Tales from the SunnySide: Determination

It was a display of brute determination.

"Just when it appeared the Titans' good luck had run out, something happened to signal that this just might be their year: The Packers made the wrong call on the coin toss to determine overtime possession. It was anything but luck that determined the Titans' fate in overtime. Taking possession at their 22, they proceeded to thrash the Packers' suddenly vulnerable defense by pounding the ball on the ground. Seven of their nine plays were of the running variety, including five straight (four by Johnson) for 35 yards before Bironas redeemed himself. It was a display of brute determination."
"Matt Bryant missed a 38-yard field goal attempt on a third-down play in overtime, but tackle Jeremy Trueblood was called for a false start. So the Bucs lined up for another third-down play and Jeff Garcia connected with Jameel Cook for 9 yards, giving Bryant a second chance from 33. He nailed it, lifting the Bucs past Kansas City 30-27 in the biggest comeback in team history."

After the Jet’s clutch win over Buffalo, Kris Jenkin’s said,

""It was a tough situation. I'm going to be honest with you, I'm a pretty big guy. And you get kind of tired out there when you're out there for a long time. But we kept bouncing back and kept fighting."

I don’t know when it happened. It’s not uncommon, of course. In every NFL season, there are teams on both sides of this aisle. Some teams find ways to reach inside and pull out that something that redeems winners and creates losers. Somewhere along the line, right about a quick trip to Kansas City, the Broncos may have decided that they aren’t a real team this year.

They don’t recall it, of course. That marvelous entity that we call a football team has its own form of consciousness. Deep within that consciousness is the mechanism that drives it to overcome any adversity that it meets along the way, or to give in to its own ego and subconscious mind. The ego says that it is good enough to not need supreme effort today, and the subconscious mind that says that it has done enough.

It is a conglomerate of men, a unity forged in thousands of small, fleeting and individual decisions along the way. It is every coach that missed a key structure in the schemes, every acceptance of an effort below maximum, every player that would not would not let the ball get away, a pass be completed or a rusher get past. It is a decision made without thought, beneath or above reason, and its outcome is and always will be a combination of skill, effort, planning, drive and passion. It is the rookie that sleeps with his playbook, the dreaded contract year; it’s the veteran playing for pride. It’s the man who calls out his brothers and the one who chooses not to. It’s promises made and kept and potential never fulfilled. It’s every person in the organization.

This offseason we drafted for character. We did it well, too – men like Clady and Royal, Hillis and Larsen. We traded for character and lost some of the worst cancers in a saddened locker room. We made the decision, drew the line and made a lot of fans proud, once again, by refusing to kowtow to a mistaken belief that players like Walker and Henry (both Chris and Travis) could do enough to warrant their position on a team that wants to win.

But somewhere along the line, they made decisions that went wrong. It’s troubling when most of the good stories from a Sunday game aren’t your veteran leaders but your future cornerstones. When you let Kansas City believe, as Herm Edwards told Mike Shanahan, that they aren’t as good a team but that they were a better team that day. Because the only way that you can let them believe it is if you took your game too lightly and broke faith with your own heart. And the Broncos did that.

We’ve had too many moral victories. They told themselves that Jacksonville is a good team – they are, but that’s a poor, hollow excuse. Being out-physicaled by them and by Miami tells me that the coaches aren’t teaching physical football. Yes, we’re a ways away from a Super Bowl run, and yes, we’re rebuilding. But we’re not standing up to other teams. We relied on ‘cute’ too often early in the season, and cute doesn’t stay long on a 100 yard field. We don’t put two safeties back and make them come to us. We play 10 yards off and wonder why they carve us up underneath. Too often we don’t play football.

A great general was once asked why he lead his men fromthe front. He replied, "Did you ever try to push a piece of string?"When I hear players each week wonder what our identity is it tells me that the coaches don’t have one. I’m a big fan of Shanahan and I don’t call for any more heads to roll. I’m a Denver fan and I’m proud of this organization. But I cry out for more players to say what Marshall finally said on Sunday evening – this is crap, and we’ve had enough of it.

On Sunday, teams like Pittsburgh, Tennessee and even the Jets stood up to the rest of the league and decided that they were winners. They stood like it. They played like it. They meant it – and they won like it, too. Champ went down, but Paymah stood tall. Winborn showed great heart. DJ is one of the best, yes,  but Woodyard had the heart of a lion in the preseason.

Now we’ll find out who still does and who has listened to those small, slinking voices that insist that there are good reasons for losing. Cleveland isn’t a better team than the Broncos. But unless the Broncos look at each other – and within themselves – and decide that they’re the better team, they’re going to lose again.

But I cry out for more players to say what Marshall finally said on Sunday evening – this is crap, and we’ve had enough of it. These men need a display of brute determination, and they have to give it to themselves. If they find one within themselves, they’re going to win. It's that hard, and it's really that simple.

If they don't, that decision is going to come from within.

Originally posted at MHR

Learn to laugh at yourself. You will be ceaselessly amused. - Sri Gary Olsen

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