Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tradition Tuesday: Week One Game Notes

The rough focus of this blog is the rivalry between the Kansas City Chiefs (heralded by Bankmeister) and the Denver Broncos (championed by Cecil and Old No. 7). It may seem unfair that it's two versus one, but once KC gets that second Super Bowl win we'll even out the delegation.

Seven years ago we started The Tradition, in which Bronco fans travel out to the Truman Sports Complex with their team, and Chief-lovers return to the Rocky Mountains with theirs. We tailgate, we talk massive amounts of shit, our wives are occasionally assaulted by rival fans, and we almost always watch the visiting team lose. It's a grand old time.

Here at the HoG, we're going to keep The Tradition going with Tradition Tuesday--a weekly state-of-the-rivalry address.

I don't really know how we're going to break down the NFL on a weekly basis. We'll get it dialed in eventually, but for now we'll just kind scatter posts around about how exciting the Broncos are and how many points the Chiefs' opponent should be favored by (anything under 30, bet the Bears).

I really want to start a Film Study feature in which I detail the X's and O's of the Denver game. I have the sucker on TiVo, just waiting to be analyzed, but I'm stuck at work. Whenever I go home The Wife has some domestic bullshit for me that for some reason does not include repeatedly watching a game I've already seen. Some people have no vision.

Regardless, here's some random shit I'm ruminating on concerning the eastern half of the AFC West. Without doubt everything must be prefaced with a few words about Kevin Everett. The Bills' backup tight end suffered a spinal injury on a seemingly routine kick coverage play during Sunday's game, and now it seems unlikely he'll ever walk again. If you ever wondered how dangerous the sport of football is or bitched about contract holdouts, remember Kevin Everett. Regardless of how much we run our mouths around here, he's in our thoughts and prayers.

What an amazing, remarkable, fantastic, thrilling win for the Broncos. It's nearly 48 hours later and I still can't believe The Miracle In Orchard Park happened. I grew up during the career of John Elway, when remarkable comeback wins became nearly commonplace and expected, and I can not remember a heart-stopper quite like that one.

That being said, I was incredulous when I saw that field goal unit running on to the field to attempt a kick without a timeout. "Spike the ball!" I was screaming at the television. I was sure someone would be moving at the snap and we would lose the game because of it. Of course, we all learned later that the maneuver was scripted ahead of time, but it's still an unbelievably low-percentage decision.

For easily the most unique take on the play, check out out this Deadspin piece written by Stefan Fatsis, the Wall Street Journal reporter who spent time with the Broncos last year pretending to be a kicker. Also, dig into this News piece that includes the best quote of the weekend:

"Oh, man, I tell you what," Denver special teams coach Scott O'Brien said in the locker room after things had died down. "This is why God made whiskey - special teams coaches."
Speaking of risky plays, Buffalo's attempt to throw downfield to Lee Evans on the third-and-five of their last drive was preposterous. I understand you're trying to put it away, but to stop the clock and give Denver the ball back like that is pretty dumb.

Sam Adams (the "writer," not the tackle or the beer) wrote in the News yesterday about how uncomfortable he is with Champ Bailey covering kicks, even though he made a couple game-saving tackles. I agree, but on a different level. If you're going to play Champ on special teams, let him return punts. That gives the team a competitive advantage, whereas playing him on the kickoff team makes your team marginally better.

In the interest of equal time, let's talk about the debacle that the Chiefs perpetrated in Houston on Sunday. I watched little of the game, just a taste here and there between commercials. But I think it's safe to say that the clock is ticking on Herman (especially with Bill Cohwer lingering as a free agent) and Carl Peterson.

King Carl, of course, was not calling the plays that generated three points of offense. But he did spend a fifth-round pick on kicker Justin Medlock, with Mason Crosby still available, and he did refuse to bring proven specialists like Mike Vanderjagt to compete for the job.

I loathe the University of Colorado and its dog-shit football program, but Crosby was the best kicker in the nation over the last two seasons. He has prodigious length and excelled in every pressure situation he faced. And on Sunday, while Medlock was whiffing on a 30-yard chip shot, Crosby (drafted in the sixth round by the Packers) buried a 42-yarder with two seconds left to upset Philadelphia.

The arrogance of King Carl, highlighted in his camera-hogging role on Hard Knocks, is also seen in the Chiefs' cap situation. As pointed out by Peter King, the Chiefs are hanging on to almost $13 million in salary cap money, sixth most in the NFL. This while allowing their lone good player to miss almost all of training camp in a salary dispute. What good, exactly, is that cash going to do the Chiefs? You know they're not going to go out and sign anyone.

Meanwhile the Broncos have the second smallest available cap amount at $1.6 million. They saw a need on their team last week (pass rush) and did whatever it took to go out and get Simeon Rice.

Lots of folks are talking about the availability of Byron Leftwich in connection with two teams: the Giants (with Eli Manning out at least a month) and the Ravens (with two shitty quarterbacks in Steve McNair and Kyle Boller). Why not include the Chiefs in that sorry bunch? Most KC fans would trade a testicle for McNair or Boller (or Jared Lorenzen, for that matter) right now. Yet they'll sit around with their dicks in their hands while an affordable starting-caliber NFL QB signs somewhere else.

One year and one game into the Monday Night Football career of Tony Kornheiser, and I think I have a verdict: he's not that great. Tony's a big improvement over most of the morons that call NFL games, but he adds virtually nothing to the viewing experience. I felt similarly about Mike and Mike on the late game. They sucked. Those guys are great in their chosen format (morning radio) just as Tony is excellent on PTI (and pretty damn good on radio too). That doesn't mean you can call a game.

I have a few routines during the NFL season. One is reading King's Monday Morning Quarterback. Another is Gregg Easterbrook's rival Tuesday Morning Quarterback. I'll let you guess when those columns appear. My favorite NFL mashup, however, has always been the Mighty MJD's Smorgasboard, which I thought had disappeared with MJD's ascension to bigger and better blogpportunities. Well, it's back and on Deadspin, and it's as good as ever.

Back to the Broncos. I was bummed Sunday when I heard that Ben Hamilton was inactive with a concussion and Chris Myers was starting at left guard. Myers was easily the Broncos' worst player in the preseason and seems hell bent on getting Jay Cutler killed. He sucked for most of the game against the Bills, blowing assignments, drawing penalties and doing his best George Foster impersonation. Yet on the fourth-and-two on the final drive, when Cutler took off on a QB sweep for a first down, who pulled and delivered the vital block? Chris Myers. Might have won the game.

Other clutch performances: Selvin Young batting the ball out of bounds after Cutler's boneheaded pitch was incredibly prescient for a kid playing his first NFL game. Give him a Buckeye sticker. Brandon Stokley was great and looks like he's ready to have a nice year. Brandon Marshall's toe-tap for the Broncos' lone touchdown was a thing of beauty. Nate Webster was flying around like a lunatic, making plays. And even Simeon Rice, whose signing I lampooned, looked ready to go.

Jeff Shoate did not. I know Dominique Foxworth sprained an ankle, but that kid should not be on the field.

You know who's not bad? Hall and Oates. Everyone's come around on early, pre-molestation Michael Jackson--Off The Wall is a great album. And Springsteen was tremendous on Nebraska. Even Bon Jovi is enjoying a bit of a renaissance, as their stuff holds up pretty well. All these big-selling yet uncool 80s artists are back in the game, so why can't H&O get a little love? It's not their fault they're white.

That's the last time I'll ever write about music. Nothing is more polarizing with readership, and it's simply not worth it.

Mark my words, at some point someone will point to the Everett injury as evidence of the Broncos' alleged dirty play. It will be akin to CU professor Ward Churchill blaming 9/11 on the folks working at the World Trade Center. Just sayin'.

Finally, I am ready for the next two weeks against Oakland and Jacksonville. Both teams are pretty crappy, but both possess tough defenses and are thus dangerous. I'll be in attendance for the home opener this Sunday, and we'll see how this club look in person.