Mark it Zero

Visions of sugar plums: the value of Brandon Marshall

Christmas comes only once a year.  And Pete Carroll isn't donning a santa costume.

While we all might have believed last week that Brandon Marshall was worth a 1st and a 3rd round pick,  two things happened in the last two days that say otherwise:

  1. The Denver Broncos themselves placed only a 1st round tender on Marshall
  2. The Anquan Boldin trade

The Boldin trade, in particular, dealt what could have been a giant blow to the idea that the Broncos will be getting what we as fans hope is a fair value for the player known as The Beast.   

After the jump, we'll look at the Boldin deal, it's consequences for Marshall, and what both Seattle and Denver might be considering as they discuss what Bradon Marshall is worth.

Continue reading "Visions of sugar plums: the value of Brandon Marshall"

Shake Me: How turnovers and penalties shook the 2009 Denver Broncos

Penalties and turnovers hurt, like a kick to the groin.  Every coach will tell you that they can kill a drive faster than a Darrius Heyward-Bey crossing route (the groin of the Oakland Raiders).  In fact, you hear about penalties and turnovers so often in post-game press conferences, you would think that play calling had little do do with the results of the game.  

And often this is the case.  The team that does the best job executing its own individual game plan is usually the winner. Penalties and turnovers are simply markers along the way.

But when you chart every offensive play in a given season, you tend to only focus on the big picture (trends, downs and distances, player values) and forget about just how large a role penalties and turnovers really play.  Each holding call, each interception and fumble, each turnover on downs, and each missed field goal--each one of them were a piece of what became the 2009 Broncos offense.  So I thought that I'd take a brief moment this week in the middle of all of the draft analysis, to explore, using expected points value, penalties and turnovers. 

Continue reading "Shake Me: How turnovers and penalties shook the 2009 Denver Broncos"

Talk Dirty to Me: The power of hyper-aggressive coaching & how stats can make Josh McDaniels dirtier

You know I never
I never seen you look so good
You never call the plays you should
But I like it
And I know you like it too.....

If you're ever in a jam for awesomely-bad 80s music, so bad that it's actually good, you don't have to look much farther than the band Poison.  This little ditty, Talk Dirty To Me, is classic lipstick metal, so shallow that it's profound. So non-existential, it's almost existential.  And it's a lesson for NFL coaches.

Be aggressive.  Don't play it safe.   Wear eye liner.

Well perhaps the third is optional (unless your the new Al Davis hire).  But the first two should be requirements for all NFL coaches.

Continue reading "Talk Dirty to Me: The power of hyper-aggressive coaching & how stats can make Josh McDaniels dirtier"

Major Kyle (Coming Home): The 2009 Broncos passing game & why Eddie Royal isn’t lost in space

4...3...2..1...Kyle behind us...

passing, hurling....floating weightless
calling, calling...(Denver) home...

When I put these weekly columns together, I have so much 80s music to chose from it's almost criminal.  This week it was a close competition between Motley Crue's Shout at the Royal or Falco's Rock Me Kyle Orton.  But ultimately I decided there simply wasn't a better way to introduce the 2009-passing game of the Denver Broncos than with reference to this song by Peter Schilling in 1984, which was also covered in 2009 by Shiny Toy Guns.  I personally could listen to either version 50 times in succession--the equivalent to the number of seasons the Raiders will wait for the playoffs--and never grow bored.

Continue reading "Major Kyle (Coming Home): The 2009 Broncos passing game & why Eddie Royal isn’t lost in space"

I Ran (So Far Away): The story of the Broncos running game in 2009

He just ran....He ran all night and day....

...Knowshon couldn't get away.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the 2009 Broncos season (aside from knowing that Raiders fans continue breeding) was the lack of a running game. You've heard the storyline, but let's review the major plot points again:

  1. The Broncos nab the top running back in the draft.
  2. The Broncos struggle in short yardage, but the problems are masked by a 6-0 start and one hell of a defense.
  3. A small offensive line begins the painful transition to a power-running game.
  4. Denver's best run-blocking lineman is injured.
  5. Denver finishes with a 4.2 average yards-per-carry and ends up 18th in rushing.
  6. The rookie running back shows flashes of brilliance, but, by most accounts, finishes below expectations.

