View Full Version : Jake Plummer ESPN Magazine Article

01-09-2006, 06:16 PM



Look at that mustache. Jake Plummer is the only one of the league's white, terminally unhip quarterbacks who can pull it off. Brady? No way. He gets enough flak for having his hair professionally highlighted and for toting a man purse. Peyton? Cross him off, too. He'd look like a D-list *****-tonker who missed the bus to Nashville by 12 years. Brees? Combined with his birthmark ... well, let's just say that God didn't picture him with a mustache.

Plummer is the only one who could unapologetically show up to training camp looking like a porn star, sporting a mossy brown strip on an otherwise laminate-smooth face. Although his mustache has now blended into a full beard, it's still all anyone wants to talk about. Fathers approach him and say, “No way I'd let my son
grow something like that.”

“You want to mess with our win streak?” Plummer usually asks, whether the Broncos are in the middle of one or not. He just wants a polite and easy way to dance away from criticism, a move Plummer has perfected. Ask him about this season, the best of his nine-year career, and he says “we” and “my teammates” so often, you'd think any Joe with funky facial hair could QB the Broncos to a first-round playoff bye. Plummer explains himself and his 90.2 passer rating as simply and unscientifically as possible. His mustache? A good-luck charm. His numbers? Great teammates.

Nice try. The reality is that Plummer's 74.4 winning percentage the past three yearsbehind only Brady and Manning-isn't an accident. And Mike Shanahan and his offensive
coordinator Gary Kubiak don't simply manage Plummer as if he were a rock about to smash Denver's delicate offense to pieces. Plummer has become-dare we say it?-a tactician who could efficiently dink and dunk his way through a minefield. But he won't indulge himself. The 31-year-old simply shrugs and says, “I'm an older guy now. You've got to learn the game sometime.”

During his six seasons as a Cardinal, when the ASU alum was supposed to be the hometown savior, he compiled a 30±52 record, a 69.0 passer rating and threw more touchdowns than interceptions in a season just once. Although his rating during three seasons in Denver is 88.1, almost 10 points higher than John Elway's career figure, the credit seems to go to Shanahan and Kubiak. They've kept Jake the Mistake in safe,
controlled situations, goes the theory. Even if Plummer doesn’t believe it, it’s a theory he knows better than to challenge. “I could say I’ve made better decisions and haven’t forced the ball,” he says. “And then I might go force two balls for interceptions. Then what have I done?” Fulfilled everyone’s expectations of him, that’s what.

Instead, he has continued to defy them this season. Plummer has thrown just seven picks (down from 20 last year), and two were in the Broncos’ season-opening loss to Miami. It’s easy

to fixate on those two numbers-20 and sevenand assume Plummer made monumental changes to his game. You’d be wrong. Last year, seven of those picks were tipped passes or Hail Marys that landed in enemy hands. That’s why Kubiak says what he’s most proud of isn’t Plummer’s decisionmaking, which has improved only incrementally. Instead, says Kubiak, “I’m proud of Jake’s persistence.”

Last off-season, Shanahan analyzed all of Plummer’s 521 passes in 2004 and liked enough of what he saw to pay Plummer a $6 million bonus. Then he told his QB, “Let’s start over.” It was like relearning how to say hola after two years of advanced Spanish. Basic protections, basic routes, basic audibles were reexamined. On the practice field, when Plummer dropped back, Kubiak would yell over and
over, “Let your feet read for you!” He wanted Plummer’s little hops and bounces to be more than
nervous tics in the pocket; he wanted them going in the direction of his progressions, serving as a compass for his reads. Says backup quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt, “He’s improved in ways casual fans wouldn’t even notice.”

For those who say Plummer has become nothing more than a droid, programmed to execute whatever play Shanahan tells him, watch a replay of the QB against the Raiders

on Dec. 24. The Broncos had third and 15 in the third quarter on their own 43. Shanahan called for Ashley Lelie to run a crossing route at five yards. But all game Plummer had noticed Oakland safety Stu Schweigert cheating in the Raiders’ three-deep zone, moving from the
deep middle up to where a linebacker would roam. As the huddle broke, Plummer told Lelie, “Slow your route” so the receiver wouldn’t run right into Schweigert’s zone. Lelie did just that, and Plummer found him for a short pass that he turned into a 22-yard gain.

For those who say Plummer only runs bootlegs and connects on short passes, watch him in the second quarter against the Patriots on Oct. 16. Facing second and five from the Broncos’ 23, Plummer rolled right, stopped, dropped back three steps-a new wrinkle in Denver’s rollout playsand led Rod Smith perfectly 50 yards downfield, setting up a 72-yard gain that ended at the Pats’
5. Two plays later, the Broncos scored the first of 28 straight points.

