|04-01-2005, 10:39 AM||#1|
Hey pic Mod!?!?! FU
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: The wrong side of right.
Nice long read....
Updated: April 1, 2005, 1:19 PM ET
Defensive line woes continue for Broncos
By Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com
Len Pasquarelli Archive
Courtney Brown. Gerard Warren. Michael Myers. Ebenezer Ekuban.
Not exactly a quartet, despite the presence of three former first-round choices, including two of whom were among the top three players selected in their respective draft classes, sufficiently menacing enough to cause restless nights for offensive linemen leaguewide.
This isn't a group that should be mistaken for the Fearsome Foursome, the Steel Curtain, the Purple People Eaters, or any other colorfully captioned front-four unit. Heck, these guys, The Four Flops, have authored fewer hits than the Four Tops. In fact, looking for a handle for this frustrating foursome? How about The Rejects or the Retreads?
Or, given that all four of the veteran defensive linemen labored for Cleveland in 2004, perhaps the Brown-outs is most appropriate.
Last season, the quartet averaged 22.5 tackles, 3.3 sacks and 8.3 starts. Yeah, you can justifiably point out those microscopic numbers are skewed downward by the fact Brown was injured and played in only two games. But, hey, Brown, the first player chosen in the 2000 draft, is always injured. It will probably cost Cleveland ownership more to ship his ponderous medical dossier to Denver than it will to forward his equipment. The guy clearly has more X-rays than big plays.
Here's a more ominous statistic: The four linemen have averaged 19.5 games missed to injuries over the course of their NFL careers and more than two surgeries apiece. None has ever registered more than eight sacks in a season. Neither Brown nor Ekuban, both rehabilitating from surgeries, will be able to run full-speed before May. So dubious is the availability of Ekuban for the outset of training camp that Cleveland tossed Myers into a trade earlier this week as a cheap insurance policy.
Want a less than ringing endorsement? With all four linemen on their roster in 2004, the Browns won, yep, all of four games. Cleveland management might have fared better had it simply erected four speed bumps.
None of this dissuaded the Broncos from finding a way to bring all four to Denver.
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Tot Ast Solo FF Sack Int
2 2 0 0 0 0
The Broncos recruited Brown, released by Cleveland on March 14 for cap and casualty reasons, as if he was the second coming of Bruce Smith. Which is precisely what a lot of scouts felt he would be when he departed Penn State in 2000. And before the defensive end began accumulating enough ailments to be held personally accountable for the spiral in medical insurance costs in Ohio during his five-year tenure near Lake Erie.
So the Broncos signed Brown in hopes of resurrecting his flagging career. Three weeks ago, Denver traded a fourth-round pick for Warren, the third overall selection in the '01 draft, and an interior defender possessed of enormous talent, but whose accomplishments are sparse. Warren is one of our favorite players in the league but "Big Money" has been more a penny stock for four seasons. On Tuesday night, the Broncos shipped disgruntled running back Reuben Droughns to the Browns in exchange for Ekuban and Myers.
It's as if the Broncos' football operation has given new connotation to the high component of the Mile High City. Do they suddenly feel that Brown, who finished each of the last four seasons on injured reserve, is going to stumble upon some panacea while wandering some Rocky Mountain trail? That Warren will find motivation, Ekuban stay healthy and Myers suddenly become a playmaker?
Their hardly flattering resumes notwithstanding, the onetime Cleveland linemen each will be counted upon to play major roles in the refurbished Denver defensive front. But why were the Broncos so incredibly desperate to restock? Why was Denver so willing to roll the dice on players whose careers keep coming up snake-eyes?
Well, in large part because the Broncos' organization has been so bad, and suffered such misfortune, in drafting defensive linemen.
Unlike the NFL's best and most stable teams, the Broncos don't grow defensive linemen. And, thus, Denver seems to be forever addressing its defensive line needs in the always dicey free-agent market. That usually means throwing good money after players who are in decline. None of the former Cleveland linemen are getting big deals financially, but all are stop-gaps, not players to develop for the long run.
And that inability, the failure to draft players and successfully raise them up through your own system, has been a glaring Broncos shortcoming.
Of the 10 defensive linemen who appeared in games for Denver in 2004, just three -- ends Reggie Hayward and Trevor Pryce and tackle Monsanto Pope -- originally were Denver draft choices. The Broncos' defensive line was like a halfway house for veteran free-agent players like Marco Coleman, Luther Elliss, Darius Holland, Ellis Johnson, Anton Palepoi and Raylee Johnson. Two of those players were added after the start of the season. If you were a defensive lineman who was released, and you had a pulse, chances were good that the Broncos were going to sign you.
