Friday, May 8, 2009

Ifs, Whens, and Other Things We Love That Just Might Kill Us: New Regimes Face-Off

When your football team doesn't make the playoffs, you, as a fan, turn to a different mental channel and engage in the gloriousness of the NFL post-season. Once the Super Bowl is over, you can more thoroughly investigate what your club might or might not be doing in an effort to be in the big dance the next time around. Before you know it, the draft is upon us all, and we're talking picks, OTAs, free agency, and ultimately, training camp. At some point in the muck of all this, you have to stop and process, especially considering the wholesale changes occurred this off-season for the franchises known as the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Old No. 7 and I have been known to grumble about the gridrion a time or two, and we determined it was high time we did so again. Follow us past the link for our reflections, and don't forget your flashlight and your sleeping bag, as it'll surely be past your bedtime before you're finished reading.

Bankmeister: What I want to do involves talking a lot of pigskin that we've, in a sense, already covered, just not in conversation form. When the 2008 football season was wrapping up, I speculated that this might be the first time in NFL history (Editor's Note: I never actually researched the topic; it was just a hunch.) that we'd see four out of four coaching changes in the same division in the same season. Unfortunately, that asshole A.J. Smith ruined the whole thing by keeping the Norvacious D (image) on the Whale's Vagina payroll. So I was off by one firing there, but certainly more blind-sided by the wholesale house-cleaning that yanked the rug out from underneath the brass of both your Broncos and my Chiefs. Though there were fundamental differences and similarities between the changes of both clubs, I think it's safe to say that they started with the firing of Mike Shanahan, and the resignation of Carl Peterson, respectively.

Now that you've had some time to digest the termination of your coach, arguably one of the brightest in our football lives, take us back through, if you would, what you were thinking as the historic three-game lead/three-games left approached. That is, the division was y'all's to win, but you had to get out there and play to win the game, and it didn't happen. Speaking from hindsight, even if you didn't recognize it at the time, did you have your own theory or desire for what would/should happen to get BroncoCountry steered back in the direction of sustained excellence in the event that those wins didn't happen? If so, what was it? And, assuming that your thought process didn't involve the Shana-canning, what were your thoughts when that happened? Have your thoughts changed with time?

Old No. 7: First off, shouldn’t it be Norvacious T?

What I was thinking, when my team had a three game lead with three to play, was that I hope San Diego loses one of their games. Sure, I assumed that the Broncos would take one, just one measly little game on their December schedule. But going in to the season it was evident that the slate was backloaded and that winning in the season’s final month would be difficult regardless.

That’s why game you guys blew, at home against the Chargers when you led by two touchdowns with two minutes to play, was so devastating. At the time, and I’m pretty sure I said this to you that afternoon, I felt that the division was slipping away.

Even though the season concluded with that massive and humiliating collapse, I still thought that a lot of good came out of it. I felt that had the Broncos not gagged down the stretch it might have actually been Shanahan’s finest coaching performance of his career. His rookie class was remarkable in its effectiveness, and Clady and Royal are simply two of the best players he ever drafted. Cutler kept developing, and the chance to mold Cutler was the sole reason Shanahan hadn’t already retired.

Most of all, Shanahan had committed to actually rebuilding the team, something he had always resisted. He’d taken an old and ineffective offensive line and rebuilt it on the fly -- that line was one of the NFL’s finest at pass-blocking last year and I think the parts are there to create a great running scheme as well. He finally cut ties with the remaining Super Bowl players to create a fresh tradition. Of course the defense was ineffective and scheduled for another pointless coaching makeover, but the parts were in place for a big push in the future.

For those reasons, I was stunned when they let him go. I thought that if there were any point in his Broncos career that he needed another year or two to see things through this was it. Fire him three years ago, fine. Three years from now, whatever. But he’s still a great coach, he’ll win with another franchise in the future, and my sense that my team has hired an absolute novice grows every single day. I’m pretty sure we employ the league’s most clueless coach right here in Colorado.

B: Norvacious T. I stand corrected.

That's a very logical stance, and from my perspective, I couldn't agree more. I'll never forget when Cutler was drafted, and the three of us, back then, did all of our online bantering on the FanBall fantasy-baseball message board. And for the record, "Screw you, FanBall. Not because your site was complete, inept junk, but because there are some golden Denver nuggets forever lost inside your Cyber Webs."

There was a message Cecil put up, though, on day one of the 2006 NFL Draft. It had the subject heading "Screamin' Jay Cutler." I'm certainly no expert now, but even three years ago, I wasn't paying enough attention to the draft to follow what other teams were doing, the final pick on 2005's day one, notwithstanding.

But I remember seeing that message, and having this "oh, fuck" feeling as I clicked on it. The feeling was something along the lines of "That motherfucker traded up to take this guy out of Vanderbilt, which means he fucking knows and feels something, which means very bad things could be in store for the next 12-15 years."

And to your point, I really thought, as did many, I believe, that Cutler was going to have a break-through year, which he did. Add the great offensive-line improvement and the receiving corp, and the RBBWAB platoon, and things were really looking up for your club, end-of-season collapse or not.