And for those who say Plummer is too loose and goofy to be considered a team leader, watch him unload on David Terrell for running a hitch at five yards instead of six-during a practice. “I thought he was a laid-back guy,” Terrell says. “I was shocked at his intensity.”

Missed those plays? Too bad. Plummer won’t credit himself, only his teammates and coaches. Ask him about his 229 passes without an interception, the eighth-longest streak in NFL history, and

Plummer says, “Guys were dropping picks right in their hands. You need luck sometimes.”

Plummer was due for luck in the same way a 40-year-old virgin is due for an invite upstairs. He has probably-no, undoubtedly-heard more boos than any other active player. One heckler got to him last year and he flipped the guy the bird, which earned him a $5,000 fine and piles of mail, including various pictures of people’s middle fingers. “I’ve tried to have fun with it,” Plummer says. “At events I’ll write Birdman on my name tag.”

That’s why he loves his mustache so much. Leaving his razor undulled is his way of flipping off everyone who suggests the fringe should go. Says Van Pelt, “It’s how he says, ‘Until you get it out of your head that I’m not a cookie-cutter quarterback, I’m going to be myself. I may not be the best in the league, I may not be a Super Bowl MVP, but I’ve played quarterback awhile and I know what I’m doing.’”

Plummer wouldn’t have said it better himself.

01-09-2006, 06:18 PM
Read it myself the other day, it's the best Plummer article I've seen as of yet.

01-09-2006, 06:40 PM
Great article...Plummer is kind of us Colorado folk: Screw conformity

01-09-2006, 06:56 PM
I especially like the way that he deflects credit from himself, has a humility about him. About how it is more the TEAM's fault re: our record, his success, etc. In some ways, alot like Rod Smith... Doesn't take anything for granted (probably from his years in Phx), has a leader's approach to this game. Recognizes that he's NOT the best, but plays to BE his best, and as 13 opponents have seen THIS year, his team can BEAT you.

This was a good article, a lot of insight. Thanks for putting it on.

I don't know if we're gonna win this week, but I really like our chances. Just keep our trend against the Patsies going (where we win alot), especially when we get to use our starting QB.

The Dark Knight
01-09-2006, 07:17 PM
This is one of the reasons I've liked Plummer since Arizona St.

He is his own man.

01-09-2006, 07:42 PM
Plummer is one of the best team players I've seen in ages. He takes none of the credit for success upon himself, instead letting everyone know the reasons are due to the play of his teammates. Class act!

01-09-2006, 08:00 PM
Plummer is one of the best team players I've seen in ages. He takes none of the credit for success upon himself, instead letting everyone know the reasons are due to the play of his teammates. Class act!

Your absolutely right. He doesn't even care if coaches talk about his need to cut down on mistakes and sitting him down to look at every pass from last season. I have not seen a player scrutinized or talked about more than Jake in a long time. I think he has handled himself with class and has done his thing well.

01-09-2006, 09:00 PM
Great read and thanks!

01-09-2006, 09:59 PM
Your absolutely right. He doesn't even care if coaches talk about his need to cut down on mistakes and sitting him down to look at every pass from last season. I have not seen a player scrutinized or talked about more than Jake in a long time. I think he has handled himself with class and has done his thing well.
If Bellychuck tried that with Brady, he'd yell at him "why you disrespecting me!!!?"

01-10-2006, 02:56 AM
Great article and thanks for posting. I was glad to see I was not the only one who saw at least 7 of those int's last season were tipped balls. I thought he had a great year last season 27td's, 13int's in my book, and over 4k in passing yards right? Tied and broke some of our Legends (J.Elway) records.

I also would like to say I for one laughed my butt off when Jake flipped the bird last year. Good for him!

Please help spread the word to wear orange this Sat. I want to see a sea of orange to show the Pats where they are and how much support we have for the 2005 Divisonal Champion Denver Broncos, link below is to local news org's, please write in to get coverage of this challenge to all Broncomaniacs!


01-10-2006, 03:06 AM
Finaly some good ink on Denver

01-10-2006, 10:58 AM
Here's hoping that Jake will beat Brady come Saturday!

01-10-2006, 11:18 AM
I think that Jake's team player attitude and humility are a part of why there's still a lot of people that think he'll never change... because he's not going to be flapping his lips for his own credit. :coffee:

01-10-2006, 06:47 PM
Even if he NEVER gets credit for the improvements, I hope he keeps the humility thing going... Usually, history will come around to seeing stuff like this for what it is, and a greater measure of respect for his approach to it all. Not trying to do a TO thread here, but I think Owens has gotten all of the glory he's ever going to get (as well as repetitive motion injury for patting himself on the back so much). Yes, he's a great athlete, tremendous talent, but way too many carcinogens to suit my taste.
Plummer is not the exact opposite, but I like a player who isn't all about the ME! He just seems like a pretty well-grounded guy.
Besides, how could he be a Saint if he wasn't humble???