|10-18-2006, 05:20 AM||#1|
Anybody want a peanut?
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ceti Alpha V
Post Article: Tough Love for Favorite Team
Tough love for favorite team
Despite 4-1, fans know the score
By Mike Klis
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated:10/18/2006 12:43:06 AM MDT
In this town, with this team, good isn't good enough.
The AFC championship game, as the Broncos discovered last season, isn't good enough. The Broncos have been to six Super Bowls in the past 30 years. They have won two. And that's not good enough.
"It's not good enough for me," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said. "I know how the fans feel. I think we have the best fans - and I don't say this lightly - but we have the best fans in the NFL and they expect a lot. And they should expect a lot."
He's not kidding about fans' expectations. Entering their game Sunday at Cleveland, the Broncos are 4-1, tied for the AFC West lead with what appears to be a very good San Diego Chargers team. In that, the Broncos also appear to be a very good team.
Yet when a Denver Post Internet survey asked what has been the biggest surprise to the Broncos' season, the team's poor offensive play received a whopping 72 percent of the vote as of Tuesday night. The Broncos' brilliant defensive play drew 22 percent from the survey. Only 6 percent said they were surprisingly impressed by Broncos victories against New England, Baltimore and Kansas City.
This is a tough town, make no mistake.
Raiders running back LaMont Jordan is upended by Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey as linebacker Al Wilson helps cover on the play. (Post / Andy Cross)
Only the Super Bowl is good enough. Which leads to an obvious question concerning the Broncos: Can a team win a Super Bowl on defense alone?
"Alone?" Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. "The only team I've seen do that was the Ravens. I don't know if they did it alone, but they had a great defense."
He was referring to the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, who were the worst offensive team, in terms of points scored, to win a Super Bowl. The Ravens also had the best defensive team, in the all-important category of points allowed, among Super Bowl champions since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978.
But even with the nondescript likes of Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer at quarterback, the 2000 Ravens were an offensive juggernaut compared to this year's Broncos. No Super Bowl champion has averaged less than the 20.8 points those Ravens scored per game.
That's more than a touchdown and two-point conversion better than the Broncos' 12.4 points per game this year. Concern has mostly focused on the slow starts of quarterback Jake Plummer, veteran receiver Rod Smith and rookie tight end Tony Scheffler, and coach Mike Shanahan's relatively conservative play-calling.
It's worth repeating: Can the Broncos win the Super Bowl on defense alone?
"No," Broncos receiver Javon Walker said. "Eventually your offense has got to score points. You can't expect any defense to stop people and score, too. The thing about it is, I'm very fortunate to be around the type of defense we have here. I just wish we could help them out a little more."
No, son, these are not your older brother's Broncos. In 1998, when the Broncos started 13-0 and cruised to their second consecutive Super Bowl title, their defense surrendered a hardly impressive 19.3 points a game. Opponents found 19.3 points weren't nearly enough against a Broncos offense so stacked with John Elway, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, Ed McCaffrey and Smith, it averaged 31.3 points.
Imagine what it would do to Shanahan's coaching legacy if after marching to two Super Bowl victories winning games by average scores of 31-19 and 30-18, he could capture a third by winning 13-3 games, as the Broncos have the past two weeks.
"Hey, I've been on teams that could score 48, 50 points and get kicked in the championship," Shanahan said.
He was referring to the San Francisco 49ers from 1992-94, when he was their offensive coordinator. In the first two years of that run, the 49ers lost to Dallas in the NFC championship game. Shanahan said it wasn't until three key defensive players - Deion Sanders, Gary Plummer and Ken Norton Jr. - were added for the 1994 season that the 49ers beat Dallas in the NFC championship and whipped San Diego in the Super Bowl.
"Those three guys on defense were the difference," Shanahan said.
Even if Shanahan's coaching expertise is on offense, he claims no shame at having a team whose identity is its defense. Based off their astounding speed at the linebacker and cornerback positions, the Broncos have the only NFL defense of the past 72 years to have allowed only one touchdown through the first five games. And that touchdown didn't come until they had already built a 17-0, fourth-quarter lead at New England.
Not only have the Broncos limited opponents to an NFL-low 7.4 points per game, they are nearly a field goal stingier than the Super Bowl-champion standard set by the 2000 Ravens.
Even with their offensive woes, if the defense is so far outperforming the 2000 Ravens, outperforming all defenses, for that matter, of the past 72 years, isn't it possible to win a Super Bowl on defense alone?
"As long as the offense don't turn the ball over, we're satisfied," defensive tackle Gerard Warren said. "But as long as they continue to give us good field position, and score just enough points, we have no complaints."
|10-18-2006, 07:48 AM||#4|
Join Date: Mar 2004
I still say our defense is good but a little overrated. I don't think its on the level of the Ravens SB defense or perhaps even Pittsburgh's SB defense from last year.
Look at our opponents offensive rankings among the NFL:
St. Louis - 8th
KC - 26th
NE - 10th
Baltimore - 28th
Oakland - 32nd
And I think St. Louis' is skewed by the fact they've played 2 weak teams in Detroit and GB and got into a shootout with Seattle.
In other words did it really take much to shutdown KC, Baltimore, and Oakland?
Our offense has to step up. Its output has been well behind the average given up for all our opponents defenses (except NE and arguably Baltimore). Couple that with the fact that Jake has statistically had his worst 5-game start since coming here and I'm worried.
I fear we'll be exposed when we hit the Indy/Pitt/SD/Seattle portion of our schedule.