I don't want to get too far ahead, though. In fact, I want to back up. Sure. I could look this up, and probably get a few details right, but I'd rather hear it from a viable source as yourself: Take us through, if you will, the sequence of Denver brass decisions in the last 24 months. I mean, your head coach -- who everyone knows, for all intents and purposes, ran the entire show -- fired the team's general manager two off-seasons ago. Said coach then arguably had one of the best drafts in his tenure, makes monumental strides on the player-development fronts, and misses out on the playoffs by (ultimately) one lousy game (Note: Add two heaping teaspoons of Hoch-Kharm-ula. Mix well.) and gets the ax from the team's owner, because the coach had fired the GM, and not yet replaced him. And then, they give Brian Xanders the GM job, but he was already employed by the team? I'm obviously confused. For some clarity, I tried to bring NBA Commissioner David Stern in, but he said that the inner-workings of the organization were too dark and seedy for him to sift through. Please help polish this timeline.

7: I can't see how that timeline means much to what's going on right now, because, as you said, Shanahan made the final decisions. But I'll play along.

Ted Sundquist was the "general manager" from 2002 through March of last year. He was fired by Shanny because interns kept disappearing, or he stole office supplies, who knows? His "job" consisted of compiling TPS reports that no one looked at. I'm sure he had an office, and I'm sure his salary was about one-fifth of what your average NFL GM makes, and his employment or lack thereof had no bearing on the franchise.

After Sundquist got canned, the Goodman Boys became the titular head of the player personnel department, I think. It might have been Shanahan's Yorkshire terrier, or a cardboard cutout of Ryan Seacrest. Shanny ran the draft, he signed and cut free agents, and he built his roster just like he always did. Then he got the axe, the Goodman Boys were actually in charge for a few weeks, and then Colonel Xanders was promoted from some scouting post to GM.

It's hard to say whether Xanders is calling any shots, or if he's GM In Title Only just like his predecessors. For a guy who just fired a coach because that coach had too much authority and not enough accountability, Pat Bowlen has sure vested Coach Doogie with an awful lot of the former. We'll see how much of the latter sticks, or if Doogie follows Shanahan's example and blames all bad draft picks/free agent signings on the puppet GM. Sorry Colonel!

I"m sure you heard about this, but after the draft Doog bragged about how his board only had 100 names on it, and how the Broncos had worked out every one of the ten players they selected (typically a board will be 500 guys deep and you're lucky to have had personal contact with a third of your draftees). Quite a few writers went after our rookie coach following this admission, among them Terry Frei and Rick Reilly. They said it was evidence of his hubris, naivete or both. I think that the guy is inept at handling personnel in the offseason, based on what he's displayed since he took the job. Hopefully he's marginally proficient at coaching football.

It's inexcusably insane, in my opinion, to be in this position. If you're Pat Bowlen and you're going to hire a complete greenhorn to coach your team, do not give him the keys to the liquor cabinet. Go get an actual general manager to run the show, and explain to the kid he's only the coach. Otherwise, firing Shanahan makes zero sense.

B: Honestly, I don't see how you can say that, because to me it means everything. In the first five minutes of this conversation, you've already gone on record twice and said you basically don't have any faith in Coach McDaniels. You're also questioning Pat Bowlen's logic in canning Shanny, and then setting up Doog to essentially walk the same line. So the point in the timeline is an exercise in patterns, or the potential to learn from previous mistakes, and avoid them in the future.

Either way, I'm glad that you searched that about Coach Neil Patrick Harris, and his draft board boastings, because no -- I hadn't heard that. And frankly, I find it astonishing. Is this the perfect example of the got-something-to-prove aspect to your personality? One would think, that after the way the Cutler trade began, developed, and ultimatly went down, that Coach D would be rollin' extra downlow, not being an unhealthy extrovert. I mean, I suppose that you act that way if it really got under your skin that people suspected that you were ill-equipped for the gig based on the episode, and so the draft is your next, biggest means for dissing your doubters. But that's enough about that. Let's move forward.

Shanny's gone. Take us through, kind sir, the basic elements of the trade. Include any and all suppositions, opinions, theories, rumors, and facts that traipsed across your desktop during the process. Picture, if you will, a non-Broncos fan reading this, as if they only knew that the trade with Chicago had happened. Cutler, along with the rest of the club, I imagine, presumed that Shanny would be back, but he gets canned. Does want a trade right away? Then he's told the coordinators will still be around, but when they're dismissed, he really wants one. And I imagine that the Pink Polo factor was, as it were, the icing on the cake? Again. Kindly clear the cobwebs.

7: The only pattern that's been displayed from Bowlen is the fact that he wants to be a hands-off owner. I think that's admirable, actually -- most guys rich and egotistical enough to buy sports franchises lack the self-awareness and self-control to hand the wheel to someone else without meddling. With very few exceptions, pro football owners know little or nothing about pro football. Bowlen at least acknowledges that while he hands over blank checks and fades into the background.

The problem I have is that someone needs to run the store. Shanahan clearly did that -- the issue with his firing, I'm led to believe, is that he didn't do it well enough. It would seem that in the wake of his departure the first thing you'd do is establish some front-office leadership. You guys hired Scott Pioli first and foremost, and then went and got your rookie coach later. That, to me, is the path to take. Todd Haley knows who calls the shots, who makes the draft picks, who hired him. McDaniels knows that there is no layer of hierarchy between him and the big man, and that if Bowlen's happy he has a job.

Now that's both good and bad. As I've said before, Josh McDaniels is mega-accountable for this team. This is not Shanahan's team, this is not Colonel Xanders' team, this is not an GM's team. It's Doogie's. His QB, his 3-4 defensive players, his system. If he wins in a reasonable amount of time with this bunch, he's a fucking genius. If he falls on his face Bowlen will have no choice but to dismiss him. Not undermine him by hiring a real GM -- that should have been done in the first place. He'll need to be let go and a whole new regime brought in.