Continue reading "I Ran (So Far Away): The story of the Broncos running game in 2009"

Bang Your Head: Sanity in the Marshall, Dumervil, and Scheffler debate

Well I'm a stat-grinder, play-cruncher.
Now can we really keep our wide receiver?
Got no brains, he's insane.
McDaniels says that he's one big pain.
Brandon's like a laser, a 6-streamin' razor
He's got a mouth like an alligator.
But I want it louder.  Sack power
Should we keep Elvis when it strikes the hour?

There are a lot of opinions on Brandon Marshall, Elvis Dumervil, and Tony Scheffler these days.  Despite Marshall's verbal group hug during the Pro Bowl, the prevailing wisdom is still that the Broncos are going to look to trade (after tender offers) both Marshall and Scheffler, while making their best effort to retain the man-child sack leader in the NFL.

Continue reading "Bang Your Head: Sanity in the Marshall, Dumervil, and Scheffler debate"

A Fistful of Bowlen: 27 years of cool

I'm going to be honest with you.

I haven't a clue who the Broncos are going to draft right now.

I don't know Tim Tebow's 40-yard dash time.  I'm sketchy on how many times Taylor Mays is going to bench press 225 pounds.  And Mike Iupati's biceps?  I'm guessing they are pretty large.

But a draft expert I am not.  Coincidentally, the real draft experts like Mel Kiper, Jr. aren't either, so I guess I'm in decent company.  At least I saved on the hair spray.

So if you wanna get mocked, I apologize in advance.

Continue reading "A Fistful of Bowlen: 27 years of cool"

Every Rose Has its Thorn: Life after Mike Nolan

Love--like defensive coordinators--is a game of easy come and easy go.  Just listen to the McDJ on the radio.

Now that Mike Nolan is heading to Miami to work on his South Beach tan, we are left to ponder (at least for a few days) the fate of the Denver Broncos defense.  And lonely Broncomaniacs everywhere want to know: 

Was is somethin' we did or somethin' we said?  Did our words not come out right?

We may never know the exact reason.  What we do know is that Mike Nolan is gone.   And it's not sitting well with a lot of us. The latest rumor from the Boston Herald is that McDaniels wasn't a fan of the number of times Nolan blitzed this year so the marriage had to end.  Personally, I'd like to see the Broncos blitz on every play of the game, but that's why I'm just a stats guy. Either way, as much as we may need a reason for Nolan's departure, we may never get a good one.  He may have left Denver because he's an East Coast guy. He may have left because he wants to work with Bill Parcells.  Perhaps he left because he's a closet Jennifer Lopez fan. 

Continue reading "Every Rose Has its Thorn: Life after Mike Nolan"

Matt Prater is no Kathy Ireland

If you've seen the movie Necessary Roughness, I'm very sorry.  Those are two hours of your life you're never getting back.  

If you haven't, I'll save you some time.  The best part of the movie was watching Kathy Ireland play the role of Lucy Draper, a female placekicker.  For a few brief scenes, placekicking somehow seemed...slightly more interesting.

But outside of the rare and fictional supermodel, placekickers don't get a lot of attention.   Most often they are known for either making or missing a late-game kick (i.e., Scott Norwood), or for their ability to shut down an all-you-can-eat-buffet like Sebastian Janikowski.

But we should make an exception for Matt Prater.  Not only should we be talking more about him, but we should acknowledge one fact right now: 

Matt Prater, despite playing at altitude, and without ever having done a Sports Illustrated bikini shoot, was the best kicker in the NFL in 2009.

Continue reading "Matt Prater is no Kathy Ireland"

Who got lucky this year? A dash of Clint Eastwood, a pinch of high school geometry

You've got to ask yourself one question:  do I feel lucky?  

Well, do ya, punk?

Like it or not, luck is a part of sports.   The bank shot from half court to win a game.  The blooped broken-bat single. The tip for a pick-six interception.   All of these can break the heart of fans who can't come to grips with the idea that sometimes, for whatever reason, the ball doesn't bounce in their preferred direction.   

You've probably heard one fan say to another, "Well, you guys got lucky."   In fact, many fans accused the Denver Broncos of this very thing in Week 1 on the last play of the game (the tipped touchdown to Brandon Stokley if you're living on planet Al Davis).  But what they are really saying is, "You didn't deserve to win."

Continue reading "Who got lucky this year? A dash of Clint Eastwood, a pinch of high school geometry"