Fat Man blogger TJ “The Dude” Johnson posts The Dude’s Mail Revue on Thursdays, in which he takes your questions about the state of the Denver Broncos. Got a titillating question? Put a dollar bill into the Dude’s G-String and he might answer your question—after bowling practice.
Duderino, I’m not the first person to point out that a certain 250-lb. running back is shredding defenses in Cleveland, Ohio. We had that kind of talent in our backfield and we wasted it! Why? Does Josh McDaniels not know talent when he sees it? And all we got in return was a tee-shirt and Brady Quinn. I’m with that guy from the Denver Post (I can’t remember his name, but I know he’s not Woody Paige) who said that McDaniels really got it wrong by letting Peyton Hillis go. Really really wrong!
—Don, Bay Village, Ohio
Don: You are right. You are not the first to bring up Hillis. The 5,280th maybe. This has to be the the most-asked question I get from fans when I’m at the lanes kicking it with the boys. Or when I’m in the middle of a Leprechaun marathon on TV, a lot of Broncos fans will hit me with a text message just to say, “Dude, what about Hillis?” I’m not even safe in Cherry Creek anymore. Someone always tracks me down to get my opinion on a cage match between the Incredible Hulk and Peyton Hillis. Enough already, people!
Now, I’m going to make this easy for you, Don, so you and the rest of your friends can sleep easy tonight, okay? Josh McDaniels has never questioned if Petyon Hillis was a good running back. In fact, I can’t find a lot of people who have said anything negative about Hillis. But you have to realize that Hillis is not a back for the McDaniels system. He just isn’t. The McDaniels system is extremely heavy in shotgun formations with one running back and 3 or 4 wide receivers. The responsibility of the running back in McDaniels’ system is as much pass protection as it is running. Picking up pass protection assignments were not a strength for Hillis in his time in Denver. However, in Cleveland they are transitioning to a two-back, west coast system. Mike Shanahan drafted Hillis to play in a two-back, west coast system in the mold of a Howard Griffith. Hillis just fits that system better as the two backs in this system are used extensively in the flat. Hillis loves the flat.
And there is also anther issue. Hillis simply fumbled too often for McDaniels’ tastes. Hillis still has this problem in Cleveland, as was demonstrated by his two fumbles in the first game of the year.
Just because Hillis is having success, it doesn’t mean that McDaniels was wrong. And just because McDaniels traded Hillis, it doesn’t mean that Hillis won’t succeed long-term. I know this is hard for many people to accept, but sometimes in the NFL, a trade can be right for both sides, even if the trade appears one-sided statistically—due to differences in system and personnel preferences. Imagine Barry Sanders in a one-cut zone blocking scheme. Can’t do it? Okay, now you are catching on.
Is Hillis a good running back? Absolutely. Could he have succeeded in McDaniels’ system? Who knows. Does he look like a great option right now because the Broncos are 32nd in the league in rushing? Uh-huh. But unless Josh McDaniels is running the west coast offense next week, I say we support Hillis in Cleveland and move on.
Besides, that tee-shirt we got along with Quinn is a little tight on me and I like the way it shows my biceps off at the gym when I’m pounding out curl reps with Brian Cushing.
TJ, The Broncos are again talking to Champ Bailey about a long-term contract extension. What are your thoughts on this move? Since the Patriots are well known for trading their veterans before they’ve become obsolete, why wouldn’t we do the same? We just saw this today with Randy Moss. Shouldn’t we part with Bailey and gets some good draft picks while we still can? It would really tie the (draft) room together, and I have to tell you, I think Bailey could be losing a step by next year.
—Chuck, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Chuck: If you weren’t a fellow Broncos fan, I would slap you across the face—with Al Davis’ hand. Trade away one of the top-10 cornerbacks of all time? You need to check your head, brother. Bailey may have lost a tenth on his forty time, which would officially put him at 4.38 (he once ran 4.28), but a step, no. When you see Bailey beaten on coverage, it’s never due to speed. It’s usually because of a coverage error (Bailey loves to read the QB through the backfield in soft coverage) or a perfectly-placed ball. Cornerback is like that. Even Lester Hayes was torched several times a game, and he actually beat, mugged, and murdered wide receivers on every single play (they still haven’t found the weapon). I actually think he licked the stickum off his fingers as well after having mixed it with Red Bull before the game, but we’ll never know, will we?
There are several other points for you to consider. They will move Champ Bailey to safety in two years. This should add another 3 or 4 years to his career, as it did with Rod Woodson. Woodson was 6’0” and weighed about 205 pounds. Bailey is currently 6’0” and weighs about 195 pounds. All he needs to do is spend the offseason with Eddie Royal and he’ll come back at 210. If he spends it with Bill Romanowski, he’ll hit 235.
Bailey would make a great free safety. He’s already one of the best tackling corners in the NFL. His preference for reading the QB and his speed are perfect assets for the free safety position as well because the free safety is often required to close the gap in the secondary as receivers are either beat deep or are released into the deep coverage zones. Bailey will also be able to cover slot receivers with ease as a free safety in man coverage against 3- and 4-wide receivers sets.
