into a random quote generator.  I think you'll enjoy....

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The Dude’s Mail Revue: Mocks, quarterbacks and kickoffs

Dude's Mail Revue 400x145Fat Man writer 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 tie the room together?  Or say what you'd like about the tenets of national socialism?

Drop TJ a question: tjthedudejohnson@gmail.com.

(NOTE: Marmots were harmed in the writing of this Revue)

TJ, last week I read your piece on the lockout in which you very much sided with the players.  I see your points about the players having very short careers and that most of them aren't millionaires.  I even get that most of them are going to have health problems.  I'm even willing to cede that the owners are old, rich white guys who throw temper tantrums when they don't get their way.  But aren't you missing the whole point here?  Your socialist rant didn't address the fundamental issue of the negotiation itself. 

--Ayne Rowdy Rand, Boulder, Colorado

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The Playbook Abides: Living here in Allentown; Disguised overload blitz

This week we'll continue to examine some of the concepts that new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen will bring to the Broncos.   Last week we looked at the overload blitz.

While Dennis Allen was in New Orleans, the Saints blitzed more than any team in the league on passing downs (52%).  However, blitzing that often can become problematic; one can't always line up eight defenders at the line of scrimmage and yell, "CHARGE!".  Eventually, the offense will adjust with screens and quick passes.

That's why the football gods created deception.  Deception not only separates us from animals (and Raiders fans), but it separates advanced defenses from more primitive ones.

Make no mistake about it--Denver's defense in 2010 wasn't just primitive, it was downright amphibian.  Disguise wasn't something they did well; when the Broncos got pressure, it was often due to coverage, not disguise or creative schemes.

That should change next year - it's safe to say that the Broncos' defense under Dennis Allen won't be the most talented, but you can bet the house that they will be deceptive and creative.  

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Why Champ Bailey really re-signed with the Broncos

Now that Champ Bailey signed his new contract, I have to hand it to the Broncos' front office.

They can now check off point 1A on their offseason to-do list.

I'd like to give specific praise to Brian "The Body" Xanders for getting this deal done.  Whatever we think here of Xanders' verbal acumen, he's accounted himself well on this deal.  I'll put off waterboarding Xanders for another time.  

From Champ's point of view, you might be thinking to yourself, Champ signed with the Broncos because he really believes he can win a championship in Denver.

Not so fast, Boy Wonder.  I've got the real reasons, just after the jump...

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The Dude’s Mail Revue: Sharpe, Atwater, and getting slapped by Momma

Dude's Mail Revue 400x145

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 tie the room together?  Or say what you'd like about the tenets of national socialism?

Drop TJ a question: tjthedudejohnson@gmail.com.

(NOTE:  Marmots  were harmed in the writing of this Revue)

TJ, congratulations to one of the Broncos' favorite sons, Shannon Sharpe, for making it into the Hall of Fame!  What an honor for yet another Bronco.  I just wish he would have been inducted earlier.  It seemed a little belated to me. 

--Mariano Flores, El Paso, Texas

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The Dude’s Mail Revue: Hacks, Josina Anderson turning me on, and testosterone injections

Dude's Mail Revue 400x145

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 tie the room together?  Or say what you'd like about the tenets of national socialism?

Drop TJ a question: tjthedudejohnson@gmail.com.

(NOTE: This week, marmots  were actually harmed in the writing of this Revue)

Dude, okay, here's the deal.  I know that you've got this thing where you criticize the Denver Post each and every day.  It's like Fat Man's thing.  I get that.  I really do.  But do you need to do it so often?  Every day?  Certainly, Woody Paige can't be that bad 24/7.  Is Jeff Legwold walking around like a character from the movie Rain Man the very moment he awakes?  Did Mark Kiszla sell his soul to the devil?  Don't get me wrong, you guys are the best thing out there.  I get a laugh everyday from reading your stuff.  But you, Doug Lee, and now Ted are really laying it on thick, don' you think?  You going after Lindsay Jones next?

--Mark Woodrow Legklis, Arvada, Colorado

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The Dude’s Worthless Wins Projector

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.

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Gut Reactions - Jay Cutler

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.

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