Good Morning, Broncos fans! The NFL's Competition Committee passed some changes to kickoff procedures yesterday, although not in as drastic a form as originally proposed. The ball will indeed be moved from the 30-yard line to the 35, reversing a change the league had made (to make kickoffs more exciting, naturally) prior to the 1994 season. But unlike the first proposal, touchbacks will still place the ball at the 20-yard line, and the two-man wedge remains legal. Meanwhile, the coverage team will only be allowed a 5-yard running start rather than one of 10 or 15 yards. What do these changes mean for the Broncos? Firstly, Matt Prater becomes even more valuable - unless he's facing strong winds, he should be able to get a touchback on every kick at the Big IF and reach the end zone on the road consistently. The downside is that Denver has a more dynamic crew of kick returners than they've had in decades (Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Cassius Vaughn), yet their positive contributions will more often be turned into touchbacks.
Another significant change was to the play review system - all scoring plays will now be reviewable by the replay official. This is a good move for everyone, as coaches no longer have to weigh the risk of losing challenges and/or timeouts when considering whether to protest a questionable (and potentially game-changing) play. More importantly, a missed call by the on-field officials will still be correctable even if a team is out of challenges or timeouts; this was the most unfair facet of the replay system, bringing a game-show quality to the NFL. Good riddance.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Luis DeLoureiro took an interesting look back at some of the more notable Wonderlic scores both high and low among quarterbacks. While there have certainly been some QBs who did poorly on the Wonderlic but excelled in the pros, it seems that guys with better scores have generally turned out to be better NFL signalcallers. For the record, Tim Tebow scored a below-average 22, Kyle Orton notched an above-average 26, while Brady Quinn posted an impressive 29. Depending upon who you ask, John Elway scored either a 30 or a 29.
Wow, does Pat Bowlen look frail and out of it. His right-hand man just had to show him how to get in a car. Sad.
As Florio reminds us, there has been a good deal of hushed speculation surrounding Bowlen's health in recent years while Joe Ellis has emerged from the shadows to execute the bulk of the Broncos' major decisions. I'm not about to play the guessing game regarding Bowlen's health, but there has certainly been some erratic behavior recently out of Dove Valley - none more so than Bowlen's public assertion that Josh McDaniels would be back as the Broncos' coach in 2011, followed only days later by the young coach's ouster. And, we may never know if Jay Cutler and Mr. B ever spoke on the phone when the QB was on his way out of town. Aside from wishing that Bowlen can somehow recover from whatever is ailing him, we can only hope that John Elway knows what he's gotten himself into, not to mention what he's doing...
Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his Sunday column, Dan Pompei focuses in on the Patriots' brilliant yearly stockpiling of draft picks. This year, New England has two picks in each of the first three rounds, giving them the flexibility to do basically anything they want, moving up to nab an elite talent inclusive. But before you start wishing the Broncos would do the same thing, know that they have already done so in recent seasons; the trades of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall (and their brilliant maneuvering down and up the board in 2010) have enabled Denver to select four first-rounders and four second-rounders over the past two years, with two second-rounders in hand for the 2011 Draft. Of course, the jury is still out on how well they actually fared in utilizing those choices.
And while Brain Xanders has attempted to disavow himself of every move made during Josh McDaniels' time in Denver, we can only hope that he was the integral part of these draft-related deals that we assume he was, and that at least this facet of the so-called Patriot Way has stuck with him. For as important as the upcoming draft is for the Broncos' future, the 2012 one will be no less crucial - whether it's via more trades downward in April or a potential deal of Kyle Orton for a future pick, one of the best things Xanders can do for Denver and his own legacy is to keep extending Denver's draft flexibility. Hopefully he's already been working the phones in pursuit of such a stratagem...
Good Morning, Broncos fans! I'd like offer some more details on the NY Times' decision to move behind a pay wall as relates to the Lard: While clicking through to the NYT from the links I provide will count toward your own monthly 20-article limit, once you hit that limit you'll still be able to read articles via links from referring sites like ours and via social media. In other words, hitting the limit will only prevent you from heading directly to the NYT website and accessing articles - reading articles that I link should not be affected.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Roger Goodell has crafted another letter; this time it went to the players individually. It lays out the offer the owners presented last Friday; naturally, it's just another PR move to rile up the fans. In response, Seahawks lineman Chester Pitts is apparently reporting the commish to his email provider for spam. Whatever. It's March, we're six months away from the start of the season, and there's great hoops on all day. Enjoy!
Happy Tourney Day and St. Patrick's Day, Broncos fans! Enjoy your green beers, and may the sun shine on your brackets! I realize I'm a lot late in doing this, but I just created a bracket group on ESPN called IAOFM, if you're interested. Of course, we only have until 12:15pm ET to fill it out. Best of luck!
I'm experimenting with a new section today called Scrapple (I know, running out of gluttony-related terms) which will go outside the football realm. Some of it will be reads I find interesting, and others will just be for a good laugh (don't worry - no politics). Hopefully you'll like it; if not and it's a waste of your time and mine, please let me know!
Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to Jason La Canfora, the Broncos are one of several teams expected to hold a private workout with Huskies QB Jake Locker. This one is a head-scratcher; if it's just a smokescreen to confuse other teams with regard to Denver's draft strategy, isn't it a bit of a waste of time? If there's genuine interest, then I can only ask why? Locker only complete 53.9 percent of his passes in college, with an unimpressive 4.6% TD rate, 6.2 adjusted yards per attempt and a 119 QB rating (an otherwordly number in NFL terms but not that special relative to college play). By comparison, Tim Tebow had a 66.4% completion rate at Florida to go along with a TD rate of 8.8%, 10.4 adjusted yards per attempt and a 170.8 QB rating. Of course, stats don't tell the whole story about a QB, especially a college one - scheme, competition level, surrounding talent and that pesky intangibles thing all factor in; but all great NFL QBs completed passes more frequently and for more yardage in college than did Jake Locker...
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Ouch. Adam Rank includes old friend Ebenezer Ekuban among the Cowboys' all-time draft busts. Either Dallas has just been really good at drafting, or Rank doesn't know what he's talking about. Not that Ekuban was ever a star, but he had a nine-year career - if we were to list the Broncos' biggest busts, we'd find that they hardly had NFL careers at all. Surely Rank will get to the Broncos eventually, but let's see what I can come up with: Ted Gregory, Willie Middlebrooks, Marcus Nash, Paul Toviessi, Jeremy LeSueur, Maurice Clarett, Jarvis Moss, Chris Watson, Terry Pierce, Travis McGriff, George Foster, Alphonso Smith - not all first-rounders, but all were pretty brutal picks. Who's your "favorite" Broncos bust of all time? I've already rehashed Maddox over Pickens and Lelie over Reed countless times (and will surely do so again), but those guys at least had some NFL success. Those fall more under the "really stupid picks" category rather than biggest busts. I'll go with Marcus Nash - sure, he was the 30th-overall pick after Denver's first SB win, but they could have easily gone best player with no real holes to fill and instead completely whiffed.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Not much going on - perhaps all of the football writing population is busy trying to make sense of the NCAA Selection Committee's hack job? Gotta figure several of you are CU fans, and there is no question that the Buffs got jobbed yesterday. After having beaten K-State three times this season and having claimed big victories over Texas and Missouri, they were left out of the field of 68 while teams like VCU and UAB went from not even being discussed as bubble teams to making the tourney. We feel for you, Buffs fans...