The Dude’s Mail Revue: Sharpe, Atwater, and getting slapped by Momma

Dude's Mail Revue 400x145

Fat Man blogger TJ “The Dude” Johnson posts The Dude’s Mail Revue on Thursdays, in which he takes your questions and gets your opinion about the state of the Denver Broncos.

You wanna tie the room together?  Or say what you'd like about the tenets of national socialism?

Drop TJ a question: tjthedudejohnson@gmail.com.

(NOTE:  Marmots  were harmed in the writing of this Revue)

TJ, congratulations to one of the Broncos' favorite sons, Shannon Sharpe, for making it into the Hall of Fame!  What an honor for yet another Bronco.  I just wish he would have been inducted earlier.  It seemed a little belated to me. 

--Mariano Flores, El Paso, Texas

Mariano:  The fact that it even took Sharpe this long to get in is a vomitable offense.  Can the voters really sleep at night knowing they missed putting on the first ballot the one tight end that virtually changed the position overnight?  Disgusting.  I'm sure some of these fools would try and bring up Kellen Winslow being the first hybrid tight end, Sharpe's lack of blocking, or that the league had become pass happy by the time Sharpe was in his prime.  These arguments all deserve a huge WTF award.  That's because they hold no water.

First, Sharpe was every bit the receiver (and more) that Winslow was in Don Coryell's pass-happy offense.  I shouldn't even have to bring up the fact that he bested Winslow (and Ozzie Newsome for that matter) in all major receiving categories.  Second, Sharpe's blocking in his prime was more than adequate and he took pride in making sure he got good at it. He punished DBs, and against ends, he perfected the fine art of holding hooking so the play could get to the outside.  Third, the fact that the league had evolved to become pass happy isn't a knock against Sharpe.  It's a positive.  That's because he was one of the primary drivers of the change.  In other words, the league became a passing league because he created so many mismatches on 3rd down, every team in the league began looking for guys like him.  Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark and Tony Gonzalez should all send Sharpe royalty checks each month.

Lastly, there is the little issue of three Super Bowl titles to bring into the argument.  I guess the voters simply ignored that the first time around. If John Elway is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, how can Sharpe not be?  The logic defies.  I guess that's why guys who wear fanny packs are voting on this stuff.

Since we're on the subject of Sharpe, another completely disgusting fact--he broke the career receptions record for tight ends as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.  I know Mike Shanahan felt like the price was too high to pay to keep Sharpe when the Ravens signed him, but the fact is, if Shanahan--who signed Sharpe two years later--felt like Sharpe was going to help them win, he could have kept Sharpe as a Bronco.  Shanahan's arrogance for believing he could turn out 1,000-yard rushers at the drop of a hat also extended to tight ends.  Shanahan thought he could create pass-catching tight ends out of thin air.  He was wrong. Shanahan spent money on free agents like Al Davis spent money on jumpsuits.  He should have kept Sharpe, plain and simple.

What gets lost in all of the talk about Sharpe (and the talking Sharpe does) is his work ethic.  As a 7th-round draft pick, he worked for and earned everything he got. As Sharpe once said they cut guys like him every day of the week.

I do not want to sound like an ungrateful fan after we've seen Floyd Little and now Shannon Sharpe get in to the Hall of Fame, but shouldn't this be just the beginning?  Players like Randy Gradishar, Dennis Smith, Louis Wright, Terrell Davis, Steve Atwater, Tom Nalen, and even Rod Smith are all deserving.  It is a crying shame there is so much bias against the Broncos.  I know we played with some ugly striped socks, but there's no reason to hold it against us all this time.

--Den Smith, Hollywood Hills, California

Den: I couldn't agree more with you.  Doug Lee and I were talking about this earlier in the week.  After about five minutes, we were both so angry, we considered firing off some nasty emails to Peter "Where's the Flood" King just to let off some steam.  Luckily, there was a Raiders fan in my office that I slapped across the face.  So the moment had passed.

Should we term this Broncophobia?  Or Broncosism?  It's some kind of -ism, I'm telling you, this bias against Broncos players.

For me the biggest slight is Steve Atwater, with Terrell Davis a close second.  Atwater won two Super Bowls, had over 1,000 tackles in his career, 8 Pro-Bowls, and 2 All-Pros.  And the Hall of Fame is completely stupid if they don't want to be able to claim this video for one of their own:

I've shown this video before, but it never gets old.  This is the greatest hit in NFL history.  It wasn't some punk move on a defenseless receiver.  Atwater didn't lead with his head.  He simply channeled Muhammad Ali's fist through his shoulder for a moment of pure NFL poetry.

Atwater has more tackles than Brian Dawkins, more interceptions than John Lynch, and similar Pro-Bowl and All-Pro designations to both men.  Guess what?  Both Dawkins and Lynch will get in.  Why not Atwater?  Did Atwater play with better defensive players around him?  No way.  The Broncos never had a Warren Sapp on their roster.

