Every Wednesday when Parliament is in session in London — and at other times in some other nations of the Commonwealth — noontime begins the Prime Minister’s Questions, when members of the House of Commons can query the nation’s leader about all matters, from the ones that are global in scope to more trivial and local concerns like signage along the M1.
Since Tuesday is the players’ day off here … and since this usually brings some time for me to answer questions … I’m going to bring that tradition over here to the blog. While I’ll answer as much as I can throughout the week in the comments section or on the pregame podcast — available Saturdays on DenverBroncos.com — whatever I can’t get to there, I’ll take here.
So keep your comments rolling on the blog posts, or e-mail me, as we begin another Tuesday question-and-answer session … which I will begin with the return of an old antagonist to our blog sanctum. I’m talking, of course, about LetPlummerPlay:
And since compelling drama requires antagonism … and since I love a good written scrum … I’m only too happy to dive in and respond to this individual:
Wow, it’s been a while since I stopped by old Andrew’s blog. After being reprimanded more than once by Mr. Mason, I just stuck to our infamous letplummerplay.com website.
For some reason, you still haven’t gotten over the fact that I rapped you on the knuckles for attempting — and failing — to turn a tribute post to Lamar Hunt as he lay on his deathbed into a discussion of the Plummer-Cutler conundrum. (And I loved it how all you did was cut and paste the post from your Web site into the blog comments section instead of bringing something new.) That being said, I didn’t delete your post, I didn’t edit it … I simply asked for a little respect on that one page. You somehow turned my words into a blistering attack on your perspective.
Infeebeled, frail, 95-year-old nuns in Catholic schools put more force into slapping a wayward student’s hand with a ruler than I did in my response to your posts.
Nevertheless, it obviously it left some scars, since nine months later, you’re still harping about it.
I thought after yesterday’s loss and the fact that the Broncos should really be 0-3 right now that some of you would be coming to your senses. Realizing Shanahan maybe made a mistake by deciding to bench a 7-3 Jake Plummer one year after that same Plummer had taken them to the AFC CHAMPIONSHIP … but NO … you still all sit here and think Cutler is the promised one, in fact you go, or Andrew goes so far as to promote the idea that bad headsets caused the problems? WOW!
I didn’t promote that at all. I wrote about Cutler’s problems with the communications, and said he was angrier about them than about the ankle, and how they helped cause the issues that led to the use of two timeouts. In no way did I write that he blamed the headset for losing the game. What he said was simply reiterating the comments of Head Coach Mike Shanahan and players like tight end Nate Jackson.
Cutler was asked about the radio-receiver issue in his brief interview with members of the media, and discussed it. He did not blame the communication for the loss. Watch the press conference and see for yourself.
Come on Andrew, you knew Jake, you know Cutler, you know in your heart where the right decision was.
Yes, I do. The right decision was to put Cutler in there.
Plummer was a 10-year veteran … you knew what he was by that point. Most of a quarterback’s growth comes in his first three years, and while there have been examples of passers unexpectedly finding a late-career renaissance (Steve DeBerg comes to mind). It was time to go to the younger player with greater potential. Back in 1997, Plummer was the beneficiary of it; Kent Graham wasn’t doing badly, but he wasn’t the young stud quarterback, so No. 16 took controls for the Arizona Cardinals. That is the cycle of pro football.
The Broncos were 7-4, not 7-3, when they made the change from Plummer to Cutler. But they had lost four of the previous six games after a 5-1 start. And oh, by the way, in that 5-1 start, Plummer and the offense didn’t score more than 17 points, and for his 11 starts last year, the offense accounted for 17.1 points per game. In Cutler’s eight starts, the offense has increased its per-game scoring by 23.4 percent, to 21.1 points per game. The offense is also averaging more touchdowns (2.1 per game) with Cutler than it did in Plummer’s 11 ’06 starts (1.8).
You put so much on wins and losses … as though one player’s presence is what singlehandedly carries a team to victory or defeat. There are 45 guys who are active on gamedays, and all of them can make the play that wins or loses the contest. Maybe it’s a block from a guard that springs a tailback free. Maybe it’s a missed tackle on kick coverage by a backup linebacker or tight end. With so many moving parts, there’s only so much that one player can do — even when he happens to be a quarterback. Ask Dan Marino or Dan Fouts about that. Or ask John Elway … as was shown in three Super Bowl losses, he couldn’t carry the entire team on his shoulders, no matter how transcendent a quarterback he was.
