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 roll your way into the semis? You want a toe--with nail polish--by 3 o'clock?
Drop TJ your question @ email@example.com.
TJ, I love the new site, but it's a little bare for me. Are you guys planning to spruce it up a bit? Also, I was wondering if you might give me your thoughts on the Alphonso Smith trade. Everyone keeps talking about Peyton Hillis, but it's not like we had a lot invested in him. He was a 5th-rounder. Smith on the other hand was basically a 1st-round guy from Wake Forest. Did we give up on him too soon? It's strange because he's doing so well in Detroit now, it's like he's another player entirely. What did the Broncos do wrong?
—T. Duncan, San Antonio, Texas
Mr. Duncan: Your first question has absolutely nothing to do with football, so of course I'll answer it. I'm just happy it wasn't a difficult one, like can Matt Cassel walk and chew gum at the same time (only if Charlie Weis scripts the walk for him)?
The answer about the site is yes, we are going to do some things to the site to make it more visually appealing in the near future. One will include some lead-in graphics like what you see above,created by Fat Man friend and bad-ass designer Joe Howard. We've got others helping us as well, including the very man who created this site, David Singer. So you'll soon see more than just content that is kickin'--you'll get some pretty pictures, too.
Well, on to your question. The Alphonso Smith moves--both the drafting and the trading--have puzzled many a Broncos fan. I'll spare you the draft-day analysis because it's been covered so many times and most so-called experts don't believe Josh McDaniels used proper judgment in trading up. Regarding the trade, I don't think we'll get the complete picture unless Phonz or McDaniels comes out with some narrative in the future. We know from this Denver Post piece by Jeff Legwold that the staff likely thought that Phonz didn't want to be a part of what the Broncos were doing:
Privately, some with the Broncos say Smith simply didn't learn their system and didn't want to adapt to what the Broncos were asking him to do, that he was stubborn.
Just what were they asking him to do? For starters, they wanted him to play inside on the zone-nickel coverage, which he struggled to do well during his time in Denver. I don't think he ever wanted to play on the inside in Denver. I can tell you, though, after watching him on tape in several Lions games, the guy is playing great--no, better than great. Superb. He seems more natural in man coverage and is tracking the ball extremely well. I think he prefers to be out on the edge like a traditional corner. He sees the ball better and just breaks on it quicker. When he's on the edge, he's more confident; when he's more confident, he's making more plays. How many interceptions does he have already with the Lions? 500 million? Five? I guess it just feels like more.
Confidence is a funny thing in sports. It's almost as important as talent. Once you lose the mental edge, you might as well give up--more so at the level of an NFL cornerback. If you've got it, however, you begin to play like a first rounder and even channel Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
Remember how I said he doesn't like playing on the inside in zone-nickel coverage? Well, with the Lions he doesn't mind. Again, confidence can do wonders.
The Broncos received Dan Gronkowski in the trade. He's played relatively well for a 7th-round draft pick. So if you want a positive, you can look there. And the Broncos do have Perrish Cox, who could be a star as early as next year, a potential lockout notwithstanding.
But did the Broncos give up too early? In hindsight, yes. However, if what Legwold says is true, then what were the Broncos supposed to do?
The answer: handle Smith's fragile pysche better. Or trade him.
I have a question for you, Mr. Duncan. Are you the sort of Broncos fan who thought the pick of Smith was poor? Or are you the sort who thought giving up on him was poor? It seems like most Broncos fans were in the first camp before the trade. Now that Phonz has 5 interceptions, everyone seems to have jumped to the second camp. Strange how that happens.
Dude--Did you ever get Brett Kern to lift the Curse on the Broncos? I can see you've a very practical mind, Mr. Johnson. Before my scientific background obligated me to accept only the most immutable sort of scientific evidence for the causation of any phenomenon, I would have believed in such curses. However, considering that the Broncos have really had a tough go of it, I again ponder the inevitable possibility that not everything can be explained by science or statistics.
—Professor Gruber, Undisclosed Location, Northeast Seabord
Professor: Kern never responded, despite our tweets and pleas for his help. We have it from a good source that Kern actually read the piece and is well aware of the curse. He continues, however, his public silence on the issue. I take his silence to mean one of two things: either he wants to keep the Curse on the Broncos or he doesn't like Tim Tebow. I'm just not sure.
Kern seems like a good Christian guy--a product of clean living, you might even say. So he needs to do the Christian thing here and lift this curse. All he has to do is forgive Denver via his Twitter account. I noticed the other day he had enough time to tweet this:
Kern is mentioning Outback Steakhouse and is silent on the Curse! What gives?
WWTD (What Would Tebow Do), Brett? Come on, man. Lift the curse. Lift it!
By the way, if you feel like busting off a tweet to Kern, go right ahead. I think he'll eventually do what's right, although you can hardly blame him if he held a grudge against McDaniels.
