Throughout the NFL season, part of my Monday morning routine was to fire up my browser and read Peter King’s “Monday Morning QB” column. At the end of each column, King lists his “Top 10 Things I Think I Think About Football”. They usually turn out to be more than ten things, but great insights on the week in NFL.
Since imitation is the best form of flattery, I wanted to borrow the idea from Peter and list a season-ending “Things I Think I Think” about the Broncos, other teams and football in general:
1. Despite the let-down that was December, the Broncos still had a decent season in 2008.
-a. I can’t believe we tore through running backs the way that we did: Pittman, Hall, Torain, Hillis, Pope, Young, leaving only mid-season hire Tatum Bell to run around for the last few games. When you consider the injuries, it’s not surprising the Broncos struggled with running the ball as much as they did. That said, while injuries are part of the game, it’s pretty daunting to lose 6 running backs in one season. It makes me wonder whether something happened with the blocking that left the running backs so exposed.
-b. Speaking of Tatum Bell – hey media: we get it! Tatum Bell worked at a cell phone kiosk before being signed by the Broncos. It was mentioned so much I was thinking of starting a drinking game.
-c. What an amazing season for both Cutler and Marshall. When they were drafted three years ago, who would have thought they’d become one of the best QB-receiver Tandems in the NFL?
-d. As any typical Denver fan, I can’t help but make the Elway comparisons – and I’m wondering if we’re seeing a mirror of some of Elway’s early years. I was too young to remember Elway’s early years, but I’ve heard that Elway also threw some pretty costly interceptions which led to such nicknames as “SmELl-way”. Despite the worst-time interceptions, Cutler still managed great season-end stats, with a 25:18 TD/Interceptions, and an 86 rating. Compared to Elway’s 3rd year of 22:23 and a 79 rating those are pretty good. The difference is that Elway led the Broncos to a 11-5 season that year. Elway also had the ability to take some below-average Bronco talent and place them on his shoulders. Cutler is surrounded by too much receiving talent to have to do that.
-e. There are a lot of comparisons between Marshall and T.O- mainly because they have similar body types. I hope the comparison ends there, as I hope my fear that Cutler felt compelled to get the ball to Marshall and forced bad passes to do so doesn’t come true.
-f. Another similarity between T.O. and Marshall for 2008: both dropped a lot of balls at really bad times. As it turns out, Marshall never completely healed from his fight with the Entertainment Center and his hand was numb all season. Get well Brandon.
-g. Let’s be honest about Broncos expectations for 2008: They were pretty dismal at the beginning of the season. I knew we were going into the year with a very young team, and that we were trying to develop players in very key positions. I was realistic about the chances, yet hopeful that we’ll surprise those teams. We saw a lot of that potential, especially in the first game when we dismantled the Raiders the way we did. Then the injuries started to pile up, and we never managed to recover from that.
-h. All that said, it’s embarrassing that we weren’t able to cash in one of those last three games, especially with the Bills at home.
-i. When we had our Fantasy Draft this year I picked up Eddie Royal in one of the last rounds. My friend in Houston said “who’s Eddie Royal”? I replied, “Oh you’ll find out in Week 1″. I was vindicated and Royal didn’t let me down all season long. If we can keep Stokley & Scheffler healthy and Marshall selfless we’ll have nothing to worry about for a while.
-j. It’s time for Dre Bly to go. I realize that with Bailey out he was put in very tough match-ups, but it felt like every time there was a big play caused by blown coverage, Bly was a key player. If we are going to free agency to replace Bly, let’s stay far away from Dome team cornerbacks.
-k. Our Defensive Line and Linebackers celebrated way too much and over-trash-talked for the way they performed. Here’s to finding some humble pass-rushers for 2009.
2. Even if the Broncos were able to win against the Panthers, Bills or Chargers and get into the playoffs – we should have stopped hearing about the blown Ed Hochuli call in week 2, and how that ruined the Chargers season a long time ago. Yes Hochuli made a bad call that affected the outcome of the game, but Hochuli didn’t make the Chargers lose the other 7 games, took the air out of L.T’s tires, didn’t get LB Merriman hurt, or make the Chargers defense as bad as the Broncos D. When the Colts ravage through the Chargers this weekend, hopefully Charger fans won’t blame that on Hochuli too.
3. How funny would it be that Favre’s likely last pass was an illegal forward lateral that went nowhere. Was coming back from retirement worth it?
-a. Also a telling Favre stat I came across: 273 games, 310 interceptions
4. Nice job Lions, at running the table.
5. It’s great to see teams at the bottom of the barrel turn it around the way they have. The Falcons story is the most incredible, closely followed by the Dolphins, and I can’t help but have a soft spot for a Cardinals. I think the Falcons will be the only ones that advance to the second round – as they are playing the Cardinals.
-a. I also think all 4 home teams will lose next weekend
6. As tempted as it is to pick the #1 seeds, I’d love to see a Carolina/Pittsburgh Super Bowl.
I have plenty more thoughts on the NFL, but I’ll take a break for now. I’d appreciate any thoughts that you may have.