Compare the Denver situation to that of, say, the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The Pats are loaded with young, viable and vital defensive linemen because coach Bill Belichick has made the position, and depth at it, a priority. New England took defensive linemen in the first round of three of the last four drafts. They also invested a couple of second-round picks on the defensive line during that stretch.
The kind of lopsided and unhealthy reliance on free-agent linemen that Denver has demonstrated of late, magnified again over the past month with the fixation on former Cleveland defenders, can be traced to the draft failures of the past. Ineptitude in the draft, and crucial injuries post-draft, have created a culture of failure. Instead of a unit manned by young talent, nurtured through the Denver system, the Broncos instead have holes that have to be filled by free agents or trade acquisitions plucked from other teams' rosters.
Such an approach, characteristically, is a recipe for failure and salary cap problems. The Broncos, it's fair to say, have suffered plenty of both. Someone noted on another site this week that Denver might yet hit a "home run" with its four Cleveland imports. Truth is, the Broncos wouldn't need a home run if they'd just slugged a few doubles, instead of having so many whiffs, with their defensive line selections over the past decade.
Since the arrival of coach Mike Shanahan in '95, the Broncos have selected 13 defensive linemen in 10 lotteries, and the overall results have pretty much been catastrophic. Think the Broncos have had problems choosing cornerbacks? The defensive line selections have been far worse.
Six of the 13 defensive linemen never played in a single game for the Broncos and another appeared in just nine contests. Denver invested four choices on defensive linemen in 2002 -- Nick Eason, Bryant McNeal, Aaron Hunt and Clint Mitchell -- and none has ever gotten onto the field for a game in a Broncos uniform. Hunt is the only one who remains under contract to the Broncos.
Of the 13, only four played in more than 40 games and Pryce, who will be traded or released before training camp, is the only one to appear in more than 47 contests. He has 105 appearances and the other 12 averaged just 14.8 games in Denver. His 98 starts are nearly double the aggregate starts of the others. While Pryce's departure is pending, end Reggie Hayward, a third-round pick in 2001 and the Broncos' best pass-rush threat the last two seasons, already defected, signing with Jacksonville as an unrestricted free agent last month. Last spring, the Broncos also lost a solid pass rusher, Bertrand Berry, in free agency, although it should be noted he wasn't a home-grown player.
The situation, as evidenced by the additions of the four Cleveland linemen, isn't likely to get much better in 2005.
There are currently 15 defensive linemen on the Denver roster who are either signed to contracts or who have been tendered restricted free-agent qualifying offers for 2005 and most likely will return. Of that group, discounting Pryce who was limited to two games in '04 after early-season back surgery, only three are original Broncos signees. That trio has combined for just 31 regular-season starts.
In fairness to Shanahan and the Denver personnel department, the dearth of good, young defensive linemen isn't all a factor of poor draft decisions. There have been injuries to a number of the draftees -- most notably a persistent knee problem that kept defensive end Paul Toviessi, a second-round pick in 2001 and a player who was projected as a double-digit sack man, from ever playing in a game -- that essentially scuttled their careers.
Even with the injuries, however, the Broncos should have plenty more to show for all of their draft forays into the defensive line pool. Such a deficiency has led Denver to make moves out of necessity, even desperation, and most of those gambits have backfired.
The bet here is that bringing in so many defensive linemen from Cleveland, a city known as the "Mistake by the Lake," isn't going to help rectify the errors of the past. In fact, the Broncos' recent shopping spree probably augurs results that, alas, are pretty much the same as those to which Denver has become accustomed.
Around the league
• There are some rumors you chase because, even though you don't believe them, they make a modicum of sense. There are some you chase because the boss tells you to check 'em out. You figure out into which category the rumblings of last weekend, which suggested that the San Diego Chargers were trading second-year quarterback Philip Rivers to San Francisco for the first overall selection in the 2005 draft, really fall. Outside of the musings of some misguided media minds in San Diego, there never was a shred of credence to the Rivers rumors, in part because the 49ers don't feel the former North Carolina State star is as good as the quarterbacks available to them in this year's draft, Aaron Rodgers of California or Utah's Alex Smith.
Sure, there was certainly a money factor, since landing Rivers would have allowed San Francisco to dodge a big signing bonus. But after the Chargers paid Rivers his option bonus of $6.6 million on March 10, why would they want to deal him? It didn't make sense to invest that much money in Rivers and then trade him, not even for the first pick in the draft, a guy who will command a $15 million signing bonus. Yeah, the Chargers have scads of salary-cap room. No, they don't have unlimited funds.
Want some truth in all of this? Here it is: Long before San Diego deposited the $6.6 million payment into Rivers' bank account, it could have traded him, since there were at least two suitors interested. In fact, San Diego could have dealt him to a team with a very high choice in the first round, and opted not to. The plan remains to keep Rivers and Drew Brees through the '05 season and then make a determination on their respective fates. That has been the formula articulated by general manager A.J. Smith, a guy who has been incredibly candid since moving into the job after the death of longtime friend John Butler, and there is no reason to suggest that the blueprint will be altered. The Chargers' brass wants one more season to analyze Brees, who signed the one-year "franchise" qualifying offer, to determine if he is the real deal or if his brilliant 2004 performance was just an aberration.
|04-01-2005, 01:07 PM||#2|
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Hot Springs, Ouachitah
Sounds like what I have been b****ing about to a T.
At least he was kind enough to only mention our drafting of CB's in passing. T. James, Watson, Deltha, Middlebrooks, Brandon will be joined by LeSewer and Choke. We went out and traded a franshise back on a 300,000 salary for a franchises CB in Bailey and 63 million, and still have what I consider glaring holes in the secondary with the losses of Kennedy, who was just starting to play well, and Herndon, solid if not spectacular, and underrated. Gone is Poole, who managed to play well for New England and singlehandely put the kibosh on Priest Holmes with a remarkable chase down.
Yep, I'm piling on, but remember, before Foster, Portis (traded) Lelie and Bell, Denver spent high choices again and again on Defense. This slowed recently as the offense decayed, but we still took D.J. Williams and brought back Gold.
The idea of getting Pierce on the field seems like the early offseason plans of the 3/4, and it appears the best bet for Pierce to get on the field is on special teams or if Wilson gets injured. I still think the Predator will see more time in a 3/4 pass defense due to Pierce's inability to play zone, but I think he will get some time with Wilson in coverage.
Nonetheless, Denver's ability to draft corner has been just as pathetic as their DL drafts, which wanders into the dust of time with the imminent trade/release of Trevor Pryce.
|04-05-2005, 09:41 PM||#3|
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: The Backside of the Internet
Pastabelly rips us good. I just read the whole thing on ESPN and he had no shame in his hatred of Denver.
Some notable quotes "Well, in large part because the Broncos' organization has been so bad, and suffered such misfortune, in drafting defensive linemen."
"And that inability, the failure to draft players and successfully raise them up through your own system, has been a glaring Broncos shortcoming."
"Compare the Denver situation to that of, say, the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The Pats are loaded with young, viable and vital defensive linemen because coach Bill Belichick has made the position, and depth at it, a priority."
"he kind of lopsided and unhealthy reliance on free-agent linemen that Denver has demonstrated of late, magnified again over the past month with the fixation on former Cleveland defenders, can be traced to the draft failures of the past. Ineptitude in the draft, and crucial injuries post-draft, have created a culture of failure. Instead of a unit manned by young talent, nurtured through the Denver system, the Broncos instead have holes that have to be filled by free agents or trade acquisitions plucked from other teams' rosters."
"Since the arrival of coach Mike Shanahan in '95, the Broncos have selected 13 defensive linemen in 10 lotteries, and the overall results have pretty much been catastrophic"
"Of the 13, only four played in more than 40 games and Pryce, who will be traded or released before training camp" (Shows what he knows, since Pryce just took a paycut...yes this was a few days ago I know)
"Last spring, the Broncos also lost a solid pass rusher, Bertrand Berry, in free agency, although it should be noted he wasn't a home-grown player."
|04-05-2005, 09:54 PM||#4|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: May 2001
Len blew the Pats for their signing of David Terrell the other day, whose done just as much as Brown and Warren.
|04-05-2005, 10:59 PM||#5|
Attack at all times . . .
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: AFC West Championshipville
Pasqarelli's having a good time at Denver's expense. Lot's of laughs. Let's see how the Broncs respond.
|04-05-2005, 11:13 PM||#7|
The Enemy Within
Join Date: Dec 2002
Crap... you caught me. It's true, people. I am Len Pasquarelli. I'm only here to get the inside scoop early so Profootballtalk will stop making fun of me. I'd love to talk more but I've got a big bowl of linguine in microwave... I'm sure you understand.
|04-06-2005, 05:20 PM||#9|
Five Tool Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
Here is a good story about Len Pasquerilli....
I was reading ESPN.com about a month ago and my father walked into the office and saw a picture of Len on the website and said, "I don't like that guy. He is always doing stupid things on TV with his son. Why doesn't that guy just move so his kids want mess with him anymore." I looked at him with a puzzeled look because I knew Len was not on TV, but then I understood who he was talking about: Don Vito from the MTV show Bam Margera. It is uncanny the resemblemce between these two:
Needless to say, we both got a good laugh about it, albeit for different reasons.
Last edited by GonzoLays; 04-06-2005 at 05:25 PM..