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Old 10-14-2009, 07:45 PM   #1
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Default Veteran Dawkins giving unbeaten Broncos defensive boost

By Clark Judge
CBSSports.com Senior Writer

With Denver threatening to run away with the AFC West, there's a lot of talk about who or what is responsible. Usually, it starts with coach Josh McDaniels, but eventually the conversation gets around to people like defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, quarterback Kyle Orton, wide receiver Brandon Marshall and linebacker Elvis Dumervil. But we're missing something ... er, someone there, and that someone is Brian Dawkins.

Just my opinion, but the Broncos would not be where they are today -- and I mean at or near the top of every defensive leader board -- without the 36-year-old safety. Dawkins is the glue that holds defenses together, and what he does for Denver the former All-Pro did for Philadelphia for 13 years.

I mention his age a) because he turned 36 Wednesday and b) because it was an issue when Dawkins wanted to re-sign earlier this year with the Eagles. Philadelphia historically hasn't had much interest in aging free agents, but Dawkins was supposed to be different because ... well, because he was different. He was the heart, the soul, the pulse of the defense and the team, and he and quarterback Donovan McNabb were the faces of the franchise.

It seemed implausible that the Eagles could move on without either, only they did. When Dawkins' contract expired earlier this year, they let him go to Denver when a two-year deal could have -- and would have -- kept him in Philadelphia.

Instead, in Dawkins' place the Eagles inserted the younger Quintin Demps, then hired free-agent Sean Jones to serve as a safety net. I understood the move, but I didn't like it then, and I don't like it now. Dawkins wasn't a disposable part about to wear out. As was before in Philly, he's a valuable asset on the field and in the locker room, and Denver is lucky to have him.

The stat sheet tells us he is tied for second on the team in tackles, second in deflected passes and first in fumble recoveries. But Dawkins' value cannot be measured by numbers. It's his leadership that makes him invaluable, and if you think leadership is overrated tell me why New England reached out again for linebacker Junior Seau. If you want to win, you better have winners in your locker room. Brian Dawkins fits the description.

"I am who I am, whatever guys want to label it," he said. "If I feel like saying something, I say something. My work ethic is what it is. I try to go out and bust my hump every time I take the football field, and that hasn't changed. I do what I can for my football team, and I say what I need to say, whether it's defense, offense or special teams. I don't step on anybody's toes, but I'm always there if they need me."

That's why I never understood how the Eagles could let him get away. He was always there when they needed him. So he turned 36. As Dawkins pointed out, age is just a number. Know the player, and know what he can do for you. What Dawkins did last year for Philadelphia was good and sometimes it was very good. Just because he is a year older doesn't mean he is a step slower. It could, but it doesn't. Dawkins was determined to prove that the moment he started practicing with the Broncos. "I go into every year trying to prove something," he said. "That hasn't changed. That has always been my mentality from when I first came into the league as a second-rounder trying to prove that I should've been taken higher, when [critics] said I wasn't going to be able to make it.

"So every year my job is to come into training camp, earn my job, bust my hump and try to raise the standard. I try to play at a certain level every year, and that hasn't changed with age. I'm going to continue to push the envelope and see if I can increase my play."

So far so good. The Broncos are the feel-good story of the year, with Denver doing what nobody anticipated -- namely, winning. McDaniels was supposed to be in over his head. Orton was supposed to be an unsuitable quarterback. Marshall was supposed to be unsuitable, period. And Dawkins was supposed to be a descending star out of place on a decrepit defense. Only none of that took place, and now the Denver Broncos are one of five undefeated teams in the NFL and the early favorite in the AFC West.

"There was a lot of negative commentary about this team in the offseason," Dawkins said. "But we believe in our coaches, who were also spoken of about very negatively going into this season. Every week we know exactly what we need to do, and we're very accountable to one another. We hold our jobs to high standards, and we're going out there making plays. We don't quit. We don't stop. And the game is never over for us."

Apparently.

The Broncos' success is underscored by their play in the second halves of this year's games -- with the Broncos outscoring opponents 59-7, allowing no scores in their past four starts and checking opposing offenses on 28 of 30 first downs. That goes a long way toward explaining why they lead the league in fewest points allowed, and it tells me that Dawkins is filling the same role in Denver that he did with Philadelphia -- pulling the secondary, the defense and the entire team together.

So he's 36. Brett Favre just turned 40, and age doesn't seem to be an issue in Minnesota, where there's another undefeated team. In fact, owner Zygi Wilf already expressed interest in having Favre back in 2010.

"I'm blessed to be doing what I'm doing for a living, and I have a desire to have success," Dawkins said. "It doesn't matter what your age is; it matters what your body can do. And if my body can still do something at a high level at the age of 40, guess what? I'm going to be doing it at the age of 40. People get caught up in age too much. My job is to make sure I take care of myself, take care of my body, continue to say my prayers and allow God to keep me in football."

Dawkins is still in football, and if the fans of Philadelphia haven't caught him by now they can see him up close and personal in two-and-a-half months. On Dec. 27, the Broncos play the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in a game that could have playoff implications for both clubs and a lot of emotion for at least one of its participants.

"I haven't circled the date," said Dawkins, "but I know it's there. When that time comes I'll be jacked up, and I'll be as excited as anybody. I know I will. I know I'll be emotional, and it will probably be a big day for both of us. But that time is way off. We have too many good things to happen up to that point for me to start thinking about that."