As for the trade recap, it's an issue of a hypersensitive QB and a clumsy headstrong coach both refusing to give ground. Cutler hated the fact that all of his coaches left, as anyone would. He also hated the fact that Doogie tried to trade him, a trade attempt that was executed with all the foresight and skill of the Bay of Pigs. Again, anyone would hate to be handled in such a way. But as we all saw, Jay Cutler needs to be coddled and swaddled with tender sweetness.

Josh McDaniels, at this stage of his head coaching career, does not possess that ability to soothe a superstar's infantile ego. He was eager to make his stamp on this team and this city, and he mangled a relationship with one of his best players. Thus, the trade turned from terrifying possibility into justifiable reality.

I'm fine with it now. I think Kyle Orton is a passable stand-in at QB, and that the offense will function and score a reasonable number of points. The extra picks eventually resulted in a DE that could start right away, a corner that will play in the nickel and someday start, and a waste of a tight end. If Cutler wins a Super Bowl in Chicago, or if these draft selections suck balls, I'll of course revise my opinion of the trade and of the men who made it. But for now this Bronco fan is happy to move on and play football.

We will need a QB at some point, of course, and I hate the fact that the Broncos are now back into that muddled mass of clubs in search of a signal-caller. We'll be mentioned in every potential trade for a waning and disgruntled star. Our chances of nabbing every free agent QB will be speculated upon. And as long as a Kyle Orton type mans the position, every April will see chatter about drafting the next Jay Cutler.

B: That's what I'm talking about: patterns and procedures, and the arguable manner in which they map out your successes and failures. I think you touched on a lot of really good points there, and we've done enough review and reflection as far as the higher-ups are concerned. And you've brought us right to the next topic I wanted to touch on: the signal caller. If one was to take everything a football team's front offices said to the public, then we'd be led to believe that Chris Simms and Kyle Orton will compete for the starting job in Denver, and Matt Cassel and Tyler Thigpen will do the same in Kansas City. The truth, as I imagine we both recognize, is that Cassel and Orton will almost certainly be handed the job barring remarkable flubs and idiocies over the summer. So I'm interested in attempting to predict how well they will do, which is basically impossible, especially considering that we're going to do it based on the previous year's performances, which -- as we know -- were on different teams in different schemes, and even in different divisions/conferences. The one thing we can do is look at the numbers within their respective divisions in an effort to get an idea of how they might do right here in the good ol' AFC West.

Kyle Orton

Orton threw for 2972 yards, 18 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and a 79.6 passer rating last year with the 8-8 Bears. His numbers in six division games (4-2 overall) look like this:

10/5 @ Detroit: 24/34 for 334 yards, two scores and no picks in a 34-7 win

10/19 vs. Minnesota: 21/32 for 283 yards, two scores and no picks in a 48-41 win

11/2 vs. Detroit: 8/14 for 108 yards, no scores, no picks in a 27-23 win (the Sex Cannon replaced an injured Neckbeard, and displayed an 8/18 for 58 yards/one TD/one pick afternoon) in a 27-23 win

11/16 @ Green Bay: 13/26 for 133 yards, no TDs, no INTs (Grossman went 4/7 for 26 yards) in a 37-3 loss

11/30 @ Minnesota: 11/29 for 153 yards, two scores, three picks in a 34-14 loss

12/22 vs Green Bay: 14/27 for 142 yards, one score and two picks in a 20-17 win

Matt Cassel

Cassel tossed 3693 yards, 21 scores, 11 picks for and 89.4 rating with the 11-5 Patriots. His contests against division opponents (4-2) went as such:

9/14 @ NYJ: 16/23 for 165 yards, no scores, no picks in a 19-10 win

9/21 vs. MIA: 19/31 for 131 yards, one score, one INT in a 38-13 loss

11/9 @ BUF: 22/32 for 234 yards, no TDs, no turnovers in a 20-10 win

11/13 vs. NYJ: 30/51 for 400 yards, 3 TDs, no INTs in a 31-34 loss

11/23 @ MIA: 30/43 for 415 yards, three scores and a pick in a 48-28 win

12/28 @ BUF: 6/8 for 78 yards, and two goose eggs in a 13-0 win (I think these numbers look the way they do because of conditions at Ralph Wilson that day; lots of running and FG kicking)

I understand that looking at these numbers and attempting to project how, if at all, they'll translate to 2009 in the West could be futile. So I won't ask you any specifics, per se, beyond your opinion of the performances by each QB, how they affected their teams both negatively and positively, and what you see the transition process looking like for both the Neckbeard and the Pink Polo.

7: Like you said, these old numbers have little to do with what will happen in AFC West stadia this season. Different teammates, different playbooks, different everything. I also doubt that the common thread of "division games" means much when discussing these two. Ballplayers look at these things differently than we do -- I doubt very much that they get more "up" for a division game or play any differently at all. This is their job, and the only extra significance placed upon a Raiders game or a Chargers game is put there by losers like us with nothing better to do.

Additionally, neither Cassel nor Orton entered training camp as the starter for their respective teams. Both surely felt fortunate to be playing football in November and December instead of holding down bench planks. So to say that Orton put in more preparation for the Vikings game than he did for, say, one against the Panthers, I think that's stretching it.