Once again, logic defies.  Maybe the voters simply hate orange.

I'll deal with Rod Smith at another time, but I truly believe had Smith not injured his hip and played one or two more seasons, he would be a lock.   He should still get in, however. Will he?  I doubt it.  Peter King is too busy keeping his eye on the Patriots.

Dude, I know you wrote about the Super Bowl this week (mostly the commercials), but what play stood out the most for you?  For me, it was the Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson.  It was placed perfectly. 

Gunnar Nelson, Nashvlle, Tennessee

Gunnar:  First, I focused on the commercials because they were easy pickin's.  They are either funny or they are not--like an Al Davis press conference.  Second, the name Jordy Nelson is a classic.  If you are going to play football and you are going to be a white wide receiver, you better have a name like Jordy.  It's not quite as good as He Hate Me or Ted Nugent, but it's way better than Ochocinco or Terrell Owens.  Third, I like your choice of plays.  You are correct, sir.  That ball was perfectly placed.  Imagine how great Rodgers would have been if his receivers would not have dropped so many passes during the game.

My favorite play, however, was the interception returned for a touchdown.  And it has more to do with my love for Expected Points Value (EPV) than anything else.  The play I'm speaking of occurred with 3:34 remaining in the 1st quarter.  The Steelers faced a 1st and 10 at their own 7-yard line.  Roethlisberger threw a pick-six interception to Nick Collins. Using our old friend Brian Burke's EPV data, here is how big of a swing that play was:

EP Value - 1st and 10, Own 7-Yard Line: -.34

EP Value - Green Bay Touchdown: 6.28 (because of the average EPV value of the following kickoff return)

Swing: 6.62 points

The reason I like this play is because it reveals two interesting concepts that we've seen before.  First, when you're backed up against your own end zone, your expected points value is negative.  This is the reason I generally advocate aggressive plays downfield as a strategy in these situations.  If you simply run the ball, it's the equivalent (in the long term) of giving away points.  Second, the play also illustrates the importance of making good decisions with this aggression.  Roethlisberger's arm was hit on the play, but the free safety was already moving over the top to take away the deep ball.  Aggression combined with bad decision making (obviously) takes one's expected points value and makes the situation remarkably worse.

In short, don't throw picks when inside your own twenty, but don't shut it down, either.  

And don't form a hair-metal band with a family member.  It never ends well.

I laugh, TJ, at all of your Tebow stuff.  I think you are the only guy I've read who can both offend and titillate Tebow fans within the same sentence.  It's all in good fun, I know that.  Are you or are you not a religious guy?

Father Blue & Orange, Metro Denver

Father: I think it's worth pointing out that while I wrote the answer to your question just now, Tim Tebow did 150 dead lifts--one-legged dead lifts.  And in the time it took you to write your question, he spent 14 minutes in an ice bath in order to remove the lactic acid from the dead lifts. Wait, you say?  I'm answering the question after you wrote it, so Tebow couldn't have done the dead lifts first?  Pipe down.  I'm using Brian Xanders logic here.  In this world, the ice baths come before the heavy lifting.  Get used to it.

You want me to take a position on religion, father?  That's some dangerous territory, don't you think?  All I will say is this.  In high school, my dear mother only had 3 simple rules for me to live by:

  1. Don't smoke crack  (check)
  2. Don't catch any diseases from Raiders girls (check)
  3. Don't cry when your mother slaps you (sorry, Mom)

Not a bad set of rules if you ask me.  Batting two for three was better than I expected.

Oh, and father, guys like you shouldn't really be using the word "titillate."

There is no way we're going to see a lockout, TJ.  The owners and the players have too much to lose.  They'll get something done.

Hope, Pueblo, Colorado

Hope:  I love your optimism.  And, yes, there is quite a lot to lose (revenues, health benefits, your sanity).  However, just like Hall of Fame voting, sometimes logic defies.  I still, despite all of the hope, can't get the following exchange out of my mind that Jerry Jones had with Scott Pelley (CBS) during a 60 Minutes interview in December:

Pelley: "Do you think [a lockout] would be disastrous for the game?"

Jones: "No. I do not.  But I know the sentiment is not to have a lockout."

Maybe Jones' mother should have the sentiment to slap him.  However, he's probably right in one sense:a lockout wouldn't be as disastrous for the owners.  They are sitting on enough cash (and can access TV revenues during a lockout like their own line of credit) to let this play out.

But really, aren't you more concerned about all of the gamblers and fantasy leaguers not being able to feed their addictions? What about the poor bookmakers?  How will they feed their families, Hope? 

Unrelated 80s Glam Bit

Artist: Queensrÿche

Song: Another Rainy Night

Comment: Queensrÿche was an underrated band from this era.  Best known for their ballad Silent Lucidity, they never quite took off like some of their peers.  They were a little darker and dealt with themes that perhaps didn't fit the period.  Still, the band more than held their own, as you can see here:


 

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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