Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Denver Panic Time

I have to gloat a little.

Three weeks ago, when I predicted the final playoff teams, I had Denver out, a team that was at 6-2 (and then 7-2). The reason being a four game stretch which they are currently in the middle of (vs San Diego, at Kansas City, vs Seattle, at San Diego). I wrote that those games could easily put a quality team at 7-6, just because those are tough opponents. You stick ANY team in that situation and you could go 0-4. What I could have written had I expanded on my thesis was that the absolute worst thing Mike Shanahan could do during that time is panic and bench Jake Plummer. Well, so much for that.

Look, as a Seahawk fan I welcome this move. Having Jay Cutler's first game against us is definitely a major positive for a team that has struggled on the road in general. It makes it a much more winnable game. I simply do not believe that Jake Plummer "lost" the job due to performance.

Just look at the past two games... a 35-27 loss against San Diego. If I remember correctly, it wasn't Jake Plummer who allowed Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson to run rampant down the field in the second half. Then at Arrowhead (ALWAYS a tough game), the Broncos lose 19-10. I watched that game as well, and it seemed to me that Jake Plummer was under pressure... oh... maybe about 90% of the times he dropped back to pass. The Denver offensive line was like a sieve.

I will say this... Plummer has not been a great QB this year. His 11 interceptions have been a lousy performance. He hasn't been able to adapt to carry the offense on his shoulders to cover for the lack of a running attack. But moving to a rookie when you are still in the playoff hunt is not the answer.

To provide an opposing point of view is one Jeremy Green of Scouts, Inc. I am convinced that Jeremy wrote the following in about five minutes in between a Sunday of pinball and air hockey. One minute per reason...

1. Confidence boost: One of the big reasons that Broncos coach Mike Shanahan balked at making the change earlier in the season was because the team had not lost faith in Plummer. With so many people outside the organization pointing the finger at Plummer now, it is easy for the players to buy into that theory as well. The bottom line is players are losing faith in Plummer, and you can't have that when it comes to the starting QB.

So let's see if I can get this straight. Pro football players are so stupid that they take their keys on who to respect from local beat writers or certain moronic ESPN analysts? Wouldn't these football players have a little less confidence in... I don't know... A FREAKING ROOKIE!!! Maybe that's why Mike Shanahan had balked at making the change earlier?

2. Spark the offense: Plummer's numbers weren't terrible. However, the offense looked flat and lifeless, and Cutler should be able to give them a spark.

Oh please. This is what passes for "Scouts, Inc" analysis? A five year old could have written it (and possibly did, if the grammar is any indication). What exactly constitutes a "spark" there, Mr. Green? When you were doing your fifteen years of scouting excellence for the Browns (nice work there, by the way), did you chart "sparky" players? Is it an aura of Ecksteinian proportions?

3. Open up the playbook: While one train of thought might be that Denver will be more limited offensively with Cutler, I see it a little differently. The bootlegs and waggles Denver likes to use with Plummer are far too predictable. In talking with people in their organization, Shanahan feels like Cutler gives Denver a chance to use more of the offense because of his ability to throw on the move and from the pocket.

I had to read this twice just to make sure he actually made this claim. Unfortunately, I was right. Jeremy Green actually believes that bringing in the first year quarterback will allow the Denver Broncos to "open up the playbook". I cannot believe I even have to debate this. "One train of thought" indeed. Anyone who actually believes that Cutler's playbook will be larger than Plummer's, the guy who had been in Denver for YEARS, who had taken them to the AFC Championship game in freaking January... I can't even come up with a decent insult. It's just so awful. Green needs to be kicked in the groin for even thinking anything like that, much less foisting it on us.

4. Cutler will open up the run game: He will give Denver's offense more of a vertical threat. With Plummer, the offensive became very conservative. Cutler's ability to stretch the field with the deep ball will eventually lead to Denver running the ball better because teams won't be able to put eight defenders in the box.

Riiiight. Because we all know that rookie quarterbacks open up the run game. Also, I have Javon Walker on my fantasy team. The reason Javon Walker has been a great addition to my fantasy team is because he's been thrown the ball deep on many an occasion. The problem with having a vertical threat outside of Walker, regardless of who is throwing the ball, is that there isn't another receiver faster than my grandma. I love Rod Smith, but man, he's lost about ten steps this year, and there isn't another Denver receiver even worthy of discussion right now. Teams aren't afraid of these wide receivers and will stuff the run. Also, didn't Denver always pride itself on being able to run regardless of the opposing game plan? Hmmm? Until this year, maybe??

5. Defense will benefit, too: Coming into Week 12, Denver was tied for 23rd in first downs per game. Shanahan prides himself on having an efficient West Coast offense. When you play ball-control football, you must be able to move the chains. By moving the chains and becoming more efficient, the defense will get more time to rest.

What is it, Jeremy Green? Is Denver's offense going to be more vertical or more ball-control? These two descriptions are what I'd like to call "mutually exclusive". Also, this argument is very weak.

Look, the Broncos offense is sputtering because its offensive line is playing very poorly. As I wrote above, Plummer had to the count of two to get rid of the ball last Thursday before the Chiefs would pile drive him and his beard into the turf. It can generate absolutely no push for Mike Bell/Tatum Bell/Whatever Undrafted Free Agent Mike Shanahan (Boy Genius) Thinks He Can Turn Into Terrell Davis. This is not a great situation to bring in a rookie.

Before you say, "But Gavin, what about Leinart and Young? They've done alright."

For starters, they were not awesome their first few times out. They also had plenty of margin for error (i.e. their teams were already out of the playoffs). They also are amazing talents. While Cutler had scouts drooling at the combine, he definitely was not in the class of the above two.

Look, perhaps Jay Cutler proves me wrong (I doubt it). That doesn't let Shanahan off the hook here. When you are 7-4 and in the middle of the playoff hunt, you do not change quarterbacks. It is a ridiculous decision, utterly ridiculous.

And I thank him for it. Go Seahawks!

posted by Gavin @ 9:30 PM  0 comments

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