I do think we can extrapolate how these two jerks will function in our division, though, because extrapolatin' is what we do. I will extrapolate like a motherfucker. I'm projecting the following stat lines for Mssrs. Orton and Cassel:

Kyle Orton: 278 completions on 500 attempts (59.5 completion percentage), 3500 yards, 21 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 7.0 yards/attempt, 22 times sacked.

Matt Cassel: 292 for 478 (61.0 per cent), 3250 yards, 23 TDs, 16 picks, 6.8 yards/attempt, 38 sacks.

Both of these guys are moving into better throwing environments -- the secondaries of the AFC West are a bit easier to move it around on, and the weather's better in San Diego and Oakland than it is in Buffalo and Green Bay. Orton's also gaining many more weapons -- Brandon Marshall will be by far the best receiver he's ever utilized. Denver's rebuilt O-line showed brilliance in pass-blocking last year, we'll see how they protect Orton and move the ball on the ground for him during the upcoming campaign.

At the same time, Cassel is losing many of the benefits he enjoyed during his single season starting in New England. In the place of Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Ben Watson, Kevin Faulk and many others, he'll have a big target in Dwayne Bowe and...not much else. I think the KC line will do a decent job of keeping him upright (it's hard not to improve on getting sacked 48 times, as Cassel did last year), but the kid does seem to favor taking a sack over forcing the ball into coverage. He will have big Larry Johnson lining up behind him, which would seem to aid any QB.

Ironically, at the end of the day, Denver won't be at much of a disadvantage in the QB department to their I-70 cousins. After all the ballyhoo over the Cassel trade, after all the hurt feelings over the initial Cutler non-trade, after the supposedly huge dropoff from Cutler to could actually be a wash.

Backing up a little, tell me your current feelings about the leadership of the Kansas City Chiefs. Is your Pioli-induced erection as engorged as ever? Does Haley give you the hot flashes? And where do you see Cassel taking you, in 2009 and down the road?

B: Yes, indeed. Different everything for sure. I'm gonna have to disagree with you on your division-games slant, though. Now, I don't suppose that the difference in a rival actually translates to on-field performance, but the week of division games here, the papers and the TVs are always full of player commentary. Every time. Even rookies. I mean, they're always talking about Denver and how they're an opponent to gun for and how this club hasn't won in Colorado since before Kitty Hawk was made famous.

And Raider week is, well, it's actually called Raider Week, and everyone talks about it, and there are extra stories and stuff. I kind of think that'll fade a bit as the Baby Boomers start to get old. And actually, no one ever says shit about San Diego, but that's because that team is 115 percent gay in the mouth, and we're all inbred fools that believe things like talking about something gay could be contagious.

I actually bet that'll change this year, too, though, what with those two close choke clinics Herman's Chiefs put on, and the epic year of Chargers-Broncos that was as well. So I think it does mean something, even in your first year as a starter with a club, especially if you go out and lose to that team in the first meeting. You've got a chance at redemption, and anyone that's ever played any organized sport knows how motivating redemption can be.

Good point on them not being starters in camp, though. I bet they were in fact, simply pumped to be going out there. I found your numbers quite fascinating, though. Honestly, if these two kids combine for nearly 7000 yards through the air, I will be blown away. Orton should certainly be licking his chops at his wideout options as they are many and they are good. And for the very point you made, Cassel should be concerned. I recognize the signing of Bobby Engram, but I do very little more beyond that. I don't imagine he'll catch 70 balls or anything, and of course the Gonzalez trade makes sense, and I don't want to get into it again, but that is a pretty significant subtraction in the weapons department.

I guess I just have a hunch that both Toad and McDoog will try and orchestrate more balanced offenses. I gotta believe that Cutler, even though he was poised for a great 2008 and had all the weapons, doesn't hang up 4526 a year ago without all of those injuries at tailback. Thirty-five maybe. Especially if you consider what the Kuhnosean and the new-outlook Inverted Vag' potentially bring to the plan. That said, I'm hearing grumblings that the Chiefs might ship Johnson if they can score the Edge, which would probably land me in Leavenworth for life after the killing spree I'd produce.

Now I don't object to your scores-versus-picks extrapolations, but I'll also be surprised if Cassel eats turf the better part of 40 times. I just don't see it happening, but that's probably because I feel like I've seen Damon Huard get sacked 412 times in the last three seasons combined.

I gotta hope the right side of our line's better. It couldn't possibly be any worse.

As far as your questions, I'm being totally honest when I say that I'm not that ga-ga over either one of them. That's not to take anything away from them at all. I'm just trying to wait and observe. Honestly, my biggest sportage of wood has been Clark Hunt-induced. For years, many folks around here, including my parents, felt like Lamar was too nice to be aggressive in doing things like canning a general manager that filled your stadium, or meddle in the football-operations affairs. There were also plenty of accusations that went something like, "He doesn't care about the Chiefs. If he cared about the Chiefs, he'd live in Kansas City," which I think is just about as absurd people that don't think Dane Cook is funny, because believe me: He's hilarious.

Seriously, though. I always thought that was a big, dumb, uneducated crock to unload on someone, but I also secretly lived in fear of him not being aggressive/digging the revenue could be true. And of course, since I mentioned his name, this opens up Cecil for the opportunity to make his run-of-the-mill JFK comment, which is always hilarious and accurate. When you have as much respect for Lamar Hunt as I did and do, though, and you literally die a bit with every season that your team doesn't win a championship, it doesn't make life easy. So of course I did not want him to get cancer and die, but I was also sub-consciously afraid of how the franchise would be run once his offspring took over, and Clark has really, really impressed me.

