Mark it Zero

The Dude’s Mail Sack: Eddie Royal, Gerald Willhite, & AJ Smith’s gigantic head

Fat Man blogger TJ “The Dude” Johnson posts The Dude’s Mail Revue on Thursdays, in which he takes your questions about the state of the Denver Broncos. Got a titillating question? Put a dollar bill into the Dude’s G-String and he might answer it—after bowling practice.

TJ, So much has been made of Eddie Royal's sophomore slump.  Recently, Josh McDaniels said that Eddie is smiling again at the thought of becoming more involved in the offense in 2010.  And all of this because he's going to be playing slot receiver?  I have a hard time buying it.  Do you have any definitive statistical evidence that switching to the slot will really help him?
 
--Wesley Reklew, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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Shout (Out) At The Devil - Thank you, San Diego Chargers!

One should rarely heap praise upon division rivals.     While it might seem like a technically sound thing to do, it simply leaves you feeling a little dirty inside and you fall asleep at night knowing you've probably put bad karma into the world.   

But there's always an exception.

So today, it's time to salute the San Diego Chargers.

The road to the AFC West title just got easier, and not because Elvis Dumervil signed his 1-year tender.

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The Dude’s Mail Sack: Orton, Quinn, Tebow, and…Britny Fox!

Fat Man blogger TJ “The Dude” Johnson posts The Dude’s Mail Revue on Thursdays, in which he takes your questions about the state of the Denver Broncos. Got a titillating question? Put a dollar bill into the Dude’s G-String and he might answer it—after bowling practice.

TJ, it is with great sadness that I write to you to tell you that I did not make the Broncos Cheerleading squad for 2010. Things were going great until I suddenly pulled my hamstring during my routine as I was rocking to Bad Romance from Lady Gaga.  I tried to gut through it.   I tried to imagine I was Kyle Orton, playing through the pain.  But finally, it was too much.  I knew I was done-for when they asked me if I'd rather dance to Katy Perry.  

I can walk away with my head held high, TJ.  I know you and MHR were pulling for me.  Thanks to everyone who believed that a sexually-ambiguous aerobics instructor from Colorado Springs could live the dream.  I can't wait to attend a home game this year and watch those girls dancing so fast that Tim Tebow will want to rethink his promise ring!
 
--Charlie, Colorado Springs, Colorado

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Come on and Rock Me, Trent Dilfer!

"If you haven't played the game of football, you couldn't possibly understand."

--Ryan Leaf, 1998

One of my favorite blogs on the web is Shutdown Corner over at Yahoo Sports.  They don't take football as seriously as your typical Oakland resident and they generally focus on the lighter side of today's NFL--always good traits to have. Recently, they brought us some hard-hitting information on the woman that charged $95,000 on Reggie Wayne's credit card, and previously waxed poetic on Jared Allen's mullet lifestyle.  In short, the kind of stuff that is simply awesome.  

My favorite thing they do, however, is to point out some rather interesting and controversial perspectives of athletes.

Which brings me to a recent quote from Aaron Rodgers.  In the last few months, Rodgers has been feeling a little frisky (or upset that he was chosen behind Alex Smith?)  and has hammered draft analysts like Todd McShay on his Twitter account for, in his opinion, not being well versed enough in the technical aspects of reading defenses.

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I Melt With You - Do the Broncos really play poorly in humidity?

Last week, as I was discussing the Broncos upcoming schedule, I made a comment that you hear from time to time:

Denver, humidity, and early games never mix.
After making this sort of a statement, I realized I was simply making like a member of the Black Hole--offering up an opinion without any data to back it up.  I had heard this mantra before (cold-weather teams don't play well in humidity), so I was simply reproducing something that seemed, at first, to be common sports-knowledge.  Also, I remembered well enough the first game of the 2005 season, in which Jake Plummer (who should just now be retiring a Bronco) led an excellent Broncos team into Miami, only to wilt under the oppressive heat and swamp-like conditions of south Florida.  The outcome was a 34-10 butt whoopin', the likes of which only Raiders teams dare to tread.

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You’re the last in line - the myth of the “tough” schedule

"We'll know for the first time, if we're evil or divine." 

--Ronnie James Dio (Heavy Metal Poet & NFL Schedule Soothsayer)
 
This week I was going to preview the Broncos 2010 schedule and give you a game-by-game breakdown of the brutality of the first six games:
 
9/12 -- at Jacksonville 1:00 pm
9/19  -- Seattle 4:05 pm
9/26 -- Indianapolis 4:15 pm
10/3 -- at Tennessee 1:00 pm
10/10 -- at Baltimore 1:00 pm
10/17 --  NY Jets 4:05 pm

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A pair of pliers and a blowtorch - getting medieval on 3rd down

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled Tim Tebow news, for an important announcement.

3rd downs matter.   

In the 2009, the Denver Broncos were pretty far from okay.  The team's lack of success on 3rd down was more than just a drive staler, it was the black plague of the Broncos season.  Whether through the air or on the ground, rain or shine, throwbacks or alternative jerseys, the Broncos mustered a hideously and perfectly grotesque Raiders-like 3rd-down conversion rate of 36.18%.  

3rd-down conversions are, like turnovers and field position, another critical marker of success in the NFL.  In fact, the team that won the battle on 3rd down in 2008 and 2009 (512 games) won about 70% of the time.  The only team that reached the playoffs last year with a 3rd-down conversion rate of less than 40% was the New York Jets.  And they needed help to get there.

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Throwing the “challenge flag” on Broncos perceptions

In the NFL in 2009, coaches were only successful using instant replay for challenges 32% of the time.   While throwing those red (or sometimes pink) flags are good exercise for the rotator cuff, they don't often result in overturning a call on the field.  

Perhaps if they struck a Raiders fan they would be of more use.
 
Given the long odds of overturning a call, I thought I would throw my own challenge flag on six comments I've heard in the media over the last week.  While the odds of me changing your mind might be long, someone's got to try it.  And I've only to convince you on two of these challenges to beat the league average.
 
So let's hit the jump, and don't let these flags put your eye out.

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Why Draft Tebow? Lips Like Sugar? Or for the shotgun/spread?

It took a few days, but I'm done grieving.  Like a Raiders fan after another 4-12 season, I'm back for more.  

You see, I've come to accept that Tim Tebow will be the quarterback of the Denver Broncos.  

It may not be at the start of training camp.  And it may not be in 2010.  But it's coming.   And much sooner than you think.

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Karl Marx hates return specialists, so let’s draft one

If you care about god, country, and apple pie, you should care about one thing in this year's NFL draft.

You better pray the Denver Broncos draft a return specialist.
 
You see, the NFL, just like any profession has evolved to the point of labor specialization.   While Karl Marx wasn't a big fan of specialization (he thought it turned workers into machines), it turns out that Vince Wilfork doesn't make a very good place kicker.  And Matt Prater isn't much of a strong safety.   Different guys have different skill sets and they specialize in specific situational football.  Of course, I'm telling you what you already know.
 
It seems, however, when it comes to kick and punt specialists, we tend to think anyone can do it.  We throw a 3rd string running back into the mix.  If that doesn't work, let's see what happens if we throw our fullback out there.  Or if that doesn't work, we can simply take a wide receiver and have them double as a return specialist.   We saw the Broncos try this with Eddie Royal last year, and the results were rather mixed.  While he did have some electrifying returns, his overall return numbers were average. Moreover, his receiving game suffered.  Concussions and touches aside, the wear and grind of returning did not help Eddie Royal the receiver.

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