Happy Monday, friends. We’re on the other side of the Pro Bowl now, with only a who-gives-a-damn Super Bowl left to go. For today, I decided to start putting together some salary cap and free agency ideas, so we can all start getting our minds around what’s to come. There’s already a bunch of speculation out there about who the Broncos should sign or trade for, and most of it is silly.
Today, we’re going to be serious, and we’re going to dismiss all of the delusions of grandeur that a lot of fans and reporters have. A football team has to plan for both the short term, as well as the long term, and the long-term planning that the Broncos face doesn’t allow for the big splash signings that get people excited.
Let’s start by doing some math, and by understanding how the Broncos currently sit structurally within the constraints of the salary cap. The cap in 2013 is expected to be around $121 million, and the Broncos currently look like they’ll have $18.5 million at the beginning of the NFL year. It’s easy to think that they can just go out and spend $18.5 million in average annual value on free agents, but it’s not that simple.
One of the interesting things to me about how sports are understood in America is that people get their information about them mostly through media members who don’t really know what they’re talking about. The average sportswriter knows (privately) that their knowledge isn’t what a lot of people think it is, so they rely on insiders to the sport they cover to give them information. That means that what they say is clouded by the agendas of the information sources.
One enduring belief among sportswriters and sports fans is that owners should just stay out of the affairs of their teams. They should just trust the “football guys” and limit their involvement to hiring and firing those people periodically. This belief exists because those football guys moan and groan about “meddlesome” owners to their media friends, and then every time an owner says something about a football matter, the media people reflexively frame those comments as being detrimental to team success, because what does the owner know about football anyway?
The idea that an owner of a business worth an average of $1 billion should just shut up and sign checks, and leave the management of that business to hired help is pretty absurd. The owner may not be able to judge ankle flexion in a cornerback prospect as well as some scout who specializes in doing so, but he can learn enough football, as a generalist, to participate in the decision making of a business he owns.
I’ve been waiting for somebody to hire Chip Kelly so I could write this article, and I thought I was going to miss out on the chance for this season. The Eagles have landed (their guy) though, so it turns out I get to write it. I think it’s going to be a home run for them, and I applaud them for going all out to land the man they wanted.
A lot of people who don’t know what they’re talking about are going to condemn the Kelly hire, and say their stuff about how he runs a gimmick college offense, and it’ll never work in the pros, and blah blah blah. They’re wrong, though, and the evidence of the last couple of seasons is accumulating that teams can have a lot of success in spreading out defenses, and running the ball with zone-read concepts.
There is no monolithic “spread offense,” and anybody who acts like they’re all the same is ignorant. Kelly’s offense does like to use a lot of fast personnel, and does spread out its formations. It’s a run-heavy offense though, and if anything, it’s more old-school than it is revolutionary.
A little while ago, Doug mentioned the idea that Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy may prefer the San Diego Chargers head coaching job to that of the Arizona Cardinals. I wanted to weigh in briefly with the thought that I think people are getting the Chargers job wrong, vis-a-vis its quality. Philip Rivers is cited as the primary reason why it's a good job, and the fact that the Cardinals don't seem to have a viable QB is the reason Arizona is a bad one.
I'd say that not only do the Chargers not have a good enough QB, they have a problem worse than that. They have a guy who was once near-elite, but who has been declining steadily, and complicating things, he's misperceived by the football media as still being a good QB, and he remains locally popular, to the extent that Chargers fans give a crap about their team. This is Bernie Kosar in the early 90s, if Chargers fans were as engaged as Browns fans.
I’m a pretty calm guy, which is a development that’s taken place in my 30s. As a kid, I had an extremely bad temper, and even into my 20s, it persisted to some degree, and I was prone to outbursts, and door slamming, and the like. Around the time I got separated and divorced in 2007 and 2008, maybe somewhat as a byproduct of the whole failed marriage experience, I started to evolve into a more levelheaded person, and it’s a change I’m very pleased with.
In 2008, I also started writing about football at MHR, mostly because I had a lot of time on my hands. When I joined the staff, there were only four people on the masthead. Two of their then-writers are kind of emotional guys, given to rants and kneejerk reactions. The other two stayed more separated from what happened in the last game, or the least series, and didn’t really come from the place that a fan came from.
In fitting into that mix, one of the directions my writing took is that I’ve always tried to be dispassionate, and not let how I feel affect what I think, and what I say. I make a lot of real-time statements and observations, but they’re never emotional. You’d never see me suggest that Champ Bailey needs to retire, because he had one bad game, as a commenter or two did Saturday. There are times, when all hell breaks loose, when a voice of reason is needed, and I decided to be that guy.