The offense has been more productive since Cutler took over. That, he can control. It’s hardly Cutler’s fault that the defense has allowed seven more points per game (22.0-15.0) and 0.8 touchdowns per game (2.1-1.3) in his eight starts than the 11 starts Plummer had in 2006.
There’s issues on this team — to which Shanahan and his players spoke at great length in the last two days. Quarterback is not among them. Not when the guy under center already has five game-tying or -winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime in eight games as a starter. Not when the key offensive statistical indicators have improved since No. 6 began taking the snaps.
Again, three words:
I think my favorite part of your blog has to be your complaint about Plummer’s absence from Madden ’08. Y’know, Doug Williams is my favorite player (and I know you Broncos fans hate hearing that, but remember, Williams was a Buc before he was a Bronco-flogging-Redskin). But like Plummer, he no longer plays the game. You don’t see me complaining about Williams’ absence from Madden.
In March, Plummer told media that he was retiring. He’s a retired quarterback … just like Williams, just like Roman Gabriel, just like Sammy Baugh, just like Scott Stankavage. So use the create-a-player option, give No. 16 some ridiculous physical attributes, make him the Champ Bailey of quarterbacks and play on.
Based on the pictures on your Web site, Plummer himself has let it go. So why can’t you follow the lead of the man you so admire and do the same?
And as Bryant Gumbel might say, “Let’s move on.”
Wow, I’m bummed to see Ben Hamilton is still on that (inactive) list. The guy has been a real player for us. Obviously, he can’t go until he’s cleared, but the longer he’s out the more concerned I’m getting about how severe his injury is. I heard that the league is placing special emphasis on concussion treatment this year and not rushing guys back out, so I hope they’re just being cautious and he’s recovering okay. Do you think in previous years he would have been back on the field by now?
To be honest, I don’t think he would have been on the field in past years. The Broncos have always been pretty fastidious about clearing players to play with concussions; in my years here, they’ve tended to err more on the side of caution. The dangers of bringing back players too soon are both short- and long-term … and the team wouldn’t want to risk doing something to Hamilton for both his personal long-term future and his future with the team. He’s still just a seventh-year player, which on their offensive line, means he has several good years in front of him if he’s at full health. There’s no reason to rush him back when so much — his career and his long-term health — are at stake and could be jeopardized by playing before he’s fully healed from the concussion. But as Shanahan indicated Monday, this is starting to get to the point of true and unfettered worry about what’s next for No. 50 … but if he’s not 100 percent, it just isn’t worth the risk, for the reasons indicated above. And for more on concussions and why one should be cautious in treatment and recovery, just read this story about Wayne Chrebet. I loved watching that guy play, and it breaks my heart to read about how he’s feeling now.
I am currently watching the Jags & Broncos. I have read that Andre Hall was on the inactive list for the first 3 weeks. Why is he listed as inactive? Does he still have the problem with his hammy from preseason?
Actually, Hall is doing just fine health-wise, and that’s probably due to the fact that he and the Broncos were deliberate and cautious in dealing with his hamstring injury, not bringing him back until the final week of the preseason (even though they needed someone to take some more carries in the preseason loss to the Cleveland Browns five days earlier). He’s the third-team tailback, but with both primary fullbacks (Cecil Sapp and Mike Bell) able to move back to the tailback slot in a pinch, and another fullback in Paul Smith who has played tailback in the NFL, the Broncos have plenty of in-game depth there. Hall’s presence is mainly for developmental purposes, as well as insurance in the event of a long-term injury to Selvin Young and/or Travis Henry. If they go down for a few weeks, Hall will almost certainly see some substantial playing time — particularly in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
What up Drew, what is the deal with (Ryan) Harris? Did they know about his back prior to drafting him? We need him to get up to speed, and soon.
