Happy Friday, friends. It’s time to Digest the Minnesota Vikings, who despite their 2-9 record have a bit of power behind their punches, and can knock you out if you don’t come correct. They’re lining up to have a very high draft pick in 2012, and I think that they can have a pretty quick turnaround in 2012 assuming they pick wisely, and their young QB improves. For now, though, let’s take a look at them in their current state.
Generally, I’d say that the Vikings profile kind of similarly to the Broncos in some important ways. To wit:
a. Both teams start young QBs who can look good one play and bad the next.
b. Both teams struggle to protect the passer in the straight-up dropback passing game, but both can get the running game blocked a lot of the time.
c. Both teams can rush the passer creditably from both edges, although the Vikings’ second-best guy (Brian Robison) is not really close to the Broncos’ (Elvis Dumervil) level.
d. Both teams have a good set of DTs who stuff the run well, and both teams’ LB corps are better against the run than in coverage.
Happy Victory Tuesday, friends. Are you getting used to Victory Tuesdays, yet? I kind of like them, personally. Those of you who had your hearts set on a Top-5 pick may not, but football is funny. Players and coaches like to win, and they try really hard to make that happen, and sometimes they get it done, even if some find it to be strategically unpreferable. In this space, we’re always pro-#winning, so deal with it. Ready… BEGIN!!
1. Today, I want to share some thoughts about why the Broncos are winning, and why it has seemed like a tale of two seasons. There are a number of reasons for it, and it qualifies as a confluence of all of those reasons. I’m one guy with an opinion, but here’s my list:
a. It took a little while, but the team has taken very well to the new defensive scheme. The Broncos tried to use even-front players in a Fairbanks-Bullough 3-4 scheme for two seasons and didn’t have great results. This staff came in and installed an aggressive 4-3 that has a very simple and sound approach to gap control.
Happy Fat Man Friday, friends. On Sunday, the Broncos will plays the Chargers for the second time this season. What’s changed since October 9th? Well, on the surface, the answer is everything. Tim Tebow took over the Broncos offense in the second half of that game, with his team trailing 23-10 and looking sluggish. Tebow then rallied the team to fall just short of winning at 29-24, as a pass into the end zone on the game’s final play was nearly caught by Matt Willis in the typical Hail Mary crowd. On that day, the Chargers improved to 4-1, and the Broncos fell to 1-4.
Since then, the Broncos are 4-1 on the strength of an improved defense and running game, as well as some timely plays by Tebow. The Chargers are 0-5 in that same period and have gotten really banged up in the process. I can’t see any way that their season isn’t over, in terms of playoff meaning, at this point.
Happy Tuesday, friends. It’s been five days since the last Broncos victory, so I decided not to rehash it, since it’s been done to death at this point. I have been working on a short (for me) essay about pass protection, and I decided to make it longer and more detailed and give that to you today. Friday, it’ll be back to Digesting the Chargers, and we should be on the regular schedule from here on out. Ready… BEGIN!!!
1. Once, when I was three years old, I woke my mother up from a nap. A man was breaking into the house downstairs, I told her. He was tall and had dark hair, and was coming in through the window in the living room. I was telling my mom about this guy in vivid detail, and like any mom, she got scared. I had three younger siblings who were all also having a nap at the time, so my mother went and frantically made sure that they were safe. Then she locked us all in one room and called the cops.
As it turned out, that was an early indication of the kind of storyteller I was to become. It was like little Eddie Murphy telling the joke about the monkey kicking the lion in the ding-ding. We are all uniquely ourselves, and our character starts getting revealed at a young age. I wasn’t lying, of course; I had just thought up some cool fiction and was sharing it with my mom. She was not as impressed as I thought she’d be, and on the rare occasion I’ve ever heard her tell that story, the context is how hard it was to raise four little kids at once, and tangentially, that I had a hellion moment here and there. (Both are fair points, of course.)
Happy Victory Tuesday, friends. Today, you’re going to get a Serving of thoughts on the Chiefs game, and something to Digest about the Jets, since that game is being played on Thursday night. Get excited, because it’s a two-fer Tuesday. Ready… BEGIN!!
1. Sunday’s win came in an unusual way, but you should never apologize for a victory. One of the Denver reporters got a little smart-assed with John Fox, and asked if he’d ever coached a game like that before. Fox kind of smirked, and said that yes, he had. It turned out that he won that one too. Jake Delhomme was out, and they pounded the hell out of the Falcons that day and played good defense.
