The Dude’s Mail Revue, Week 8: The Kool-Aid, the TD birthday salute, and rockin’ the bye week

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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 it—after bowling practice.

Hey, TJ:  The reason I like you is that I can’t tell if you are a Kool Aid drinker or not.  Just when I think you are about to call for the firing of McDaniels, you talk about the need for patience and on the job training.  Then, when I think you are on the Josh McDaniels Love Train, you show the Broncos’ stats on penalties, fumbles, and field position, which are some of the worst I’ve seen.  If that’s not a reason to really examine Josh’s contract at the end of the year (or now!), I don’t know what is.  You seem like a pretty levelheaded guy, but where do you stand exactly?  I think you need to get on the record. It’s a LOT easier for people to take shots at you on message boards that way.  Too bad you don’t have a time machine so you can go back and change your position if needed.
—Martin McFly, Hil Valley, California

Martin:  I prefer to think of my position as genius.  I believe it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who once said, “The sign of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”  Or perhaps it was Dolph Lundgren who simply said, “Yeah, I contradicted myself, you want to make something of it?”  Either way, I just try to tell it like it is.  McDaniels has been neither good nor bad, neither heaven nor hell.  Those who want to see him removed simply don’t want to recognize some of the good things he’s done (improving Denver’s standing relative to the salary cap, dumping an aloof Jay Cutler); those who think he’s still the next Bill Belichick don’t want to acknowledge some of his bad moves (drafting Richard Quinn, reaching on Alphonso Smith and then giving up too quickly).  As with almost anything in life, the truth is somewhere in the middle. 

Right now, McDaniels isn’t Bill Belichick.  But he’s no Lane Kiffin, either.  Most of the moves he’s made are impossible to judge yet.  That’s why reasonable people generally come down in the middle:  give him more time, have a little more patience, and we’ll see if the tide turns—hopefully drowning the Raiders in the process.  As many have pointed out, the 2nd half of this season will say a lot about McDaniels.  The Broncos are 2-6.  If they finish 2-14 or 3-13, there’s not a reasonable person in Broncoland (including McDaniels himself) that wouldn’t question his head-coaching ability.  Going 2-14 in any Broncos season is unforgivable.  The natives—rightly so, in my opinion—demand a better product. 

Until then, I’ll keep pointing out where I think McDaniels has failed and where I think he’s done well.  Losing to the Raiders 59-14 was abysmal.  Losing to the 49ers while facing an opposing quarterback with a 2-page playbook was depressing.  A defense that ranks in the bottom quarter in almost every meaningful category is horrendous.  There’s nothing wrong with pointing that out.  There would be something wrong if we didn’t point it out.

Speaking of time machines, though, could you look into it?  I’d like to set the dial back to 1998 if you don’t mind.

Teej, it sure looks like Todd Haley and Tom Cable are running circles around Josh McDaniels now.  I never thought I would see the day that a Chiefs-Raiders game would mean anything more than an excuse to get away from my wife for 3 hours.
—Mo Bile, Rockford, Illinois

Mo: It is a disgrace, to be sure, but the story isn’t finished yet.  As with the previous emailer, I encourage you to see how this plays out.  Remember, the stripper that seems hot now isn’t always the long-term answer when it comes time to bring someone home to see your family for Thanksgiving. 

Regarding Haley, however, I was impressed by this recent quote of his:

“It’s a bunch of guys who have seen it done the way I believe you have to do it — push the players, coach them hard, and allow them to play to their strengths.  That’s what Bill [Parcells] always impressed on me. Don’t be a system coach. You have a system and terminology, but you better play to your players’ strengths. That’s what I always did as a coordinator and assistant. That’s why you saw us throw a bunch more than people thought you could and be successful [with the Cardinals]. It’s also why you see us running now.”

At first, Haley’s approach seems to run contrary to the approach that Josh McDaniels has used in Denver—purging and sculpting the entire roster until he gets the players for his system.  However, it’s pretty convenient that the players whose strengths Haley has had to play to have been Glenn Dorsey, Tamba Hali, and Derrick Johnson.  What do they all have in common?  They were all 1st-round draft choices.

It’s also amusing that you didn’t see these kinds of articles when the Chiefs were 4-12 last year and riding a wave of mediocrity.

If McDaniels turns the season around, expect to see an article on how the players are finally fitting into his “system.”  It’s just how the media works.

Lastly, I’m not buying into the entire premise that McDaniels is a system guy anyway.  Here’s a quote he gave earlier this year:

“You can’t be so rigid that you don’t do what makes most sense for your personnel — systems don’t win games, players do.’’

Sounds like the kind of guy who even tries to find a place for Jarvis Moss.

3 hours away from your wife?  That’s all?  Why do you think God created an early game, a late game, and Sunday Night Football?  Ponder it, my friend.