The back spasms really didn’t kick in for Harris until this summer. He was remarkably durable at Notre Dame. It’s a tad ironic how he and Tim Crowder were so durable in their college years, barely missing a snap, and yet they’ve struggled with preseason injuries. But Crowder is back to health now after suffering the ankle sprain and Harris is expected back on the practice field this coming Wednesday.
Can somebody please answer these two questions?
1. Why does Hixon return kickoffs and punts? Put Mike Bell back there.
2. Why does Javon comes out the game all the freaking time? Is he fixing his socks or what?
1. Why does Hixon return kickoffs and punts? Put Mike Bell back there.
2. Why does Javon comes out the game all the freaking time? Is he fixing his socks or what?
With Hixon, he’s been pegged as a returner since the Broncos drafted him out of Akron … He has the ball-toting skills that go with being a wide receiver, plus extensive experience on both kickoff and punt returns there, as well as the toughness that goes with spending two years at safety. That multidimensional experience usually serves an NFL returner well. He came pretty close to breaking a couple of returns on Sunday. Personally, I just think he and the special teams need time. They had their most consistent game of the season on Sunday in terms of their own returns, but they struggled for the most part on Jaguars runbacks.
As for Walker, it’s just part of the game plan. Shanahan has always liked to rotate his receivers for different situations. In recent years, Rod Smith has trotted to the sidelines on many an occasion. It’s nothing unusual, and when you’ve got a couple of tight ends who can line up at inside-receiver positions (Nate Jackson, Tony Scheffler), you have the flexibility to put some bigger guys out there who can help with blocking — but also provide legitimate pass-catching threats.
I’ve been wondering ever since Warren was benched in the pre-season what in the world the Broncos were thinking. I’ve always thought, despite how much he gets called disappointment, that he was one of the key players on our defense. If we had Warren and Adams side-by-side, the other team would have a hard time deciding who to double-team. Do you think he really didn’t “fit the scheme” or do you think there were other reasons for his trade? I don’t think it is nearly as bleak as some make it out to be, but I am pretty tired of hearing about “the scheme.”
From my perspective, Warren wasn’t quite the same player he was in ’06 as he was in ’05. Much of that was probably due to the toe problems he battled throughout the 2006 campaign, but he also didn’t have much experience in the kind of system that Jim Bates opted to install this summer.
I am new to the board but am a long time, die hard Bronco fan. I can’t decide what I dislike most — losing a game or a bye week because I just have to wait that much longer for a shot to redeem ourselves.
I have one question and hope this is the place to ask it. No offense to Daniel Graham because I respect is ability to play TE, but where why did Tony (Scheffler) not get that call and where has he been this year? He was one of Jay’s primary targets last year and I know he has been hampered by the foot injury, but I am waiting for him to come along and add the missing piece to the explosive offense that I know we have. Any insight?
One of the ways that the Broncos sold Graham on joining their ranks was by giving him more opportunities to catch the football. Up in Boulder, Graham was a fearsome pass-catcher for the Golden Buffaloes of the University of Colorado, winning the John Mackey Award as a senior. So he does have some good receiving credentials on which to build, even though the Patriots used him mainly as a blocker in recent years. At this point, he’s a more complete tight end than Tony Scheffler, who by his own admission this offseason had some work to do on his blocking. The foot injury incurred during OTAs derailed those efforts, and in some ways, he’s still playing catch-up. The Broncos are starting to work Scheffler into the offense a little more, even though he’s still looking for his first reception of 2007, but for now, Graham and Nate Jackson are more complete tight ends — particularly in the blocking — and it might take a while for Scheffler to be able to dislodge either of them. Also, because you have a receiver like Brandon Stokley available to play in the slot, that trims a few more opportunities from Scheffler’s plate, since the tight end did see quite a bit of slot work late last season.
Two questions from left field here but I would like to hear your opinion. With the very sad passing of D-Will who would you say is the Broncos fastest man on the active roster?
That’s a tough one … probably one of the following three guys: Brian Clark, Domonique Foxworth or Champ Bailey. (Although fellow Web guru Kyle Sonneman points out that Karl Paymah beat Clark in a 40-yard dash one day this summer. So we’ll put No. 41 in there, as well.)
