Bronco fans, our 2009 opponents are about to enter a world of pain, but rather than try and predict where the Broncos will finish this year (10-6), I thought I would instead invest some time developing a general guide to this 2009 Bronco Season...Lebowski style.
1. It's a league game, Smokey. The preseason meant absolutely nothing. Take all of the stats, wins and losses, and throw them out the window. Want to blast Kyle Orton, big boy? Might want to see what happens in the actual season. Ready to fire McDaniels, Hoss? Maybe we ought to wait until he's lost a regular season game first. You get the picture. Now the games matter. Now they count.
ON THE NFL
2. Say what you like about the tenents of national Socialism...at least it's an ethos. The NFL has become the world's most successful sports league because they are extremely clever. Essentially, everyone shares revenues and they've imposed a salary cap. This is why a small market teams like Tampa Bay can (in theory) compete with large market teams like Washington. So whether you are right wing or left wing (or somewhere in the middle), you can embrace the 2009 NFL season and a little bit of socialism at the same time.
ON THE MSM
3. Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man. The MSM (main stream media, for you MHR virgins) is no smarter than your cousin Jim Bob. Really, it's true. These guys have undergraduate degrees in journalism, not electrical engineering or finance. They can no better pick where the Broncos will finish this year than you or I can. Most of these guys are crowd chasers anyway. And if you've ever done securities analysis, you realize very quickly that crowd chasers always buy when they should sell and sell when they should buy (by the way, here's a stock tip: sell the weasel John Clayton, hold Peter King, and buy Adam Schefter).
And the MSM is under pressure, from websites, from bloggers, players themselves (hello Twitter) and from anywhere else someone can give an opinion as worthy as their own (pretty much anywhere). So don't worry about the MSM, simply abide and laugh because they are usually wrong anyway. They are literally out of their element.
4. Mark it Zero! This is how many turnovers you want to see each game from the Broncos. As many of you know, I looked at the turnover battle for all 265 games last year (along with every damn drive chart, to which I will return in a moment). The team that did not commit more turnovers than their opponent won over 80% of the time. In short, win the turnover battle, win the game. I don't care if you have Gary Coleman as QB.
ON THE RAIDERS
5. These men are nihilists, there's nothing to be afraid of. You knew I couldn't go very far without taking a shot at the Raiders, didn't you? The Raiders really are the NFL's version of existential bliss. They draft poorly, overpay for everything, and lastly, confuse penalties and fighting with a commitment to winning, and that's just their fans. Their coaches and management are twice as bad. At least the Black Hole can look at the cheerleaders by half.
The good news is the Broncos should have 2 wins for sure, courtesy of the boys in lipstick and black.
6. This is not 'Nam..there are rules. Don't commit penalties! Penalties are like extra yards for your opponent that never get counted. It's like hidden and discretionary cash flow on a income statement (props to all my homies in accounting). Penalties kill drives and they crush teams in the Red Zone. Each week, I'll be looking at penalty yards to see how the Broncos are winning this "game within the game."
ON IN-GAME ADJUSTMENTS
7. Look, man, I've got certain information, all right? Certain things have come to light. In-game adjustments are critical. I'm certainly not the first MHR member to demonstrate Shanny's propensity to script plays, shred an opponent on the first drive, then sputter in the 2nd and 4th quarters. Hopefully, this Bronco unit will play a consist 4 quarters. In short, McDaniels will not be judged by how he starts but how he finishes.
ON PAT BOWLEN
8. Strong men also cry... strong men also cry. We have the best owner in sports. Period. Firing Shanny literally brought the man to tears. But he knew he had to do it to turn the organization around again. Don´t forget this. Bowlen is rich, as is every other owner in sports, but the guy cares about winning as much as anyone. He´s got two super bowl rings, enough fur coats to put PETA on alert, and the balls to call Jay Cutler´s bluff. I´m in his corner and you should be also.
ON AL DAVIS
9. And, you know, he's got emotional problems, man. If you saw Al´s rant last year after the Kiffin firing, you know what I´m talking about. Next.
ON BRANDON MARSHALL
10. And look at it this way Dude, who's got a million dollars in their trunk? Huh? Marshall is underpaid and he can punt the hell out of football when he´s pouting. But I think his days of causing trouble in Denver are over. I think he not only produces, but I think there is a good chance he finds his way into OchoCinco land, happy, and in a Bronco uniform next year as well...and well compensated.