He's shown that he's smart. He's been diligent in his operations. He's addressed the media (on camera at least) with courtesy and respect, and I'll tell you -- I'm not an owner, so I'm not equipped to say what's a good GM candidate, and what's not.

Do I feel like the Pioli hire was a good one? I do. It's mostly based on the success the Patriots have had this decade, and because I feel he was some part of that, and because it wasn't a same-old, good-ol'-boys retread that spelled doom for years to come. He's young, intelligent, and I think he knows what the fuck he's doing. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I have a Pioli-induced erection just yet, but I'm not ruling it out for the coming months. And since I'm talking about him, I've found that all of the folks that have done nothing but say that Bill Belichick was the brain trust, and that Belichick went insane on draft days (like he did this year) and Pioli should this if he wants to that and so forth is a load of frog piss. Let the man figure out how to be a GM, and let him do his job. Until he's had a chance to do that, shut the fuck up.

Now, I have faith in Pioli for the few reasons I mentioned and because Clark hired him. Somewhere down the line, that means that I'm supposed to be a Haley guy, too. I'm not saying I can't be made into one, but I'm not one yet. I'm sure that a lot of what's been said about him has influenced my thinking, but based on it and the bit I've seen, he does kind of seem like a jerk. And that's a bit disturbing. It's not that I'm afraid he'll lose control or piss off this guy or that guy, I've just seldom had good, healthy, productive working relationships in the workplace with jerks, and I've worked with a small oil tanker full of them. Hell, I once had a Front-of-the-House manager push me on a greasy kitchen floor on a Friday night while I carried a stack of plates to the line, but that's a story for another post.

Anyway, I liked his vibe during the introductory PC, but it probably didn't hurt that he was just given a Volvo wagon full of the Hunt family money. Everything I've seen since then pits him as put off and perturbed in my mind. Add to it that the Pioli-Parcells-Haley connection really scared me into the good-ol'-boy corner, and then Haley went and hired like 79 percent of the Cardinals coaching staff, and I just about shit. But I'm gonna be patient and try to reserve judgment for on-the-field results. The same is true for Cassel. A teeny bit of good ol' boy for Pioli to go out and make that deal happen, but I gotta believe that he simply felt there was no way he could enter the first season on his new job with Thigpen as his only real starter, a term which still has to kind of be used loosely.

I really was impressed with Cassel's play last year, and the lack of throwing options is a concern, as is the potential disasters we could face on the right side of the line and in the backfield, so I'm hoping that all of the this-kid's-a-talent-but-he's-been-on-the-bench-forever chatter holds water. At the same time, I still want the Chiefs to be aggressive in their pursuit of future quarterbacks. It's just a hunch, but I see us getting four to five decent years out of this kid, and then he's gone. I'm pumped for improvement in 2009, but I don't hand Cassel any of that. I award it solely to change, and, well, 2-14.

Let's move on to the draft, though. Shall we? I know that you're a huge fan of value in your picks, be it your Broncos, your fantasy baseball, or your boogers. But aside from the fact that Skippy might very well've been available in the fourth, and Jimmy wasn't worth a next-year's trade, etc., how did it feel to have a new clan of puppeteers selecting your college student-athletes? You've shared your concerns about McDoog's potential issues, but what was your inital reaction as draft weekend wound down? And now that you've had a bit of time to process it? Do you like the overall crop of talent that might wear predominantly-orange uniforms in 2009? Where does it fit in the line of Denver drafts in the last 10 years?

7: I'm not saying that rivalries don't exist for players, or that there isn't extra intensity involved in, say, a season-ending game between the Chargers and Broncos when Denver was, um, fortunate to win the first contest and the division title is on the line. I'm just saying that that intensity will rarely be seen in stats, that's all.

Why would it be disturbing if your coach is a jerk? Jerks win, baby. Shanahan was a jerk, as were Parcells and Coughlin. Super Bowl winners all. Brian Billick and John Gruden seem like jerks -- rings. Bill Belichick will sleep with your wife and videotape your signals, which are kind of jerk moves. And he's only the best coach alive.

On the other hand, Herm was a swell guy. Dan Reeves seems decent, and Marty is someone I'd let drive my wife to the airport. And while all those guys won games (I'm stretching this with Herm), they all failed in the end. Now that's not because they lack the jerk gene, but a little prickishness and killer instinct might have served those coaches well.

The most successful non-jerk coaches in recent times are Tony Dungy and Dick Vermeil. But Dungy has hate in his heart for the gays, and Vermeil's title was a fluke. Admit it.

I don't require my coach to be a jerk, I only require him to win a lot of games. This is football, a hundred-yard war of physical domination and brutality. If my coach lacks manners and tact yet he stacks up Lombardi Trophies like kindling, I'm pleased as punch.

Now as for my take on this Broncos draft, I'm going to roll it all in with all of the offseason moves. This is how Colin Cowherd administers draft grades, and while I loathe Cowherd like Tony Dungy loathes Perez Hilton, it's a pretty good system.

The Broncos took a big step back at quarterback. I'm what you might call an Orton guy, as I feel he's capable of winning a lot of games if he's put in the right situations. But he's a game manager, and he can't create plays on his own, and he likes Jack Daniel's more than he likes perfecting his footwork. But to call him a pretty good QB is pushing it, and to call him a great quarterback is to make oneself a liar. Jay Cutler is a pansy and I hope his career turns south from here as karmic revenge, but on his worst day he's six times the QB Orton is.

At the same time, this team is vastly better, leaps and bounds better, when it comes to the running back staff. All the free agents can contribute, Torain adds promise and Hillis versatility, and if you don't Knowshon you better axe somebody.

Knowshon is the truth. It's possible that this team could rival Tennessee as the best rushing club in the AFC next year.

The receivers and offensive line are essentially unchanged -- both groups are strong, and provided they weather injuries and Marshall's suspension they should pose no problems.

The defensive side of the ball is, as my dad says, problematical. Let's start in the secondary, which is a mess but at least more stable than the front seven. Denver picked three DBs in their first six selections, corner Alfonso Smith and safeties Darcel McBath and David Bruton. All these guys can play, and Alfonso looks like a future impact coverman. Add that trio to free-agent acquisitions Brian Dawkins, Renaldo Hill and Andre Goodman, throw in a healthy Champ Bailey, and you have what might pass for a respectable defensive backfield in 2009. Dawkins is ancient, of course, and Hill, Goodman and Bailey are all on the wrong side of 30. I'd love to see Alfonso step in and excel right away, because that would activate my ultimate plan: moving Champ to safety.

Rod Woodson did it -- played the first half of his career as the NFL's best corner and then sliding back for a dominant second act. As Champ's speed wanes, his football instincts and technique get better, and I'd love to see him play center field. I felt the No. 1 need for this team going into the draft was getting a dominant safety, but that player didn't really exist this April as Taylor Mays stayed in school. While I love killers back there, Ronnie Lott types, there's nothing wrong with smart, savvy ball hawks. Woodson was one, and Ed Reed is much more of a passing-game disruptor than a devastating hitter.

Now, if we have to, let's get into that front seven. We needed to draft a nose tackle and did not. We needed several stout 3-4 defensive ends, and we got one. We needed a pass-rushing outside LB and a stout-yet-nimble inside LB and picked neither--the entire draft elapsed without the Denver Broncos selecting a linebacker of any sort. This is inexcusable--not only are LBs needed to staff the new system, but rookie linebackers are the bread and butter of your special teams. They cover kicks, they block, their blend of size and speed make everything work. And we picked none of them. I suppose it's possible that the holdover crew can get the job done, but I see disaster from the first two lines of defense the Broncos will put on the field. They won't stop the run, they won't rush the passer, and they won't create turnovers.

Denver did acquire Dustin Colquitt's brother, though, so all is fine.

How about you? Other than the 19-hour gap between your first pick and your second, how did the Chiefs acquit themselves last weekend? What will these upgrades to Arrowhead Stadium look like? And how's Larry Johnson's crackerjack Todd Haley impersonation coming along?

Also, I'm going to need some documented, non-Wikipedia proof that Dane Cook is actually funny. When I first heard him I was really impressed -- he was sharp, sarcastic, topical, really fresh. But every routine I've ever heard from him sounds the same. To me he has not evolved as a comic and has no reason to, as there will always be a steady stream of 20-year-old frat guys to lap him up. He keeps gettin' older, they stay the same age. In addition, all the accusations that he steals jokes and that he's a complete, unmitigated monster asshole tool stick. I don't care if my coach is a jerk, but I like my stand-up comedian to show some respect to his own profession. And, his movies stink.

B: I suppose I anticipated that your response regarding Toad the Jerk would be, well, exactly what it was. And part of me feels like you threw in the Vermeil line just to yank my chain, which is fine. If you want to think that it was a fluke, be my guest. I feel like his success with UCLA, Philly, St. Louis, and to some extent KC, all speak for themselves. He's without a doubt, my favorite Chiefs coach in my life for reasons that float in the utopian vein of having a criminal-free roster and a good guy coach. I know that you've taken great joys in calling him Coach Oprah and Coach Kleenex, and bagged on him for sundry other reasons, and I know that for all his efforts, he didn't win us a championship.

But there's something to be said about the person that he is and the relationships he had with his players across the span of his career. The thing with Haley is this: The hiring of Pioli and the month-long delay of hiring a coach all pointed to the front office's desire to acquire him after the Super Bowl, which leaves a fan treading the waters of go with a proven veteran/roll the dice on a young gun, and for a guy that was a wide receivers coach, then an offensive coordinator for two years, I had mixed feelings to say the least. Throw in the jerk factor, and color me skeptical.

As far as your Denver draft re-cap: job well done. I appreciate your (along with Cecil's) ability to foresee need, be familiar with the talent coming out, and analyze how well the two meshed with Selection Day results. I don't operate that way, partly because I've never invested noteworthy time in the viewing of college football, and frankly, the 20-year regime of Carl Peterson at the helm makes it tough to have an objective view of how successful Kansas City drafts have been. On the whole, I think they match up with other clubs in terms of pros and cons; they've nabbed some great players, had their share of busts, and been widely criticized for things like never drafting and developing a quarterback.

Simply looking at Pioli's first go, though, I feel pretty good. I remember the first Chiefs game at InVesCo under the Herman regime. On the first Denver drive, Ron Edwards and James Reed were in on tackles, and I said aloud "Who the hell are these guys?"

