Monday, September 4, 2017

My 2017 Broncos Prediction

As a long time Bronco fan I'm not too optimistic about the upcoming season.  Here are my annual predictions:


Sep. 11    Chargers    Los Angeles Chargers  
LOSS - Chargers are better than a lot of people think.  They have a good young defense, a veteran quarterback in Philip Rivers, and a good group of receivers.  Keenan Allen has burned the Broncos before and he's healthy now heading into week 1.  I think the Broncos will take a few games to adjust to a new offensive system.
Sep. 17    Cowboys    Dallas Cowboys
WIN - I'm assuming Ezekial Elliott will miss this game (suspended).  The Broncos defense wins this one as 2nd year Cowboy QB Dak Prescott struggles against the No Fly Zone
Sep. 24    Bills    at Buffalo Bills
WIN Bills are terrible this year
Oct. 1    Raiders    Oakland Raiders 
WIN The offense starts to get it in gear with a win over the arch rival Raiders
Oct. 15    Giants    New York Giants 
WIN Now we are rolling!  The Broncos build on their early season momentum to go to 4-1.
Oct. 22    Chargers    at Los Angeles Chargers
LOSS See game 1 - Chargers are better this year
Oct. 30    Chiefs    at Kansas City Chiefs
LOSS Chiefs are my pick to win the divison
Nov. 5    Eagles    at Philadelphia Eagles 
LOSS It seems every year the Broncos lose to a mediocre team on the road.  This year it's in Philly.
Nov. 12    Patriots    New England Patriots 
LOSS Patriots just too good this year to overcome their traditional struggles in the Mile Hi City
Nov. 19    Bengals    Cincinnati Bengals
WIN Broncos get back on track with a quality win over the Bengals
Nov. 26    Raiders    at Oakland Raiders
LOSS The Raiders outscore the Broncos
Dec. 3    Dolphins    at Miami Dolphins
LOSS The Broncos wish they had hired Miami coach Adam Gase when they had the chance.
Dec. 10    Jets    New York Jets
WIN Jets are even worse than the Bills this year
Dec. 14    Colts    at Indianapolis Colts 
LOSS Indy has not been kind to the Broncos in recent years
Dec. 24    Redskins    at Washington Redskins
LOSS The season downturn continues with another road loss
Dec. 31    Chiefs    Kansas City Chiefs
WIN Like last year's finale against Oakland, the Broncos win the last game of the year at home with the Chiefs resting some of their regulars for the playoffs.
 
OVERALL RECORD: 7 wins 9 losses
 
This year will be similar to Josh McDaniel's first year, where the team got off to a surprising 6-0 start under a new coach before fading in the second half of the season (finishing 8-8 that year). I think Vance Joseph will be a better coach than McDaniels but this team will continue to struggle offensively.  The defense will be solid.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Rod Smith at the Denver Broncos Quarterback Club


Denver Broncos Ring of Famer Rod Smith entertained a Broncos QB Club crowd Thursday night with stories of his playing days and from his new book "The Rod Effect".  A summary of some of the comments Rod made this night:

"John Elway told me I have two of John's best five plays of John's career," Rod said.  Number one was the first catch of Rod's career, as described on denverbroncos.com:

"In Week 3 of the 1995 season, Denver and Washington were tied at 31 points apiece. With six seconds left in the game, the Broncos offense faced a fourth-and-10 at the Redskins 43-yard line. Quarterback John Elway dropped back at the Washington 43-yard line and launched a deep pass toward Smith.  Smith leaped over future Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green to haul in the game-winning touchdown as time expired — the first catch of his career."

"I sucked on special teams that day," Rod said.  "We only had four wide receivers active, and the Redskins had a hard hitting safety that knocked out the other wide receivers we had.  So they had to play me."  The hardest part of that play, Rod relates, was dealing with his massive teammates jumping on him in the end zone celebration.

The other big play was Rod's 80 yard td catch in Super Bowl 33 vs the Atlanta Falcons.  "That play was not in the game plan," Rod relates, "we drew it up on the sidelines.  Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak saw a weakness in the Falcons coverage and we took advantage of it."

Who were the toughest defensive backs he played against?  "James Hasty, Dale Carter, and Charles Woodson," Rod replied.

Rod told us how special it was to play under owner Pat Bowlen.  "When I was a rookie I was told, 'Mr Bowlen wants to see you'  I thought, 'what did I do?'  But Pat was great - we talked for 45 minutes about life.  He really cared about the players.  The Bronco alumni are always welcome back - that's not true of how other teams treat their former players.  On the road every player had his own room (even for home games I had the same room the night before a game at the Inverness Hotel).  Other teams ask you to double up with a roommate.  Players have different sleeping habits.  The extra expense Pat took for private rooms really helped us get ready for game day."

Rod described his unusual pregame meal ritual.  "The team meal was at 10 am.  That's too early for me to eat!  4 hours before game time??  So I'd checkin for the team meal but not eat much, then I'd go to burger king and get a chicken sandwich and fries.  I'd eat 1/2 of the sandwich and fries before the game, and eat the rest at half time.  One time a rookie ate the second part of my meal before I got to it at half time.  I hazed him the rest of the year!"

On the current team Rod told us some tidbits John Elway shared with him. Sorry readers, Rod said that was confidential to our meeting (you'll have to attend our future meetings to get some real juicy broncos inside info!)  But Rod did say that John feels the team is much improved in the offensive line and that'll make a big difference.

