Second Helpings

Five things we learned from the Broncos’ 2012 draft

Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler once said, "Trust only movement.  Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement."

Later (1987 to be exact), the philosophical musings of glam-metal poets Def Leppard went like this: "Action, not words."

Put most directly: "You can shut up now, cuz I saw what you did."

Last night, John Elway told us the 2012 draft was awesome, saying, "When we look at it, it's probably as good as it could have gone."

This statement may or may not be true (even those that drafted Ryan Leaf said, "For the next 15 years, he's our man."), but one thing is not in doubt--the Broncos' actions in the draft said more than any contrived and trite soundbite ever could.  Like an after school special, the lessons are there for us to see, standing in plain view - as long as we stay off drugs, close our ears, open our eyes, and stick around until the end.

Continue reading "Five things we learned from the Broncos’ 2012 draft"

Worried about the Broncos’ 2012 schedule? Don’t be.

NFL.com said the Broncos' 2012 schedule "might be the most difficult schedule in NFL history."

Chris Corbellini of Fox Sports wrote that the "Broncos have a brutal slate," while Gregg Rosenthal lamented: "Peyton Manning has an uphill climb to the playoffs."

Finally, The Old Man and the Hyperbole, Woody Paige, wrote:

Hannibal never endured such a demanding march, or October — road games against the Patriots and the Chargers and a home game with the Saints. Guess what? The final eight games are no bargain. The Broncos do get the Bucs and the Browns at home, and conclude the regular season at SAF at Mile High, as they did last year, against those pesky Chiefs. But they must play at Carolina — ever heard of Cam Newton? — and K.C., Oakland and Baltimore.

Woo. I've been covering the Broncos since 1974, and there hasn't been a schedule this grueling in any season since then — or, certainly, before.

This, of course, settles the issue, since 1974 was a watershed year.  It brought us "Jungle Boogie" from Kool and the Gang, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (warning, nightmares will ensue), and Woody Paige, Denver's own cuddly serial killer of football knowledge.

Continue reading "Worried about the Broncos’ 2012 schedule? Don’t be."

Champ Bailey and YAC and smoking crack

Earlier in the week, Football Outsiders reported that in 2011, Champ Bailey gave up more yards after the catch (YAC) than any other cornerback in the league.

Was this a sign that Bailey was getting older, losing a step, or declining in skills?

On the surface, it's easy to look at Bailey's YAC stat and smoke the crack (and become immediately paranoid). If you had not watched a Broncos game all year, you'd assume Bailey was either missing a lot of tackles after the receiver caught the ball or he was getting beat deep badly.  Luckily, the gang at FO qualified the numbers:

Now, let's be clear: These YAC allowed numbers generally don't say much about the actual quality of a cornerback. There's generally very little correlation between a cornerback's rank in Success Rate and his rank in YAC allowed. Still, it is very strange to see Champ Bailey giving up the most average YAC of any starting cornerback in 2011 -- and by a wide margin. Isn't he known as an excellent tackler for a cornerback? Yes, and there isn't much evidence that this is an issue of tackling. We only recorded Bailey with two broken tackles on plays where he was in coverage. He just seemed to have a few more plays than usual where guys got behind him on short- and mid-range routes.

As we always preach around these parts, stats are nothing without context.  So let's provide some when it comes to Bailey and his YAC (not to be confused with GOAT, which is purely a term reserved for Norv Turner).

Continue reading "Champ Bailey and YAC and smoking crack"

Was Manning’s velocity waning even before the injury?

Today's article from Albert Breer may give Broncos fans pause.  Breer suggests that the velocity on Peyton Manning's throws was already in decline during 2010--before his neck injury. Breer writes:

"The fall-off was significant on film," said one scout from a rival AFC team. "He showed stiffness and lost athletic traits. What made him special was never his athletic ability or movement skills, but you could see it with his arm strength, too. We break the field into 'short', 'intermediate' and 'deep', and on patterns deep and outside the numbers, you'd notice more air under the ball. There'd be more arc. Some it's by design, placing the ball where it needs to be. But it looked like his velocity was tailing off at the end of 2010. That's probably what he's most worried about. His rotation was fine, his accuracy was fine. But as far as the ball getting from Point A to Point B, and how much time he was giving defensive backs to drive on the football, there was enough there for concern."

