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"Mile-high renovations taking place in Denver"

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  • "Mile-high renovations taking place in Denver"

    Here's an article I came across on USA Today's website that is rather lengthy but a good read. I'll post the text here in parts but HERE is the link if you'd prefer to see it in its original form.

    Part I:
    Mile-high renovations taking place in Denver

    DENVER — Broncos Pro Bowl safety John Lynch surveys the post-win, pre-bye week landscape from the sanctuary of his corner locker. Everyone on coach Mike Shanahan's impressive 6-2 reclamation project has something to prove, from Lynch to the quarterback now known as "No-Mistake" Jake Plummer to the so-called "Browncos," the four defensive linemen imported from Cleveland.

    The scene is surprisingly subdued, lacking in the usual, chest-thumping bravado considering Denver's 49-21, Oct. 30 throttling of the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.

    There is good reason. Moments earlier, 53 players and 21 coaches had come together in a circle to honor their seriously injured teammate, offensive tackle Dwayne Carswell. They dedicated their biggest win and the rest of their season to the big lineman they call "House." Carswell suffered massive internal injuries when he was involved in a five-car collision on his way to the team's complex three days earlier.

    "House on three: One, two, three, House!" the Broncos chanted moments before opening their locker room doors.

    These Broncos have a different feel than the one-and-done playoff pretenders they have been since quarterback John Elway called it a Hall of Fame career following the 1998 season and back-to-back Super Bowl victories.

    "We started the game as a team, we came together and said, 'Let's win this one for House,' " Lynch says. "When you get the news that your buddy's life is on the line, it wakes everybody up. Fortunately, he's doing real well. You hate for something like that to happen because we were a very tight group before. But Dwayne's accident just brought us even closer.

    "I love the way this team is set up."

    What began with a gut-wrenching, last-second, 24-23 loss to the Eli Manning-led Giants ended with the Broncos rallying around a fallen teammate. Their thrashing of Philadelphia showed they are a Super Bowl contender — talented, balanced and suffused by a most essential intangible.

    "We bought a lot of guys in who want to prove themselves," four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Trevor Pryce says.

    Lynch, a catalyst on Tampa Bay's Super Bowl XXXVII-winning defense, was cast aside because of age and injury concerns. The 13-year veteran remains a passionate playmaker and leader.

    "We're a better team than we've been in the past," Lynch says. "Sometimes losses like the one to the Giants can be devastating and it's really important that you answer that call.

    "We're off to a good start. But the important thing in this league is finishing. The great teams, in particular the Super Bowl-winning team I played on in Tampa, you continue to get better as the season goes.

    "It's tough to do in this league. It's hard because guys get hurt and technique goes by the wayside."

    Before the Eagles' game, the Broncos struggled to close the door in taut wins against the Patriots and Redskins. And that came back to bite them when they frittered away a 13-point lead in their late collapse against the Giants on Manning's 2-yard touchdown throw to wide receiver Amani Toomer.

    Against the Eagles, they started to finish. They closed out a much-needed win after a 28-0 lead melted to 28-21 in the third quarter.

    These Broncos are adamant that they aren't the S.O.B.'s — the same old Broncos — who hit a low after fast starts the last two seasons.

    "We're more in tune with what's going on now," Pryce says. "We're not going to be satisfied because so many people warn us and talk to us about it, we're not going to be satisfied not finishing the rest of the season."
    "You can't take the sky from me..."
    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding"

  • #2
    Part II:
    Shanahan found Rocky Mountain gold in other teams' castoffs. The Broncos coach took a defensive front four from a Cleveland yard sale and a mistake-prone, free-agent quarterback from Arizona, coached them up and gave them a shot at redemption.

    The more you look around Shanahan's restoration workshop, the more it's clear that everyone here is seeking validation — even the coach himself, who hasn't won a playoff game since Elway retired and running back Terrell Davis suffered a career-ending knee injury in 1999.

    The Broncos have gone 10-6 each of the past two seasons, only to get picked apart by the Peyton Manning-led Colts in back-to-back playoff losses.

    So they traded for defensive tackles Gerard Warren and Michael Myers and end Ebenezer Ekuban, the last two in exchange for running back Reuben Droughns. In addition, they signed end Courtney Brown as a free agent.