Dear Jeff Legwold,
I understand that you’re in a tough position at the Denver Post, considering that you’re supposed to be their “analyst,” and that you’re so obviously ill-equipped to analyze football. It’s not really your fault, because you’re a reporter, and your employer is asking you to be something other than what you are.
As Doug Lee tweeted today, your assertion that Norv Turner could be coming to Denver to be the offensive coordinator is patently ridiculous. We don’t think you made the idea up; rather, we suspect that somebody who doesn’t know what they’re talking about told you that it may happen.
You told Doug that because Mike McCoy once worked for Dan Henning, who worked for Joe Gibbs, who worked for Don Coryell, the Broncos were already using some “principles” of the Air Coryell structure. I’m here to tell you that Henning’s influence on the Broncos passing scheme is minimal, at best. I didn’t consult a Rolodex to know this; I know it by watching games, and knowing what I’m talking about, because I’ve been studying technical football for a very long time.
Do you know how sometimes people say a football team isn’t built to play from behind? The 2011 Broncos were such a team, and the 2012 Texans and Vikings seem to be also. Teams which rely heavily on their running game, and which lack the ability to complete passes downfield in obvious passing situations tend to fit this description.
Although the Broncos have only really had one comeback win this year (the first Chargers game), they showed a good ability to put up points quickly in the second half of games, in the losses to Atlanta, Houston, and New England. I feel pretty good about their ability to play from behind, if necessary.
Do you know what I feel great about? The Broncos' ability to play from ahead. I was listening to Pat Shumur talk on Sirius last week, and he mentioned something about the Broncos that I’ve also made note of during the 2012 season. That is, when the game gets one dimensional, such as in a second half, with the Broncos holding a lead of two or more, the pass rush becomes dominant, and next to unstoppable.
Earlier today, Doug lauded Bill O'Brien's stated dedication to all that is good and right about college athletics, apple pie, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but me, being me, I'm going to have to take a moment to suggest that it had a wee bit to do with his $18.4 million buyout with Penn State.
You see, even if some crazy owner wanted to pay that buyout on O'Brien's behalf (which would be absolutely insane), the story wouldn't be over. Since they'd be paying O'Brien's debt to Penn State, that would be ordinary income for him, and he'd have tax liability for it, even though it passed through his bank account instantaneously (if at all).
If somebody pays you $18.4 million, and you never see a dollar of that in cash, it gets to be hard to come up with the $7.3 million (39.6%) you'll owe Uncle Sam. Of course, last week/year, the bill only would have been $6.4 million (35%). So fans who really wanted O'Brien can blame Barack Obama if they want. In any case, there's no way O'Brien could even pay the tax on the buyout, even if a team was willing to drop all that cash, which is extremely unlikely.
Happy Friday, friends. I have some thoughts about the hiring of Andy Reid by the Kansas City Chiefs. The more I think about it, the more deeply ambivalent I become about the move. It affects us directly as Broncos fans, though, so let’s give it a think.
First off, the talent pool in Kansas City is atrocious, and it’s poorly fitted to the kinds of schematic approaches that Reid has historically favored.
In terms of the offensive skill positions, the only players that Kansas City can even consider to be real keepers are Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki, and Moeaki is overrated. Dexter McCluster is a useful guy as a matchup problem, and he’ll be in his last year of his rookie deal. Jonathan Baldwin looks like a giant bust, not that I am surprised.
The Chiefs have no QB and no speed at WR, and Reid likes to go deep with speed guys as much as any coach in the NFL. There are a few guys with some promise on the offensive line, but as a group, today, they’re not good. If Juan Castillo becomes the OL coach, I see a couple of them (Rodney Hudson, Donald Stephenson) not being great scheme fits, because Castillo has tended to favor larger players, and asked them to do a lot more drive blocking than zone blocking.
Mike Klis participated in some mailbaggery today for the DP, and was asked the following question:
I have followed Peyton Manning closely since his freshman year at Tennessee. Against Cleveland was the first time in Peyton's career he has ever worn a glove. Is this a result of his nerve injury and inability to grip the ball in cold weather? As an aside, notice how even with a new offense, he doesn't need a play-calling cheat sheet on his wrist. A testament to his unparalleled football acumen, something even Brady can't claim.
--Rodney, Asheville, N.C
Klis went on to answer this dude, and I don't want to quote him directly that much, because the DP has a history of being overzealous about Fair Use, to the point where you paste any of their content, they now give you this as an added bonus:
Read more:Broncos Mailbag: Peyton Manning's glove and why it's so important - The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/broncosmailbag/ci_22296666/broncos-mailbag-peyton-mannings-glove-and-why-its#ixzz2GqhZBw8m
Thanks for that, guys. To paraphrase, here's the gist of Klis's answer: