|10-17-2005, 09:36 AM||#1|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Hermosa Beach
Rare positive article on Jake
DENVER – At one point Sunday afternoon, you could see the anvil falling from the sky, and Jake Plummer standing squarely in its path.
It was third-and-8 in the second quarter, and the pocket was beginning to collapse around the Denver Broncos quarterback. For a half second, he caught a glimpse of what he thought might be an open receiver downfield and a singular instinct pulsed inside his head.
And just when you thought the moment was unfolding predictably – just when the familiar weighty mistake typically would have wiped Plummer out – he did something simple yet vital. He pulled his arm down and took a sack.
"I can appreciate that," said Denver linebacker Al Wilson, grinning as he recalled the play. "That's huge."
With the Broncos clinging to a 14-3 lead and sitting deep in their own territory, it might have been typical for Plummer to try and force the issue, and doing so could have easily led to a momentum-shifting interception that dragged Denver to defeat. After all, we've seen dumb decisions befall Plummer before. But that wasn't the case in Sunday's 28-20 win over New England. In fact, Plummer has gone four-plus games and 107 straight pass attempts without throwing an interception.
"He didn't turn the ball over and made some big plays today," head coach Mike Shanahan said. "It's probably a combination of a lot of things. He's in his third year (in Denver). He's more comfortable in the system and more comfortable with what we're doing."
Clearly, the Broncos have tried to tailor the offense to Plummer's strong suits. The win over the Patriots was a perfect cross-section of him at his best – rolling out, using play-action, stepping away from pressure and handing the ball off to the stout running back duo of Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell. It's a reflection of what many defensive coordinators will tell you about Plummer: If you can get Denver to rely solely on his arm (specifically, get his attempts above 30 in a single game), your blitz can eventually throw off his rhythm and force him into mistakes.
With Anderson and Bell rushing for a combined 171 yards, New England was never able to accomplish any of those goals, and Plummer once again looked solid and efficient, even hitting two big plays with a 72-yard pass to Rod Smith and a 55-yarder to Ashley Lelie. Moreover, he rarely took the kind of chances that have seemed to be a staple in his game since entering the NFL.
For those wondering how Denver has strung together an impressive 5-1 start despite playing a tough schedule, Plummer would be as good of a starting point as any. While the Broncos feature a robust running game and an opportunistic defense, the lack of Plummer's mistakes have been most surprising. Since starting 1-1 and throwing three picks, he's been remarkably consistent – thanks in part to a rushing attack that has cut his pass attempts to slightly over 23 per game in his last four games.
But teammates insist it's not just a lack of exposure that has helped their historically mercurial quarterback become so reliable.
"He's definitely playing a lot smarter, not trying to make every single play," Lelie said. "He puts up Ws for us when he plays smart."
Or as defensive end Trevor Pryce put it, Plummer has simply "done a much better job of realizing when you can make plays, and when you can gamble."
You'd be hard-pressed to identify decision-making as one of Plummer's attributes in the past. He entered this season with a 132-141 touchdown-to-interception ratio and was regularly heckled by hometown fans for his mistakes. Last year, he may have become the first quarterback in league history to get booed at home during the same season in which he tied the franchise mark for touchdown passes (27) and set a record for passing yardage (4,089).
"That's what you expect when you're in a town following a legend," said Broncos safety John Lynch, referring to former Denver quarterback John Elway.
Indeed, Plummer hasn't been Shanahan's perfect replacement for Elway. Instead, he has had a maddening ride of ups and downs. Never was Plummer's reputation more justified than the second half of last season, when he threw seven touchdowns and one interception in three November games and followed with one touchdown and eight interceptions in three December games.
"Truthfully, I've been in good situations this year," Plummer said, explaining his latest four-game stretch in which he's thrown six touchdowns and no picks. "We're running the ball well and there have been some opportunities for me. Sometimes I'm taking shots and sometimes I'm not. I'm just trying to be smart.
"The way I look at it, our guys on the other side of the ball are locking people down. So the last thing I need to be doing is giving the other team's offense a short field to work with. I've had a couple close calls where I've put the ball up in bad spots. Tonight, I threw one that got batted down that might have gotten picked. But instead it got batted down. I guess I'm even getting some good breaks. But it's only been six games."
The measure of caution comes with good reason. It's the third straight year Denver has started 5-1 – and the last two both ended with disappointing flameouts in the playoffs. Even the win over defending Super Bowl champ New England is tempered, considering that since 2002 the Broncos have won six straight games over the previous year's Super Bowl participants but have little postseason accomplishment to go along with them.
"It's a good start," Wilson said. "And we're with Jake. I love that guy. I love the way he's playing. As long as we believe in him and stick behind him, that's what matters. Right now, the offense isn't turning the ball over, and that's giving us our chance to win."
Charles Robinson is the national NFL writer for Yahoo! Sports. Send him a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
|10-17-2005, 09:47 AM||#2|
Won't worry my life away
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Boca Raton, FL
|10-17-2005, 11:29 AM||#4|
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Bozeman, MT
|10-17-2005, 12:22 PM||#5|
Old School Orange
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Anywhere, CO.
i say the same thing ive said all along.
whats different this year with plummer?
go back and look at his game by game log in '04.
when we were in close games, he was very consistent, very good, and made plays when necessary.
when we asked him to throw 40+ times and come back from more then 2 score defecits, he made alot of plays (almost completing comebacks against san diego and atlanta. games that made up SEVEN of his 20 total picks), and he also made mistakes.
when given favorable circumstances, he manages a game, but also retains the ability to make a big play when called upon.
he did it in '03, he did it last year, and he's doing it again this season.
plummer is a very good quarterback, and its about time more people started to see that.
now we just need to let him make a few more plays, especially against battered secondaries like new englands.
im thrilled we got the win, but why we stopped throwing the ball in the second half (until the final drive in which we got two first downs to kill the clock) is a mystery to me.
i dont want plummer throwing 40 times a game, but against that defense 35 wouldve been nice.
the only pass he threw all day that was off target was the screen to tatem (laying out putz was questionable, though the pass was pretty much on target and i dont think plummer saw the defender laying in wait), and that came in the 4th quarter.
when we had them 28-3 we shouldve kept throwing, and throwing 10+ yards down field.
on the 1st half play in which adams dropped the 3rd down pass, lelie AND smith were ALSO wide open. plummer had guys open all day, and he was hitting them dead on.
hey, a win is a win and i wont complain. lets just hope the team learns from this win and goes for the jugular next time we're up big.
5-1 and all is well.
6-1 would feel alot better.
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