There was a time when having a great middle linebacker was absolutely essential in order to build a dominant defense. In their primes, Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher captained units that more than compensated for below-average quarterback play on the other side of the ball, ensuring that the Ravens and Bears were nearly annual contenders, even reaching the Super Bowl with guys like Trent Dilfer and Rex Grossman under center. Then there was Al Wilson, who was one of the toughest players I’ve ever seen and one of my all-time favorite Broncos. He was the heart and soul of the Denver defense for about five years, and when Wilson was forced to retire that defense lost its backbone, needing another five years to recover. But the game has changed. If you can’t find a better quarterback than Grossman or Dilfer, you will most likely find yourself with a top five pick in the draft the following year. Pro offenses are tailor-made these days to capitalize on all of the great qb’s and receivers, and as a result teams have also been forced to adapt on the defensive side of the ball. The middle linebacker isn’t nearly as important as it used to be because they are simply not on the field as much any more.
Robert Ayers was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL at number 18 by the Denver Broncos. Not only does he have the pressure of being a first round pick, he also has the pressure of being one of the first round picks we received for Jay Cutler.
I have the unique distinction of correctly identifying the past two running backs that the Denver Broncos drafted before they were drafted. Go ahead, start calling me Mel Kiper the Third.
Everyone remembers the play. It’s 3rd and 3 with 42 seconds to play and Joe Flacco takes the snap out of the shotgun in an empty backfield. Robert Ayers doesn’t beat his man with a bull rush, so he spins to his left in an attempt to shed the block but instead leaves plenty of room for Flacco to step up in the pocket. Scanning the coverage, Flacco spots Jacoby Jones streaking down the field, past Tony Carter who failed to jam Jones at the sideline, and then heaves it. Rahim Moore takes a horrible angle in coverage and allows Jones to get behind him, then mistimes his jump (if you can call it that) and the bail sails over his head. You know the rest.
The concept that serves as the basis for “The Newsroom” often plays out so much like a parody that I sometimes forget that I’m watching HBO and not a skit on Comedy Central. Atlantic Cable News, a broadcast team led by narcissistic anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and quirky executive producer MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer), is determined to fight the good fight by concentrating their focus on stories that are strictly newsworthy while ignoring the more glamorous headlines and avoiding any party affiliation whatsoever. Their goal is to get their facts right every time and report on what they know regardless of whether or not that puts them at odds with other networks. Obviously, this noble strategy is bound to insult the party-biased sponsors who have lent their support to ACN, which in turn puts an enormous amount of pressure on the show’s owners to straighten out McAvoy and get him back to being an entertainer rather than a judge. Oh, and he and McHale have a romantic past and spend a lot of time dancing around their true feelings with veiled insults and frantic conversations.
Unless you are an absolute baseball fanatic, this time of the year in the wide world of sports is tough to stomach. No basketball, no hockey, and a painstakingly long wait for football season. Sure, technically it’s not that far off, but it feels like we’re all doing 30 years in Shawshank with Red and Andy Dufresne. Don’t worry if you find yourself watching hours upon hours of Nathan MacKinnon highlights on YouTube or if you are overreacting to every little bit of Broncos news you can get your hands on. Believe me, we are right there with you, but don’t despair friends: Pegboard has got you covered. For the next four weeks, Kevin and I are excited to present to you our first annual Training Camp Primer, where we will analyze eight Broncos who have a great deal on the line for the 2013 campaign.
The Denver Nuggets hired George Karl to be their head coach when I was 15 years old. Brought in midseason to replace the struggling Jeff Bzdelik, Karl led his new team to an astounding 32-8 record the rest of the way and got them back to the playoffs, where the Nuggets were then eliminated in the first round. At the time, all of us were ecstatic that our Nuggets even made it that far and we were convinced that brighter days were ahead. Little did we know that this was the beginning of a pattern that would become all too familiar to Denver fans: excellence and excitement in the regular season, mediocrity and frustration in the postseason.