    "I always look at what wins Super Bowls, not what gets you to the playoffs or may win you a division title," Shanahan says. "What gives you a chance to win the ultimate prize, that starts with rushing defense and rushing offense."

    If not for Pryce's cranky back, this conversation might not even be happening. Pryce had surgery Sept. 22, 2004 to repair a herniated disc in his lower back, causing him to miss 14 games last season.

    In effect, Shanahan signed four new defensive linemen as insurance for Pryce and for less than the price it would have cost to keep free-agent defensive end Reggie Hayward, who signed a $25 million deal with Jacksonville.

    "God works in mysterious ways," linebacker Al Wilson says. "Those four guys fit in well and their personalities fit well. I think they brought Trevor back to life as far as giving him back his hunger to play football again.

    "Those four guys can play and now Trevor knows he has guys he count on up front."

    It also helped that first-year Browns coach Romeo Crennel was converting to a 3-4 scheme.

    "We had thought about pursuing the four guys because we knew with Trevor going down that we had to add depth for the defensive line," Shanahan says. "We were fortunate that somebody was coming in to the Browns with a 3-4 mentality. So all of a sudden their line guys became expendable because the philosophy is different. It was a slam dunk from day one."

    Brown, Ekuban and Warren are former first-round picks who were disappointing due to injury or performance. But aside from Giants GM Ernie Accorsi, who has had a better offseason of personnel acquisition, not withstanding the drafting of Maurice Clarett?

    Sometimes a change of scenery changes everything.

    "It's beautiful surroundings here, beautiful mountains, but inside this building is the biggest difference of all for us," Warren says. "Being on this team with my new teammates, coming here was the perfect scenario."
    "You can't take the sky from me..."
    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding"


    • #3
      Part III:
      So how do you rehabilitate a Snake?

      You surround him with enough playmakers so Jake "The Snake" Plummer doesn't feel the pressure he did in Arizona to make it happen by himself. Plummer threw 24 more interceptions (114) compared to 90 touchdowns during six seasons in Arizona.

      Under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, "The Snake" has shed his once-venomous skin.

      The Eagles' game was his biggest test. Against Jim Johnson's aggressive blitzes and a secondary with three Pro Bowl starters, Plummer showed excellent touch and decision making. He threw for 309 yards with four touchdowns. Most impressive of all, he threw the ball out of bounds when his receivers were covered.

      With his long, shaggy brown hair and beard, Plummer is reminiscent of a young Paul McCartney circa the Let It Be days, breaking away from his past and writing a new song.

      Plummer has thrown 12 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. He's completing 59.5% of his passes with a passer rating of 91.3. His last interception was 171 attempts ago in the third quarter of a Sept. 18 win against San Diego. More, Plummer is 25-10 as a starter in his third season in Denver.

      "You see that swagger in him in the beard and that '70s haircut," Pryce says. "I don't know what he's doing. But keep it up, dude. Don't cut your hair.

      "Jake is playing as good a football as he's ever played, as good as I've seen around here in a long time. He's just so confident."

      It helps to have dynamic, inside-outside running back duo Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell. Each is on pace to surpass 1,000 yards rushing. Denver rolled up 564 yards against Philadelphia, second-most in Broncos history.

      "I'm trying to lead the best I can," Plummer says. "With my guys up front and the things they are doing in the running game, there's not many quarterbacks that wouldn't be on a roll in this system."

      Kubiak, Elway's backup for nine seasons, has done a phenomenal job of exorcising the bad Jake.

      "Basically, what Mike said to me after last season was, 'We need to go back and re-teach all the fundamentals,' " Kubiak says. "So during the offseason we just started from scratch. Instead of adding more stuff in Jake's third year, we went back to when he got here and put a big-time emphasis on how he could protect the ball and manage the game better."

      Plummer has embraced the place that spit out Brian Griese. He is even dating a Broncos cheerleader. Playing in the shadow of Elway and the Rockies has fit this free spirit from Idaho.

      "I don't think John's shadow ever leaves Denver," says Kubiak, Elway's roommate for nine seasons. "He is the Denver Broncos. I was here with John and he made this organization and gave it the reputation it has because of what he did for so long.

      "The thing that made John play for 16 years is when he stepped between the white lines, he had a blast. That's what Jake does. He's a big kid at heart who loves to play football."

