Cuss Like A Sailor..And Drink Like A Mick. AFC West Preview By Steel Drama
1.) Silver Bullet Broncos
Stout: Rookie OLB Von Miller was as good as advertised earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after finishing the 2011 season with 11.5 sacks.
On the Hops: After offensive coordinator Mike McCoy impressively tailored his offense to match the skills of Tim Tebow, the Broncos finished the season as the league’s top rushing team averaging a franchise record 164.5 yards per game.
Tap a Keg for the Big Boys: Ryan Clady and Orlando Franklin are quality tackles, but the Denver offensive line will have to better than the 41 sacks they gave up last season if Peyton Manning hopes to make it through 2012 in one piece.
Ice Cold Draft: It was a bit of a draft day mystery to me as to why the Broncos used a valuable 2nd round pick to draft a quarterback( let alone one with only one year of starting experience) when it would appear the Broncos are looking to win now after going all in on Peyton Manning. Then on day three of the draft, the still kissable Suzy Kolber in an interview with Brock Osweiler uncovered that he is a college buddy of Jack Elway, son of Broncos’ President John Elway. Mystery solved Drama.
Stale Ale: If the Broncos are going to be a true contender in the AFC, they must improve on defense. Denver made solid strides last season on defense going from No. 32 to No. 20 in total defense. Elvis Dumervil and the before mentioned Von Miller are quality pass rushers combining for 21 sacks. Broncos’ fans hope rookie defensive tackle Derek Wolfe has a J.J. Watt-like impact along the defensive line. However, the secondary is devoid of proven talent aside from the 34 year old Champ Bailey.
Bitter Beer Face: This was the face made by many a Steelers’ fan after Demaryius Thomas ran by Ike Taylor for the game winning touchdown in the Steelers Wild Card overtime loss at the hands of the Broncos.
Bartender: Was John Fox’s successful first season as Broncos’ head coach because of Tim Tebow or was it the other way around? Regardless, with Peyton Manning the new “sheriff” in town, the expectations for Fox and the Broncos will be “mile high.”
Drinks are on Drama: An ice cold Coors Light in the cold activated bottle to John Elway for having the gumption to jettison fan-favorite Tim Tebow in favor of Hall of Famer in waiting Peyton Manning. Cheers to you John!
The Hangover: The Broncos have the potential to have a standout passing game with Drama favorite Eric Decker and wildcard hero Demaryious Thomas poised for a breakout year. They also have a plethora of tight ends including Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen and future star Julius Thomas. The 2011 Broncos were 7-4 in games started by Tim Tebow meaning they were 1-4 without him so projecting the Broncos to finish first in the AFC West is obviously contingent upon four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning staying healthy.
2.) Love Child Chiefs
Stout: The Chiefs have an underrated linebacker corps led by Pro Bowl OLB Tamba Hali and his 12 sacks. Rookie Justin Houston from UGA contributed 5.5 sacks and was a 3rd round steal. Pro Bowler Derrick Johnson is another prototype 3-4 inside linebacker led the team with 131 tackles showing the ability to both cover and stop the run.
On the Hops: Dwayne Bowe isn’t often mentioned among the NFL’s elite wide receivers, but he should be. He turned in another quality season with 81 catches for 1,159 yards despite playing with the likes of Matt Cassel and Pitt “legend” Tyler Palko.
Tap a Keg: The Chiefs averaged a league low 3.2 rushing yards up the middle last season. To help rectify this horrific stat, the Chiefs snatched up free agent tackle Eric Winston and drafted FC favorite Jeff Allen (the 3rd Illinois player drafted before any selected from Ohio St or Michigan). Allen, along with fellow Fighting Illini Jon Asamoah should be an excellent young tandem at the guard position for the Chiefs.
Ice Cold Draft: Dontari Poe is the 4th DL drafted in 1st round by the Chiefs since 2006 (Ryan Sims, Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson). Chris Berman must’ve knew I was writing a beer-themed season preview saying, ““The 2 big question marks and boy they look great, but at times were less filling were Dontari Poe and Quentin Coples…”
Stale Ale: …Speaking of Berman…I liked this draft night exchange between Gruden and Boomer after the selection of Poe: Gruden, “He’s got a lot of POE-tential.” Berman, “If I would’ve said that I would’ve got ripped for 3 yrs!” Yes Boom, your act has gotten quite… “Stale.”
Bitter Beer Face: After starting every snap in 2010, star safety Eric Berry was out for the season on the first play of the 2011 season with a knee injury. The Chiefs also lost young stars Jaamal Charles and tight end Tony Moeaki for the entire season to knee injuries.
Bartender: “Joe who own the Chiefs?” Clark Hunt is now running the show in Kansas City. He, along with alleged wire tapper Scott Pioli have just one playoff appearance since taking control of the franchise. As for new head coach Romeo Crennel, he is the anti-Todd Haley and the ideal yes-man Hunt and Pioli seem to be comfortable with to guide their team to mediocrity… for the next three seasons anyway.
Drinks are on Drama: A Flaming Coyote to Scott Pioli for firing Todd Haley who led the Chiefs to their first division title since 2003. I know a down is yet to be played, but I really believe that the Steelers’ offense is going to be record setting in 2012 and Haley will be a big reason for it.
