|06-26-2007, 03:27 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Can Cutler cram?
Mailbag: Can Cutler cram?
Jim from Florida wonders about QB's preparation
By Mike Klis
Denver Post Staff Writer
Jay Cutler had just enough experience last year to get a real taste of what it's like to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He's a smart guy - I'm sure he saw several things he wants to improve about his game. So what has Jay done in the offseason (when he's not in a minicamp) to get better? Is this typical of a QB in his position?
-- Jim McMullen, Boca Raton, Fla.
Jim - Jay Cutler understands the Broncos are counting on him to lead them to the Super Bowl, and he also understands that for this to happen, he needs to cram his development. Physically, Cutler has been working on his footwork, but to me, what separates NFL quarterbacks is the 20 or so instantaneous decisions they must make a game while 21 other highly gifted athletes are flying around the field. Unfortunately, the only way to develop the knack for making correct decisions is by occasionally making incorrect ones. To wit: You don't know how far to go until you go too far.
Remember, Peyton Manning, the greatest decision-maker in NFL history, was 3-13 with 28 interceptions as a rookie.
Cutler has been spending countless offseason hours watching film with offensive coaches Mike Heimerdinger and Jeremy Bates. With his strong arm, Cutler at times waited for patterns to develop downfield rather than check down for a short completion. The result was some rather nasty hits from those ungodly big, fast and explosive NFL defenders. Again, a quarterback's internal clock against the pass rush cannot tick precisely until it first gains experience.
Realistic expectations for Cutler is that he leads the Broncos to the Super Bowl a time or two or maybe even three during his career - but I'm not sure he can do it in his second season. Really, only Dan Marino has done it before. For 2007, I would expect Cutler to single-handedly win games with his arm and perhaps cost the team a game or two through mistakes of youth. The key is for him to be pretty polished by Game 17, the start of the playoff season.
Hey, Mike. The Broncos defense looks great, but what makes me worry a little is the offensive line. I hear the sports announcers say this is the weak link in the chain. Do I have any reason to worry?
-- Milt Herrington, Roswell, N.M.
Milt - Your question incites me to share my personal philosophy about the sports media: Believe everything you read and nothing you hear. I know nationally, there is concern the Broncos' offensive line was built more for Jake Plummer and his rollouts than Cutler and his pocket passing. What's unique about Bronco blockers, though, is it is almost irrelevant to critique them position-by-position because with the zone-blocking scheme, it's always about the sum. And the sum of the offensive line has never been, as you put it, a weak link in the Broncos' chain, at least not in the Mike Shanahan era.
I think the addition of Daniel Graham at tight end and Travis Henry at running back will make the line look very good this year. It will give up more sacks, if only because Cutler hangs onto the ball a little longer than Plummer does, but the runningBroncos quarterback Jay Cutler, above, "has been spending countless offseason hours watching film with offensive coaches Mike Heimerdinger and Jeremy Bates," says Klis. (Post file)
game should improve.
The preseason question marks are at right guard (Chris Kuper only played on special teams last year as a rookie, and Montrae Holland is a veteran whose playing time diminished last season in New Orleans) and at left tackle (Matt Lepsis is coming back from a torn ACL). By themselves, those positions do pose concerns, but because the "system" has been so consistently efficient over the years, I wouldn't worry too much, Milt. Besides - and this is another personal philosophy I feel compelled to share - a fan who worries about linemen probably worries too much.
Gauge and rate our new defense for us please? Thanks for your insight, your style and time.
-- Cliff Burbach, North Carolina
Cliff - I've been saying this throughout the offseason: The Broncos' No. 1 new addition may not be Dre' Bly, Travis Henry or Daniel Graham but new defensive head coach Jim Bates. The game is still more about the players more than the coaches - see Bill Cowher's offense two years ago with Antwaan Randle El, Jerome Bettis and a healthy Ben Roethlisberger and last year without them. But in watching the Broncos' defense the past two seasons, I never understood how a unit that has Champ Bailey could give up so many yards and lack a pass rush.
Bates' system focuses on three fundamental elements: Large sack totals for defensive ends, large tackle totals for the middle linebacker and large defensive tackles. I would expect ends Elvis Dumervil, Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder to combine for 25 sacks this year. I expect D.J. Williams to not only adjust well to his new assignment as a middle linebacker, but also place among the league's top 5 tackle leaders. And I expect the Broncos to finish among the league's top 10 against the run.
Defensive concerns are one, their own offense, and two, the new coaching system coupled with so many newcomers upfront may mean it will take a couple months to mesh. The offense? I've written this a few times - nothing makes a defense look better than when its offense is controlling the ball. See the Indy Colts through their playoff run last year.