11. You want a toe? I can get you a toe. The question isn´t will there be injuries. The question is, how many? McDaniels has spoken often about the need for depth and his recent draft reflects this (TE, RB, CB). He's also talked about the need to be better conditioned for the season (practicing in pads). Will this translate into wins? Well, it ain´t gonna hurt, man.
ON EDDIE ROYAL
12. The Royal "we"! You know, the editorial. Feel free to claim Eddie Royal for this town in the same way you did Rod Smith and Eddie Mac. He´s that good. Did anyone happen to notice his 91 receptions being the 2nd best in NFL history for a rookie?
Oh, and he´s that good of a cat, too.
ON FICKLE DENVER FANS
13. Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes, well, he eats you. Denver will lose some games this year. When they do, it´s not time for Bronco fans to mutiny. The difference between 8-8 and 10-6 is very slight. The season is a marathon, not a sprint. And I´d much rather finish like NE did last year (winning their last 4 game) than the way recent Bronco teams have, melting like butter on hotcakes (at a Darryl Gardener I-Hop).
ON TAKING FOOTBALL TOO SERIOUSLY
14. Now so far, we have what appears to me to be a series of victimless crimes. As you watch the games this year, remember, it´s a game. It´s not life and death. There will be another game. The stadium didn't collapse. MHR will still be here. Ultimately, it´s entertainment. If you had a good time watching, there is not a need to kick your dog, punch a hole through the wall, or cry (well, maybe a little, see # 9) if the Broncos drop a few.
Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the drama. Hell, enjoy yourself a few more beverages. But football doesn't pay the mortgage (unless you run a 4.4 40-yard dash), it doesn't play with your kids (well Madden 10 does), it doesn't get you laid (unless your special lady friend has a thing for John Clayton), and it shouldn't define your life (unless you are Al Davis). So chill, man. Just abide and enjoy the next game.
ON DENVER'S DEFENSIVE SCHEME
15. I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man. Last year, offenses dictated to the Denver defense. This year, it isn't happening. Mike Nolan will employ confusion and disguise, along with a lot bigger beef to bring hurt to more than a few teams.
And three words: Chris "freakin' " Baker.
ON THE NUMBER OF BLACK HEAD COACHES
16. So racially, he's pretty cool? The NFL can always do better, but now 6 of the 32 teams have black head coaches. Progress is beginning to come. Best of luck to Mike Singletary, Raheem Morris, and Jim Caldwell, who are getting their first shot.
ON DENVER'S THROWBACK UNIFORMS
17. Well, sir, it's this rug I have. It really tied the room together. If you think there is something wrong with brown and gold, you're either a CSU or BYU fan, or you simply dislike the University of Wyoming. These Bronco 50th anniversary uniforms are sweet (sans vertical striped socks). At least give the home white with brown lettering and trim a chance, hombre.
ON THE BANDWAGON
18. Oh boy. How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm once they've seen Karl Hungus. Once Denver starts having success, prepare for all of your friends in the MSM to begin to proclaim the Broncos as this year's Atlanta or Miami. There are two reasons they do this. First, they want to focus on something other than how stupid their predictions are. And second, it will give them chance after chance to bring up their favorite subject, Jay Cutler.
MORE ON THE DEFENSE
19. That was me...and six other guys. Brian Dawkins will have this team ready each week emotionally. This will translate into more guys around the ball and more opportunities for turnovers. Remember all of the Kansas City teams from the Schottenheimer days? I hated playing those guys because they always had 4 guys around ball constantly. They were like crazed dogs (thanks, the real LT). They always seemed to force 2-3 turnovers each game. This is what we can hope to see out of Denver this year and in years to come.
ON SPECIAL TEAMS AND FIELD POSITION
20. So you have no frame of reference here, Donny. You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie... Most fans forget about the 3rd phase of football, special teams. When I looked at all 265 games of 2008, the team that won 70% of the time won the field position battle. McDaniels, despite what you might think about Cutler, has put a focus on special teams. He's got the right frame of reference. You should too. Don't be one of those fans deceived by total yards and yardage rankings. Focus on on the three headed monster of turnovers, time of possession, and field position.
GO BRONCOS IN 2009!
...and remember, neckbeards never go out of fashion.