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The Horror 05/26/2010

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Snow during the '08 NFC championship game in Green Bay. (Photo from SI.com)

The NFL announced the first ever cold weather outdoor Super Bowl yesterday. The 2014 game will be played in New Jersey in an outdoor stadium. It will be the first Super Bowl game played outdoors in a city where the mean temperature for game day is below 50 degrees. It will not, however, be the first cold weather Championship game the league has played. Back in the day, before Super Bowls and domes, the game was played in the elements. There have been cold games before.

I, for one, have no problem with a game in the elements. I remember the Ice Bowl. Who can ever forget the Tuck Rule game, played in a snowstorm in New England. The MNF Green Bay at Denver blizzard game is STILL one of the most watched Monday games ever. What I find interesting is the reaction of those who do not like it. “What about the fans?” they cry. This is so unfair to the fans.

It snowed during the Oakland-NE 'tuck rule game.' (Photo from SI.com)

Since when does the NFL care about the fan? A few years ago the NFL was receiving complaints about the length of games. Seems they were cutting too far into network TV time. How did the league address the issue? Did they decrease the number of mandatory TV commercial breaks? Did they lower the play clock or decrease the number of time outs per team? No. They decreased the length of halftime, making it virtually impossible for the fans at the stadium to go to the restroom and buy a dog and a beverage without missing playing time. I have been a season ticket holder in the NFL for about 2 decades. I have had my team go to Super Bowls and have never even sniffed tickets to the game. How many real fans can afford to pay upwards of $1,000 for a ticket to the game? Forget about the cost of food, drink and a hotel room. The week before the big game is an orgy of corporate excess, a chance for the NFL to wine and dine their big sponsors. It is not for the average fan. If it were, why not play in every NFL city? Why should fans in Tampa and Phoenix and New Orleans get to host the festivities? If you are from Green Bay or Chicago or Denver, you will never get to host. Why not? If you can throw the parties in Detroit, why not Seattle or Boston? And what about the argument that the game should be played under the best possible circumstances? If that is the case, why do the games take over 4 hours to play? The Super Bowl is packed with so many commercials that there is no flow any more. Half time is almost twice as long as a normal contest for the ‘spectacular’ the NFL provides. These things are for the fans? I think not. Perhaps a good exposure to the early February elements may bring some sense back to the NFL, and to its showcase game.

The Big Apple will get its chance. I say good. Lets also reward fans in the other NFL cities. Lets make the Super Bowl a football game again.

Did anyone actually seen the Fog Bowl in Chicago on the last day of 1988? (photo from SI.com)

Trashin Tebow 04/23/2010

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Tebow shortly after he was drafted by Denver

The haters were ready to pounce. The venom came so quickly and with such veracity one would think that the articles were already written, just waiting for the team and coach names to be added. The Denver Broncos and head coach Josh McDaniels did what was apparently unthinkable. They drafted Florida QB Tim Tebow with the 25th pick. BAM! The haters did a quick edit and pressed the enter button. McDaniels has sealed his fate! Career suicide. Dead coach walking. The Broncos were the NFL clowns! Surely they were the butt of jokes in every other NFL war room. The crowd assembled at Radio City Music Hall to watch the draft live (I guess because they have no life. Come on. This is the Big Apple. Home to Broadway, the Yankees and about a million other distractions, and they choose to attend the draft? And they make fun of Midwesterners for watching corn grow for entertainment! But I digress…) laughed and jeered the pick.

To be sure, there have been poor QB picks in the first round. The Chargers picked Ryan Leaf from Washington State with the number two overall pick in

Tebow after winning the National Championship

1998. Former Broncos coach picked Tommy Maddox with, interestingly, the 25th pick in the 1992 draft. Those picks did not pan out. While Leaf did lead his WSU team to the Rose Bowl, they lost to Michigan, he had only 24 total career starts and was considered by many to be a head case. He was a total bust in the NFL. Maddox came out after his sophomore season at UCLA and had done nothing of note. Reeves was fired as the Broncos head coach after the next season, but because of his problems with star QB John Elway, of which the Maddox pick was merely a part. In these cases, people were right to question the choices. People also have a right to question the Tebow pick. But be honest. All Tebow did at Florida was play a key role on the 2006 National Championship team (he was the number two QB at Florida behind Chris Leak, played in 14 games and threw for and ran for a touchdown in the National Championship game), won the Heisman Trophy in ’07, and lead the Gators to a 12-1 National Championship season in ’08. This kid is arguably one of, if not the best college QB’s of all time. There are questions about his mechanics at the NFL level, but, come on, this is not the worst pick ever.

Tim Tebow plays with heart. He is a leader. He seems to have the drive and desire to do what ever it takes to improve himself. He won a Heisman, was part of 2 National Championship teams, and he is, in the estimation of some of the haters, no better than a 5th round draft pick? Unbelievable. I guess it is his personal life that has them upset. While many athletes are getting in trouble with the law, skipping classes and creating problems, Tebow talks about his religious values. He helps in the community. He was even the subject of a ‘contraversial’ choose life Super Bowl commercial where his mom talks about having been advised to abort him because of a medical condition. Guess in the minds of the haters he would be better suited for a high draft pick if he was a rapist or ran around drinking and getting arrested. Well, I am sure of this: if McDaniels felt he could wait until the Broncos second round pick to draft Tebow, he would have. There were others looking at him in round 2 (not 5 or later). McDaniels wanted him, and he went and got him. Remember, also, that Tebow was Denver’s second pick. They drafted WR Demariyus Thomas with the 22nd pick.

Denver came into the draft with one first round pick, number 11 overall, and managed to turn that into the 22nd and 25th overall picks. And they still have a second round pick, as well as 2 third round picks after the nights activities. Was it a stretch to draft Tebow at 25? Perhaps. Was it worth the gamble? Time will tell. Was it as bad a move as the haters say? Not even close. I have never been a big Tim Tebow fan, but the bile and venom spewed immediately after his pick has put me in his corner. Not because he was drafted by the Broncos, but because the speed and fury with which the crap hit the fan made it obvious that this attack was going to be unleashed no matter who drafted him. Time will tell about this draft, as it does with any draft. I for one hope the haters are made to eat their words.

Tebow with his Heisman Trophy

Super Martz 02/02/2010

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The Chicago Bears finished the 2009 season with a 7-9 record, out of the playoffs for a third straight season.  A huge disappointment for a franchise that had some people

Martz and Warner in St Louis

 talking Super Bowl after they traded for Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler.  He was to be the franchise QB the Bears had been missing.  But a funny thing happened on the way to greatness.  Cutler threw 26 interceptions!  That’s right, 26.  Worse, several of those occurred when the Bears were in the red zone.  In trading for Cutler, the Bears gave up their starting QB (Kyle Orton) and 2 number one draft picks.  They signed Cutler to a multi-year contract extension, and he is going no where for the near future.  Most of the offensive coaching staff was dismissed at the end of the season.  The Bears have looked high and low for the right man to lead Cutler and his offense.  The new offensive coördinator in Chicago is Mike Martz.

Yep, Mike Martz, the creator of the greatest show on turf.  Martz was the OC in St Louis for their magical 1999 Super Bowl run.  After starting QB Trent Green was injured during the first pre season game that year, Martz helped lead the Rams all