Your response was, "Dude, you gotta know your roster." I didn't know those guys at the time because that was week two of the season, and leading up to week one, the roster was pretty much set, until Herman went out and nabbed (Note: Shocker) a former Jet and a former Bill as starters for his defensive line, which basically means that he did nothing to address the front four until the last minute. One of Carl's biggest criticisms was that the Chiefs always gambled, and frequently lost, on drafting defensive linemen.

So, taking Tyson Jackson with the third overall pick should feel like a huge chance. But these guys seem committed to the 3-4, and if you plug in Jackson with the next pick of Alex Magee, and last year's first-rounder in Glenn Dorsey, I feel like the 3 part of the 3-4 should be pretty solid. Of course, it'll take some time for them to adapt and produce, but that's the breaks. After that, it's all tough to sift through. The cornerback was a bit of a surprise in that I feel like we've drafted 46 corners in the last four years, and then there's the good-ol' local pick (which I despise) in the OT from the University of Mizz-oo-rah, but at the same time, the boy is huge and largely lauded. Pioli musta thought it was White Boy Day. The wide receiver from McNeese State is puzzling. He's likely another Jeff Webb. Then you're into the seventh round and you've got a 5'10" running back out of Tennessee State and a tight end from Miami of Ohio.

I don't know that the running back will do much behind Johnson, Smith, and Charles, but I do know that tight ends out of MIA (OH) are likely not the sleeper. Jake O'Connell -- I've known Tony Gonzalez. You, sir, are no Tony Gonzalez. And taking a kicker with the absolute last pick in the draft? Count it. Jackpot. Sixty percent of the time, that's way better than taking a guy in the fifth, when there's a better-rated guy still out there and you pass him over. So I'm not sure. There are many unknowns for this Kansas City selection. I've got to believe that Pioli and Co. aren't idiots, but I do question how many of these guys will be around in two years.

I can almost guarantee you that there will never be an LJ Haley impersonation. You know, Haley's not black, so he doesn't have any idea what it's like to walk in Johnson's shoes. And don't you forget that, you white devils.

As far as Mr. Cook, I respect your points; they're good ones. I would agree that his routines are similar, but disagree about your theory of evolution in that I don't feel like good comics ever evolve. They hit the scene, find their niche, and they grow with it. Think about all of the good ones we've seen in our day: They have their idiosyncracies, the topics they're good at touching on, and they pretty much stay in that wave. Now, they come up with new sub-topics, or they slightly alter their delivery, but what got them funny keeps them funny, more or less. The thing I like about him is that he's young and has good energy, and hey, people like him. He has, like any good comic, the ability to take topics from everyday life, mix in current events, and relate to the average person.

To ask for some non-Wiki evidence regarding funniness is a stretch. I could, say, point to ticket/DVD sales in a milli-second and suggest that millions think he is. You wanna say that there are pools of accusations that say he steals jokes and is a Carson Daly, well, it's you that's gotta hit the links, Broseph. Also, if your line would've read "there will always be a steady stream of 20-year-old frat guys to lap him," I would've said that I agree with that possibility; good point. But since it read "there will always be a steady stream of 20-year-old frat guys to lap him up," I can only say that you are sick and twisted. That. Is gross, dude. Finally, I feel like there is one massive parallel between stand-up comedy and heavyweight boxing in the last 10-15 years in that the big-hit, big-time superstars are, at least right now, a thing of the past, so we're left to sift through and deal with the middle- and flyweights of the times. Would I ever compare Cook to Carlin, Murphy, Pryor, or Rock? Not in a million years. But I do appreciate him for what he is in the industry today. And the guy has gotten (deserved or not) praise for successfully marketing himself, so he does the movies for added income and making his name bigger. To draw the movie roles into his on-stage grade is a bit pointless.

But anyway, the rough focus of this tome was pigskin, and we must get back to it and the extrapolations, I imagine. It appears that your fears about McDoog could very well be over-ridden by a significantly improved squad. How are you feeling about the upcoming season? Cecil called for a 6-10 Denver campaign, and I think he later redacted it to 5-11. Is that accurate? Are you on board with the common belief that Whale's Vagina takes the division again? Is Oaktown on the rebound? Who has a better season between the Chefs and Donks? Do you have twenty bucks I can borrow?

7: Look, I like Vermeil and I think he was a good coach. I think getting one team to a Bowl and winning it with another one defines you as knowing what you're doing. I simply feel that he does not belong in the pantheon of all-time greats, and that his good-guy likeability makes a lot of people overrate him as a coach.

He was very fortunate to grab that ring with the Rams. That team came out of nowhere, took everyone by surprise, and Kurt Warner was injected by Satan with superhuman powers. The dynasties of the 90s, the Cowboys and the Broncos, had fallen upon hard times, and the great teams of this decade (Pats, Colts, Steelers) had yet to emerge. I'm not saying it was easy to win a title at the turn of the century, but it was a hell of a lot easier then than it is now.

When I asked for documentation that Dane Cook is funny, all I was looking for was a clip. One ThumbTube that contains him that makes me laugh. Because since that first time I heard him, it hasn't happened. I watched the Tourgasm series and he was like the fourth-best comic in his own show. And Vicious Circle was painful to me.

I know that every stand-up comedian has a schtick, and if it works they stick with it. Lewis Black and Patton Oswalt and Louis CK have their tried-and-true deliveries that remain static over time, but the difference, to me, between those guys and Cook is they start at a higher level of audience intelligence. And all I was getting at with the movies thing is that the truly great comics (you mentioned a Mt. Rushmore of Carlin, Murphy, Pryor and Chris Rock) have all nailed at list one film role. If we're keeping Dane Cook at the level of just a good, funny, presently-workling comedian, then I agree, movies shouldn't count.

