Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Denver Broncos aka DDP

Diamond Dallas Page was stale. I grew tired of him about ten seconds after the first time I saw him on television. He was first billed as a manager but his desire to become a professional wrestler took over. I have to give credit to Page for doing so well in the industry. He has a recognizable name and achieved tremendous success. However, he was boring, limited, and most importantly, irrelevant. I don’t mean to knock Page the person. I’m strictly talking about his wrestling persona. There were groups of fans that loved Page but I would be willing to bet that the majority could care less. This is how I feel about the Denver Broncos. They have become irrelevant in the NFL.

The Broncos have been good since the Reagan administration. They have one of the best franchises in the NFL. John Elway and Terrell Davis led them to back to back Super Bowl victories. However, Elway and Davis have been gone for five years. The Broncos now have Jake Plummer and Tatum Bell. I was tired of Plummer when he was in Arizona. I admit to having some affinity for him since we share the same name but that’s drying up fast.

I think the thing that most bothers me about Denver is their running back situation. Mike Anderson rushed for 1,500 yards during his rookie year. He’s still on the team but you wouldn’t know it from the stat sheet. Anderson had almost as many carries in his rookie season as he’s had in the last four seasons combined. Anderson didn’t just become terrible. He just hasn’t been given the chance to start. Along the way the Broncos have had Olandis Gary, Clinton Portis, Quentin Griffin, Tatum Bell, and Ruben Droughns. As if that weren’t enough, they drafted Maurice Clarett and signed Ron Dayne. What is going on here? How many running backs does one team need? And, whoever Maurice Clarett’s agent is needs to be hospitalized. Clarett signed an incentive laden deal. That didn’t even work for Master P and Ricky Williams and Williams was one of the best running backs in the league.

Let’s analyze the Clarett contract a little further.

In the last five years, the Broncos have had at least six different starting running backs.

-Mike Anderson rushed for 1,500 yards his first year and never got another chance again.
-Ruben Droughns tore up the NFL last year yet lost his job to Tatum Bell.
-Olandis Gary led the team in rushing his rookie season and never got another chance.
-The Broncos drafted Quentin Griffin two years ago and he’s stuck at the back of the depth chart.
-They signed Garrison Hearst last season and he got 20 carries.
-Then, they signed Ron Dayne this season.

On top of all that, Tatum Bell is clearly the number one running back on the depth chart coming into this season and Clarett hasn’t played a single down of football in close to three years. Still think an incentive laden contract is a good idea?

The Broncos have a very talented wide receiver in Ashley Lelie. The problem being that Lelie has been very talented for the last three years. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t improved at all. The next two receivers are a combined 77 years old. Jerry Rice is taking the phrase “retirement tour” to a new level as he tries to play for every team in the NFL. Actually, I don’t have a problem with Rice. It’s his prerogative. If he’s physically capable, he should play until he’s 80. You only live once. The Broncos employ their “running back” strategy to the tight end position as well. They have Stephen Alexander, Dwayne Carswell, Jeb Putzier and Patrick Hape. I don’t know who’s going to start and to be honest, I don’t even know who’s the best of the group. The Broncos never change. They just get older. I have to finish this preview soon or I’m going to throw up. Before I started on this thing, I was just annoyed by the Broncos but every word I type is turning this into full-fledged hatred.

The Broncos stole Champ Bailey from the Redskins. Clinton Portis did his best Blair Thomas impersonation last season while Bailey continued to be the best cornerback in the league. In moves that apparently suggest that Denver wasn’t happy with their cornerback play last season, they spent their first three draft picks on cornerbacks. Since none of the three were considered to be good, I would guess that the strategy will backfire. Before I talk about the defensive line, I want to make the point that the Cleveland Browns had one of the worst defenses in the NFL last season. Why is that relevant? Because the Broncos thought it would be beneficial to import the entire Browns starting defensive line. They brought in Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren and Michael Myers. Has any team ever done this before? I’m just going to save time by listing the defense lineman since everyone is essentially the same player; Courtney Brown, Marco Coleman, Ebenezer Ekuban, John Engelberger, Trevor Pryce, Luther Elliss, Elliss Johnson, Michael Myers, and Gerard Warren.

I’ve just realized that the “running back” strategy is actually not limited to the running backs. It’s a “whole team” strategy. Every unit has 5-10 of the exact same players. Champ Bailey is the only unique player on this team. The Broncos are boring.

The good news for people that feel the same way as I do is that the Broncos won’t be making the playoffs. They play in the brutal AFC West and have a difficult schedule to match. They’ll likely go 2-4 against San Diego (2), KC (2), and Oakland (2). They match up with the NFC East which should mean two wins over Washington and the NY Giants. They should be able to beat Miami but wins after that will be tough to come by. They get New England, Baltimore, Jacksonville, NY Jets, and Buffalo. I would be surprised if they won more than three of those games.

Predicted record: 8-8

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