The Cutler connundrum: Why Shanahan had to do it
It was a classic case of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't for Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. No matter what he did, his action would be seen as too late by some, and way too late by others. It's a pretty nice problem to have, with a record of 7 and 4, with 5 games left to determine your playoff fate for the year.
That Jake Plummer was playing poorly is likely an understatement, but Shanahan has never been one to change horses in mid-season. Some have been openly critical of Shanahan, indicating that the changing of QB's at this point is probably not going to cure the ills of this team.
Others, like myself, had spotted the flaw in Jake Plummer long ago, and so we had to suffer through some very long Sundays and a long Thanksgiving to get to the point where even Mike Shanahan knew he had no choice.
In Denver, where expectations run high for the Broncos, it came down to whether or not the Broncos could compete with the better teams in the league...no, scratch that...it came down to whether the Broncos could beat the better teams in the league down the stretch. The last several weeks have been telling in that regard.
Close losses to the Colts, Chargers and Chiefs seem to make it clear - the team could not overcome itself to beat these teams. Most wanted to blame it on Plummer. But clearly, Mike Shanahan bears some of the burden for fielding a team that seemed to be losing focus, losing motivation, losing heart.
So now we'll pin our hopes and aspirations on Jay Cutler. Everyone in the national media seems to want to write us off for the year as a result. Perhaps they are right. But the team needs to find its nucleus before the end of the year. It needs to know that the ship is being righted and that they have a reason for optimism. Jay Cutler may provide the spark. Let's hope so.
Let's also hope that everyone works hard to keep the rookie from getting beaten down by hungry defenses who love to tee off on wide-eyed rookies. The team needs to dig deep and pull together. The playoffs are not a sure thing, and the team has five games to get their mojo back.
Seattle will be a test, and then San Diego. Nobody said this would be easy. If Denver can reel off some wins through this toughest part of the schedule, we'll at least have something to sustain us through the long off-season.
A cannon-armed rookie QB who hates to lose and can throw any pass from any place on the field. Now who does that remind me of??? That, my friends, is why Mike Shanahan had to make the switch now.
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