2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Closer look at Broncos, Dumervil situation

    Thu, March 28, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    There isn’t much missing from this Broncos roster.

    Thanks to FaxGate, there is a void at defensive end. What to do post-Elvis?

    Wrote a column on the Dumervil situation for Thursday’s Gazette. Here a few notes that didn’t make it in the column. I sought out some advanced-metrics specialists to take a closer look at the situation.

    Dumervil had 12 sacks last season. From 2000-2011, 34 teams lost a player (either through release, trade or retirement) who had eight or more sacks. Their sack numbers, on average, dropped from 40.7 sacks (with the player) to 34.9 (the next season, without him).

    Four of those 34 teams replaced an eight-sack player with another eight-sack player. The Broncos had two of those teams. On one occasion, their sack numbers decreased. On the other occasion, their sack numbers actually increased. That info comes from Aaron Schatz, president of the excellent FootballOutsiders.com.

    Another note that I found interesting comes from Sam Mason, a senior analyst with ProFootballFocus.com, another personal favorite. Sam Mason compared the numbers of five elite pass rushers from last season — to compare Dumervil’s value with others of his ilk.

    Dumervil had a pass rushing productivity (P.R.P.) rating of 9.8. Abraham’s was slightly higher at 10.7.

    Dwight Freeney (8.8), Osi Umenyiora (8.6) and Shaun Phillips (7.8) were slightly lower.

    You can see I’m a believer in advanced metrics while analyzing the value of a player.

    You can also see, if the Broncos want to and are able to sign Abraham or Freeney to “replace” Dumervil, there may not be a step back in terms of production. Especially in the case of Abraham.

    In regards to Freeney, who knows how much his sub-standard season in 2012 was the result of a bum ankle. As Mason told me, the team that lands Freeney could be getting a better value than we think.

    Just a few thoughts on one of the more bizarre developments we’ve witnessed with the Broncos.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Nuggets breaking the mold — in a few ways

    Fri, March 8, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Halftime blog from here at Pepsi Center — Nuggets/Clippers…

    There’s one constant in critics of these Nuggets.

    Denver doesn’t boast the definitive NBA superstar, that singular player who can win a game, or a playoff series, or get a key whistle, on his own. George Karl is done with the subject and went off on a semi-rant this morning after the Nuggets game-day shootaround.

    “I think most people are going to say you can’t win without a star. I’m tired of it. I’m fed up with it. Some of you guys know I’ve been angry about it,” Karl said, relatively unsolicited. “It’s a team game. I know the Miami Heat won the championship last year. But they were the best basketball team. They might have had a superstar, but they were the best basketball team.

    “I honestly think it can be done. I think it’s silly not even to have one person that can stand up and say it can be done.”

    For what it’s worth, I’ve changed my tune on this subject. I’m done with it, too. After covering the past two months, these Nuggets are closer to an elite-level outfit than they are being given credit for.

    I believe this roster, the way it has steadily bought into this speed-demon system (Action Ball, I like to call it), if Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari continue to rise and it stays together, can win the West in coming seasons.

    With the way Lawson is playing, here’s how I would respond to the lack-of-a-superstar question. Isn’t a superstar the player that other teams must gameplan for, the player who creates a matchup problem each night? Lawson’s speed is the definition of a matchup problem. Few teams over the past month have been able to deal with him.

    I tend to think these Nuggets are closer than people think.

    So there are two ways the Nuggets are attempting to rewrite the blueprint for an elite-level team. One, no single star that demands the attention of a defense (or beaucoup sneaker-pitching opportunities). Two, the Action Ball system, where every possession is played at a break-neck speed. In the halfcourt NBA, the Nuggets force you to play a 94-foot game. It is quite different from the current NBA model, and I see an element of surprise when opponents are forced to play at this speed.

    Just some quick thoughts tonight from Pepsi Center, home of the best NBA team nobody’s talking about.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Broncos popularity… by the numbers

    Tue, March 5, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    With a helping hand from someone in the know, wrote a Broncos column for Tuesday on the team’s rising popularity.

    You’re right. I didn’t think the Broncos could get bigger around here, either. They are.

    The season-ticket waiting list, a team official told me, is right around 40,000. That’s an increase of 10,000 in the past 12 months (or, roughly the time Peyton Manning has been a Bronco. Supports my theory he’s a $96-million bargain.)

    I would be interested to hear from any readers who are on the waiting list… and their number on the waiting list. Shoot me an email — or post below.

    File away: A limited number of single-game tickets go on sale at the start of training camp.

    This didn’t get in the column, but there were an estimated 45.5 million viewers during the first OT of the Ravens game. That is believed to be a record for an AFC divisional playoff game played on a Saturday.

    Other TV notes: From Labor Day on, of the top 30 most-watched TV programs in the country, five were Broncos games. Makes sense to bring us Eli-Peyton on the Thursday Night season opener next season. That one might put ratings records to the test.

    NFL jersey sales for last season, in order: Manning, Robert Griffin III, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, J.J. Watt. What does that mean? Nothing, really. I’m just interested by jersey sales. Jay-Z said men over 30 can’t wear another man’s jersey. Shawn Corey Carter never lived in Broncos Country.

    Is there more anticipation for the 2013 season than any in Broncos history? Don’t know if there’s an accurate way to quantify that sort of thing, but it might be.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette