The Architect

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Sports Elite 

By Joshua Bowers

The Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. These are the buildings and landmarks that look majestic and are awe-inspiring at the sight of them. We see the finished product. We see the shape of the building, the way that the glass, steel, and concrete come together in ways to form something that sometimes shows us what is possible when a human being fully dedicates themselves to something. Few see the work of the architect.

In order for an architect to accomplish such feats as building something majestic, it first takes vision. They have to see the design of the building in their head long before the foundation is laid. Then they must have direction. They must find a way to take the image in their head and bring it to life. They must put a plan in place in order to turn the vision in their head into the finished product that we see today. Some architects have dedicated most of their lives to realize their dreams of designing some of these buildings. The Denver Broncos defense that has been assembled is his masterpiece and the architect is John Elway.

It was 2013. The Seattle Seahawks were on the field celebrating their championship win, a 52-8 drubbing of the Denver Broncos. In a season where the Broncos and Peyton Manning had broken so many offensive records and destroyed so many defenses, how could something like this happen? How could you be so good offensively yet get beat by such a large margin? The Seattle Seahawks defense aka “The Legion of Boom” put on a defensive clinic that night. The Broncos got behind and the Seahawks just played relentless defense all night. It was on that night that John Elway realized something that has been a saying among football fans and coaches alike for years; Defense wins championships.

One of the first traits of most any successful defense is the defensive line play. The tone gets set at the line of scrimmage. Whether it be rushing the quarterback or stuffing the run, when the defensive line plays well it makes everyone else on the defenses’ job easier. In 2012, the Denver Broncos traded back all the way out of the first round and into the second, which left a lot of fans scratching their heads. They used the eventual 36th pick to draft Derek Wolfe. That was a pick that went under the radar and I still personally don’t feel receives its full due. Derek Wolfe was the defensive player of the year in the conference, coming out of Cincinnati when the Broncos drafted him. Analysts were scratching their heads because at the time the Broncos employed the 4-3 defensive scheme and Wolfe played in the 3-4 scheme while at Cincy. Wolfe was known as a player who had a relentless motor that never stopped. He is still showing that trait even to this day and his impact on the defense is undeniable. In 2013, the Broncos spent their first round pick on Sylvester Williams, a defensive tackle out of North Carolina. Sylvester had the type of acceleration that is rare for a player of his size, but he was still a young player so when Terrance Knighton left via free agency, Elway brought in Antonio Smith and Vance Walker. They were the veteran presence that was needed to help Sylvester Williams and it also added depth to our line. In 2002 the Broncos drafted Malik Jackson out of Tennessee in the fifth round. Can you say steal? Again, he was a player that ran the 3-4 defense in college and when we switched to the 3-4 defense last year, Jackson really flourished. This defensive line only allowed 83.6 rushing yards a game last year, which was number one in the NFL last year. To hold someone to that, the defensive line has to be dominant.

Another successful ingredient in a dominant defense is a pass rush. The Broncos led the NFL last year in sacks with 52 sacks last year in the regular season. They consistently applied enough pressure to opposing quarterbacks and never really allowed them to get any rhythm. That all starts with Von Miller. The first pick that Elway had in his tenure as GM of the Broncos, he used it to get Von Miller out of Texas A&M. I believe that was a pick that was well spent as Von Miller dominated in the playoffs last year and absolutely destroyed the Panthers in their Super Bowl win. After their loss to Seattle, one of the players that John Elway signed via free agency was Demarcus Ware. Ware had been let go by the Cowboys after an injury riddled couple of seasons and at that point was considered to be on the downside of his career. He has been a mentor to Von Miller, along with a huge presence in the locker room. His impact on Von Miller has been mind-blowing, as he has shown everybody in the locker what it means to be a professional and most importantly showed them how to carry themselves like one. He was also 2nd on the team last year with 7.5 sacks. Not bad for someone on the downside of their career, eh? In the 2015 draft, the Broncos drafted Shane Ray, who provided depth and did a good job when he stepped on the field last year to relieve players. I also can’t forget about Danny Trevathan, who led the Broncos in tackles last year and had the speed to cover tight ends in coverage, as well as being all over the field. But an undrafted free agent made a huge impact on the team. His name is Shaquille Barrett, an undrafted free agent out of Colorado State. Shaquille filled in the absence of Von Miller and Demarcus Ware due to resting and various injuries. He had 5.5 sacks last year, 5 forced fumbles, and was sixth on the team in tackles. It has been that type of eye that has allowed the Broncos to get steals via undrafted free agents (I’ll bring up another later on).

One of the most important and most vital ingredients of a defense in the NFL today is a dominant secondary. Denver has that in the “No Fly Zone”. Their leader is TJ Ward aka “Boss”. In a 2014 free agency class that included Ware, Aqib Talib, and other big players, Ward were viewed as the biggest signing. It’s not every day that you get to get a Pro Bowl caliber safety in free agency. Ward was 4th on the team in tackles and has been the voice of leadership in the secondary for the Broncos. Then you have Aqib Talib. He was also acquired in free agency in 2014 and he has been a shutdown corner since his arrival. His college teammate, who the Broncos signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011, is Chris Harris Jr. When the Broncos played the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, Antonio Brown caught a TD pass with Chris Harris Jr. covering him. You may be wondering why I bring this up. The reason is that was the first TD pass that Harris had allowed in 2 YEARS!! He has gone from an undrafted player to one of the best cornerbacks in the league since entering the league. Add in Bradley Roby and you have one of the most formidable secondary’s in the NFL. They only allowed 199.6 yards per game through the air for the season, earning their nickname along the way!

The Orange Crush, led by Wade Phillips, was the number one defense last year in the NFL and almost single-handedly won the championship last year. They only allowed 18.5 points per game last year and never allowed over 29 points at any point last year. They were consistently put in bad situations, often with the game on the line, they always stood up and did their job. The 2015 Broncos were built like an NFL team in the 80’s or 90’s. If all else fails, let the defense dominate and take over the game. If the Broncos are able to come out and duplicate the type of season that they had last year, you have to put them in the conversation as the best defense of all time. Especially if they manage to win the Super Bowl again. John Elway had a vision of the type of team that he wanted to build, what type of defense that he wanted. He had a plan to get there and bring it to life and now all of the NFL is getting to witness his masterpiece!

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The 114.5 Million Dollar Man! Why Von Miller was Worth Every Penny!

By Joshua Bowers

 You can now breathe easy Broncos fans! In a saga that seemed to last until the very last minute, in the end, John Elway got his man. On Friday, Von Miller and the Broncos agreed to a six year, 114 million dollar extension, keeping him in a Denver Broncos uniform for the foreseeable future. And I ,for one, couldn’t be happier.

 Over the past few days since the Friday deadline, I’ve either read or seen a lot of sportscasters and analysts saying that it was a bad move and that they wouldn’t have given a linebacker that type of money. First of all, Von Miller isn’t your average run of the mill linebacker. He is a true talent. Players of his ability don’t come along but maybe once every 10 to 15 years. 

 He has said that he idolized the late Derrick Thomas, and the irony of it is he plays similar to the man he grew up watching. He can singlehandedly disrupt an entire offense with his pass rush ability. I know what you’re thinking: one player can’t stop an entire offense. Ask Cam Newton or Tom Brady that and I’m sure they’ll tell you otherwise. 

 Since entering the league in 2011, Von Miller has amounted 60 sacks, which is already 20th among active sack leaders and trailing only JJ Watt from the 2011 class. They say that big time players make big time plays in big games. If that’s what you believe or if that’s the criteria that you use to judge a players worth, then allow me to give you some numbers that show just how dominant Von Miller was in this past postseason. In three games, Von Miller amassed 13 total tackles (11 solo, 2 assisted), 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 pass breakups, and an interception. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call disruption. 

 That isn’t even taking into account the number of times that he rushed and/or hit the QB. Sure our secondary had something to do with those numbers, but you still have to be able to get there and make the play. 

 Now, let’s talk the Super Bowl. In the biggest game and the biggest stage that an NFL player can play in, Von Miller shined the brightest. I remember having a conversation with one of my co-workers at my job (who is a die hard Panthers fan)the week of the Super Bowl. He was telling me how the Panthers were going to destroy us and how we couldn’t stop Cam Newton. I told him that the Super Bowl was going to come down to Mike Remmers vs. Von Miller. I pointed out that the only game that Carolina had lost last year was against the Atlanta Falcons.  The reason that they lost that game is because Vic Beasley was dominating Mike Remmers coming off the edge and he even sealed the game at the end with a strip sack in that game. I told him that Vic Beasley is good but Von Miller is on a whole other level. He said “Man, you’re crazy!! There’s no way that one player is going to be able to stop Cam Newton!” I told him that Von Miller is the type of player where if you don’t block him, he can mess up your entire game plan. 

When the Super Bowl came around, I sat back and watched one of the greatest individual defensive performances that I’ve ever seen in a Super Bowl. Von Miller accounted for six tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. On the plays that Von Miller sacked Cam Newton, the average time from the snap to when he made contact with Cam Newton was 2.9 seconds!! That wasn’t a typo. 2.9 SECONDS!! On the play where he got the strip sack on Cam Newton to seal the game, he got to Cam Newton in 2.3 SECONDS!! There aren’t too many players that are physically able to do that. It seems like something that you would read in a comic book or something. In a game where Cam Newton aka “Super Cam” was supposed to be the hero, Von Miller stole the spotlight. 

So you can say what you want and have your opinion about how much we overpaid Von Miller, but I’m pretty sure you wish he was on your team! You would take him in a heartbeat. But my advice for this upcoming football season is go in the kitchen, grab you some popcorn, and just watch! You’re going to see something special when he steps onto the field!

NFL MUST SEE MATCH-UP WEEK 1

Ladies and gentleman! The 2016 NFL season is fast approaching. Almost time for tail gating, trash talking, surprise seasons, disappointing seasons, break out players and much, much more. From now up until that sweet Sunday Kickoff I’ll be choosing the “must-see” match-ups for each NFL week. This week we start off with a good old SB 50 rematch coming up in week 1.

 

Last time we saw these two teams Peyton Manning was walking off in the sunset with his second SB ring, Von Miller hoisting the SB MVP award and Cam Newton walking out on a post-game interview. Fast forward to June 2016 and a lot has changed, at least for the defending champs. Denver watched Brock Osweiler, Danny Trevathan, and Malik Jackson walk out the door for nice pay days. It also doesn’t help the fact that Von Miller is threatening a hold of the 2016 season unless he gets paid top dollar. But the biggest question is “Can the defense still do enough to carry the team even when Von Miller inevitably returns?” The good news is I don’t think Von Miller will hold out the season and they still have a pretty good LB in Brandon Marshall, the other Brandon Marshall that is.

 

Carolina on the other hand locked LT Michael Oher to a 3 year deal and resigned Paul Soliai, DE Charles Johnson and RB Mike Tolbert. Some may think the biggest transaction was CB Josh Norman being allowed to walk in free agency but Carolina obviously believes that someone can fill that role immediately, especially with how dominant the front 7 is. Cam Newton is healthy and Carolina brings back pretty much everyone from last year.

 

Despite all off Denver’s losses in free agency, I still view this as the must see match-up in week 1. I don’t believe for one second Von Miller actually would actually be willing to miss a game. Millers hold out will end with either them getting a deal done making him maybe the highest paid player or he’ll play on the tag. With Miller looking to give Cam Newton flashbacks of the nightmares he put him through in the Super Bowl and Cam looking to exact revenge on a somewhat different but still dominant Denver defense this match-up will live up to the hype. What’s not to like about getting a chance to get a little payback on the team that shattered your story book season in the end? Look for this match-up to be hard hitting and Superman dabbing fun, and deliver on what us football fans like to see! As of this moment I have Carolina taking advantage of a Peyton-less Denver and just slightly weaker defense and pulling this one out. But it’s early, opinions could change after training camp and preseason when we get a chance to see what rosters will look like but for now…

31-17  

 

 

By Lawrence Edwards

AFC West preview: Denver Broncos & Kansas City Chiefs 

Written by Ralph Uriarte

DENVER BRONCOS 

The Denver Broncos have had a roller coaster off-season since becoming Superbowl 50 champions, they have seen Peyton Manning retire and Brock Osweiler choose the Houston Texans over the Broncos,  C.J. Anderson almost left to the Miami Dolphins, but Denver matched the deal at the last-minute. Denver has a new starting quarterback and his name is Mark Sanchez,  the Philadelphia Eagles back up quarterback and former New York Jet, the man they call “Butt Fumble”. That is just everything that took place early in the off-season.


Broncos also drafted quarterback Paxton Lynch in the first round of the draft to be their back up quarterback. Lynch needs a lot of work and he is nowhere near NFL ready. What does that mean? Well Broncos fans it means Mark Sanchez is indeed the starter for at least one season, he is a very aggressive quarterback that can make big plays, but the biggest knock on him is his tendency to make bonehead plays such as this end zone interception last season versus Miami last season. Losing both of his two starts.

On the other side of the ball the Broncos have a very large contract issue with linebacker Von Miller who has said he will not play 2016 under the franchise tag and refuses to sign his tender. Denver submitted an offer of 114 million over 6 years with only 39.8 million guaranteed. Miller turned the deal down based on guaranteed money. The same week, Philadelphia Eagles give their defensive star Fletcher Cox a 103-million-dollar deal with 63 million guaranteed, that is the type of deal Miller wants and he will get it, if not from Denver, somebody else will pay him. 

Now that brings us to Aqib Talib, who was shot at a Dallas nightclub and was released from the hospital the following day, he suffered a minor leg injury and is expected to make a full recovery. The bullet isn’t Talib’s problem, the gun is, rumor is that he either shot himself or was armed, both do not sit well with neither NFL nor the Broncos. The NFL is currently investigating the incident and the team has yet to announce their course of action, if any against Talib.

I do not see the Broncos repeating as Superbowl champion, I don’t even see them in the playoffs, even IF Miller signs and IF Talib is found innocent, you still have Mark Sanchez as a quarterback, how did Elway ever this that was going to work?

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 

The chiefs finished the year at 11-5 last season coming back from what everyone was sure a death-blow losing Jamaal Charles, but the team fought back and finished strong, unfortunately they lost to the New England Patriots in the playoffs.

The team had a change at offensive coordinator with Doug Pederson leaving to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Brad Childress has stepped into the role. The Chiefs continue to possess a top 10 defense lead by linebacker Justin Houston, the team finished 9th overall in points allowed per game with 17.9. Chiefs defensive end Mike Devito called it quits and retired, but the defense is still explosive, especially with the addition of 1st round pick Chris Jones who will be groomed to take over if Dontari Poe leaves the team next year in free agency. One trouble spot is safety Eric Berry who is currently in a contract hold out and will not attend mandatory mini-camp, he will not be fined though since he has not signed his franchise tender. 

The offense is led by veteran quarterback Alex Smith who threw for nearly 3500 yards with 20 touchdowns against 7 interceptions, the workhorse Jamaal Charles only player 5 games before he was injured handing the reigns over to Charchandrick West who took the bulk of the carries. The real bread and butter duo on this offense is tight end Travis Kelce, who finished with 875 yards and 5 touchdowns and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin who finished with 8 touchdowns and 1088 yards.

The Chiefs expect Jamaal Charles to make a full recovery by the start of the season and make a return to the team, what happens between now and July 15th with Eric Berry will be a large part of how this season shapes up in the end.