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.
TJ, we’ve only played 5 games of a 16-game schedule. I don’t know why everyone is getting so carried away. So we’ve lost to the Colts, the Ravens, and the Jaguars. The record of these three opponents is 10-5. If we can get the Jets this weekend, we’ll be sitting at 3-3 with all of our division games remaining. I could see us going 5-1 in the division easily. That’s 8-4. And then all we have is Houston, Arizona, San Francisco, and Saint Louis. We could win at least two of these games. That puts us at 10-6 and into the playoffs! This is going to happen.
—Juan Ebna, Beaver, Utah
Juan: Who am I to argue with such an optimist? Either that or you’re related to someone in the Broncos’ PR department. If not, they should hire you. Would you be willing to relocate from Beaver?
I’m as big a Broncos fan as the next bloke, but you’ve got to set some realistic expectations. Let’s start with the idea that they can beat the Jets this weekend. Despite the fact that they are playing at home, injuries are decimating the Broncos like cocaine decimated the members of Motley Crue—at least for a few hours. And unless you plan on starting Nikki Sixx at safety this weekend, I’m thinking getting the win is going to be difficult. Mark Sanchez is playing surprisingly well, also. If he weren’t, I’d actually take the Broncos in this game no matter the other circumstances.
There are also problems with your divisional projections. The last 4 consecutive years, the Broncos have gone exactly 3-3 against the AFC West. The last time the Broncos went 5-1 in the division was 2005, when Jake Plummer was still in Mike Shanahan’s good graces. They finished that year 13-3. This year they already have 3 losses. So history is not on your side. And with the Broncos, at least lately, history has been a predictor of future returns.
Until shown otherwise, you have assume the best they’ll do against San Diego is split. That requires them to sweep both Kansas City and Oakland. Kansas City is much improved and the Raiders seem to be in every game they play, no matter the opponent. I suppose it could happen. But so could Jay Cutler surviving the season without another concussion. Neither is likely.
Let’s say they split the division, like they usually do, and lose to the Jets. They’d have a record of 5-7. They would need to beat all four of the rest of their non-division opponents just to get to 9-7.
I guess they really do need this Jets game at home. Quick, call Simon Fletcher, Rulon Jones, Dennis Smith, and Terrell Davis before Friday. I think they can still bring the leather.
The rumors are out there already. Shawne Merriman to the Broncos? What do they have to lose?
—Quintus, Windsor, Colorado
Quintus: What do they have to gain? The lights are definitely out when it comes to Merriman’s performance, which is not even close to what it was last year. And last year was not a great year for Merriman. I think he’s washed up the same way that He-Man and Skeletor were washed up after their early years in the 80s. Sure, they still kept in great shape, but they just didn’t bring the same intensity to Castle Grayskull that they had before.
When I looked at Merriman on film after I got your question, he just seemed slower. I’m not sure how well he sack-dances, because he didn’t even get close to the quarterback.
On tape, he has the same passion. He has the same fire. He just plays slower. Perhaps it was all of that Tila Tequila or nandrolone. If you’re not familiar with nandrolone, it’s the stuff that made Barry Bonds’ head grow to the size of a pumpkin and helped Roger Clemens throw 95 mph at the age of 95. And you just thought it was all of those step-ups.
But despite this, sadly, he’s probably a slight upgrade over what the Broncos are now facing with injuries. I doubt Merriman will want to sign with the Broncos, however. It’s just not high-profile enough for him. And right now, he needs a high-profile destination to resurrect his ailing career. That’s why I see Mike Shanahan and the Redskins making a play for him. Shanahan has an insatiable penchant for betting on players who are well past their glory days.
If I were the Broncos, I would probably shy away and just move Mario Haggan to the outside. We know Haggan can hold the edge against the run. This will also allow the Broncos to get a good look at what bowling ball Joe Mays is really made of. The early word from training camp was that Mays was a heavy hitter. Hopefully we’ll see if the Broncos can uncover a diamond in the rough.
Dude, Rex Ryan seems to get more credit than he deserves. Am I the only guy that sees him as a cocky blowhard?