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/12363432
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Old 10-14-2009, 07:48 PM   #2
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Dawkins has brought the intensity factor our defense has been missing
The guy brings passion and energy to the game. He makes everybody look slow, and everybody is now playing at a different tempo because of Dawkins...
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Old 10-14-2009, 07:51 PM   #3
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Yeah, he brings this kinda of intensity. It's called playmaking. Not the kind often confused with chest thumping and dancing after a player makes a tackle in which he gave up a first down. Which by the way, I have seen hardly any of this year. Maybe Dawkins saw this stuff going on early in the camp days and said not on my field. You give up a first down or TD, you got no reason to thump your chest or act tough.


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Old 10-14-2009, 10:07 PM   #4
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Dawkins' play on the last Cowboy drive won the game. That play was absolutely amazing.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:02 AM   #5
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Dawkins' play on the last Cowboy drive won the game. That play was absolutely amazing.
How about that deep pass by Brady that he deflected that looked like a sure TD. When I saw the replay and saw him turn around and get in position to defend it I was like holy ****. Not too many safety's in the league can make that play.
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Old 10-15-2009, 02:04 AM   #6
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He might have saved two W's for us already this year by chasing down and properly tackling ball-carriers headed for the endzone late in games. (Cinci and Dallas, I believe.)

He does the small things so well... which turn out to be big things.
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Old 10-15-2009, 05:57 AM   #7
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He might have saved two W's for us already this year by chasing down and properly tackling ball-carriers headed for the endzone late in games. (Cinci and Dallas, I believe.)

He does the small things so well... which turn out to be big things.
And he spells 'Brian' correctly........
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Old 10-15-2009, 06:44 AM   #8
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Dawkins has been such a postive influence on this team.

With this article and the Champ article posted here on the Mane, it got me wondering: Who could we least afford to lose on this team - Bailey or Dawkins?

Thoughts?
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Old 10-15-2009, 07:02 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by dbfan21 View Post
Dawkins has been such a postive influence on this team.

With this article and the Champ article posted here on the Mane, it got me wondering: Who could we least afford to lose on this team - Bailey or Dawkins?

Thoughts?
Neither. Treat them both like gold, they have earned it. Even after they are done, hopefully with many more years on the field, maybe they will stick around the organization like Rod Smith has. Could it be any better for mentors for young players than Champ, Dawkins, and Rod?
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Old 10-15-2009, 07:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawkins View Post
We don't quit. We don't stop. And the game is never over for us.

We have too many good things to happen up to that point for me to start thinking about that.

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/12363432

It matters not.
This guy is a signature factory. We need to bottle what he has and inject it into every draftee when we sign them.
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
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Neither. Treat them both like gold, they have earned it. Even after they are done, hopefully with many more years on the field, maybe they will stick around the organization like Rod Smith has. Could it be any better for mentors for young players than Champ, Dawkins, and Rod?
Oh, I agree...let's keep them both. They are some of the best at their positions in the NFL.

Let me re-phrase my question: Who is more valuable to this team right now - Champ or Brian?
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:39 AM   #12
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Oh, I agree...let's keep them both. They are some of the best at their positions in the NFL.

Let me re-phrase my question: Who is more valuable to this team right now - Champ or Brian?
At the moment, I would say Dawkins simply for his motivational skills. I am sure McDaniels and Nolan are excellent at getting the players properly motivated, but an on field vocal leader like that really brings the coaches points home. That sort of thing has never been Champs style or strong suit. I do think Champ is still the better player though. Dawkins has made some game saving plays, but so has Champ, just ask T. Romo. It's kind of an apples and oranges type thing, they both bring a lot to the table, but I think from a team standpoint, Dawkins does more important things.
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:42 AM   #13
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he said 'hump'....twice...huh huh.

many thanks to philly for cutting dawk loose. it's about time we sign a FA (aside from Daniel Graham, that is) who is good as advertised, and then some. as much as we admire his physical ability, i think his mental acumen (establishing two feet in bounds before recovering fumble) and his emotional energy ( i really think his emotion and fire both motivates champ and calms him down so he can focus just on his job--he trusts dawk back there) are going to help this team the most.
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:22 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BroncoInSkinland View Post
At the moment, I would say Dawkins simply for his motivational skills. I am sure McDaniels and Nolan are excellent at getting the players properly motivated, but an on field vocal leader like that really brings the coaches points home. That sort of thing has never been Champs style or strong suit. I do think Champ is still the better player though. Dawkins has made some game saving plays, but so has Champ, just ask T. Romo. It's kind of an apples and oranges type thing, they both bring a lot to the table, but I think from a team standpoint, Dawkins does more important things.
Good take. I was thinking the same thing. Dawkins' vocal leadership on and off the field is priceless. Champ leads by example, which is important...but no QB (except for Romo ) ever throws his way, so he's not in the spotlight as much.
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:42 AM   #15
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I LOVE how Nolan is using him. He's rarely covering playing deep zones, and instead playing to his strengths of in the box run gap squeezing or some short range disruption of passing lanes. This way he can't be isolated and burned and is maximized to his effectiveness of disrupting plays.

Nolan is world's better than I thought he could be, and I was on board hiring him the day he got fired from SF. VERY VERY impressive coaching.
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:30 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BroncoInSkinland View Post
At the moment, I would say Dawkins simply for his motivational skills. I am sure McDaniels and Nolan are excellent at getting the players properly motivated, but an on field vocal leader like that really brings the coaches points home. That sort of thing has never been Champs style or strong suit. I do think Champ is still the better player though. Dawkins has made some game saving plays, but so has Champ, just ask T. Romo. It's kind of an apples and oranges type thing, they both bring a lot to the table, but I think from a team standpoint, Dawkins does more important things.
A case can be made for this guy being most valuable on the field.

Renaldo Hill, Safety

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