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.
Call off the bloodhounds. It appears as if the search for a general manager was over before it even began.
At least you'll have a shiny new John Elway doll to distract you.
Enter Brian Xanders...stage bereft.
According to multiple reports, Pat Bowlen, Joe Ellis, and John Elway will make it their first order of business to give Xanders full control of personnel decisions next week. For an organization set to have one of its worst records in franchise history, this seems a little rash.
Right now the NFL is teeming with hungry and talented GM candidates, but the Broncos already have their inside man.
Within one week of ending the season?
If only the Rooney Rule applied to the search for a general manager. It would at least force the Broncos to interview candidates for the job.
No matter how the Broncos finish, next year you’re not going to have Josh McDaniels to kick around anymore. It’s not that he’s going anywhere. It’s simply that no one is likely to be playing football.
Usually I spend each Monday analyzing some aspect of the previous day's game--a formation, a player, or a play.
Yet, today I'm compelled to discuss something that has received a lot of attention over the past 16 hours. Why did Todd Haley neglect the time-honored tradition of coaches shaking hands after yesterday's game? There are likely many reasons (aside from getting out-coached), but the main one is that Haley didn't like the fact that the Broncos left their starters in the game for all 4 quarters. As we learn from this article from Gregg Rosenthal at Pro Football Talk:
Haley apparently was not pleased with how Josh McDaniels handled a big lead in Denver's 49-29 victory over the Chiefs. The Broncos were still throwing plenty, max protecting, and blitzing on defense with a comfortable fourth-quarter lead.
Haley's response? Instead of shaking McDaniels' hand after the game, the Chiefs' coach pointed his finger at him and turned his back.
Note: Each Monday we take a look at a player the Broncos used in a new, creative, or interesting way from the previous day’s game. This week we’re getting a second plate of not a player, but how bad starts have affected Kyle Orton’s stats.
One criticism I’ve leveled at Kyle Orton is that his statistics have been very hollow this year. The general argument I’ve made is that of course Orton is going to compile some big numbers, because he’s been playing from behind so much—essentially the defense softens and plays a deep cover-4 zone.
While I still feel that the statement is true, I want to say it’s a needless criticism at best. Why?
Because the guy has had no choice.
Note: Each Monday we take a look at a player the Broncos used in a new, creative, or interesting way from the previous day’s game. This week we’re getting a second plate of not a player, but how momentum affected the Broncos yesterday.
If you’ve ever played any sport at even the lowest of competitive levels, you’ve felt the power of momentum.
When the sea of momentum changes against you, it’s palpable; you feel it throughout your body. Suddenly, there goes your mind.
Once your mind goes, strange things happen—records are even set in the process.
After reviewing the first three drives on tape last night, I kept returning to this concept of momentum—not on purpose, mind you. I kept wanting to blame specific players. I kept wanting to blame Josh McDaniels. But I kept coming back to momentum.
Note: Each Monday we take a look at a player the Broncos used in a new, creative, or interesting way in the previous day’s game. This week we’re getting a second plate of not a player, but the Broncos’ Strength of Schedule.
Hope is not enough.
This time, though, it might be, Broncos fans—especially after the Broncos just finished the most carnal part of their schedule.
Allow me to explain myself—without writing the word “carnal” again.
Everything is going to rest on the two games the Broncos play against the Kansas City Chiefs.
While you might have already guessed this by looking at the AFC West standings, I wanted to confirm your suspicions through more than just the prism of a 2-game deficit.
Note: Each Monday we take a look at a player the Broncos used in a new, creative, or interesting way in the previous day’s game. This week we’re getting a second plate of Kyle Orton.
After a game like yesterday, it’s difficult to find anything creative or interesting. The Ravens shook their tail feathers in the faces of the Broncos all day.
So when in doubt on whom to focus on today, I decided to go with the guy who threw for 300 yards.
It’s not Orton’s specific stats that I want to focus on (we’ll get to that in a moment). It’s something specific he’s doing in the pocket this year that all of the so-called elite quarterbacks do in this league. On a weekly basis, you’ll see Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees do it. Ben Roethlisberger (when he’s not spending time in Georgia college towns) probably does it best in the league.
Just what do they do that is so elite?
Over the past offseason, Josh McDaniels admitted to several coaching mistakes he made in his first season.
One of his biggest regrets? Not utilizing Eddie Royal’s unique skills.
Broncos fans were told to expect something different in 2010. McDaniels committed Royal to the slot-receiver spot, which would allow him more immediate separation off the line of scrimmage. This additional space would allow Royal to utilize his superior quickness and get into his routes before a defender had time to jam him.
Royal, for his part, committed himself to getting stronger in the offseason.
Yesterday, against the Titans, we were able to see how it all came together.
Note: Each Monday we take a look at a player the Broncos used in a new, creative, or interesting way in the previous day’s game. This week we’re getting a second plate of Brian Dawkins and Mario Haggan.
The Broncos knew if they had any chance to win yesterday’s game, they needed to limit Dallas Clark’s opportunities. In their previous meeting, Clark had chewed up Denver’s nickel coverage and linebacker Wesley Woodyard for two touchdowns. And with Pierre Garcon out of the lineup, they figured Clark would be as popular as ever.
Would the Broncos play man coverage on Clark? Would they put Champ Bailey on him? Would they risk another linebacker fiasco like they had in the previous meeting?
The answer wasn’t long in coming. On the third play from scrimmage, Dallas Clark found himself looking across from Mario Haggan, who was lined up to his outside shoulder. I’m quite sure he was licking his chops. He’d run a quick inside slant route and make quick work of a slower linebacker—as he always did. Separating from linebackers was his specialty.