The last reason the Broncos should keep Bailey is an emotional one. He needs to go into the Hall of Fame as a Denver Bronco. How else will Pat Bowlen continue to make money off Bailey’s jersey sales? Throwbacks are very fashionable.
TJ, I must be the only Broncos fan out in this neck of the woods, but I abide like you. Hey, there are two teams that the Broncos can never seem to beat. The Colts and the Ravens. Since we already lost to the Colts this year at home, I’m not hopeful we will vanquish Baltimore. They seem to always have our number. I think our only hope is to shut down Anquan Boldin, don’t you agree?
—Trevor, Baltimore, Maryland
Trevor: The Ravens have certainly had their way with Denver, there’s no doubt. Basically, the Ravens have out-muscled them (sounds a little kinky to me) on both sides of the ball. They’ve pounded the ball at the Broncos on offense, and on defense have reduced the Broncos’ quarterbacks to running for their lives.
But that was in an era of Broncos finesse offenses (which did win 2 Super Bowls, to be fair). The Broncos are transitioning to a tougher team with bigger guys up front. Have they made the complete transformation? Nope. Denver can’t run against good run defenses—so we are told. But I’m not so sure the Ravens are going to throw the Broncos around. Inserting Zane Beadles at left guard wouldn’t hurt.
Look, I’m not saying the Broncos are going to go into Baltimore and crush the Ravens. What I am saying is that the game is going to be close and winnable. Yes, really. The Ravens only average 15.3 points per game. It’s not as if that offense is destroying anyone. And the Broncos’ passing game—despite troubles in the red zone—will move the ball against any team it plays.
The attention this week will be on the Broncos’ pass offense versus the Ravens’ pass defense. But Josh McDaniels wouldn’t be Josh McDaniels if he did what the Ravens (or anyone else) were expecting. Don’t be surprised if the Broncos attack the Ravens on the left side of the line with Ryan Clady and Daniel Graham in the running game. The Ravens have a reputation as a big-time run-stuffing defense, but off left end and left tackle, they are allowing their opponents an average of 6.83 yards and 5.63 yards per carry, respectively.
I’m enjoying watching the pundits this week. Like lemmings, everyone is taking Baltimore. But that’s only so they can do another feature on Ray Lewis.
Hey, Dude, you guys are always poking fun at the writers at the Denver Post. Can you say something different about them for once?,
—Mark, Denver, Colorado
Mark: I’ve got just the thing. Since we are getting close to Halloween, let’s pretend each writer is starring in a teenage slasher flick.
Let’s start with Mike Klis. He sometimes seems a bit extraneous, so the slasher takes him out within the first 15 minutes. Next, we have Woody Paige. Paige is the slasher himself—a crazy madman on the edge. But sometimes his lines are funny enough to make you laugh. Mark Kiszla is the guy who dies off first because he’s kind of a know-it-all and, let’s face it, no one likes to see the know-it-all make it to the second act. Jeff Legwold isn’t flashy. He tends to use more stats, so he’s probably the class nerd. He likely survives late into the movie because he’s discovered the slasher’s secret or weakness. But don’t hold your breath. He still gets it. Lindsay Jones is the hottest of the bunch, no doubt, so she’s the girl that probably survives until the end of the flick, but just barely, and she’ll always have mental scars from facing a madman like Paige. We have to have something for the sequel, don’t we?
Dude, I’m in the 8th grade. I told my teacher today that I wanted to be a blogger like you. It seems fun. And I figure that I can score some girls this way. So she asked me to do a report on it. Can you tell me some things I should put in this report like do you make a lot of bank? I really just want to become a professional gamer, but if I told her that, she would have flunked me. Can you help me out? I need to get her off my back.
—Colby, Enid, Oklahoma
Colby: Finally, someone sends me a useful question. Sure, I can give you a load of information about blogging. First, and this is the good news, blogging doesn’t have to take away from your dream job of gaming. Heck, I’d say that you can consider blogging as your fall back. Neither are going to pay the bills, so game, and if you tear your rotator cuff, you’ll always have blogging as a backup plan. Second, pick your topic wisely. My first blogging topic wasn’t the Broncos, but rather, nude curling. After a few months, however, it hit me that stones, ice, and naked bodies didn’t really have a big audience. Don’t ask me why, but everything tends to shrivel up, if you know what I mean. Lastly, and this is probably what you really wanted to know, bloggers are damn sexy. Why do you think they blog? If they got out more, it would only mean more crowds. So they sort of have to protect this sphere of sexiness—from the basement of their parents’ house.
I have to say, Colby, you seem like a first-class slacker. And I’m okay with that. Someone needs to carry on the tradition of excellence.
Unrelated Glam-Rock Bit
This Week’s Glam-Rock 80’s Song/Video: Turn Up The Radio (1984)
Why It’s So Bad It’s Good: 1) Dudes with bracelets and headbands; 2) Military medals as fashion statements; 3) Robots; 4)Double-Vision Guitar Solos; 5) The world’s smallest radio being, well, turned up.
Best Existential Lyric: “I’m going 24 hours a day, I can’t seem to stop.”