—Mark, Manhattan, New York
Mark: I don’t like him much more than you do. However, it’s only because he’s not the coach of the Broncos. When he was a defensive coordinator, I loved his game plans. They were extremely aggressive, but I’m a fan of blitzing on every play of the game. I only wish the Broncos would do it more.
Ryan has taken this aggressiveness and translated it into the identity of his football team. Of course football, by its very nature, is an aggressive game, so the players love it. And when the players buy into the system that’s half the battle. Ryan also seems to have a genuine care for his players that stretches beyond football. Here’s an anecdote from 2009 article by Gary Myers:
When Shaun Ellis had surgery last offseason, Ryan was sitting in the recovery room waiting for him. He’s visited his players all over the country in their homes. “When you look at Rex, he cares deeply for people,” Tannenbaum [Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum] said. “He cares deeply for their success. He’s very genuine. People quickly see that in him.”
And after Tony Dungy recently said that he wouldn’t hire Ryan because he cusses too much, Ryan had this to say:
“I’m always going to be myself and I’m a good person. Just because somebody cusses doesn’t make him a bad person. Just because a guy doesn’t cuss doesn’t make him a good person. I’ll stand by my merits.”
In some ways, Ryan is like former safety Rodney Harrison, or even former Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski. Would you like to take them to the woodshed? Absolutely. They are annoying as hell. But would you want them on your side?
Yeah, I thought so.
Hey, TJ, come on bring the noise! Hey, give me your Top 5 favorite Broncos and hair bands from the 80s!
—Lars, Lima, Peru
Lars: ¿Qué tal, hombre? (That’s “Al Davis is the Devil” in Spanish). Glad to see the Mail Revue gets all the way down to Peru. I know that Fat Man has readers already in over 40 different countries, and we’re excited to have you. We still haven’t broken through to North Korea, but give us time. I hear Kim Jong-un is a huge fan of the Elway helicopter replay.
Great question, man. There were so many awesomely bad bands from the 80s, that I’m not sure I can do your question justice. But I’ll try.
Top 5 Broncos from the 80s
1) John Elway
2) Simon Fletcher
3) Karl Mecklenberg
4) Dennis Smith
5t) Rulon Jones
5t) Steve Watson
Top 5 Hair Bands from the 80s
1) Def Leppard
3) Motley Crue
Next time, I’ll have to go more obscure in both categories, but for now, these are some pretty good lists. If you left me on a desert island with no clothes, no food, and no water, and with only the choice of a Broncos jersey and an album/cd/download, I’d pick Simon Fletcher’s #73 and Def Leppard’s Hysteria from 1987. Man can live off Leppard alone.
TJ, I have this problem. My boyfriend has a fear of intimacy, and it’s most pronounced during Broncos games. Is there anything I can do? We both feel that you were the most qualified person in the whole wide world to answer this question. I think he’s just blowing me off.
—Marni, Portland, Oregon
Marni: You are both right. I am eminently qualified to give you advice on this subject. And I do have a weak spot for the ladies. Friend request me on Facebook while your boyfriend is watching the game and we can talk more. But I digress.
For many years, I myself have struggled with intimacy issues while screaming at the TV in sports bars. At first, I thought it might just be adrenaline and testosterone, you know, on account of watching guys run into each other at 20 mph while trying to catch a football. Or perhaps it was being in the presence of other guys screaming like banshees while watching 300-pounders try to tear each other limb from limb that was causing my intimacy issues. But in time, I realized it was my own tiny inadequacies and fear of a true commitment that was causing it all.
But I have a solution for you. Watch the Raiders for a few games. No, really. Just try it. You’ll soon find that you and your boyfriend will become so utterly bored by the level of play, that you’ll have to pay attention to each other. At first, it will be difficult. You might find yourself betting on Sebastian Jankowski’s weight. Then you’ll wonder who Tom Cable’s barber is. But eventually, the two of you will find your way back to each other. In perfect Broncos bliss.
Unrelated Glam-Rock Bit
This Week’s Glam-Rock 80’s Song/Video: Pour Some Sugar On Me (1987)
Artist: Def Leppard
Why It’s So Bad It’s Good: Do I really have to tell you this?
Best Existential Lyric: “Demolition woman, can I be your man?”