Rod was very gracious in interacting with us at our meeting this day, staying for hours signing autographs and taking pictures with the long time fans of the Broncos QB Club.  We were also honored to have former Broncos placekicker David Treadwell give his opinions on the current team before Rod spoke.

You don't want to miss out on our future meetings!  The club now meets at the Blake Street Tavern near Coors Field.  As you can see from the picture below, we had a full house for David and Rod!  Visit us at denverbroncosqbclub.com for more info.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Denver Sports Memories: Billy Martin and the Denver Bears

 



Legendary New York Yankees manager Billy Martin got his first managing job in Denver - taking over for the Triple A Denver Bears midseason in 1968.  The Bears had a record of 7 wins, 22 losses when Martin took the helm, and under Martin’s fiery leadership the team had a complete turn around, winning 66 games and losing 50 in their remaining games. 

The success with the Bears led to Martin being promoted as manager to the American League Minnesota Twins the next season.  Martin would never manage in the minors again, serving as manager for the Twins, Tigers, Rangers, A's, and of course the Yankees over his career.

One of the stars of that Bears team, third baseman Graig Nettles, would later star for Martin’s New York Yankee teams.  Art Fowler was Martin's pitching coach for the Bears - Fowler also followed Martin to serve as pitching coach in New York.

And Denver came calling again to Billy Martin when the Colorado Rockies were awarded a National League franchise in 1993.  “The Colorado people were going to let Billy run the whole show," said Billy's wife Jill (1).   Had Martin accepted that offer, the Rockies of the 1990's would have looked very different I'm sure!

During that 1968 season the Denver Bears hosted a “kids day” at the stadium for area youth baseball teams.  I played second base for my team and I was in attendance that day.  Billy Martin was always very personable with the fans, and he was on this day, too, giving a small group of young second basemen (including me) personal attention in showing us the finer points of playing the infield. 

As a baseball fan all my life, I always remember the job Billy Martin did to turn around that 1968 Denver Bears team.  It impressed on me that a good manager in baseball can have a positive effect on a team more than a head coach in any other sport.  The Colorado Rockies of today are proof of that too, with new manager Bud Black leading the team to the best record in the National League as of May 27th.







(1) from the book Billy Martin: Baseball's Flawed Genius by Bill Pennington, page 475.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Denver Sports Memories: Broncos Defeat Hot Dogs??


Broncos defeat the Hot Dogs???  In a 1969 game against San Diego the Broncos were shutting out the Chargers when suddenly the score read “Denver 13 Hot Dogs 0”!  “Bush league!” were the cries from the San Diego team and fans - you don’t mess with the scoreboard in a pro football game!    I was sitting in the South Stands at the old Mile High Stadium for that game.  As we all laughed at the scoreboard we later found out it wasn’t the Broncos who changed the score - turns out a fan had snuck into the scoreboard and changed the lettering of “San Diego” to “Hot Dogs”. 

This game also had significance in that it was the first time the Broncos had shut out an opponent, as the final score did turn out to be Denver 13 San Diego (Hot Dogs) 0.

As we walked out of the stadium that day my friend who sat by me that day said, “They could have spelled something a lot worse than Hot Dogs!”


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Denver Sports Memories: Lou Saban's Broncos

The Denver Broncos were one of the worst teams in pro football under Lou Saban’s coaching in the late 1960’s/early 70’s - or were they?  Saban’s won/loss record was bad during his Broncos coaching tenure (20 wins, 42 losses, 3 ties over 4 1/2 seasons).  But during those years the Broncos beat the defending Super Bowl champions TWICE in early season home games.  In 1969 the Broncos upset the New York Jets 21-19, and the following year the Broncos defeated the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs 26-13.  As a young Bronco fan I was in attendance at both these games, and it gave Denver fans false hope that the Broncos would be contenders in those years.  While Denver went on to have losing records in 1969 and 1970, those games were the start of an impressive home field advantage for the Broncos.  In their history the Broncos have a remarkable winning record at their Mile High Stadium home, highlighted by 24 consecutive home wins from 1996-1998, and defeating Tom Brady's Patriots 3 times in playoff games at Mile High.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Denver Sports Memories: Spencer Haywood's Amazing Season


(this is the first in a series of posts about my Denver Sports Memories)

The pro basketball team in our town once had a player who averaged 30 points and 19.1 rebounds for the entire season! And that player changed the face of basketball forever.  Spencer Haywood put up those gaudy numbers for the American Basketball Association Rockets during his only season in Denver (1969-1970).

Back in the 1960’s the NBA had a rule that college players could not enter their league until the player completed his college eligibility.  Haywood was the first to break the mold - jumping from college to the ABA Rockets after his sophomore year.  After his one year in Denver Haywood challenged the NBA’s college eligibility rule, and was allowed to play for the Seattle Supersonics, opening the door for college players to leave their ncaa teams early.

Today “one and done” college players, entering the NBA after one year of ncaa baskerball, are common place (ask the University of Kentucky!)  But Haywood’s one year was the best I have ever seen by a pro basketball player in Denver - even better than later more well known Denver stars like David Thompson and Alex English.  I remember watching a Rockets game with a friend where Haywood hit a 15 foot turnaround jumper over a defender from an impossible angle.  “Whoa!!” my friend and I said as we looked in each other in amazement.

Monday, April 17, 2017