Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Keen Wolfe

Film Room: Vikings-Packers
www.footballoutsiders.com

Chunk plays are tough to come by against Denver. Not only is Denver’s linebacker corps fast and strong, but the defensive line might be the best in the league at holding ground against double teams. Derek Wolfe and Justin Bannan are terrific anchors near the B- and C-gaps. Further inside, Kevin Vickerson amplifies his 300-pound strength with very good initial quickness. The Chiefs have a lot of size up front, but don’t be surprised if they struggle getting movement in the ground game this week.

It seems as if it's not just Doc, TJ, and Ted who think that Derek Wolfe can play a little football.

Wolfe is under team control through the 2015 season. But Bannan, who will turn 34 next offseason, and Vickerson, who turns 30 on Jan. 8, will be unrestricted free agents after having accepted 2012 salaries that are fractions* of what they had originally agreed to with Denver.

Our thinking remains that the Broncos will use a high pick on a tackle come April; even if the team is happy with the performance of Bannan and Big Vick, it must account for the advancing age of the two players.

* Bannan's 2010 free-agent deal called for him to make $4M in salary and bonus this year, but he was cut last year and spent the season in St. Louis. Vickerson took a cut from $2.25M down to $1.2M.

Another way of viewing “We have to win the game on the field.”

Broncos coach John Fox not concerned with what oddsmakers say
blogs.denverpost.com

With his team preparing for the regular-season finale Sunday against Kansas City, Broncos coach John Fox discounted reports that Las Vegas oddsmakers have now made Denver (12-3) the favorite to win the Super Bowl.

“I grew up in San Diego,” Fox said. “And we went to the horse tracks a lot. There are a lot of favorites, and it doesn’t work out like that all the time. You have to earn this between the lines. (Being the favorite) won’t affect our attitude or mindset moving forward.”

Even if we knew for a fact that the Broncos were the best team in the NFL, that doesn't mean they'd actually win the Super Bowl. Why? Because the game is only played once, and the path to get there is a single-elimination tournament.

This is important to remember when looking at win probability data like that provided by Brian Burke. If his figures say the Broncos are an 87% favorite this week against the Chiefs, that doesn't necessarily predict a blowout, nor does it mean Denver will definitely emerge victorious. Rather, it means that, in theory, if these two teams were to face off 100 times (more if we are looking at the law of large numbers), the Broncos would figure to win 87 times.

So, if an upset occurs, it's not necessarily that Burke's math is wrong - it's just that one of those 13 unlikely outcomes (of 100) has arisen.

Peyton walks the walk

Veterans like Peyton Manning, Elvis Dumervil keep Broncos in check
www.denverpost.com

Make no mistake: Manning casts a long shadow in the locker room. He’s a future Hall of Famer, one of the most accomplished players in the league’s history, and he plays the most important position on any NFL team chasing trophies — quarterback. He also is a vocal presence in how the team runs its offense on gameday and prepares through the week.

But other players, as well as the coaches, also say he is the hardest worker and the most prepared player on the field each week. When he demands a lot from others, he already has made those demands on himself.

I have to admit - earlier during his career, I thought Manning was vastly overrated - that he was a selfish, overly demonstrative team sport athlete - a modern Dan Marino, or football's Alex Rodriguez.

But having paid him much closer attention over the past several years, and now, watched his every play with Denver, and seen how he interacts with his teammates, it's more than apparent that Peyton is worthy of the intense praise he receives.

Rumor Mongering: McCoy as Jags/Eagles candidate; McDaniels to San Diego?

Black Monday Primer: Definitive guide to 2013 coaching carousel
sportsillustrated.cnn.com

If Jacksonville swung for the fences and missed, Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is a young head coaching candidate who has generated strong reviews for his work the past two seasons with both Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning…Denver’s McCoy, Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter or Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell might make the radar screen in Philly.

There’s also a chance New England gets proactive in an attempt to keep McDaniels around as an eventual replacement for head coach Bill Belichick, a move the Kraft family could dangle as enticement to stay put. Some sources say McDaniels’ interest in the Browns has been overstated in the media, because he feels he already has the best assistant coaching job in the NFL, working with Tom Brady and Belichick, and knows continued success will bring other head coaching opportunities…Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians and the Patriots’ McDaniels are two names mentioned in connection with the Chargers job, and both make sense from the standpoint that job No. 1 in San Diego this offseason is to revive quarterback Philip Rivers’ flagging fortunes.

A few thoughts:

  1. How would McCoy feel about having Tim Tebow potentially foisted upon him in his NFL head-coaching debut, after the same occurred to him in his first go-around as an NFL play-caller? It's hard to see that happening.
  2. Denver will face both Jacksonville and Philly next season.
  3. As great as the NE OC job may be, does McDaniels really want to inherit the HC gig from Belichick, and thus the enormous expectations that would come along with it?
  4. Don't you think Josh would love to face the Broncos twice yearly?
  5. It's just one column, by one reporter, but it sure is nice not to read of any Jack Del Rio rumors.

John Elway is the classiest guy imaginable

Tebow deserves respect, not scorn, for sticking up for himself
www.cbssports.com

Even so, the Broncos wanted no part of Tebow as their long-term quarterback, and that’s fine. You don’t see me ripping the Broncos for that. They didn’t want Tebow, so they acquired Peyton Manning and put Tebow on the trading block.

The Jets and Jaguars made offers, and the Broncos did the classiest thing imaginable—they left it up to Tebow. They told him the Jets wanted him, and the Jaguars wanted him, and that he could choose. So Tebow chose the Jets.

Most of this piece is spent defending the Ultimate Teammate's™ refusal to play in the Wildcat (It's bullshit, of course.  If Cam Newton had pulled the same thing, white America would be petitioning Roger Goodell to give Newton a lifetime ban), but the Broncos (as they always do) somehow got pulled into the matter.

In this case, Gregg Doyel thought the Broncos were classy.  That might very well be the case, but I would have preferred they had cut a deal with the Jaguars.  Draft picks are draft picks, and although they are generally like a roll of the dice, the Broncos restricted--if even by a little--the available pool of picks by cutting a deal with the Jets.

Still, TYJE.

(Note to the UT™ Zombies who continue to email us that we spend too much time writing about Tebow.  The more you curse and whine and complain, the more we'll continue giving you what you want but say you don't: more coverage of the Ultimate Teammate™)

Eric Decker tells us why he beat Ravens CB Cary Williams like a drum

The Drive hour 3 12/21/12
www.1043thefan.com

“The first drive, I caught a ball on the sideline…it was an eight- or nine-yard completion.  I was down by contact.  He decided to give me that extra shove, and then he walked over me.  And you know, as a player, it’s the ultimate disrespect if you’re going to want to do that…I did take it personal.  And it takes a lot for me to get really fired up, but again, you’ve got to control your emotions—not responding back physically as far as throwing a punch or doing something stupid—just proving it with your game. 

I knew I was going to have a lot of one-one-one battles with him [Cary Williams] all day, so I just wanted to prove to him that I was the better person…and I got his number a bunch.  It felt really good, especially at the end.  I caught a ball on the sideline and was able to say something to coach Harbaugh and to him, and just kind of have fun with it…Harbaugh was complaining that I was pushing off all game, so I was like ‘come on, man, you’ve got to take this guy [Williams] out, you’re hurting his ego.’”

I'd been meaning to get this interview down for a few days.  Last week, we noted how Eric Decker feasted on Ravens' Cary Williams like he was mashed potatoes.  In this interview from December 21st, Decker confirms just that.

If the Ravens somehow find their way to Denver for a playoff game, our advice to Harbaugh is to be nicer to Eric Decker.  You might not like him when he's angry.  Oh, and play zone.  It's possible you'll be in the game a wee bit longer.

Raiders continue commitment to make no sense

Scouting next Chargers opponent: Raiders
www.nctimes.com

Win or lose Sunday, the Raiders are assured a top-10 draft pick for the seventh time in 10 years. How many of those six top-10 draftees went on to Pro Bowl? Zero, a mini-trend within Oakland’s 10-season streak of no winning records or playoff berths

The Raiders invested top-10 picks in all-time bust JaMarcus Russell, the LSU quarterback taken first overall in 2007, and eighth-round choice Rolando McClain (’10, Alabama), a linebacker who sits the bench. McClain sat out two games this year for conduct detrimental to the team.

Overseeing the next draft will be general manager Reggie McKenzie, hired last year after working more than a decade in Green Bay’s front office.

There are some who believe that a strong Oakland Raiders makes for a better AFC West and a more compelling matchup for the Denver Broncos fans.

I beg to differ--a decade of watching "The Violator" look like he's been violated is pretty damn compelling to me.

Merry Xmas, Oakland.  Here's hoping Santa brings you another first-round bust.

Patriots will have to come to Denver, and that’s bad for them

Why the Denver Broncos are Super Bowl favorites
www.nfl.com

No matter what seed the Broncos end up with, I’m comfortable calling them the slight AFC favorites to go to the Super Bowl. It’s simple math, really. The Houston Texans are not playing well, steamrolled in two of their last three games. They should be seen as underdogs to Denver and New England because of quarterback play, among other factors.

That leaves the Broncos and Patriots as the two most likely AFC representatives for the Super Bowl. If New England is going to make it to New Orleans, the Patriots are probably going to have to win in Denver. Advantage Broncos.

Patriots, come out to playaaaaay


¹ Best gang from this movie had to be the The Furies.

Giving John Fox his due

Broncos' John Fox seeks 100th win, endorses Peyton Manning for MVP
www.denverpost.com

What sets Fox’s record apart is he won eight games, including one in the playoffs, with Tim Tebow at quarterback during the 2011 season. He’s won 12 more so far this year with Manning at quarterback.

“I’ve had a great staff, great players,” Fox said. “A lot goes into that. It’s not one guy. They put it on your record or tombstone or whatever, but I just happened to be head coach during that. But there’s a lot of efforts and I appreciate all those efforts. We’re just worried about this week. We’ve got a good team coming in.”

We've had our share of debates about John Fox's decisions on fourth downs, to be sure.  We'll save that argument for another day.

Leave little doubt that John Fox's management style generates respect from players, coaches, and, well, just about everyone around the league.  He lets his players play and his coaches coach.  And he does it without a lot of arrogance, ego, or PowerPoint presentations.  In the time of cholera Bill Belichick,  there's something to be said for that.

Broncos make lifestyle changes, reverse third-down ranking

Dominating Defense Fuels Win Streak
www.denverbroncos.com

The team’s highest statistical jump since the beginning of the win streak has been in third-down conversions. During the first five games of the season, opponents were successful on 46.7 percent of their third-down attempts, which ranked 29th out of the 32 NFL teams. Since then, that number has plummeted to 20.9, which is best in the league—6.3 percentage points ahead of the second-place San Francisco 49ers.

Lower your salt intake, increase your servings of fruits and veggies, add a little Wesley Woodyard, Chris Harris, and Tony Carter, and watch what happens to your defense's third-down percentage.