|11-05-2007, 03:07 AM||#1|
Happenin Homer Homie
Join Date: Jul 2006
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A few Articles from RMN and DP
email | bioNovember 4, 2007
DETROIT — On the bright side, that kickoff return thing is finally coming around.
"What it really was, everybody was on their assignment," said Andre Hall, who averaged 29 yards on four returns Sunday. "Everybody did what they had to do. I seen a lot of open lanes and it turned out pretty good."
If you had to pick only one unit on your professional football team to know what it was doing, you might pick offense or defense over the kickoff return team, but hey, it's something.
And that doesn't even exhaust the bright side. Everybody else in the suddenly lame AFC West also lost, so the 3-5 Broncos, even after an abject humiliation, are still right there.
"You take a look at it, we're still one game out," said Mike Shanahan.
Of course, you take a look at it, and they were also three minutes from their most lopsided shutout loss since 1967, so it may be time to quit taking their postgame analysis from the dictionary of football clichés.
The Broncos are rebuilding without admitting it. Maybe it's time they admitted it.
"My mind-set has never been to play for next year," Shanahan said. "It never will be."
Maybe that's the problem. Shanahan has been patching and filling for nine years, ever since John Elway retired. He's been widely praised, including here, for never letting the Broncos fall to the bottom, as the Cowboys did, as the Niners did, after their championship run.
But without premium draft picks, the patching and filling grows more desperate with each passing year. Out of 22 starters on offense and defense Sunday, exactly three — cornerback Champ Bailey, safety Nick Ferguson and linebacker Ian Gold — started in the same spots in the eighth game a year ago.
And they wonder why they are suddenly plagued by penalties and missed assignments and blown coverages and dropped balls?
They keep saying injuries are no excuse. Everybody has injuries, they say. It comes right from the tough guy playbook. No excuses.
Unfortunately, that has now turned into denying reality. The offensive line is pretty close to a joke, and the defensive line isn't much better. The Broncos are being beaten up front on both sides of the ball, the surest sign of a losing football team.
To say that the loss of Pro Bowl center Tom Nalen has a lot to do with that is not making an excuse. It's stating a fact. And if you are determined to ignore that fact because you're too manly to make excuses, then you are going to miss a big part of the reason for Sunday's embarrassment.
When I asked injured quarterback Jay Cutler to diagnose what was wrong with the offense, the first words out of his mouth, before he retreated to the clichés that blame no one by blaming everyone, were these:
"We were having trouble up front."
The gaps between center Chris Myers and guards Chris Kuper and Montrae Holland might as well have been six-lane highways. The Lions were credited with five sacks, but that wasn't half of the chaos they caused. A couple of times, it occurred to me that Cutler's life might be in danger.
Myers, playing in Nalen's place, is a sixth-round draft pick who had never started a game before this year. Kuper, playing in place of injured Ben Hamilton, is a fifth-round pick and another virgin starter.
These are not excuses. These are facts. For the Broncos, the manly refusal to make excuses has become the macho refusal to face facts.
They were equally helpless Sunday on the defensive line, where they were credited with a single sack. In perhaps the game's best comic moment, defensive tackle Antwon Burton wagged his finger, Dikembe Mutombo style, after that rarest of plays, a defensive stop at the line of scrimmage.
That's right, you'd better not run on the Broncos, even if they did go into the game with the worst run defense in football.
In perhaps the second-best comic moment, defensive back Domonique Foxworth double fist-pumped a stop 6 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Because, hey, a 6-yard gain is better, for example, than a 7-yard gain.
The fact is, the Broncos have personnel problems all over the field — on the offensive line, on the defensive line, at linebacker, in the defensive backfield. Gold had three tackles Sunday. Nate Webster had two. Are there two starting linebackers in football playing to less effect?
No excuses has become an excuse. It is time to face facts. If you're rebuilding, which turnover at 19 starting positions suggests, admit it. Then take steps to keep your young quarterback out of harm's way by giving him that Jake Plummer moving pocket. They haven't gotten Cutler killed yet, but at this rate, they just might.
Whatever that MRI on his injured leg says, if I'm Cutler, I'm going in this morning to negotiate a much larger life insurance policy.
Plus highlights and interveiws for anyone who cares...
Bonus Colts/Pats game highlights and interveiws...
Last edited by DukeWoody; 11-05-2007 at 03:12 AM..