TJ, I can’t believe you didn’t say anything about Terrell Davis’ birthday last week.  He turned 38 on October 28th!  Shame on you.  Shame on Fat Man.  He was the greatest running back of the last 20 years.
—SurferCat, San Diego, California

Cat:  Whoa.  We didn’t mean to be such a buzzkill.  Let me remedy this.  Happy Birthday, Terrell.  We at Fat Man give you a Mile High Salute!  I hope Terrell doesn’t spend his birthdays the way I do—sitting in a Mexican restaurant while they take pictures of me wearing a giant sombrero. 

Given the state of the Broncos’ current running game, perhaps we can bring back Davis during the bye week.  Don’t you miss this (from the NFL Network):

In the video, Mark Schlereth talks about TD being great at all phases of the game.  I agree with that.  But he didn’t mention Davis’ greatest asset of all—his vision.  Davis’ ability to find a hole in the seams of the Broncos’ zone-blocking scheme was unparalleled.  Zone blocking allows for the hole to develop in 2 or 3 different places during each play as the defenders’ momentum is used against them.  TD was the Yoda of finding the seam.  He could probably have done it with his eyes closed. 

If you watch the Broncos zone block this season (which they still do quite frequently), you’ll notice that these seams haven’t materialized often, and when they have, Denver’s running backs have missed them; they see them but don’t have the speed through the hole.  Then, when Denver switches back to angle blocking, their running backs don’t generate the necessary speed to the hole.  In other words, the two styles of blocking require different skill sets as a runner and Denver’s backs have been neither type.  I’ll have more on this in a future article. 

Back to Davis. The Broncos were spoiled as much by TD as they were by John Elway in the golden years of 1996-1998.  Happy 38th, TD!

And Surfer Cat?  Go chill.  I thought surfers were supposed to be laid back.

TJ, thanks for solving my family crisis a few weeks ago—oh, and for the career advice.  Watch out, Mel Kiper!  Yesterday, I was surprised the Broncos didn’t put in a waiver claim for either Randy Moss or Shawne Merriman.  Merriman would have upgraded our pass rush.  And Moss?  He would have made Brandon Lloyd look like the 2nd coming of—well, Randy Moss.  Why wouldn’t McDaniels take a chance?  It’s the bye week and what do we have to lose? 
—Yasser Bin Gered, Tel Aviv, Israel

Yasser: It fills my heart with pride to know I’ve set you on the right path.  I expect to see your first mock here soon at Fat Man.  So don’t disappoint us like your question has now. 

What do we have to lose?  Well, how about eight more games?  Bringing Moss into town would have added nothing materially to the Broncos’ chances of winning.  To the contrary, he probably would have taken up valuable roster space.  It’s not like Brandon Lloyd isn’t already stretching the defense.  That’s not the Broncos’ biggest problem.  Unless Moss can play running back, it’s just not worth the trouble.

And how do you think Tim Tebow would feel when Moss insulted his first caterer here in Denver?  Feelings could have been hurt.  Awkward pauses could have been experienced.  And then what?  Anarchy?  Is that what you want, Yasser?

The only things you need to know about Merriman are that he once had a slap fight with a bisexual television star, allegedly took a steroid that can shrink your pelotas, and tried to build up his street cred by appearing on this Keri Hilson video with Kayne West.  You’ll recognize the song, but you may not have realized that you were watching football greatness.  For an invigorating acting lesson on how to cross your arms for no reason, check out Merriman at about 3:13 of the clip. 

Merriman is off to Buffalo.  If only AJ Smith would join him.  Smith’s head is getting to the point of stretching from San Diego all the way to Denver.  There’s just no more room.

Dude, you proclaimed last week to be “Shorn Scrotum Sunday” and the Broncos lost again.  Usually, I’m against shaving any part of the body so fragile, but I admit, I too took a whack at my own scrotum and botched it slightly in hopes of a Broncos win.  But what now?  How can we end this losing streak?  And when the Broncos play in London again, you’ll have to stop by for some pie.  My neighbor, Mrs. Lovett, makes the best pies in all of London. 
—S. Todd, London

Mr. Todd: I’ll probably pass on the pie, if you don’t mind.  What now?  That’s a good question.  Since the bye week is coming up, I figure I’ve got time to let things grow back.  Perhaps this growth can symbolize the kind of growth we’ll see from the Broncos after the layoff.  What you do with your own scrotum is your business.  Just don’t take a picture, please, for the love of Santonio Holmes.  We already have enough of that lewd behavior—and that’s only counting Raiders fans.   

On second thought, expose yourself to every Raiders fan you see.  The world will become a better place.

Now, let’s get on to the bye week in a punk rock way…

Unrelated Punk-Rock Bit

This Week’s Punk-Rock 80’s Song/Video: Rock The Casbah (1982)

Artist: The Clash

Why It’s So Bad It’s Good: 1) Armadillos; 2) A real boom box 3) Stereotypes galore; 4) Red beret

Best Existential Lyric: “The local guitar picker got his guitar picking thumb…”

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:  He assumes you are following It’s All Over, Fat Man! on Facebook and Twitter, but if you are not, that’s nihilistic.

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

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