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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

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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.

Fresh Blood 10/21/2009

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It was a tough spring for Denver sports fans.  With in the span of a few short weeks, 3 of the 4 major sports franchises that call the Mile High City their home fired their head coaches.  The local sports scene seemed to be a mess.  Now, not so much.

The NFL Broncos fired long time head coach Mike Shanahan and hired New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to lead this storied franchise.  All McDaniels, a

McDaniels has them fired up in Denver

McDaniels has them fired up in Denver

first time head coach and one of the youngest NFL head coaches ever, had to do was to replace the only Super Bowl winning coach in Bronco History.  Though 10 years removed, Shanahan had led Denver to 2 titles in 1998 and ’99.  Replacing a popular head coach is never easy, and the tumultuous off season that greeted McDaniels is well chronicled.  All seems forgiven now, as the Broncos head into their bye week with a 6-0 record and a strangle hold on the AFC West title.   Those 6 wins double the season win total predicted by many pundits.  Fans that were calling for McDaniel’s head before he even coached a game seem to now embrace him.  All is well in Bronco Nation.

The axe fell on baseball’s Clint Hurdle after a rough beginning to the ’09 campaign.  The Rockies were 10 games

Tracy turned the Rockies around and led them to the post season

Tracy turned the Rockies around and led them to the post season

under the .500 mark and going no where fast.  Hurdle had struggled as the Rockies manager but did lead Colorado to the World Series in 2007, Colorado’s  only appearance in the Fall Classic so far.  A scant 19 months later he was gone, replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Tracy.  Tracy had previously been a MLB manager, most notably in Los Angeles with the Dodgers.  The Rockies took off shortly after Tracy took over the reigns and were in the NL West race right up to the last series of the season.  While the Rockies failed to win the West, the improved Rockies played better than 30 games over .500 for Tracy and won the Wild Card playoff spot.  The team finished with a franchise record 92 wins and finished with more wins than losses on the road for the first time ever.  They made their third post season appearance in their short history, bowing to Philadelphia 3 games to one in the NLDS.  The Rockies are attempting to sign Tracy to a long term contract at this time.  The future looks bright for Rockies fans.

Colorado Avalanche coach Tony Granato’s second stint as the Avs head coach was a short one, just one season.  After leading the

Sacco has the young Avs off to an amazing start

Sacco has the young Avs off to an amazing start

Avs to their worst record since the move to Denver in 1995, Granato was let go just a week after finishing a 32-45-5 campaign.  Joe Sacco was promoted from the Av’s Lake Erie AHL affiliate to take over the Avalanche.  Many predict a dismal season for the Avs, projecting them to again miss the playoffs.  With a new goaltender and 2, yes 2, 18-year-old centers playing, this young team may have a long season ahead.  But the start has been simply brilliant.  The Avalanche enter their game in Minnesota as the top team in the Western Conference.  The 6-1-1 start is all the more impressive when you factor in the fact that all but 2 of the games have been played on the road.  It is too early to tell what will happen with this young team, but the fans are back and there is an excited buzz among Colorado hockey faithful.

What a difference a few months can make.  Three head coaching changes and all 3 seemed to have worked out.  Throw in the fact that the NBA Nuggets made the Western Conference finals last season and it seems that winning teams abound in Denver.

Class Act 10/12/2009

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The Denver Broncos defeated the New England Patriots 20-17 in overtime.   The win moved the Broncos record to 5-0.  Denver head coach Josh McDaniels defeated his old team, and his old boss, Bill Belichick. 

Remember the off season McDaniels had?  Hired as Denver’s new head coach, he became one of the five youngest head coaches ever.  As if that was not enough of a

Broncos coach Josh McDaniels points to the fans after the Broncos victory

Broncos coach Josh McDaniels points to the fans after the Broncos victory

challenge, the Cutler affair broke out.  Then Denver’s best receiver wants out.  The criticism grew and grew.  It seemed as if half of Denver wanted this guy gone before he ever had the chance to coach a game.  Bronco nation was atwitter with prognostications of outright failure.  The over/under in Vegas for the number of Bronco wins this season was at 6 1/2.  McDaniels had, after all, given away the best quarterback ever to play the game for the second coming of Ryan Leaf.  Now, five games in, it looks like the over will be surpassed, perhaps before the season is half over.  What a difference a few weeks can make.  Guess this guy can coach, after all.   A week one victory came on a deflected pass that was caught and turned into a long touchdown with just seconds left on the game clock.  Just luck, most said.  Never mind that Denver was in the lead until they surrendered a touchdown with less than a minute left in the game.  Then came victories over Cleveland and Oakland.  Just bad teams, the detractors said.  Wait untill the Broncos play a good team.  Then we will see how bad they are.  Denver followed the 3-0 start with a victory over Dallas.  They overcame an early 10-0 deficit, scored the game winning touchdown late in the 4th quarter, then future Hall of Fame defensive back Champ Bailey knocked down two Dallas passes in the end zone to seal the victory.  Many of the detractors said that the Broncos were lucky again and Dallas QB Tony Romo had a bad game.  Wait untill they play an exceptional team like New England.  Yep, the Broncos are now 5-0.

McDaniels and Orton talk before the game.

McDaniels and Orton talk before the game.

At the end of the game, McDaniels looked quickly for Belichick, then went  to the area in the stands where his family was sitting, pumping his fist into the air.  Lost in the moment, he seemed more cheerleader than coach, and the fans in the area were pumped up by the gesture.  During the post game news conference, McDaniels allowed that while, yes, it was special to beat his old team and mentor, it was not all about him.  The victory was a testament to a team of players who worked hard and fought hard and earned the victory.  For someone who had taken as many shots as McDaniels has, it was a class move to give the credit to the players, where it belongs.  His first big moment in the sun and he rose above the pettiness that had engulfed his chaotic start in Denver.  Some will point to the fact that he and Belichick did not shake hands on the field after the game, but McDaniels did shake hands and hug every member of the Patriots that he could find.  And the emotion he aimed at the stands will go a long way to getting Bronco fans on his side.  It will do almost as much as the 5-0 start.  It also turns out that Kyle Orton, the new QB in town, is not that bad, either. 

Perhaps McDaniels had a clue all along.  To borrow a line form the classic Movie Casablanca: Denver, I think this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

McDaniels and NE QB Brady converse.  Should Jay Cutler feel slighted?  Perhaps he will now demand anothre trade!

McDaniels and NE QB Brady converse. Should Jay Cutler feel slighted? Perhaps he will now demand another trade!

Cowboy Showdown 10/05/2009

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Do you believe yet?

The Denver Broncos spotted the Dallas Cowboys a 10-0 first quarter lead, then rode a 51 yard catch and run by Brandon Marshall for a

Knowshon Moreno scores the Broncos first TD

Knowshon Moreno scores the Broncos first TD

 touchdown with 1:46 left in the game to a 17-10 win.  The Broncos now stand 4-0 at the one quarter mark of the NFL season.  Denver came into the game undefeated, but getting little respect because their victories were over Cincinnati, Cleveland and Oakland, none of which are considered NFL elite.  The Cowboys, so the conventional thinking was, would expose the defense that had allowed a league low 16 points in the first 3 games.  In the early going, it looked like that is what was going to happen.

Dallas dominated the first quarter, mainly because their running game kept the clock moving.  Running back Marion Barber pushed his way through several Broncos for a one yard touchdown run with 43 seconds left in the quarter.  The extra point gave Dallas their 10- zip lead.  It was to be the last point scored by the Cowboys.  At that point, the Cowboys had run 23 plays to Denver’s 6.  The defenses then took over the game, and it was a play by Denver’s defense that changed the game.  On a third and 14 play, Broncos

Brandon Marshall makes a nice catch over the Cowboys Terence Newman on his way to the game winning TD

Brandon Marshall makes a nice catch over the Cowboys Terence Newman on his way to the game winning TD

strong safety Renaldo Hill blitzes Dallas quarter back Tony Romo.  Romo never saw him, and Hill sacked him at the 17 yard line and forced a fumble.  Denver linebacker D J Williams scooped up the ball and ran it to the 9.  Denver wasted no time with the gift as Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton hit running back Knowshon Moreno with a swing pass on the first  play after the fumble, and Moreno raced to the end zone for the score with 10:10 left in the half.  While both defenses dominated, Denver’s offense began to gain the upper hand until, with 6:02 left in the forth quarter, Bronco kicker Matt Prater kicked a 28 yard field goal to tie the game at 10.  The Cowboys managed to possess the ball for only 6 plays before they punted it back to the Broncos.  On the first play after the two minute warning, the Broncos had the ball at their own 49 yard line.  Orton, in the shotgun formation took the snap.  Dallas came with a blitz, and Orton found wide receiver Brandon Marshall on a go route along the right sideline at about the 34.  Marshall out jumped corner back Terence Newman for the ball, caught it and separated from him.  He cut back towards the center of the field at about the 30.  When he reached the near hash marks, Marshall found himself among 5 Dallas defenders.  He stopped, reversed his direction, and out raced the Cowboys to the far sideline and the corner of the end zone.  The touchdown gave the Broncos their first lead at 17-10.  But the game was far from over. 

On 4th and 3 from their own 27, Romo took the snap, avoided the rush, scrambled out to his left and some how found Sam Hurd at about the 40.  Hurd caught the ball and raced all the way to the Broncos 21 yard line. The 53 yard gain set the Cowboys up deep in Denver territory with 59 ticks left on the clock.   Three plays later, Romo hit Patrick Creighton, who lunged to the 3.  With no time outs left, Romo spiked the ball to stop the clock with 9 seconds left, making it 3rd down and goal.  Romo then tried to hit Hurd on two successive plays, but he was covered by future Hall of Famer Champ Baily who deflected both passes.  Game over.  Broncos win.

Denver’s defense was up to the task.  They gave up 10 points, bringing their 4 game points allowed total to a paltry 26, by far the least in the

Broncos coach Josh McDaniels is now 4-0 as an NFL head coach

Broncos coach Josh McDaniels is now 4-0 as an NFL head coach

 league. The Cowboys came into the game having rushed for over 200 yards in each of its previous 2 games.  Denver held them to 74 total rushing yards.   Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton was workman like again, completing 20 of 29 passes for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He has yet to throw an interception this season.  So what is the reason to diminish the Broncos now?  Poor competition?  Home field advantage?  Face it, the Broncos have been prepaired for each game so far.  Their defense is light years ahead of last seasons verson.  And they join the Colts as the only unbeaton teams in the AFC.  It is time to give head coach Josh McDaniels credit.  This is a good team.

It is time to suspend disbelief.  These Broncos can play.

Orange Crush 09/21/2009

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So, anyone who took the under on the Broncos winning 5 games this season want to change their mind?

The Denver Broncos are 2-0 under new head coach Josh McDaniels.  The embattled McDaniels had a tumultuous off season, trading the

Josh McDaniels is 2-0 as Broncos Head Coach

Josh McDaniels is 2-0 as Broncos Head Coach

 ‘franchise cry baby, er, quarterback’ Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears for Kyle Orton and draft picks.  McDaniels has also had his best receiver demand a trade and serve an almost 2 week suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.  McDaniels has been lambasted in the media for the past few months, excoriated by fans on talk radio and in blogs.  Yet, here they are at 2-0.

Flying under the radar during the pre season love fest that has been Bronco Nation is perhaps the biggest move McDaniels made during the off season.  Without much fan fare or notice, he hired recently deposed 49er head coach Mike Nolan to be his defensive coordinator.  Nolan has 11 years of experience in the NFL as a d-coordinator, and is one of the best defensive minds in the league today.  Nolan has quietly gone about the task of reshaping the defense.  Gone is the old 4-3 scheme, replaced with the 3-4.  With the new scheme there needed to be new players.   On the current active roster there are 14 players on the defensive side of the ball who are in their first season with the Broncos.  Last season the Broncos were among the worst defenses around.  They allowed 448 points, third most in the league.  They had only 13 take aways all of last season.  In the first 2 games this season, the Broncos have allowed a total of 13 points to the opposition.  That total is less than half of their per game average of 28 points in 2008.  They have 5 take aways in the first 2 games, a 2.5 per game average, up from a .81 per game average last season.  Granted, the Broncos have not met the stiffest of competition so far, but Cleveland scored 20 points in week 1 against Minnesota and were held to 6 points against the Broncos.  Denver’s week one opponent, Cincinnati, scored only 7 points in a loss to the Broncos managed to put up 31 in a win over Green Bay in week 2.  Nolan’s defense is much improved.

Orton has yet to throw an interception this season

Orton has yet to throw an interception this season

As for the ‘poor’ quarterback now playing in Denver, all Orton has done in the first 2 games is complete 36 of 65 passes for 506 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He has thrown no interceptions so far this season.  Orton has a respectable 90.9 quarterback rating through the first 2 games.  He has done all this while wearing a glove on his passing hand to protect a lacerated index finger, injured during the 3rd pre season game. To be sure, those numbers pale compared to the gaudy numbers produced by Cutler for the Broncos last season.  But, still, you can not do much better than 2-0.  And there is a new coach, a new offensive concept, and a new attitude in Denver.  My preseason prediction of 7-8 wins seemed outlandish compared to what many were predicting.  Now it seems it may have been too conservative.  Only time will tell about that.  But all of you who predicted only 3-5 wins want a Mulligan?

Any of the haters ready to change their mind about McDaniels?

Also Sunday, Former Bronco Shannon Sharpe was inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame.  Sharpe won 2 Super Bowl rings while with the Broncos (and a third with Baltimore).  He redefined the position of  tight end in the NFL.  Sharpe was not voted into the NFL Hall of Fame last season in his first time on the ballot.  It WILL happen.  In true Sharpe fashion, he arrived at Invesco Field by parachuting into the stadium during pregame with the game ball.  Congratulations on the honor, Shannon!

Shannon Sharpe arrives at Invesco Field

Shannon Sharpe arrives at Invesco Field

Deep Cut(ler) 09/13/2009

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Welcome to Chicago.

Jay Cutler thought he had been wronged by Josh McDaniels?  Wait untill he hears from Bears fans after that performance.  One of the NBC

It was a long night for Cutler

It was a long night for Cutler

 announcers told of running into a Bears fan who had turned his new Cutler jersey inside out and proclaimed “I can’t take this!”  And that was at HALFTIME!

In the first start that counts since The Baby cried his way out of Denver, Cutler showed all the traits that Bronco fans had forgotten about during the off season.  Want red zone production?  How about 2 field goals and an interception but no red zone touchdowns.  With Cutler at qb, Denver was one of the worst teams in the NFL last season in scoring touchdowns in the red zone.  Same problem in game one in Chicago.  Want poise under pressure?  How about 4 interceptions.  Want leadership?  How about getting the ball back  with 1:06 left at the 38 yard line behind by 6 points and going 1 and done.  Interception on first down.  This is what the Bears traded a butt load of draft picks and a starting quarterback who actually has a winning record in the NFL for?  This was the fresh start Cutler was looking for?  Careful what you whine, er, wish for.  The kid from Santa Claus, Indiana came up with coal for all Bears fans in the season opener. 

Cutler reacts after throwing one of his 4 interceptions

Cutler reacts after throwing one of his 4 interceptions

 And so it begins.  From  David Haugh’s  article in the Chicago Tribune:  “If nothing else, Cutler’s first game with his new team guaranteed that Sundays in 2009 will be louder than ever for the Bears, and it has nothing to with crowd noise.  There was Cutler yelling at the back judge to throw a flag, screaming at tight end Desmond Clark to adjust his route, running his mouth constantly at teammates running their pass routes.   Clearly, Cutler’s teammates and coaches will get plenty of advice this season — and earplugs too, if they’re smart.  Just curious: Who’s going to get in Cutler’s face?”  And this from the Tribune’s Rick Morrissey: “At the rate he was going in the first half, it was a wonder Bears coach Lovie Smith didn’t throw his red flag and challenge the trade that brought the quarterback to town.  The scouting report on Cutler always has been that the rewards outweigh the risks on the field. He’ll brashly, rashly throw into coverage and break a coach’s heart once in a while, but he’ll make more plays than not.  On Sunday night, Cutler’s worst attributes crept into the light. Time and again, he tried to make plays only he saw. He threw across his body. He threw off the wrong foot. He screamed at a world that would do him so wrong.  Jay Cutler, hear him roar.”   Welcome to Chicago.    How ’bout that Windy City press!   Hey, Jay, miss Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, and a quality offensive line yet?

To make matters worse, the qb the Bears traded away came up a winner.  Kyle Orton, playing with a glove on his throwing hand to protect the stitches in his index finger on that hand, went 17 for 28 for 243 yards and no interceptions.  And his last pass with :27 left was deflected into the hands of Brandon  Stokley who took it 87 yards untouched for the game winning touchdown.  (Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K56C-roYUOA&feature=player_embedded) The City of  Broad Shoulders traded away the tough guy who found a way to win the game.  It will get better for the Bears and Cutler.  But not next week.  Not with the Steelers and their vaunted defense in Chicago.  If Cutler struggles early against the defending champions, we will see how he handles the boo birds in Chicago.

It’s For Real 09/09/2009

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Something will be different for Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton this week.  Now, if I could just put a finger on it…..

Week one of the regular season is finally here.  And it will certainly feel different for Orton.  He took reps at practice yesterday wearing a glove

Orton wor a glove during practice Tuesday to protect his finger

Orton wor a glove during practice Tuesday to protect his finger

 on his throwing hand to protect the stitches on his dislocated index finger.  No decision yet on if he will start at Cincinnati Sunday (he will), or if he will wear the glove during game action (he probably will).  The feel of the football in his hand is not the only reason Sunday will feel different for the new Broncos signal caller.  It will be the first time he will have all his weapons at his disposal.

First round draft pick running back Knowshon Moreno will be in the same backfield with

Knowshon Moreno will make his NFL debut Sunday

Knowshon Moreno will make his NFL debut Sunday

Orton for the first time since the first quarter of the first preseason game.  Moreno, recovering from a sprained knee ligament, is not 100% but  is expected to see action Sunday.  And there will be more introductions in the Broncos offensive huddle.  Disgruntled wide out Brandon Marshall, fresh from his team suspension for disrespect and lack of effort, is expected to start.  Marshall did not appear in any preseason game with the Broncos.  He was not even allowed to practice with the team during his suspension.  Hopefully, he now realizes that his actions and attitude are harming his ability to be paid well on any new contract he signs.  His whole act has been about money, and perhaps he now realizes that he needs to perform well during this, his contract season.  The upshot of all of this is that the offense may struggle early, but Denver still has many weapons to move the ball. 

The defense, among the worst in the NFL last season, has also been revamped.  And while preseason

Will Marshall return to pro bowl form or continue to pout?

Will Marshall return to pro bowl form or continue to pout?

 is not much of a true test, it appears that new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s  new 3-4 rework will be improved over last season.  They have looked impressive against the run in preseason.  It is still a work in process, but almost anything will be an improvement over last season’s defense.  This squad will be better.

I understand the turmoil of the off season.  I know this team has been through a lot.  Along with a new head coach and assistants, the offensive philosophy and defensive scheme have been changed.  And there will be a new quarterback.  But there is still talent on this team.  The offense has weapons.  I hear people talking about a 2-14 season.  Or 4-12.  Honestly, I just don’t see it.  Sure, the schedule is tough.  But KC is still there twice.  As well as Oakland.  Cincinnati is beatable, and so is Cleveland.  I’m not saying that Denver will win all 6 of those games, but I also think that losses are not given in each of the remaining 10.  I think Denver will finish 7-9 or 8-8.

Baby got back 08/31/2009

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The big baby got the last laugh. 

For what it is worth, Jay Cutler returned to Denver as the quarterback of the Chicago Bears

Tne pressure Cutler felt from the Broncos pailed compaired to the pressure from the fans he scorned in Denver

Tne pressure Cutler felt from the Broncos pailed compaired to the pressure from the fans he scorned in Denver

 for a preseason game last night.  The emotions ran high, especially for a preseason game.  Cutler was greeted by a chorus of boos unlike anything heard at a sporting event in Denver.  Cutler forced his way out of Denver during the off season after the Broncos hired a new head coach.  He then insulted  Broncos fans during an interview calling them ‘maybe a 6’ while saying the Bears fans were great.  (I’m here to tell you, having attended games in both Denver and Chicago, that the Bears fans have nothing on Broncos fans!)

Cutler’s stat line was very good.  He

Elvis Dumervil hits Jay Cutler

Elvis Dumervil hits Jay Cutler

was 15-21 for 141 yards and a td.  He got off to a slow start.  The Bears first touchdown was a result of a 54 yard punt return that set the Bears up at the 4 yard line.  Before that point, the Bears went three and out in 3 of 4 possessions, and settled for a field goal in the other.  Cutler did most of his damage during a 5 minute, 98 yard drive at the end of the first half.  That drive was kept alive by a 15 yard ruffing the passer penalty, or it would have ended in a field goal attempt. 

The quarterback Denver received in the trade, Kyle Orton, looked good for the Broncos, completing 12 of 16 passes for 96 yards before being forced to leave with a cut on the index finger of his throwing hand.  Denver fans left wondering how the Broncos let Cutler get away, but Orton has shown good progress, and assuming that he is healthy for the season opener against Cincinnati, they will come to learn that he is a good fit for the new offensive system. 

Cutler handled the pressure of the situation well, something he has not always done in the past.  But do not not forget that this was only a preseason game.  Bears fans love him now, but wait until he throws an interception or two as he has the propensity to do.  Then he will find out what Chicago fans are all about.   Chicago is a defense and run oriented team, and head coach Lovey Smith is not about to change that.  The honeymoon period will end quickly between Chicago and their new quarterback.

Around the league, it was a rough week for NFL quarterbacks.  Besides Orton’s injury in Denver, New England’s Tom Brady, lost all of last season with a leg injury suffered in the season opener, was taken out of his game after tweaking a shoulder and Kansas City’s Matt Cassel suffered a sprained MCL.

The Showdown 08/24/2009

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That was much better.

Interestingly, that phrase could be heard in both Chicago and Denver about their new quarterbacks this weekend.  As you recall,

The Prima Donna returns to Denver for the first time in an opponents jersey Friday.  Will he be cheered or jeered?

The Prima Donna returns to Denver for the first time in an opponents jersey Sunday. Will he be cheered or jeered?

the Bears and Broncos swapped quarterbacks during the off season.  The strong armed Jay Cutler was greeted with open arms in the Windy City, while the Mile High denizens were less than thrilled to be getting Kyle Orton.  Comparisons were and are inevitable.  Pre season games are meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but, so far, they are all we have.  Neither had good outings in week one.  Cutler threw one interception for the Bears, and should have had 2 picked off.  Meanwhile, Orton tossed three picks in his debut with the Broncos.  Predictably, all hell was breaking loose in Bronco Nation, while Bears Fans took it in stride.  In Denver, fans wondered what new head coach Josh McDaniels was doing.  How could he trade the disgrunteled  ‘franchise quarterback?’  In Chicago, fans understood the poor outing as typical adjustment of a new quarterback becoming acquainted with his new teammates and system.

Week 2 was much better for both qb’s.  Their lines:  Orton 18-26, 182 yards, 1 td, 1 int; Cutler 8-13, 121 yards and 1 touchdown.  Orton looks comfortable in the

While the fans view the upcoming pre season game as a showdown between Orton and Cutler, McDaniels and Orton will be concerned only with the performance of the Broncos offense.

While the fans view the upcoming pre season game as a showdown between Orton and Cutler, McDaniels and Orton will be concerned only with the performance of the Broncos offense.

new offensive system in Denver.  His interception came on a left handed toss (Hey, Broncos fans, where is Jake Plummer, anyway?) on 4th down from the one yard line.  It was a bad decision, came after his 3rd down pass was dropped in the end zone, and was a bone headed attempt to make something happen.  Cutler got less work in the Bears game.  The Chicago system is less wide open than the system he played in in Denver, so Cutler’s numbers will be down this season as compared to last.  I go through all this because this has become a big week in Broncoland since the trade.   In this, the third pre season game for the Broncos, their first home game, they welcome Cutler and the Bears. There is a buzz in Denver for this game.  More than for any pre season game I can remember.  But, honestly, is this anything more than a pre season game?

My guess is that Orton was well liked in Chicago.  He was a team leader.  On the other hand, the way Cutler left the Broncos probably left a bad taste in some of his former teammates mouth.  I think there will be a little more zeal in the Broncos rush this week.  As far as McDaniels and Orton are concerned,  speculation is that they need to prove something to the fans this week.  My guess is that they care little about the Bears, rather they are focused on the execution of the offense.   With two weeks left until the season kicks off for real, there is much work left to do with both the Broncos offense and defense. 

This game holds much interest, however, for the fans.  While Cutler still has fans in Denver, and many Broncos fans will voice their displeasure with McDaniels by cheering Cutler, there are also many fans who feel Cutler acted childishly and betrayed them.  They will boo him lustaly.  Perhaps the most important fan referendum on the McDaniels era so far will come when Cutler is introduced for the first time to the Invesco Field at Mile High crowd.  That moment may be the most interesting event of the evening.  At least until the first time Cutler is hit by the Broncos.