When do you think Denver knew it was going to cut Al Wilson? And if it was early in the offseason, why didn't the Broncos show any interest in Adalius Thomas?
-- Steve O'Reilly, Naples, Fla.
Steve - I believe Broncos coach Mike Shanahan knew in the final week of the season he wasn't going to bring back Al Wilson. At the time, the internal consensus believed Wilson played nowhere near the Pro Bowl selection he received from his peers last season and wasn't worth the $5 million salary he was scheduled to make this season.
What the Broncos did not realize at the time was exactly why Wilson slipped. Wilson began playing tentatively in the second half because of persistent "stingers" in his neck, shoulder and back areas. It's tough to unload on a ball carrier when the subconscious is aware severe pain will immediately follow. It wasn't until Wilson was traded to the New York Giants in late March for a mid-round draft pick, though, that a physical examination determined the severity of his injury. The Giants nixed the trade because of Wilson's neck condition, a finding later confirmed by noted neck specialist Dr. Robert Watkins, who has not yet cleared Wilson to play. With Wilson unable to play and therefore untradeable, the Broncos had little option but to release their popular captain.
As for Adalius Thomas, he wasn't a good fit for the Broncos because they play a four linemen-three linebacker scheme, and he's an outside linebacker in a 3-4 set. Granted, the Broncos could have made a player of that talent fit, but for the $17 million guaranteed he received from New England (which primarily plays a 3-4), Denver determined it was better off spending big money on the likes of Dre' Bly ($16 million guaranteed), Daniel Graham ($15 million) and Travis Henry ($12 million).
With the drafting of three defensive linemen and the recent signings of Sam Adams and Jimmy Kennedy, how many D-linemen do the Broncos have now (assuming the three draftees sign.) And how many do you think they'll keep?
-- Preston Craig, Columbia, S.C.
Preston - I have the same question. Generally, the Broncos keep nine defensive linemen on their active 53-man roster and use a seven-man rotation on game day. The only every-down lineman has been defensive tackle Gerard Warren. But check out the current D-line makeup: At defensive end, the Broncos have such familiar names as Ebenezer Ekuban, Kenard Lang, John Engelberger, Elvis Dumervil, Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder. Expect two of those six to be cut. At inside tackle, the Broncos have Warren, Adams, Kennedy, Alvin McKinley, Demetrius Veal, Marcus Thomas and Antwon Burton. Expect at least two, if not three, of those seven to be cut. In other words, some of the most eyebrow-raising, training-camp cuts figure to come from the defensive line.
There has been a lot made about the lie-detector test the Broncos administered to David Kircus in regards to his assault charge. Were the Broncos wrong in administering the test, as some reports have claimed citing U.S. labor laws? Or did the Broncos follow the rules of exemption and arrange to legally conduct the test?
-- Tony Stefanelli, Los Angeles
Tony - Had the Broncos released Kircus based on a failed lie-detector test, the team could have had legal problems. But because the lie-detector test helped Kircus save his job, at least temporarily, where's the gripe? It may be true Broncos coach Mike Shanahan stretched judicial boundaries by administrating the test, to which my initial reaction was: So?
There are times when football must abide by our country's code of civil rights and there are times when all Broncos must follow the laws of Shanahan. Hey, some laws frown upon curfews, too, but that doesn't mean NFL players shouldn't have one the night before a game. Given the NFL's new off-field conduct policy, the serious allegations of felony assault against Kircus, and the he said/he said nature surrounding the case, Shanahan felt compelled to take action. However, it should be noted that just because Kircus was cleared by Shanahan does not mean the receiver will be cleared by a judge or jury. Although, with attorney Harvey Steinberg on his side, I wouldn't count him out.
|06-26-2007, 04:13 AM||#2|
Join Date: Jan 2004
It's weird that there are like thousands of articles and studies based entirely around debunking the merits of 'cramming' and yet the football cognoscenti still fails to latch on to even the most prevelant and widespread insights. My mistake, the author of the article doesn't really understand the term.
In keeping with that: he also fails to grasp the rather pedestrain notion that you have to sorta maybe, i dunno, back up some **** ya say. Why are we reading this stuff again?
This guy is horrid. He even employs the tired journalistic gambit of "the most important addition isn't the [most f'in obvious addition], rather it is [something outright stupid and ineffectual and borderline Eckstien-y]."
Several things rhyme with Klis, and yet, as a mere messageboard 'journalist', I will refrain from this.
Also: gotta love the warm personal touch he adds by clogging up ink space with "Preston--" right after the freakin' bold question ends with the same name.
How is this a job?
|06-26-2007, 05:42 AM||#3|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Jul 2002
How can a Broncos beat writer not know that the OL doesn't zone block in straight up passing situations?
|06-26-2007, 08:00 AM||#4|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: May 2001