|11-22-2006, 10:03 AM||#1|
Join Date: Mar 2004
Time to Talk Turkey
Time to talk turkey
November 22, 2006
ENGLEWOOD - Jake Plummer knows the score.
Through all the criticism, deserved and not so during the past three-plus seasons, and the accompanying success and failures the Broncos quarterback has experienced, Plummer has not been blind to the buzz that constantly surrounds him.
And coming off a wrenching division loss against the San Diego Chargers, he sums up public perception this way: "We suck. I suck. We all suck. Good luck. Happy Thanksgiving."
Yet the negative vibe has a different feel this week as the Broncos (7-3) prepare for their AFC West showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) on Thursday (6 p.m. MST, KDVR-Ch. 31, NFL Network), and Plummer seems to sense that, too.
Disapproval of the quarterback's play might finally have filtered into the Broncos organization itself.
Coach Mike Shanahan consistently has backed Plummer in the media through the years but deflected questions about the topic during his weekly news conference Monday. When asked about his confidence level in Plummer, Shanahan spoke about some vague notion of everyone having to pull their weight.
While there has been scuttlebutt about unhappiness with Plummer's inconsistent play, including a couple of ESPN reports during the past month that Shanahan was close to benching him, the reality appears to be the quarterback might finally have hit make-or-break time.
Get the job done in Kansas City and it likely will be another storm that passes. Struggle, which often has been the case this season despite the Broncos' record, and there's a real chance first-round draft pick Jay Cutler could get his turn to shake up things offensively.
Plummer, in typical fashion, is brushing off such talk, if only because he has learned to become immune to such pronouncements.
"It's another game," he said Tuesday. "If we don't win, am I going to be done playing football for the rest of my life? No."
Plummer also brushed off talk about facing increased pressure against a Chiefs team that limited the Broncos to three field goals in an overtime victory Sept. 17 at Invesco Field at Mile High.
Pressure is a constant for Plummer.
"It's been there two years ago. It's been there since I've got here," he said. "Do you think I've ever had a moment where I felt like, 'Oh, God, I can just cruise.' No, never. And it's added to it, obviously, because of the situation with Jay.
"Hey, I'm not an idiot. I've been in the league 10 years. I'm going to keep playing. That's how I've survived these things before is, you keep playing and playing hard."
Plummer, ranked near the bottom of the league in quarterback rating, insisted that winning Thanksgiving night takes priority over any statistical improvements on his part.
"If I go 0-for-20 and throw one pass that wins the game, hey, we got a 'W.' Say what you want," he said. "Write as many bad things you want about me. My mom loves me. My girlfriend loves me. My dogs adore me."
Plummer's best trait as a Bronco has been winning. He is 39-14 during the regular season as a starter, a tenure in which he has remained durable.
But after compiling his best NFL season in 2005, he rarely has resembled the player who helped the Broncos to the AFC Championship Game last season with a 60.7 completion percentage and 18-7 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio.
There have been factors other than Plummer in the offense's drop-off:
• The running game has been sporadic.
• The play-calling at times has been conservative.
• Receivers often haven't gotten open.
Among Plummer's struggles has been his ability to throw from the pocket when defenses have pinned in the ends and taken away bootlegs and designed rollouts, as San Diego did Sunday night in holding him to a 13-of-28 passing performance that was his worst this season.
Even Shanahan conceded in his measured responses of Plummer, saying, "We're off a little bit, especially in our drop-back passing."
And Plummer admitted he has had difficulty getting in a groove, except for solid outings in successive games against the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers.
"You're not going to get in a groove all year," Plummer said. "And that's why you have to try and fight through it and win games, and we have. And that's what people don't see. People want the groove for the whole year."
Plummer was as close to finding that consistency in 2005 as he has at any time during his 10 seasons, recording nine games with a quarterback rating of at least 90.0. He has hit that mark only three times in 10 games this season and, at 69.7, is ranked ahead of only Drew Bledsoe (69.2), Matt Leinart (68.1), Joey Harrington (67.5), Vince Young (56.1) and Andrew Walter (55.0).
One saving grace has been fourth- quarter performances. Plummer threw three interceptions against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 5 before hitting fullback Kyle Johnson for the go-ahead touchdown in the final quarter. But he couldn't orchestrate a second-half touchdown drive Sunday against San Diego when the run game was stifled.
Plummer dropped a snap out of the shotgun on third down before a Jason Elam field goal. Later, a third-down pass to Brandon Marshall was off-target. And on the next snap, Plummer was intercepted while trying to force the ball into Rod Smith on a play in which the blocking scheme left him without a secondary receiver.
Plummer's biggest beef about his performance comes down to decision-making and completion percentage (54.3), which would be the lowest of his Broncos tenure.
"You add 10 percent to that and that's how many more catches per game where guys have a chance to either get a first down or make a play," said Plummer, who has thrown 10 interceptions. "Obviously, I hate to see interceptions up, but if the completion percentage is up, then those are down and we have more plays."
Now the question is whether Plummer can buy more time with a solid performance Thursday. He said he has spent more time studying and watching film to try to find more consistency and will keep fighting to play better regardless of the situation.
That mind-set apparently was shared by the offense Tuesday in the week's only full-scale workout.
"The ball hit the ground one time, and that was a bad throw," Smith said. "Everybody was crisp. It was clean, no mistakes. The backs ran hard. The quarterback made the right reads and the receivers caught the ball. It was honestly, I feel, the best practice we've had all season."
|11-22-2006, 10:18 AM||#2|
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Twixt Hell & Highwater
The reality is, if the Broncos lose at KC, they're playing for next season anyway, so Shanahan may as well put Cutler in to get some reps.
|11-22-2006, 10:20 AM||#3|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: colorado springs, co
"We suck. I suck. We all suck. Good luck. Happy Thanksgiving." ........jake
this should have been your thread title