Until that time, I'm going to do my part to life the curse. I'm going to dedicate the following limerick for the Toledo Rockets, Kern's alma mater:
This One's For You, Brett Kern
Let's rock the midnight blue and gold
with Toledo so strong and bold.
Next they will crush Bowling Green
like nothing we've ever seen.
Lift this curse, Brett, don't be cold.
TJ, follow my logic here. The Raiders beat us by 45 points. The Raiders beat the Chiefs by only 3. So the Chiefs are going to beat us by 42 points. I think I'm going to talk to some guys about fronting me some cash. You got any ideas where I can find a bookie?
—Jonny Dailey , Dardanelle, Arkansas
Jonny: Sorry, we engage in a lot of activities here at Fat Man, but gambling just isn't one of them. If you were a Raiders fan, your logic would be spot on. In fact, I think it (along with your behavior) would qualify you to teach both critical thinking and ethics in the Oakland public schools. However, the NFL is a league in which the Browns can crush the Patriots and the Saints in consecutive games. So your logic is completely flawed. The Broncos match up with the Chiefs differently than the Raiders--both badly, of course.
The Chiefs could beat the Broncos by 5 or by 55 and I wouldn't be surprised on Sunday. One thing is for sure, however. If the Broncos come out of their bye week and lose to an emotionally-drained Chiefs team at home in a big way, the calls for Josh McDaniels to be fired will ratchet up to a level you've never seen before. If you though the fury after the Oakland game was bad, you don't want to see how bad it gets if the Chiefs boat race the Broncos. You'll hear accusations that McDaniels has lost his team, that the players don't buy into the system, and that McDaniels is for waterboarding. Just prepare yourself.
I personally am against waterboarding--unless we are talking about this guy (American Idol Winner David Cook):
Now, on another note, if you want to email me privately, I'll take the Broncos if you're laying 6 points on the Chiefs.
Dude: What do the Broncos need to do to fix their problems and finish out the 2nd half strong? I'd like to see Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas in on more plays.
— Michael McKoy, Parker, Colorado
Michael: The passing game isn't the problem, although I agree, it would be nice to see more of these two wideouts.
Let's start with the defense. I have one solution, and it's always the same--blitz. Blitz like there's no tomorrow. Blitz like blitzing is an asset bubble. Blitz so often that even Dick LeBeau thinks you are blitzing too much.
Speaking of LeBeau, there is this idea that the Broncos need the right personnel to begin blitzing as often as I prescribe. But it's simply not true. In fact, blitzing more will actually help to cover up some of the critical flaws the Broncos have on defense.
Here's a quote from Dom Capers from the new book Blood, Sweat, and Chalk, in which he describes the Pittsburgh Steelers of 1992:
"Our pass rushers were not nearly as good as what we had in New Orleans. Three quarters of the way through that first season, we only had 19 sacks. We just weren't getting to the quarterback enough. It reached the point, late in that season, where Dick and I just said to each other, "We've got to do something X's and O's-wise because our front seven guys are just not beating people one-on-one...If you looked at our secondary, we had some pretty good guys back there--Rod Woodson, Carnell Lake. So in the latter part of the season we started mixing in some zone pressures and getting more pressure on the quarterback. The secondary responded well, and the guys up front loved it because we were being aggressive." (p. 207)
Tim Layden, author of the book, then notes that the Steelers ended up finishing 11-5 that year and ranked second in the league in scoring defense.
Does this scenario--a HOF secondary and a bunch of guys who can't get to the qb--sound like any team in the Rocky Mountains to you?
Wink Martindale, please, if you are going to go down, go down swinging. Blitz the Chiefs this Sunday. I implore you.
Dude, what you gonna do when the Chiefs run rampant all over you?
—BBQ Jim, Kansas City
Jim: First, I'll fill a large paper sack with as much dog crap as I can find at the local park. Next, I'll walk across the street to my neighbor's house. He is a Raiders fan. I'll light that bag on fire and drop it right on his doorstep. Then I'll walk back home and call the neighbor and tell him that I saw another guy who is a Chiefs fan, and who lives down the block, drop something on his doorstep. I will feign concern.
Inside, I will laugh the laughter of someone whose team will be picking at the top of the draft board in 2011.
Now, let’s crush the Chiefs this week with a little…
Unrelated Glam-Rock Bit
This Week’s Glam-Rock 80’s Song/Video: Someone Like You (1989)
Artist: Bang Tango
Why It’s So Bad It’s Good: 1) Neon 2) Neon 3) Neon
Best Existential Lyric: “Wrapped up in this world of anger..."
If you like to see The Dude slack off 24/7, you can always find him on Facebook and Twitter. Or you can email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. He assumes you are following It’s All Over, Fat Man! on Facebook and Twitter, but if you are not, that’s nihilistic.