So, at the end of the day, what I'm saying is that Dane Cook and Dick Vermeil are the same. Both have measurables (Super Bowl title, record-setting album and ticket sales) that lead many to believe they are among the best in their profession. Both, in my humble yet always-correct opinion, fall well short of Hall of Fame status and get more run than they should.

We may someday add Josh McDaniels to that list of overhyped and underdelivering flameouts. My gut tells me that the guy is fluff, that he rode Belichick's coattails and a little charisma into snowing Bowlen and landing a pretty plum coaching gig. I have a hunch that the erstwhile Orange Crush defense will never improve under his watch, and that his tenure will come and go without an impact QB taking a snap for the Broncos. My guess is that he'll be short and discourteous with the press and that he'll find something to hang his losses on other than his game plans. That's all my own speculation, and I would love to be wrong about that. But this kid has shown me very little thus far that's made me optimistic.

Denver has enough talent to win the division, but I can't see any way they fill all their holes quick enough to win 10 or 11 games. The schedule is too tricky, and I see the remodeled home-field advantage at Invesco evaporating until the fans see something to latch onto. You could make an argument for 7 or 8 wins if the running game clicks and the new DBs get pick-happy, but that's a lot of ifs. I will take the 6-10 that Cecil vacated and feel pretty secure.

You guys, the Chefs, will win 9 games while the Falcons win 8. The Raiders will win 4, the Bears 10 and the Chargers 11. And I've got your $20, but you won't like the terms.

B: Well, my friend, I can't say that I've ever seen a better conclusion transition than the one you just penned. I'll accept the Vermeil/Cook analogy, but at the same time I'll disagree with the variables in which you call certain teams dynasties and other teams greats. Your suggestion that it was easier to win a title at the turn of the millenium is succinct, and I must admit that there is an Ark of Cook 'Tubes out there that would make Noah proud. Unfortunately for my stake, this is the best I could come up with:
Dane Cook - Preparing for Fights
Dane Cook Kool Aid VideoMore Dane Cook VideosJoke of the Day

As for the picks, I see us winning eight, with the Donks right behind us at seven. I'll bet the Bears get closer to 12, while Atlanta toys with 10. I see the Chargers, even with all of their defensive picks, not improving much, and staying right in the eight/nine-win range, but still squeezing the division title out of it, while your Raiders pick seems right on the money; four wins for Oakland is a Raider Super Bowl party for those idiot fans.


Dylan said...

Is Knowshon the 2009 T-Hen?

Cecil said...

Do not utter those words again.

Let it be repeated, trumpeted to the heavens, printed on affordable t-shirts (in short, long and baseball style): If you don't Knowshon, YOU BETTA AXE SOMEBODY.

Cecil said...


I understand the trepidation with which we must approach Coach Doog, but he's already doing one thing that Shanahan never did: admitting that shit wasn't all OK.

I really do think that they didn't go for defensive linemen and more defensive linemen early in the draft was that the value simply wasn't there. I mean, I guess Ron Brace would have been a solid pick, sure, but I wasn't sold on Orakpo by any means. Other than that, who could they have gotten that would maybe have been expected to play next year? (Not that I'm sure Ayers will, either.)

As far as the draft board kerfuffle: I operate by a few simple strictures when it comes to thinkin' football, and chief among them are these: If Peter King and/or Rick Reilly think it's a bad idea, I'm for it.

People around Denver are acting like we broke up the 1989 Niners--last year's Broncos finished 16th in the league in scoring, and it wasn't because we couldn't run. We actually ran very well. We did, however, turn the fucking ball over a lot in the red zone trying to force it to Brandon Marshall.

Add Peter King: he put the Bears 4th in today's NFL Power Rankings. I think that's pure madness. Everyone knows I think that Cutler is a fine QB, but he couldn't do it all by himself with a fine young offensive core, and now he's supposed to do it behind a shell of an offensive line with no receivers? Supported by a rapidly aging defense that had a bad year in '08? Unbelievable.

bankmeister said...

What are your thoughts on people saying "trepidatious?

bankmeister said...

*" Argh.

Cecil said...

I'm fer it.

Dylan said...

I'll try:
Due to the tumultuous nature of this off-season, I'm going to be trepidatious in my analysis of the AFC West this season.

bankmeister said...

So, an uttering of the Knowshon t-shirt phrase pushes the idea into a reality. That can only mean that the mentioning of Knowshon as this year's T-Hen is a winner as well. With 12 running backs in the Denver backfield, I doubt the rookie crests a grand, and I'll even knock a bill off of the tab. But we'll need a name.

My vote is for "The Knotion Nine Hunnert March."

old no. 7 said...

It rubs the Knowshon on its skin.

Cecil said...

Or else it gets the hoes again.

Dylan said...

Is it Know(shawn) or Know(shun)?
Or does it even matter?

Cecil said...


But no, it doesn't matter.

old no. 7 said...

Said I'd like to know where, you got the Knowshon...Rock the boat, don't rock the boat baby

bankmeister said...

Said, if you feel like lovin' me, baby you got the Knowshonnnnnn...I second that emotion.

Cecil said...

Sweeeeeeeeeeeetttttt EEeeeeknoooowwshon.

bankmeister said...

An interesting take .