It's been rough rooting for the mighty, mighty Denver Broncos since John Elway retired after the 1998 season.
One of the major problems with Denver is that the team has always revolved around a top-notch quarterback. A lot has been said about Denver's running game, but there was a time when the Broncos made it to Super Bowls based solely on the determination of Elway.
Just remember the problems the Broncos had in those painful Super Bowls of 1988, 1989 and 1990 -- the team didn't have much in the way of a running game and suffered because of it. When the team did achieve a balanced attack, the Broncos won a couple of Super Bowls in 1998 and 1999 because Elway's talents were complimented by an excellent running game.
Yes, the run game has remained solid, but Denver hasn't gotten far without a solid passing game.
After Elway retired, there was a lot of talk about how any quarterback could step into Denver's system and do well. That wasn't the case as quarterbacks Brian Griese and Jake Plummer were both failures. Longtime fans like me found it ironic that Denver finally had a great running game but was lacking in the passing department.
Those of us who follow the Broncos, then, can't help but be encouraged by Jay Cutler's performance so far this year. Cutler was drafted from Vanderbilt, played a bit in the 2006 season and started throughout the 2007 season. Last year, he managed to put together a fair-to-middling QB rating of 88.1, but has come out on fire this year.
Just take a look at the stats so far -- QB rating of 118.6, a 70.3 pass completion rate 650 passing yards and 6 touchdowns. That's pretty good and here's hoping he keeps up that level of play. Denver Coach Mike Shanahan obviously has faith in Cutler as evidenced by that risky, two-point conversion that put the Broncos past the Chargers in the final few seconds of Sunday's game.
By the way, that play in the final seconds in which an errant whistle gave a fumble back together was such a fundamentally unfair call that the NFL is considering a rule change. Good for them. San Diego got robbed. I'm thrilled that Denver won, but fair is fair, right?
But, back to Cutler. Remember that even the great Elway struggled for a couple of seasons. He needed time to mature. Hopefully, Cutler is going through that maturation process right now and will turn into the quarterback that we Broncos fans have been wanting for a decade.
Those of us in Arkansas certainly know that Cutler is an impressive quarterback. The beloved Razorbacks struggled with Vanderbilt, in fact, when Cutler was leading that team. Generally, when the Hogs dropped a game to the likes of Ole Miss, Mississippi State or Vanderbilt, we'd blame it on that idiot, Houston "Stinkbutt" Nutt, who wound up coaching the Razorbacks because we evidently don't discriminate against embarrassing fools in Arkansas.
Cutler and Vanderbilt beat the Razorbacks legitimately. Nutt only gets half the blame for that loss.
Razorbacks tearing up the NFL!
I don't give a damn for either the Dallas Cowboys or the Oakland Raiders, but it's been fun watching two rookies who played for the Razorbacks making a splash on those teams this year. Darren McFadden rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown for Oakland on Sunday, whereas Felix Jones returned a kickoff for 98 yards for Dallas on Monday.
Jones, in fact, compiled a ridiculous 247 return yards. Oh, and last week, Jones rushed for 62 yards and scored a touchdown.
Bear in mind that McFadden and Jones were the central performers in the Razorbacks' backfield last year. Arkansas had a great rushing game, indeed, and the team really should have put together an outstanding season rather than another one capped by a loss to an inferior team in a middle-tier bowl (the Hogs lost to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl).
What was the problem? The problem was the Razorbacks were coached by a man who is roughly as intelligent as a chunk of balsa wood. It's absolutely shocking to me that furious Razorbacks fans didn't shower Nutt with garbage or descend upon Fayetteville with torches and pitchforks during that horrible little man's last few seasons here. Thank goodness he's at Ole Miss now. Fans over there can put up with his subliterate babble and rudimentary coaching skills until they run him out of their state.
I find it funny as hell that McFadden has been given credit for saving the job of Oalkand's head coach, Lane Kiffin. Why? McFadden saved Nutt's job a couple of times. He really is that good of a player.
By the way, fellow Arkansan -- Paul at Paul's Health Blog -- posted a comment on an earlier post of mine asking why I didn't acknowledge another former Razorback, Peyton Hillis.
Well, Paul, I figured Peyton has done well enough for himself by playing for the Denver Broncos. He plays for the supreme team in the NFL, so what congratulations could I possibly add to that? At any rate, let Hillis make a highlight reel, and you'd better believe I'll be crowing about him.
I'm all set to visit with Paul on Friday, by the way. He's coming to Benton to watch his Conway Wampus Cats take on my beloved Benton Panthers. Paul's got a kid who plays for Conway. I go to all the Benton home games with my dad, so I'm looking forward to meeting Paul and his wife, Laura (she runs Junk-Foodaholic).
I should point out that Benton is absolutely horrible this year and the Wampus Cats (I still don't know what the hell a wampus cat is) ought to absolutely roll over the poor Panthers. Regardless, believe my write-up of the game before you believe Paul's. Since he's got a kid playing I'm sure he'll be biased.
Good luck to your team and your son, Paul!