The questions about Manning's arm strength go all the way back to the day he was drafted (Ryan Leaf had a stronger arm, after all).  However, was it possible that in 2010, Manning had lost too much zip on his passes?  The statistics certainly suggest as much.  His Y/A, AY/A, NY/A, and ANY/A were all down by a full yard. At the same time, guys like Blair White, Pierre Garcon (which I believe means "dropped pass" in French), and Austin Collie weren't helping Manning's cause.  And we saw what happened to the Colts in 2011 without Manning: they went down like they'd been shot by a sniper. 

Manning has had other seasons with lower numbers than he had in 2010.  So what is one to make of all of this?

Continue reading "Was Manning’s velocity waning even before the injury?"

Are you a fan? If you say so, Tarzan

After writing my game reaction yesterday, in which I had some criticism of Tim Tebow, I received several emails questioning my Broncos fanhood.

Just what does it mean to be a Broncos fan?

Back when I was a kid and began to identify myself as a fan, all that meant was watching my father curse John Elway on television and getting into fistfights at school with Steelers fans. It didn't take a lot of Broncos gear, Broncos tattoos, or a throwback jersey; it didn't require a cable package, mandatory attendance at Mile High Stadium (I made it to just a handful of games), or box seat; it didn't require that I adhere to a code, or sign my name somewhere, or join a group on Facebook group created by other self-identified fans.

 And it sure as hell didn't require blind devotion--to the owner, to the quarterback, to other fans.

Continue reading "Are you a fan? If you say so, Tarzan"

A Second Helping of Von Miller & the Aaron Curry Myth

Some men are born with great blog entries; others have great blog entries thrust upon them.

The latter is the case today.  One of our staunchest legionaries, Fat Man member NCM42, recently asked:

How much do Von Miller and Aaron Curry compare?

It's a great question.  Expect to hear it often, especially from fans whose team didn't select Miller.  

Implicit in this question is the fear that MIller won't live up to his billing as the #2 overall pick. That's because Aaron Curry, the 4th pick overall two years ago, hasn't become a dominante force in the NFL.

On the surface, the two players seem similar: both were freakishly athletic 3-4 outside linebackers; both were the can't-miss players of their drafts; both were considered low-character risks.  The most important correlation, however, is that they were both drafted by 4-3 teams to play the strong-side linebacker position, something neither had done before.

In short, the fear is that a position change could spell BUST, without using the letters O-A-K-L-A-N-D.  

Continue reading "A Second Helping of Von Miller & the Aaron Curry Myth"

A Second Helping of…Billionaires vs. millionaires

America is the land of opportunity.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the NFL.  After all, this is a place where Roger Goodell (the son of a US Senator), Joe Ellis (the nephew and cousin of US Presidents), and Jets owner Woody Johnson (the grandson of the founder of Johnson & Johnson) can rise up from humble beginnings and make their way in the world today with everything they've got.

$9 billion later, these self-made men (and others just like them all across the league) are doing their absolute best to share the milk and honey with the National Football League Player's Association (NFLPA).

If only the nefarious NFLPA would let them.

Goodell, our tired and exhausted hero, has bravely reduced his salary to $1.  He's also told fans that the NFL's owners offered several concessions to the players, including five years of "profitability data."  In addition, Joe Ellis (Pat Bowlen's trusty sidekick) has been hitting the PR circuit so that Broncos fans everywhere know, without a doubt, the organization's willingness to open its books.  Unfortunately, the players listened to an insidious investment bank, which advised the NFLPA that that so-called profitability data neither illuminates true cash flows nor provides insight into wasteful spending.  

The demonic forces within the NFLPA listened.  Bring in the lawyers.

Continue reading "A Second Helping of…Billionaires vs. millionaires"

Mindfreak - The Brian Xanders Experience

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.

Continue reading "Mindfreak - The Brian Xanders Experience"

Fat Man’s Late Night Snack - I hate Jay Cutler (again)

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.

Continue reading "Fat Man’s Late Night Snack - I hate Jay Cutler (again)"

John Elway: Mindfreak

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.

Continue reading "John Elway: Mindfreak"