For the last two weeks, the Broncos have gotten in touch with their physical side on offense, and a creative and effective running game has led to back-to-back road AFC West victories against both of the Broncos’ most hated rivals. For a Denver Broncos fan, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Somehow, though, being a Broncos fan has gotten to be more complicated than that. Somehow, everything came to revolve around the Quarterback, and sides have been chosen; everybody seems to have a bias one way or another, and the Broncos and Tim Tebow keep confirming it, whatever it is. For a while this was amusing, but it’s really kind of tiresome to me at this point.
Happy Friday, friends. Today we Digest the Kansas City Chiefs, who’ve had a really weird season. They lost key players in Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki and Jamaal Charles early on, and they lost their first three games huge, being outscored by a total of 109-27 in those games. They then went on to win four in a row, beating Minnesota and San Diego at home, and Indianapolis and Oakland on the road. Just when it seemed that they’d figured out how to play good undermanned football, they got crushed 31-3 at home by the Dolphins last Sunday. As TJ would say in Gut Reactions, who the heck knows?
Today, we’re going to try to figure out what the Chiefs really are, and what we can expect to see on Sunday afternoon. Really, what do you call a team that’s been blown out three times, blown out the first-place Raiders once (when they caught them on a Kyle Boller/rusty Carson Palmer day), and gone 3-1 in games decided by less than five points? That’s what we’re going to try to figure out today.
Happy Victory Tuesday, friends. I hope you’re ready for a Serving, because I’ve got one for you. I’m in last place in the picks competition, and a primary reason why is that I’m now 2-6 in picking Broncos games. (I had them losing to Green Bay, and beating Miami.) You can’t win them all, I guess, and I just don't seem to have a great feel for when the Broncos are going to play well. Maybe if I read the DP rather than Doug's parsing of their work, I might know if they "had a good week of practice."
Anyway, today we’re going to explore in detail why the Broncos beat the Raiders on Sunday. It was a total team win, as has been said, but more than that, I would say that it was the first time this season that the offense pulled its weight. Aside from a couple of missed throws by Tim Tebow and some penalties (I’m looking at you, Ryan Clady) it was a consistent and productive effort. Since offense is kind of my thing, I’m excited to spend some time talking about it. Ready… BEGIN!!
Happy Friday, friends. Today, since the Broncos have already played the Raiders this season, we’re going to leverage the article I wrote before that game, and I’ll focus on where things have changed between then and now. Then, we’ll talk about how the Broncos can work toward a better outcome this time than the 23-20 opening night loss they took at home.
We all hate the Raiders, and they hate us too, but it seems that they’ve built the sort of team that has been giving the Broncos trouble over the last couple seasons. They’re big, physical and fast, and those are three good things to be as a football team. Luckily, they're still the Raiders, and they still make dumb trades, so we have that going for us.
Happy Tuesday, friends. I re-watched the Lions-Broncos game on Monday night, and then I started feeling ill. I’m not saying that one thing caused the other, but a case could definitely be made that it did. Anyway, I normally write my 5,000ish word articles on Monday night, and that fits into a very tightly scheduled week that has no slack in it. (People sometimes ask how I fit my writing here in with my day job and my MBA program – that’s how; schedule the hell out of it, and stay on schedule.)
Because I ended up going to sleep pretty early on Monday night and had nothing substantial written, I’m up early on Tuesday morning before work to deliver something. (I’m feeling better now.) It’s not going to be the typical YGS, but something is better than nothing, right?
I’ve decided that TJ is right, and I’m not going to fight it anymore. It’s not about football evaluation, it’s about recognizing an organizational decision. Tim Tebow won’t be the starting QB of the Denver Broncos next season, and I’m okay with that. As I’ve said a number of times, I’ve always been okay with that, even if I don’t find it preferable.
Happy Friday, friends. I watched some Lions-Falcons on Thursday evening, and I think this game looks a little better for the Broncos than I thought it did a few weeks ago. Teams are figuring out how to play the Lions, and there were a lot of lessons to be taken away from this game.
This may be shorter than a usual Digesting piece, just because the Lions aren’t doing anything tremendously complicated. They’re trying to execute, and lately, they haven’t been getting that done very effectively. There are reasons for that, which we’ll now explore: