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Category:NFL
Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:53 pm
 

Peyton Manning Belongs in Denver

Tim Tebow fans won't like it, but true Broncos fans have to be intrigued at the idea of Peyton Manning coming to Denver if he's medically cleared to play.  It would be the second time the Colts' saw their first pick QB go to the Mile High City.  Last time John Elway sealed it with back to back Super Bowl Championships.

Peyton Manning would have a great offensive line to protect him with Ryan Clady actually being back to protecting a QB's blindside again.  Outside Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker lead a young receiving core.  Broncos fans wouldn't have to watch Tebow struggle through another season of tons of ugly offensive football.  It's the only QB option the Broncos have for next year that wouldn't cause a QB controversy, as everyone, except the extremely disturbed, would see Peyton as the clear number one.

Category: NFL
Posted on: December 13, 2011 3:55 pm
 

How Long Will Tebow Time Last?

Tim Tebow was an enormous NFL star before he took a single snap for the Broncos.  A two time champion at Florida with a Heisman Trophy to boot, not to mention an enormous following of fans of his faith.  Ultimately the Tebow story is an enigma.  Tim is a winner because the Broncos are winning with Tebow as their signal caller.  All the fans that swear up and down that they always knew Tim was a winner are right.

Tim is also a frequent disappointment during long stretches where the offense doesn't do much of anything.  Tim doesn't "look" like an NFL QB.  He doesn't have sweet footwork and mechanics that can drop passes on receivers all over the field in stride.  That obviously doesn't bother Tim's devout fans.  These same fans don't understand where Boomer Esiason and Merril Hoge and the many other for players turned commentators are coming from with their criticisms of Tim.  Maybe the answer is in analyzing the list of QB's that have won Super Bowls, particularly multiple Super Bowls, in recent years:

2011 - Aaron Rodgers
2010 - Drew Brees
2009 - Ben Roethlisberger
2008 - Eli Manning
2007 - Peyton Manning
2006 - Ben Roethlisberger
2005 - Tom Brady
2004 - Tom Brady
2003 - Brad Johnson
2002 - Tom Brady
2001 - Trent Dilfer
2000 - Kurt Warner
1999 - John Elway
1998 - John Elway
1997 - Brett Favre
1996 - Troy Aikman
1995 - Steve Young
1994 - Troy Aikman
1993 - Troy Aikman
1992 - Mark Rypien

Championship teams in the NFL have almost exclusively had talented drop back pocket quarterbacks.  People might think the Broncos can get there with conservative mistake free football from Tebow and defense, but that is a really challenging road.  As good as the Ravens 2001 and Bucs 2003 defenses were, they each had one Super Bowl shot that they pulled off with non-Hall of Fame caliber QBs.  The QB position is truly the most important in all of sports and Tebow misses way too many passes right now, and I'm not talking about the drops that are an issue too.  The Broncos are feasting on teams with offensive issues right now, but ultimately Tim won't be the long term solution unless he makes vast improvements in consistency.  The Broncos cannot continue to lead the league in three and outs and expect for games to stay close enough for a 4th quarter comeback each week.

A lot of Tebow critics have started to back-pedal.  The results on the scoreboard have them wondering if this is a viable way to build a champion.  Well, the Broncos were 6 and 0 just two years ago just in time to turn some heads that snapped back the other way as the season tanked.  Where does this leave the Broncos?  Well Tim is on the second year of a five year deal in Denver, so the Broncos certainly don't need to up to a huge contract right now and get stuck in a Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb, Matt Cassel, or Ryan Fitzpatrick mess.  The Broncos can stay the course with Tebow as long as he's winning and hopefully improving.  Draft picks or free agency signings for a Rob Gronkowski style tight end, a WR, a running back, and some support for the defensive secondary would be a good plan.  If a talented young QB is available well after the first round then you draft him and put him in competition for the Broncos future QB.  Even with the nice record as a starter this year, the Broncos need to leave their options open.  The John Elway era is off to a nice start as Von Miller looks better by the week, Champ Bailey continues to make plays, Elvis Dumervil is actually on the field to play and the offensive line is opening up holes for Willis McGahee to gash defenses.

At the end of the day, Tebow and Broncos fans have had a lot to cheer about over this run.  Tebow critics should recognize the great contributions he's made.  The low number of turnovers have kept the Broncos in the game and Tim has clutched up in a big way at the end of games.  Tebow lovers should also recognize that the Broncos management is trying to win Super Bowl.  Tim doesn't look a thing like the last 20 years of NFL Super Bowl Champion QB's.  That's a concern, becuase great pocket QB play isn't a trend its a law.  If anyone can break the modern laws of football it would probably be Timothy Richard, but the Broncos need to be prepared to move on if this experiment blows up.  The real answer is, Tebow time will last as long as W's keep going up in the record sheets.

Posted on: January 26, 2011 8:15 pm
 

Is Jay a Quitter?

When Jay Cutler was drafted by Mike Shanahan and the Broncos, the fans in Denver were excited.  The kid had displayed an electric arm at Vanderbilt.  Jake Plummer was the Broncos QB at the time and just a season removed from leading the Broncos to the AFC title game in January of 2006 he found himself knocked from the helm in favor of Jay Cutler that following fall.  Perhaps after the Super Bowls of the late 1990's Broncos fans suffered the same affliction as the fans of the Yankees, Steelers, Red Wings, Longhorns, Lakers, or Celtics, a sense of entitlement to always be good and talk down to the fans of inferior sports organizations.  Broncos fans cheered the Jay Cutler replacement and the Broncos fell from a playoff spot with Plummer to out of the race with Jay.  I don't mean to imply that Jay was the problem and I certainly understand that the Broncos brass felt they had to give Cutler the nod so as to not be paying way too much for a backup QB, but I never felt the huge number of Broncos fans who put down Jake Plummer were fair to the gutsy former Cardinals QB. 

All that said, Jay Cutler made some electric passes when he became the Broncos playcaller.  A 70-yard bomb to Javon Walker in one of his first starts certainly caught my eye as a throw that Plummer didn't have in the arsenal.  Cutler was beloved in Denver.  Not John Elway style beloved, but the fans supported him and made custom tee-shirts ("JC Saves", etc.).  Just as fans were quick to turn on Plummer, and Brian Griese before that, fans found a way to take Josh McDaniels side and actually celebrated the end of the Jay Cutler era and crowing of Kyle Orton.

This week Jay Cutler was knocked out of the NFC title game and the mixed reactions in Denver were very interesting.  Some still harvest great resentment towards Jay and called him a quitter.  It seems others, although a minority, still support Jay and felt bad for an injury ending his season shortly before the Bears were knocked out of contention.  Well for any Broncos fans, or for anyone out there at large who has revelled in Jay's injury this week, your opinion of Jay's toughness is dead wrong.

We had people like Pete Prisco of CBSSPORTS, and he wasn't alone, saying Jay Cutler would have played on a torn MCL if he had guts like Philip Rivers.  This is such total garbage.  You hear about player playing hurt but saying they can't go when they're injured.  Look at all the hits Jay sustained this year and in total during his years in the NFL.  It's easy for internet tough guys to say Jay's soft, because they've probably never felt the pain of a rough day as NFL QB a single day in their lives.  Comparing Jay to Rivers is probably the lamest thing you can do too.  Without medical knowledge you have no way of comparing the injuries.  "Well they were both MCL's..." 

The Rick Reilly's of the world, and all of the sports curmudeons showed up in droves both before and after the game to pile onto Jay, were also completely dispicable.  "Oh, Jay's playoff win doesn't count, because they beat a 8-9 team."  "Jay Cutler is soft and has no leadership."  If Jay had no leadership then why did Josh McDaniels get rid of every single major playmaker that Jay played with, except Eddie Royal?  Jay had friends in that locker room.  The offense was the heart of that team and they trusted Jay and Josh McDaniels got rid of every player who had loyalties to Jay and Shanahan and tanked an average team into one of their worst seasons.  Notice that not a single Jay Cutler former teammate from the Broncos was on Twitter blasting the embattled QB.

Jay joined a Bears team where the defense is the heart of the team.  There is and has been a terrible offensive line and a lack of weapons in the receiver spots.  Still Cutler led the offense of a team that earned the second seed a bye week in the playoffs and played a considerably more difficult schedule than the top seeded FalconsBrian Urlacher didn't treat Cutler with respect when he joined the team, but I would submit that after two years of Urlacher seeing Jay absorb incredible punishment behind a terrible line and continue to fight that Brian now respects Cutler.

It's unclear why Jay Cutler is such an NFL piriah right now.  I personally think all the venomous articles swarming the media have tainted the national perception of the talented QB.  Were any of these people watching the Monday Night Football game against the Packers where Jay took a vicious heatshot from Frank Zombo and stayed in the game to lead the Bears to victory?  Even look to the game on Sunday night, where he clearly couldn't step into his throws and continued to get pummeled in the pocket.  The Bears' doctor declared it unsafe for Jay to return.  Why on earth should we expect a player to risk life and limb when he's shown the ability to play through pain before.  He just couldn't go.

Let's try to remember how to be real fans.  Just because Deion Sanders, a guy who tried as hard as he could to never take a hard hit in his life, Tweets about Jay doesn't mean he's right.  And in the post Josh McDaniels era fans need to recognize what a personel nightmare we lived through.  It's not Jay's fault that McDaniels was intent on clearing out all of the best offensive threats.  Jay Cutler isn't a media darling, but he plays football like a professional and deserves some respect especially from his peers and those that once cheered him in Denver.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:32 pm
 

Out'Fox'ing McDaniels

There has been mixed reviews to the John Fox hire in Denver.  Some hang their hat on his league worst record in Carolina last year and others remember Fox taking the Panthers to the Super Bowl in February 2004.  Personally I think the hire was the smart choice and the right one and perhaps the best way to explain why is to point out the differences between the terrible Josh McDaniels hire and this current hire:

1.  Experience - John Fox had over 20 years of experience as a defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator before spending the last eight years as coach of the Carolina Panthers.  Josh McDaniels was a Patriots assistant from 2001-2004 and then a QB coach and offensive coordinator for five years.  He had no prior head coaching experience at any level.  Josh got the nod in Denver because people looked at young successful coaches like Mike Tomlin and John Gruden, but it's hard to beat 30 years worth of experience from a guy who is still just 55-years-old like John Fox.  Picking a coach with prior NFL head coaching experience was a great choice especially with a team hurting after the mistakes of a young purported genious blew up in the Broncos face.

2.  Offense/Defense - The Broncos had some of the brightest young offensive stars in the league with Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and the awesome talents of Ryan Clady.  In Shanahan's last season the Broncos witnessed one of the harshest injury rashes an NFL running back core has ever seen, but in Peyton Hillis they found an absolute stud who all savvy fans were excited to see come back from a hamstring injury in the 2009 season.  The Broncos defense stunk on ice and couldn't stop anyone.  Why the Broncos hired an offensive despot like McDaniels will never be clear, but only Clady remains with the presents former coach being huge question marks going forward.  Knowshon Moreno has not impressed and has been a beacon of what happens when you take a running back who isn't Adrian Peterson or Bo Jackson way too high in the draft.  Hindsight is 20/20, but the Broncos should have hired Leslie Frazier in 2009 if they wanted to give a young coach his first chance.  Now they are getting a defensive coach and there has to be some hope that the defense can return to respectability.  My advice is to resign Champ Bailey and forget about drafting LSU's Patrick Peterson as a rookie corner back and pick up Nick Fairley to match up with Elvis Dumervil for a fearsome pass rush.

3.  Loyalty - Josh McDaniels learned a terrible habit from Bill Bellichick.  Josh saw Bill ship off pro bowl talent on a regular basis.  Richard Seymore, Ty Law, and Asante Samuels did all get the boot in New England, but what I think Josh missed was that Bill always had the respect of the remaining players.  Bill would never get cross with his franchise QB.  McDaniels came to Denver and replaced high level offensive talent with huge athletic downgrades.  I credit Kyle Orton with some huge improvements this last season and Brandon Lloyd really impressed, but overall how can the Broncos players not resent sending good players out to bring less talented guys in?  Some people might think it is a fault, but when John Fox stuck with Jake Delhomme through his struggles it was a demonstration of good leadership.  Steve Smith and Jake took that team to the Super Bowl and, if you remember those playoffs in 2004, they were both playing out of their minds.  Jake was matching Tom Brady shot for shot in the Super Bowl and hit some spectacular passes.  Hard to say everything that went wrong for Jake, but Fox stuck with him for as long as possible and that means a lot.

At the end of the day, what happens on the football field will determine whether the John Elways hiring of John Fox is a success or a failure, but they worked quickly so that now draft preparations can be put in order.  The Broncos are a prideful organization with as good a fan base as any team on earth and glory days will return.  Let's hope John Fox is the catalyst.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com