The Hangover: The Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game since 1994. If they’re going to win one in 2012, they better do better than their franchise worst 13.3 points per game average. If the Chiefs had even a decent quarterback I’d probably pick them to win the division. The weapons on offense are there in Bowe, Charles, Moaki, and possibly last years’ top draft pick Jonathan Baldwin. Perhaps once again being under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Cassel will at least be serviceable like he was the year he replaced Brady in New England.
“An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger, or a beer.” – Confucius
3.) Double Bastard Chargers
Stout: Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle had seven interceptions and four pass break which totaled the same number of completions he allowed, 11.
On the Hops: The demise of Antonio Gates was once again exaggerated when he missed the first three games with a foot injury. Gates went on to start 13 games and catch a team high 64 passes and seven touchdowns en route to his 8th Pro Bowl.
Tap a Keg: The Chargers started an NFL high 11 different offensive lineman last season after losing three linemen to injured reserve including two Pro Bowlers. The last time the Chargers drafted an offensive lineman in the 1st round was 1986, the same year the Steelers drafted the great John Rienstra. The only lineman the Chargers drafted this year was 5th rounder Johnnie Troutman out of Penn St and he’s already out for the year with a torn pec. Those 30 sacks you took this past year aren’t looking so bad now are they Phil?
Ice Cold Draft: The selection of linebacker Melvin Ingram by the Chargers marked the first time South Carolina had two players selected in the first round since 1981. GM A.J. Smith when asked about Melvin Ingram’s short arms, “I think Melvin will have the same problem Tyrannosaurus Rex had millions of years ago.” Good one AJ.
Stale Ale: New defensive coordinator John Pagano late of the Ravens has his work cut out for him. The Chargers ranked 23rd with only 32 sacks with Shaun Phillips notching a measly 3.5, while former Raven Antwan Barnes managed to pull 11 sacks out of his ass. Worse yet for Pagano, opposing offenses in 3rd down situations converted 49% into 1st downs which was not only the worst in the league last year but worst in the NFL since 1995.
Bitter Beer Face: The only Phil in San Diego I like is Mickelson. Phil Rivers had his worst season as a Chargers’ starter tossing 20 interceptions and getting sacked 30 times. ‘Ol Phil flat out can’t handle being pressured the way his two draftmates Ben and Eli can.
Bartender: Norv Turner and his jerk of a GM A.J Smith were given a stay of execution by owner Dean Spanos. Why I’m not exactly sure.
Drinks are on Drama: A shot of Cuervo to my old buddy Hocevar. “Hoce” begged a group of us to follow him out to Pacific Beach back in 1996. We all barely lasted a year, but he’s still out there working as an accountant and raising a family with Cindy Crawford’s former nanny. Salute brother! To good times!
The Hangover: It’s been an emotional offseason in San Diego after local icon Junior Seau took his own life this past May. Seau’s type of leadership, effort, and toughness is sorely lacking on this Chargers team. Not only are Norv Turner and AJ Smith on the hot seat, but so is Phillip Rivers. Phil is 17-16 in his last 33 starts, however the good news for Chargers’ fans is that he has won 5 of his 6 meetings against new Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning.
4.) Blind Pig Raiders
Stout: Love him or hate him Richard Seymour with his 40 combined sacks, hits, and hurries had the second-highest quarterback disruptions total among defensive tackles in the NFL last season. He also added 11 penalties. Again, love him or hate him.
On the Hops: I’m sure the United States track team will be well represented at next month’s summer Olympic games in London. However, the Raiders could offer up some of their skill players like Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, and Darren McFadden should reinforcements be needed.
Tap a Keg: Offensive tackle Jared Veldheer was the most improved player in the AFC West last season, according to ProFootballFocus.com, who had him increasing from a 2010 player rating of -27.2 to his 2011 mark of +5.9, a net improvement of 33.1 points. I don’t know what all that means either but I do know that giving up only 4 sacks all season in the NFL is a good thing.
Ice Cold Draft: Considering new GM Reggie McKenzie didn’t have many picks to work with after the controversial trade for Carson Palmer, I thought he had a solid first draft. Watch out for B2B’s guy Miles Burris who Greg Cosell calls, “one of my favorite players to watch on tape” saying he, “loved his intense, urgent playing style.”
Stale Ale: Former Raiders’ running back Bo Jackson had a Nike commercial with the mantra, “Another day, another hobby.” The mantra for current Raiders’ running back Darren McFadden should be, “Another day, another injury.”
Bitter Beer Face: New head coach Dennis Allen will have his work cut out for him. The Raiders were 29th in total defense and didn't do much to excite with their moves to think they will be significantly better. The corner position is a concern with Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer set to start but they can’t do much worse than the departed Stanford Routt and his 17 penalties.
Bartender: It would be an understatement to say that the Raiders under the late Al Davis were an unstable organization. New head coach Dennis Allen is the Raiders sixth head coach since 2003. In contrast, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had three head coaches since 1969.
Drinks are on Drama: A round of your finest Ale for the Raiders organization for donating 10 percent of all ticket sales between May 1 and June 30 to the Oakland Unified School District. I can’t think of a more worthy cause than investing in the future of America…our kids.
The Hangover: The Raiders last winning season was in 2002, my first football season living in Atlanta. The Raiders loss to Tampa Bay was the first Super Bowl I ever watched without friends or family (violins for Drama). The Raiders managed to play .500 ball under Tom Cable and Hue Jackson. The hope is under the leadership and structure of new GM Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders will “Just Win” more often.
“An Irishman is the only man in the world who will step over the bodies of a dozen naked women to get to a bottle of stout.” – Anonymous