In The Matter Of DeMarcus Ware v. Elvis Dumervil

If you take a look at the sack list this morning, you’ll be quite happy with who is up at the top. Unless Michael Bennett has a monster game tonight, DeMarcus Ware will likely hold the sack title for a full week.  It’s evident that the Broncos and their fans are quite happy to have him in Denver right now.

But there has been a line of thought that suggests that, instead of sinking $10 million per year on a 32-34 year old Ware, the Broncos would have been better off if their misadventures between Elvis Dumervil and a fax machine never happened, as they could have had a pass rusher that was two years younger for somewhere around half the APY.

This morning, a recent quick take by Pro Football Focus contained an excellent point that compelled me to take a further look at this comparison.

Continue reading In The Matter Of DeMarcus Ware v. Elvis Dumervil

Gut Reaction: Broncos 4-0 And We Are Loving It

So the Broncos are 4-0 to start the season.

Sure, we can point out the deficiencies in each game. We know the offense has been merely adequate, that Peyton Manning is living life too dangerously and it’s costing him plenty of times (as was the case today on those two interceptions), and that it would be nice to see the Broncos regularly churn out rushing yards throughout the game.

And we could point out that Josh McDaniels did the same thing in his first season in Denver — heck, he went 6-0 — then things unraveled. And the Broncos schedule won’t get easier.

But this team looks different from that McDaniels team. This year’s defense is vastly better. Peyton may not be what he was in his prime, but he’s smart enough to know he can’t rest on his laurels. And the offensive line is getting better, rather than regressing like it did under McD.

Yes, I think this team has a much better chance of following up a 6-0 start with a good finish, even if it’s not 10-0. It doesn’t need to be, though. All it needs to be is enough games to win the division, maybe get a first-round bye, and then turn them loose in the postseason.
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Andrew Luck: Will He Start Sunday?

Barry Petchesky of Deadspin has several observations about Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck, whose status for Sunday remains uncertain. The image of Luck wincing when backup QB Matt Hasselbeck taps him on the chest is telling. So is the Colts’ recent move to sign QB Josh Johnson.

If Luck can’t go Sunday, the 40-year-old Hasselbeck will start behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Yes, the Broncos have their O-line issues, but they look trivial compared to the Colts, who have addressed their offensive line under Ryan Grigson thusly:
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Sambrailo Out, Harris To LT, Schofield To Start

We shall see how the offensive line holds up. If there is any bright side, it’s that the Broncos aren’t giving up on Schofield yet. But Sunday’s game will certainly be where we’ll find out if he’s up to the task.

FB James Casey and LB Todd David are questionable for Sunday’s game. Meanwhile, Evan Mathis practiced Friday and he and Louis Vasquez are on track to start.

Adrian Peterson Should Have Had The Chance To Enter The NFL Earlier

In anticipation for this weekend’s matchup with the Vikings, it’s another opportunity to thank Al Davis for ensuring that the Broncos have only had to face Adrian Peterson once every four years. (Last week, we could say the same for Calvin Johnson!)  There’s little doubt that he is a rare physical talent that doesn’t come around very often.  If you watched any of Peterson’s play at Oklahoma, or even his high school highlights, you would have known that he had special talent.

If you’ve watched any LSU football this year, you’ll also know that their star running back Leonard Fournette is the early Heisman candidate, and he is receiving praise from experts as respected as Gil Brandt on the levels of Peterson.  This, naturally, has raised the question of whether players like Peterson or Fournette could play in the NFL at a younger age.  Peterson, for his part, said with an aura of confidence that he could have.

While Peterson may have been right or wrong, he should have still had the chance to enter the NFL early if he so desired.  And so should Fournette or anyone else.

Continue reading Adrian Peterson Should Have Had The Chance To Enter The NFL Earlier

Barnwell: Worst Plays In NFL History

Bill Barnwell had a fun column about the worst plays in NFL history, spurred by a Twitter question he posted yesterday.

Those of you who know your football history should nod your heads about the play he ranked number one. But this one is probably most fun for Broncos fans to talk about.

Or there was that time Philip Rivers was kneeling to set up what would have been a game-winning field goal against the Chiefs on Monday Night Football in 2011 and fumbled the snap away. That was the year Tim Tebow’s Broncos won the division on a tiebreaker at 8-8, so it’s fair to say this was probably the power of Tebow striking when we all least expected:

OK, so it helped fuel Tebowmania, but of course we have to joke about Phillip Rivers, right?

Drew Magary Describes Daily Fantasy Football

A couple weeks ago, Nick talked about the NFL’s inconsistency when it comes to frowning upon sports gambling while allowing daily fantasy football ads to dominate NFL programming.

Now along comes Drew Magary, who talks about his experience playing one of the daily fantasy sites. Drew brings up criticisms similar to Nick’s.

The NFL’s massive popularity long been tied to gambling, in the form of straight-up wagers and season-long fantasy football. And the League has done a masterful job of keeping their ties to gambling at arm’s length by avoiding the mention of betting lines and positing regular fantasy football as a fun activity that requires no wagering of any kind—the thrill of trading and drafting and being a virtual GM for the length of a season. But there’s no disguising what daily fantasy really is, and if more fans make the transition from standard leagues to the fantasy casinos, it’s gonna make the coverage a lot more awkward. In fact, it already has. It’s really fucking awkward, because all of the NFL’s media people are now bought and paid for, and they now spend the bulk of their time on the air trying to sell you on a game that is fast, engaging, and set up to rob you blind.

As Nick said, there’s nothing wrong with FanDuel or DraftKings operating the way they wish. Drew even brings up other online gambling sites that have since been banned and indicates he has no problem with it. And I’ve engaged in gambling before, so it’s not something I think should be outlawed — in fact, I think some states are too restrictive with their laws regarding gambling.

But it’s the NFL’s inconsistency with its message about sports gambling that is troubling, especially with some NFL pundits having to tout the daily fantasy sites in certain segments — even if those segments are about fantasy sports.

ADDENDUM (Nick): Scott Van Pelt recently issued a monologue on this subject, and it’s so excellent and succinct that it deserves a mention in the main post.