Broncos News Blogs - Thursday, Jan. 12

Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer gets some praise from an unexpected source in today's news reports. Also - coach Mike Shanahan has resurrected his "Mastermind" moniker.

Defense getting peak play - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
01/12/2006 - The defensive players - the Broncos' heroes the first three months of the season - slumped over their lockers, feeling more fatigued than they had all season, recovering from a hemorrhage the likes of which they never had suffered. They had just cost the Broncos a game. They had no excuses - just a pledge for the final, critical quarter of the season. "This wasn't acceptable," Denver safety John Lynch said, breaking the silence in the locker room at Arrowhead Stadium after a 31-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 4. "We have to tighten up. We have to."

Ferguson in Brady's fan club - Denver Post - Joseph Sanchez
01/12/2006 - In Nick Ferguson's daydreams, he doesn't fantasize about intercepting a Tom Brady pass when the Broncos play the New England Patriots on Saturday night. He's more likely to fantasize about being Tom Brady. Ferguson, who became the Broncos' starting strong safety this season after Kenoy Kennedy left through free agency, is probably as big a Brady fan as there is in Boston. "I think it's the fact that the guy's so confident," Ferguson said. "He's the guy that all the cheerleaders want to be with, he's one of those guys.

Dillon's game not on empty - Denver Post - Thomas George
01/12/2006 - Corey Dillon was easy to find in Cincinnati. He was equally witty and gloomy as a Bengal. There were harsh blows in his seven Bengals seasons. At the end, in 2003, Dillon turned glum. Dillon rushed for 1,000-plus yards six times as a Bengal, gained three 200-yard rushing games and set 18 franchise records. His teams were 34-78. With the Patriots, he is 28-8.

Denver's balance worries Belichick - Denver Post - Anthony Cotton
01/12/2006 - Foxborough, Mass. - Bill Belichick smiled Wednesday during his daily news conference. Twice. The first crevice in the New England coach's stony features came when he allowed how he "couldn't get through a day" without the give-and-take and witty banter with the media. The second came moments later, when he left the podium after ignoring a question about the future of defensive coordinator Eric Mangini. For the remainder of Belichick's torture session, the coach was a Gordian knot of scowls and frowns, the pessimistic demeanor brought about, he said, by the Broncos, the opponents for the two-time defending Super Bowl champions in Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game.

Plummer's big season earns Sharpe's kudos" - Denver Post - Mike Klis
01/12/2006 - When he played, Shannon Sharpe drew acclaim as arguably the greatest pass-catching tight end in NFL history. Since he retired, Sharpe became known around Denver as one of the more outspoken critics of Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer. Sharpe attended the Broncos' workout Wednesday not apologizing for what he said about Plummer's performance in the past, but not afraid to give the quarterback his due for the way he has played this season.

Goal is to control Broncos" - Denver Post - Anthony Cotton
01/12/2006 - Foxborough, Mass. - According to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, one of the offshoots of the Broncos' ability to effectively run the football is that it enables quarterback Jake Plummer to fake a handoff and get outside the pass rush. The extra time allows Plummer to hit wide-open receivers speeding past defenders who have reacted to the run. "That's really just as big of a problem as the stretch play because it's like running the reverse on every play," Belichick said. "You can flow with the stretch play, but if you flow too fast with the stretch play, you have problems with the bootleg."

Seeking higher ground - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
January 12, 2006 - Mike Anderson can describe his playoff experiences in five words, only it's the same one over and over. "Terrible," he said. "Terrible. Terrible. Terrible. Terrible." Actually, it has been more bad-to- worse than a steady stream of awful for the Denver Broncos running back. There was the game in Baltimore in December 2000, his rookie season, when the Ravens defense, one of the best in league history, played the part of a brick wall.

Broncos will face tight ends squeeze - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
January 12, 2006 - When New England Patriots tight end Ben Watson was busy bowling over some Jacksonville Jaguars defenders Saturday and running away from the rest for a 63-yard touchdown run, the Denver Broncos took notice. "They are skilled, skilled players at tight end," Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said. "They can hurt you. They're strong, and they can get away from you once they get the ball." When the Broncos quickly pursued linebacker Ian Gold during free agency last off-season, at least part of the reason was to help their defense limit some of the damage done by opposing tight ends.

Patriots linebackers a bit of this, all of that in Belichick's schemes - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
January 12, 2006 - They're here. Then they're there. Here. There. Everywhere. "Then the next thing you know, they're right in your face," Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said. "That's part of what they do." They are the interchangeable, mix-and-match, a-little-of-this, a-little-of-that linebackers the New England Patriots roll out against opposing offenses. Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinest, Rosevelt Colvin and, if all goes well this week, Tedy Bruschi. They are four players Patriots coach Bill Belichick will use any time, in almost any situation; four players he can move all over the formation and know they will keep mistakes to a minimum and their play at the max.

Broncos regain home edge - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
January 12, 2006 — The bathroom lines were much shorter, especially for females. The food and beverage options were greater. The parking lots were larger and more convenient. The grass even seemed greener. But the homefield advantage? Well, for the most part the atmosphere at Invesco Field was more artificial than electric when the new stadium opened for business in 2001. The Mile High Stadium magic was missing for the Broncos during costly losses in Denver to the Ravens, Redskins and Raiders. Even a bad Bears team was able to leave town victorious.

Watson makes mark for Pats - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
January 12, 2006 — Daniel Graham and Christian Fauria, two former Colorado standouts, were already on New England's roster when the Super Bowl champions decided to use a first-round draft pick on tight end Ben Watson in 2004. After the Patriots' 28-3 victory over Jacksonville last Saturday night, the rest of the nation got a chance to see why the team couldn't resist adding to a seemingly deep position on the roster. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady love to use tight ends, and Watson caught five passes for 91 yards, including a key 63-yard touchdown against the Jaguars.

New England's Fortified Compound - Denver - Andrew Mason
Thursday, January 12, 2006 - Some teams create a pocket around their quarterback. The New England Patriots, meanwhile, seem to construct a reinforced brick wall with a moat surrounding it. Celebrated in a credit-card commercial, revered in New England, needed by a quarterback who has remained upright and hasn't missed a start since taking over for an injured Drew Bledsoe early in the 2001 season. The Patriots' offensive line went from Week 8 of the 2004 season through the regular-season finale against Miami on Jan. 1 without allowing more than three sacks in a game. The fact that the Patriots have been forced to use eight different starters on the offensive line, including rookies Nick Kaczur and Logan Mankins. New England's other three offensive linemen who started last week (Ross Hochstein, Stephen Neal and Brandon Gorin) came into this season with a combined 28 career regular-season starts. They made 31 this year alone. It hasn't mattered.

Beating Brady is goal - Longmont Daily Times-Call - Pat Graham
1/11/2006 — Bad games don't happen. Not this time of year. Not to New England quarterback Tom Brady. In amassing a 10-0 playoff record, Brady has thrown three interceptions, the lowest interception percentage rate in league history. He hasn't thrown any since Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina. He's now gone 121 playoff pass attempts without throwing an interception. "I call him Cool Hand Luke," Denver defensive lineman Gerard Warren said. "He sits in the pocket, the pressure is coming, and he takes his shot. He gets back up, brushes himself off and keeps trying to win. He's a winner."

Mastermind's makeover - Yahoo! Sports - Charles Robinson
January 11, 2006 – One player. Maybe two. That's what Mike Shanahan claimed as his missing ingredient after the Denver Broncos got devoured by the Indianapolis Colts for the second straight postseason last year. To hear the Broncos' head coach tell it, the Super Bowl was still within Denver's grasp. All the team needed was a few more capable hands. Then Shanahan went out and added the Cleveland Browns' defensive line, a move complemented with the selection of Maurice Clarett and some other rookies whose drafting didn't seem to fit necessity. And before it was all over, Jerry Rice was invited to town for a pre-retirement cup of coffee. In the championship perspective, the decisions seemed a tad bleak. To put it more bluntly, it seemed the only way Shanahan would grip the next Super Bowl trophy was if the New England Patriots or Colts asked him to polish it.

Broncos' Plummer changes ways to excel - - Eddie Pells, AP
Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - In many ways this season, Jake Plummer has been good simply by not being bad. A backhanded compliment, for sure, but true nonetheless. It's a big reason the Denver Broncos went 13-3 and find themselves two wins away from the Super Bowl. And instead of trying to shed the image of the quintessential team player and game manager, Plummer has accepted it and stayed the course. Not surprisingly, his game plan for Saturday's playoff meeting against New England and quarterback Tom Brady is simple.

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