      Shanahan and Kubiak designed a lot of bootlegs that maximize Plummer's athleticism and allow him to make more half-field reads. He's playing poised, confident, winning football.

      "They know I like to roll out and boot out and that's big part of our game plan," Plummer says. "But we really honed in on plays that we weren't successful on last year, tweaking those. We do a lot of good stuff, moving me around, using play action.

      "We're taking shots. I'm trying to be smart with the ball."
      "You can't take the sky from me..."
      "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding"


      • #4
        Part IV:
        Defensive coordinator Larry Coyer is the definition of a football lifer, a college/NFL assistant for 41 years, including the past three seasons as Shanahan's defensive coordinator.

        With his shock of white hair and salty talk, Coyer reminds one of Jack Palance's character, Curly, the trail boss in the film City Slickers.

        Coyer blitzed all-out from the start against the Eagles, giving Donovan McNabb cracked ribs to go with his sports hernia and chest bruise. McNabb was harassed into starting 0-for-12 passing.

        "Teams that win finish the deal," Coyer says. "There's no magic to it. Somebody has to make a play."

        Somebody finally did. Rookie cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who replaced Champ Bailey after Bailey aggravated a strained left hamstring, made a diving, game-changing interception in the fourth quarter.

        "Larry told us we were going to blitz his ass, so that's what we did," Pryce says. "We blitzed his ass."

        Their second-ranked run game is averaging 188 yards rushing since Week 2. It's helped keep fresh a sixth-ranked run defense that is allowing just 89 yards per game. They have terrific leaders in Lynch, Pryce, Wilson, Bailey, wide receiver Rod Smith and center Tom Nalen.

        It is their family history of late collapses they are determined to change by finishing strong during the second-half stretch run.

        Even at 6-2, these Broncos remain a team with everything to prove. That deep thirst for championship redemption might be the best thing of all about Shanahan's reclamation project.

        "I think we're a better team," Lynch says. "Now we have to go show it to everyone and to ourselves."
        "You can't take the sky from me..."
        "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding"


        • #5
          Great stuff Javalon!!

          At first, I thought you were talking about renovating Mile High!

          Glad I dont have to remind you of the obvious.......


          • #6

            Good stuff, bro


            • #7
              I'm glad you guys enjoyed it. I know not everybody on these forums has the attention span to digest all that.

              I think I'm off to bed now. 'Night!
              "You can't take the sky from me..."
              "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding"


              • #8
                Originally posted by Javalon
                I'm glad you guys enjoyed it. I know not everybody on these forums has the attention span to digest all that.

                I think I'm off to bed now. 'Night!
                Oh no! You gotta take a trip down to ABF before you head out tonight, Mr. Starter!


                • #9
                  These Broncos are adamant that they aren't the S.O.B.'s — the same old Broncos — who hit a low after fast starts the last two seasons.
                  thats classic...but this years a different team

                  Mile High Manning Fivehead Bandwagon #98


                  • #10
                    I appreciated the article.

                    I love to read so you brought me something lengthy.
                    Emancipate your mind!
                    The People's Poster


                    • #11
                      Wow....Awesome article...I really enjoy reading about the Broncos in the national media these days!


                      • #12
                        Great read, thanks Jav!


                        • #13
                          Good find, Jav
                          The Whiskyteers ~ One for all, and all for MORE!!!!

                          Broncomania Best Foreign Poster
                          BFC.........D Will #27.............D Nash #29
                          You'll Never Walk Alone

                          Spiffing sig, MasterShake :cheers:

                          You know, in certain older civilized cultures, when men failed as entirely as you have, they would throw themselves on their swords ~ The Operative, Serenity

                          Maybe Slowick should pay attention


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Javalon
                            I know not everybody on these forums has the attention span to digest all that.

                            You're right, and that's why I'm glad you broke it up for us.

                            They're your teammates, now.
                            Best of luck, TT!
                            ...Always a class act - in any uniform.

                            sbutk: i can see why Denver is taking TO's right now [trailing by 7, with 30 seconds left in the half]. but why Oakland???

                            Captain Lori: You are trying to figure out the Raiders. Try figuring out women instead; it's probably much easier.


                            • #15
                              "Larry told us we were going to blitz his ass, so that's what we did," Pryce says. "We blitzed his ass."

                              lol. Nice find Jav.

                              Sorry, you can not add yourself to your own ignore list.