Also, I forget how long you said it has been since you started to cover the Broncos but the stadium excitement and overall crowd noise doesn’t seem the same as in the late ’80s and ’90s. I was at the home opener last year against the Chiefs — 14th row, field level, Broncos sideline — and people kept telling me to sit down? Seems like we are slowly turning into a wine and cheese crowd and not the blue-collar, die-hard, bleed-orange-and-blue fans we have always been known for. Your thoughts?
This is my sixth season here, so, unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure of ever attending a game at old Mile High Stadium. Not making it there remains one of my regrets.
I think what has happened around the league is that many of the new stadiums have made fans a little too comfortable. Wider seats, extra legroom, cupholders, massive television screens all over the place … it’s not quite as comfortable as being at home, but it’s not as far removed as it once was, either. Back in the days of narrow aisles, non-existent elbow room and drinks that flew everywhere because standing to cheer meant kicking a cup down (as I experienced at the recent Colorado-Florida State game at Folsom Field), it almost seemed as though it were more comfortable to stand than to sit. I know that even at some Bucs games at old Tampa Stadium — which was little more than a concrete bowl adorned with aluminum benches — I stood at least half the game, if not more, depending on how the action was going. And that was to watch games involving a lousy team … certainly no comparison to the Broncos of those days.
From talking to many Broncos fans in the last few years, it seems like the South Stands used to set the tone for the entire stadium — and it was a frenzied pitch, at that. Standing, cheering, jeering, occasionally hurling projectiles … it was all part of the mayhem at that end of the stadium. With the stands merely being bleachers, it was easier to stay on one’s feet than sit down, since the quarters were so tight. Nowadays, the south end of the stadium features chairs, just like every other part … maybe, just maybe, it would have been better to make that section of the stadium bleacher seating, like the Cleveland Browns did with the “Dawg Pound” end of their eight-year-old place.
(Of course, some terrible teams haven’t helped the atmosphere much. To be perfectly frank, the mood at Cleveland Browns Stadium for the Broncos’ visit last October was as emotionally toxic as any I have ever experienced in the many games I’ve attended in person as either a fan or a reporter.)
All that being said, the crowd was extraordinarily loud at certain points Sunday. Some on the sidelines said it hadn’t been that loud since the Jan. 2006 divisional-playoff win over the Patriots, when you could barely hear someone yelling in your ear. The countertop table at which I write in the INVESCO Field press box vibrated constantly when the Broncos were on defense in the fourth quarter with a six-point deficit. I think crowds in general have gotten louder in my six seasons here, but when I read stories about you being told to sit down … I cringe.
I was going to write some more about the home-field issues, but until I crunch the numbers further, there’s not much more I can add than is already written over at the Mile High Report, and I encourage all of you to click over there and read that entry.
All right, dear readers, I have a simple request.
Any and all of these experiences you have … of people telling you to sit down when you’re rising to support your team … of spectators excoriating you when you cheer too loudly … please post them here in this blog or e-mail them to me. It’s time to re-claim Broncomania for the true fans … the ones who live, die, exhort, cheer — and, yes, constructively criticize — the Broncos. In Kansas City, many fans stand. In Oakland, many fans stand. In Green Bay, in Chicago … same thing. It’s time to get Denver back to that.
And atop the strawberry-bittersweet replies in the above paragraphs, a little dollop of Devonshire cream from SGT_G1983:
Hey Mason! Didn’t know you hailed from England. I was born and raised in Colorado but now stationed in North Yorkshire (U.S. Army). It would be great to chat with all of the Broncos fans that are out here. And of course it would be fun to read what you and Foxy would duel about. Thanks for the great blog.
Well, I was born in Richmond, Va., but my mother is from Bradford, as is the entire maternal side of my family. My father is a former Army sergeant from North Carolina, and met Mom when he was stationed at Menwith Hill back in the 1960s. As I wrote this blog, I called him and he shared his memories of the gorgeous scenery in that part of England. He also wanted me to ask you if you ever get to Harrogate. Thanks for the kind words, and hopefully we can bring a bit more of Broncos Country to Britain when I make it over there.
And as always, keep asking questions, keep posting, and if you’d rather send me an e-mail question, please feel free, and until the next blog entry, vaya con Dios.