Cutler reacts after one of his more than two dozen 2009 interceptions

the way to the championship  with an unhearelded QB named Kurt Warner.  Martz also led them back to the Super Bowl after the 2001 season as head coach.  There were a few things going for Martz back then.  His fast break offense was an innovation at the time.  Defenses took a few seasons to learn how to defend it.  The NFL is now a pass happy league, and Martz has no such advantage now.  Warner had cut his teeth on Arena football and had learned how to make quick reads and decisions.  Cutler, not so much.  In fact, during the 1999 season, Warner threw 15  interceptions to 41 TD’s despite having to learn a new offensive scheme.  In a new scheme last year, Cutler threw 26 int’s to 27 TD’s, and now will have to learn another new, more complicated scheme.  Also, the Rams had a very good offensive line, lead by pro bowler Orlando Pace.  Not so the Bears, who are led by a now 11 year older Pace   The Rams had Isaac Bruce, Tory Holt, Az Hakim and Rickey Proehl at wide out.  Even with all those receivers, they player with the most receptions was Marshall Faulk out of the backfield.  What do the Bears have to compare to those weapons?  Devon Hester?  Matt Forte?  Please.  Forte had less than 1000 rushing yards last season.  Faulk had 1300 plus yards on the ground AND over 1000 through the air.  The leading receiver on last years Bears team?  Tight end Gregg Olsen.  Where does he fit into the Martz system?  San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis caught only 31 passes in 2008, his last with Martz as his OC.  Last season, without Martz, he had 78 receptions and tied the NFL single season record of tight end TD receptions with 13.  Davis earned his first pro bowl apperance after the 2009 season.

Let us not forget that last season, while an analyst for the NFL network, Martz publicly criticised Cutler for his demeanor.  Martz had his first meeting with Cutler earlier this week and said that they took to each other right away.  Do not forget, however, that it was Cutler who turned on his new coach in Denver so fast that he would not even return phone calls to the team owner, the man who signed his pay checks.   We have not even mentioned the weather in Chicago as compared to a dome (as in St Louis).

Can Martz recapture the magic of  Warner and the Rams with Cutler and the Bears?  He had tough stays  in Detroit and San Francisco after he parted ways with St Louis.  Now, he is paired with turn over machine Jay Cutler.  It is going to be a long, long season in the Windy City.

Martz's biggest chalange may be between Cutler's ears

Northern Direction 01/28/2010

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Enough time has passed for a dispassionate post mortem of the Minnesota Vikings Brett Favre experiment.    As with most things Favre, it is complicated.  Simple, it seems, will not follow this man.

I have said many times that if Favre did not lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl that the drama surrounding his courtship by the Vikings will make his signing a failure.

The year started with coach Childress picking Favre up at the airport

  While I still feel that way since the goal was not reached, I am also not sure that describing his season with the Vikings as a failure is entirely fair.  Some good things happened in Minnesota.  From the perspective of head coach Brad Childress, Favre was a success.  Childress was on the hot seat, and the Vikings hot start earned him a mid-season contract extension.  Having a job next year with the Vikings was not a given, so from Chilly’s perspective, Favre was worth the gamble.  (There are some potential long-term issues we will discuss in a moment.)

There is no denying that Viking nation was energized by Favre.  The Twin Cities were buzzing with Viking Fever all season.  The excitement was visible.  Minnesota won their division for the second straight season, and they were on

The relationship between coach and QB was not always warm

the cusp of an NFC title.  These are good things for the franchise.  Favre got off to a great start.  But to be fair, he did the same thing in New York the season before. The big question was what effects, if any, would there be from his off season sholder surgery.  The good news for the Vikings was that there appeared to be none.   Then, just as had happened the last few seasons, his team cooled off and limped home down the stretch.  They lost 3 games in a 4 game stretch, culminating with a loss on December 28th to a struggling Chicago Bears team that finished the season 7-9.  That loss denied the Vikings home field advantage for the NFC championship game.  In that game, played in New Orleans, the Vikings had survived 4 turn overs to have a chance to win.  Then bad things happened.  A horrible penalty for 12 men in the huddle, after a time out, no less, moved Minnesota out of field goal range.  That made Minnesota call a pass, and after scrambling out of the pocket, Favre decided to throw a pass across his body into the middle of the field rather than run.  There is no guarantee that Minnesota would have made the field goal to win the game, but that interception denied them of the attempt.  It looked like Favre could have picked up 5 to 10 yards, and he said afterwards that he should have run.  Instead, for the second time in 3 years, Favre’s last pass of the season was an ill-advised throw that was intercepted in the championship game that his team then lost in overtime.  It was vintage Favre to try to make an impossible throw.  But that is  water under the bridge.

The question now is where do the Vikings go from here?  Will Favre retire?  If he does, will he stay retired?  Before Minnesota signed Favre, they were already among the

Will Favre's frustration with his last pass bring him back yet again?

 best teams in the NFC.  After they signed him, they changed the nature of the team.  They had been a running team.  Favre made them a passing team.  His dust-up with Childress during the Panthers loss showed who was making that call.  What will happen now.  If Favre retires, can last season’s starter, Tavaras Jackson, reclaim this team?  Will they go back to the running game?  What is the respect level for Childress?  He acquiesced to Favre.   Did that undermine him with the rest of the team?  He also sent the message loud and clear that this team could not win with their other QB options.  So what if now they are back to those QB options? 

It was a great ride for Vikings fans.  Only time will tell if, in the long run, all the disruption was worth winning one more playoff game than last season.  After all there was, again, no Super Bowl for the purple and gold.

Say It Ain’t So, Brett 01/24/2010

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While it was not all his fault, the ending was classic Favre.  To be fair, Favre had his Vikings on the cusp of the Super Bowl with less than 30 seconds left.  It was 3rd and 15 

Favre is left to ponder what if after his last pass is intercepted

 at the New Orleans 38 yard line.  Ironically, the Vikings had been moved out of field goal range with a 12 man in the huddle penalty just seconds before.  Those five yards probably made any field goal attempt difficult.  Now, Favre had to make something happen.  He took the snap, and Saints pressure forced him to roll to his right.  He appeared to have running room.  All he needed was 5 to 10 yards, call time out and put the game on the leg of Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell.  Then it happened.  Something came over Favre.  Sure, he was hobbled with a bad ankle, but he could have run the ball,  instead, he chose to throw the ball, across his body and across the field.  Mortal sins for an NFL quarterback.  The Saints intercepted the pass, killing any chance for the Vikings to win in regulation.  It was the third Viking turnover in the 4th quarter.  

New Orleans won the coin flip and took the ball to start overtime.  Favre and the Vikings never got the ball back.  The Saints drove down the field and converted a 40 yard field goal to win the game and advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in their history.   They will take on the AFC champion Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl in Miami in two weeks.   The Saints came into the game as the best offense in the league, but it was the Vikings who moved the ball up and down the field all night.  The Vikes out gained New Orleans 475 yards to 257.  But Minnesota turned the ball over 5 times.  There is plenty of blame to go around, but it is the last pass by Favre that will stay with him.  

Flash back 3 seasons ago.  The Green Bay Packers were tied with the New York Giants in overtime of the NFC championship game.  On the second play of OT, Favre threw 

Favre's last pass as a Packer is intercepted in OT of the NFC championship game

an interception.  It was the last pass he threw as a Packer.  The Giants kicked a 47 yard field goal and then went on to win the Super Bowl.  Disheartened, Favre retired from the game, but the thought of that last pass haunted him.  Two teams and another retirement later, here we are again.   After all the drama, the two retirements, the trade to the Jets and signing with the Vikings, Favre faces another off-season retirement decision with that last, terrible interception on his mind.  Perhaps it is karma.  The demons are back.  Probably worse than ever.  Perhaps this is the way Favre was ment to go out.  I don’t know.  I do know that he deserved better in this game.  After all the drama  of the past 2 seasons.  After tarnishing his reputation, morphing from The Gunslinger into The Diva, after all the crap in New York and the agonizing courtship with the Vikings, Favre and Minnesota should be in the Super Bowl.  What was he thinking with that last pass?  Surely a 19 year veteran knows not to throw that ball.  So now, instead of going out in glory, Favre will have to live with that last pass gnawing away at him.  Will he retire?  Probably.  Will he come back again?  Well, we will not know that for months.  Here comes another off-season Favre watch.  Will he?  Won’t he?  How many twists and turns this time?  No one knows yet.   

Why didn’t he just run the damn ball!!!????!!!  

Favre walks off after he throws a pick late in the 4th quarter of the NFC championship game. Will this be his last pass ever?

Formation Flying 01/18/2010

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There is a surprise entrant into this years NFL final four.  Indy, Minnesota and New Orleans, no surprise.  But the New York Jets?  Who saw that one coming?

In winning at Cincinnati and then at San Diego, the Jets got some help.   Shane Graham of the Bengals  and  Nate Kaeding of the Chargers were a combined 0-5 in field goal

Shonn Greene scores the clinching TD

 attempts.  These two kickers were among the most accurate during the regular season converting a combined 87% of their attempts all year.  Heck, even drawing the Chargers at all was a stroke of luck.  San Diego flamed out once again.  I am frankly tired of hearing about how great the talent is on this team.  Their coach is a joke and this team of entitled prima donnas again shot themselves in the collective foot with inopportune penalties at the worst times.  Despite having great talent, San Diego has never sniffed the Super Bowl with Norv Turner calling the shots, and they never will.  They fade away when the pressure is on.  There is no discipline on the team.  Kicking a challenge flag and getting your team a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty when you are in the red zone and  trying to make a comeback?  Are you kidding me?   Grow up, Chargers.  They are, again, the ‘best team not to make the Super Bowl’ this season, coming into the playoffs on an 11 game winning streak and finishing one and done in the post season.  Good riddance.

What a breath of fresh air Jets QB Mark Sanchez is.  When asked after the game about the win, Sanchez went on and on about the

Jets rookie QB Sanchez is now 2-0 in the playoffs

offensive line, and the game plan, and the head coach, and the offensive coordinator, and the defense, and the running backs, and the receivers, you get the point.  He even actually said that it was not about him.  This is a rookie?  It was great to see someone subjugate his ego to that of the team. In contrast, 19 year veteran (and Minnesota QB) Brett Favre was asked about the Vikings win and he came back with how great it was to be in the conference finals, but that of course it was more important to him and “it means more to me (Favre)  than to anyone else in this locker room.”  Yeah, because lets not forget that it is all about Brett, all the time.  

Speaking of rookies, how about the running of Shonn Greene.  The first year back out of Iowa broke off a 53 yard TD dash with just over 7 minutes left to give the Jets a 17-7 lead and provide the cushion for the 17-14 victory.  Greene finished with 125 yards rushing for the game, following up his 135 yard, 1 TD effort against the Bengals in round 1 of the playoffs.  The Jet defense shut down the Charger offense, and held running back  LaDanien Tomlinson to 24 total yards on 12 carries.  The Jets face the AFC top seed Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game next week and will have an uphill climb.  But it was great to watch a TEAM of players who believe in each other, believe in the game plan, believe in preparation and give credit team mates and coaches.  The Jets made us remember that football is a team game, despite what Favre may think.

Chargers QB Rivers walks off after yet another San Diego playoff meltdown

viKINGS 01/15/2010

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The time has come.  This is the reason that Brett Favre manipulated his way into Minnesota.  The journey begins now, and is a 3 game or bust scenario.  All Favre wants is another chance on the NFL’s biggest stage.  All Vikings fans want is to once and for all get the big game monkey off of their back.  All in all, not much to ask for.

We will not explore again all the events that brought Favre to Minnesota.  Lets just say that this journey has tarnished his reputation, and nothing short of a Super Bowl

The Vikings are looking for their first Super Bowl appearance since the Purple People Eaters lead teams of the 1970's

 victory will put the luster back on Favre’s career.  He is a Hall of Famer, to be sure, after he stays away for 5 seasons.  But two years ago he would forever have been known as the gunslinger.  Now, unless he can reach the mountaintop once more, his legacy will be that of the diva.  Just another self-centered manipulator who could only win the big game once.  That fact seems to get lost in all the Favre hype.  He has only led his team to the Super Bowl victory once, defeating the Patriots in SB 31, and becoming one of the biggest favorites to lose the big game in dropping SB 32 to the Broncos.  Favre could have been remembered as one of the greats to win once.  With luminaries such as Steve Young and Joe Theisman.  But the self-centered manipulation of the past few years will drop him into the likes of  Doug Williams and Jeff Hostetler.  Good signal callers to be sure, but not names that come up in any conversation about all time great QB’s.  Two years ago, Favre would have been in that conversation unequivocally.  Now, his name will elicit a “yes, but….” in the conversation.  The gunslinger turned diva needs a return to the top.  It is going to be an uphill climb.

The Vikings have not won an NFL championship since Bud Grant lead them to the league title in 1969.  For those of

Will former Packer Favre help the Vikings finally hoist the Lombardi trophy

you who are too young, that’s  pre Super Bowl.  The long-suffering Vikings fans watched their team drop 4 of the first 11 Super Bowls, and have not been back to the big game since 1977.   Not exactly loveable losers, the Vikings, in fact, have 26 playoff appearances since they joined the NFL in 1961, including 18 division championships.  But the first decade of the 21st century has been their worst decade so far.  After their playoff appearance in 2000, the Vikings made the playoffs only once until the 2008 season.  The Vikings won the NFC North in  ’08 for their first division crown in 8 seasons.   They had a good defense and one of the best running backs in the league in Adrian Peterson, but were lacking an established QB.  Coach Brad Childress had worked with Favre when he was a coach with the Vikings hated rivals, the Green Bay Packers.  Childress tried to land Favre a season earlier, but did not get Favre to the Twin Cities until this season.  Now, with a second consecutive division title in hand,  the Viking fans are rooting for perhaps their most hated rival to lead them to the promised land.  And you thought politics made for strange bed fellows. 

In Favre, they found an egocentric 40-year-old who has developed the habit of late of melting down the stretch.  He did it at the end in Green Bay.  He did it in New York.  In Minnesota, the Vikings started 11-1, but finished 2-3 down the stretch.   All is not bleak, however.  The Vikes secured the # 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.  That gave the Vikings a first round bye, and guarantee that they would play no cold weather games during the playoffs.  Their two NFC games will be in domes (theirs or New Orleans) and the Super Bowl, should they get there, is in Miami.  Still, the Vikings have pinned their Super Bowl hopes on a quarterback who has a  3-7  record in his last 10 playoff starts.  He has 16 touchdowns in those 10 games, but he also has 16 interceptions.  Now, the Vikings are looking to him for 3 straight playoff wins.

Anything short of the Super Bowl will be a failure of the Favre experiment for Minnesota.  The diva may need a victory in the big game to once again become the gunslinger.

Transition’s end 01/05/2010

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There was an avalanche in Denver on Sunday.  No, we are not talking about the hockey team.  This avalanche came in the form of  yards.  Kansas City running back 

Kyle Orton proved to be a serviceable QB for Denver

 

 Jamaal Charles amassed 259 rushing yards against the Broncos.  The Broncos Knowshon Moreno managed only 50.  That disparity, more than any other, shows the weakness in the Broncos during the 2009 campaign. 

The loss to Kansas City brought the curtain down on Denver’s season.  The Broncos finished 8-8 for the second consecutive year.  Before the season started, there was turmoil in the Broncos camp, and not much was expected from rookie head coach Josh McDaniels and his team.  The over/under for Denver victories in Vegas was 3 1/2.  By that measure, McDaniels was a wild success.  Denver started the season on fire, and hit their bye week with a 6-0 record.  After the bye, the Broncos limped to the finish line with a 2-8 record.  At season’s end, there was turmoil in Broncos camp, and Denver watched its slim playoff hopes slip behind the Rocky Mountains like a Colorado sunset.  The fact that Denver was in the playoff picture on the final week of the season was an accomplishment by itself, though after the fast start it did not feel that way.  The 2009 Broncos were a team in transition.  They had a new coach, and a new offensive scheme.  They transitioned from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme.  They had traded a prima donna ‘franchise’ quarterback for a game manager.  They had a diva wide out with crazy good skills that started the season having been suspended from the team for the last 10 days of camp and ended the season on the bench, coach’s decision, with his toughness in question.  Now, the Broncos must face some tough off-season questions.  

The rushing numbers from that last game point out Denver’s biggest area of need.  The Broncos were unable to control either line of scrimmage.  For a franchise that once 

Moreno needs better blocking to become the back Denver needs

 

thought 1000 yard rushers hid behind every bush, the lack of run game was disturbing and the o-line needs to be addressed.  While first year running back Moreno lead all rookie runners with 947 rushing yards, his 3.7 yards per carry average must improve, and Denver managed only 9 rushing TD’s all season.  Both of these numbers point to a lack of run blocking.  At quarterback, the Broncos Kyle Orton completed 62% of his passes and threw 21 TD’s to 12 interceptions.  Respectable numbers, to be sure, but the average gain of 7 yards per catch must improve.  Orton will probably be brought back next season, but his primary back up Chris Simms should not.  While Simms has another year on his contract, he proved himself almost useless in the limited game action he saw this season.  His performance was so poor in the one game he started that the injured Orton was put back into the game after Simms misfired on the 4 passes he threw.  Denver needs to either acquire a free agent, or take a chance on drafting another ‘quarterback of the future.’  Honestly, with the needs on both the offensive and defensive lines, I do not see Denver drafting a quarterback. 

One offensive need that will be addressed, however, is wide receiver.  Brandon Marshall is a talent.  There is no doubt.  But he also is a head case, and he will not be a Bronco next season.  Denver catches a break in the Marshall situation.  Since there is no CBA in place, and the prospect of the Players Association and the Ownership group reaching an agreement is remote at best, next year will be an uncapped year in the NFL.  Under the expiring CBA, Marshall would have been an unrestricted free agent.  As things stand now, he will be a restricted free agent, which means he still has value to the Broncos.  Denver will be working a trade for Marshall.  Interestingly, the decision to bench Marshall for the final game has again highlighted his issues and probably diminished his trade value some what.  

The jury is still out on McDaniels as a head coach, as one might expect.  Clearly this team was not as bad as people thought before the 

The feisty McDaniels must now produce results in Denver

 

 season started.  Just as clearly, this team was not as good as the 6-0 start made people think.  When all was said and done, after all the changes, after all the turmoil, Denver finished as it had last season.  Denver started strong, and squandered a playoff opportunity down the stretch, just as it did in 2008.  This team has now missed the playoffs for 4 straight years.  The pressure will now be on McDaniels to raise the level next season.  There was no back slide this year, but there was no overall progress, either.  Having turned almost 60% of the roster over last season, there is still work to be done.  Marshall must be traded.  Perennial all pro and 11 year veteran corner back Champ Baily also should be traded while he still has value.  Denver needs to continue to become younger and quicker.  McDaniels now has a year of head coaching experience under his belt.  Hopefully, the distractions of Marshall will be gone.  Denver will concentrate on defense and receivers this off-season.  They have a quality quarterback and running back returning.  All returning players will now have a better understanding of the offense and defense. The pressure to make the playoffs in 2010 begins now.

Perfection? 12/28/2009

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No one is perfect.  

The Indianapolis Colts lost to the New York Jets 29-15 yesterday, becoming the last team to taste defeat in the NFL this season.  The Colts had become just the third team 

Only the 1972 Dolphins have achieved NFL perfection

 in history to reach the 14-0 mark.  The New England Patriots did it two seasons ago, reaching 18-0 before losing in the Super Bowl to the ew York Giants.  Of course, the 1972 Miami Dolphins completed the only undefeated season in NFL history, completing the 17-0 season with a 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.  Leading 12-10 in the third quarter, Colts head coach Jim Caldwell pulled Quarterback Peyton Manning and several other key Colts players from the game.  Indianapolis had already clinched their division, a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  They had nothing to play for other than perfection.  But perfection had never been their goal.  Their goal, heck every teams goal is to win the Super Bowl. 

No team enters the season saying that their goal is to finish undefeated.  They all want to win the Super Bowl.  In 2007, the Patriots finished 18-1.  They set the record for 

The Giants ended the Pats bid for perfection in Super Bowl XLII

consecutive wins to start the season, reaching 18-0.  Ask any player on that team if they would rather have been 18-0 or been Super Bowl champs, and 18-0 would not get even one vote.  Perfection adds stress to an already difficult task.  Winning the Super Bowl is hard enough.  The added stress of perfection is not needed.  The 1998 Denver Broncos were defending Super Bowl champs.  They reached 13-0 that season before they lost a game.  In fact, they lost 2 in a row then went on to win their second consecutive Super Bowl.  Many members of that team, a team that had just won the big game the season before, talked about how bad the pressure was to remain undefeated.  Many feel that the loss lifted a weight from their shoulders.  So the Colts may have done themselves a favor.  But don’t tell that to the fans in the stands Sunday that were booing the home standing Colts in the fourth quarter.  Caldwell has been roundly criticized for his decision.  But teams rest their players in the same situation every season.  If the Vikings lose tonight at Chicago, the Saints will lock up home field advantage in the NFC.  If that were to happen, do you not think that several Saints players will have an early end to next weeks game?  Of course they will.  But since the Saints are not playing for perfection, most will not even notice.  In fact, if they do not pull their starters early and some one gets hurt, they will be criticized for taking an unnecessary risk.  Why should the Colts situation be any different? 

Sure, 19-0 would be nice.  But ask the Patriots if they would feel any better if that one blemish in the 18-1 season had come in week 16 rather than in the Super Bowl.  The next mont will tell if the Colts will win the Super Bowl.  With the loss their task just got easier

Diva North 12/23/2009

Posted by sportretort in NFL, Sports, Uncategorized.
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There is an icy cold wind blowing in Minneapolis.  Oh, and there is a winter storm brewing, too.  The Twin Cities are forecast to be covered in 20 inches of snow by Christmas.  Perhaps the wintry mix will cover the latest icy chill in the Vikings locker room.  Old man winter has nothing on the icy blast of the Diva.

The Diva is back.  Chilly is a great nickname for the Vikings head coach Brad Childress.  Not only did the Diva, Brett Favre, put him in his place on the sideline when

SI trumpets that Favre is going out on his own terms. He is on his third team in three years having retired twice so far

 Childress had the audacity to suggest Favre come out of the game early Sunday night, he then had to crow about it to the media afterwards.  Apparently it was not enough that his teammates know that Favre is in charge, the Diva had to announce it to the world.  What other explanation could there be for the Favre comments since the game?  I know that the Diva is the best quarterback ever, and that Minnesota should kiss his arse every day for the gift of him, but, come on.  This guy has won ONE Super Bowl, and that was over a decade ago.  Then he followed that performance up with a dud against Denver the following year, becoming one of the biggest favorites to ever lose the big game. 

I know that Green Bay did him wrong.  Never mind the fact that HE retired, then cried when Green Bay moved on.  I know New York did him wrong, then revealed that the meltdown in the Meadowlands was due to an injury.  What will be the excuse if the meltdown currently under way in Minnesota continues?  He can not blame Childress.  Nope, he took care of that last Sunday.  There is no doubt that Favre is in charge in Minnesota.  Word came today that Favre and Childress had a “good talk” and that things are fine now.  Apparantly Favre has decided that taking his coach publicly to the woodshed was enough to set Chilly right.  Minnesota is Favre’s team.  What about AP?  Adrian Who?  There is not enough time in a 60 minute game to give the rock to Peterson.  Never mind that the Vikings are undefeated when AP has 22 or more rushing attempts.  Nope, no AP.  This is Favre’s team.  All Brett, all the time.

The Diva has spoken.  It will be interesting to see if he can lead this team to the Super Bowl.  Anything less will be a failure of the Favre experiment.