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  • Gameday Live Report: Broncos at Raiders

    Sun, December 29, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    FINAL: Broncos 34, Raiders 14.

    —The most entertaining, injury-filled, record-setting, bizarre regular season in Broncos history is over. Denver has been the NFL’s best team for the majority of the past two seasons. Will they earn a Super Bowl title to show for it?

    —The Broncos won 13 games for only the third time since their last Super Bowl title. And they’ve had some good teams. It’s quite hard to do.

    —Once the Peyton Manning Show (see below) was over, the Brock and Roll Show, um, stumbled. The Broncos had 21 first downs in the first half. They had seven in the second.

    —To be fair, Brock and Roll had a first-down completion to Jacob Tamme that was overturned. Sure looked like a catch.

    —More good news from Broncos: they escaped the Black Hole without serious injury, it appears. Only Duke Ihenacho left the game (with a concussion). 

    —The Chargers are trying to squeeze into the playoffs. The Broncos are hoping they don’t.

    —Here’s a hunch the Broncos are hosting the Steelers in the divisional round of the playoffs. Pittsburgh plays in the same division as Baltimore. How’s that strike ya?

    —At the final horn, there’s more Broncos orange than Raiders black in the opposite lower deck.

    —These Raiders are the worst team the Broncos have played over the past two seasons. Former Broncos DC Dennis Allen can’t be comfortable on that seat.

    —The Raiders broke up the shutout with a touchdown pass from Terrelle Pryor with 4:24 left in the fourth. 

    —When the Raiders scored, Peyton Manning was taking a sip of Gatorade on the sideline.

    Headed to the locker rooms. More coverage from Oakland coming tonight on Gazette.com.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 31, Raiders 0 — 12:00 left in the fourth quarter

    —Here’s a hunch this second half of Brock and Roll has infused little confidence the backup quarterback could win a game if called upon.

    —The Broncos haven’t scored with Osweiler at quarterback, despite keeping most of their first-team offense on the field.

    —The Broncos are shuttling in their second-string defense. Quentin Jammer and Tony Carter now on the field.

    —Considering some of the teams still eligible for the playoffs — Bears, Steelers, Chargers — it’s nuts to think the NFL should add more playoff spots.

    —The Raiders crowd is trickling out. The Broncos crowd still hanging out.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 31, Raiders 0 — 4:13 left in the third quarter

    —The Brock Lobster is in. The Manning Express is getting a tan on the sideline.

    —Britton Colquitt is pleased with the QB switch. Now he gets to play, too.

    —Biggest surprise today: Manning forgoing his usual ballcap/visor look on the sideline.

    —The most intriguing of first-roundmatch ups in the AFC tournament: Kansas City at Indianapolis. That’s likely.

    —Haven’t noticed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie today. Usually a good sign for a cornerback.

    —If there’s one Broncos defender who could claim a Pro Bowl snub, it’s probably DRC. He’s an alternate.

    —These Raiders are the worst team the Broncos have played in the past two seasons. Much worse than Houston, which now owns the No. 1 pick in the draft. 

    —The Black Hole is booing again. Or all of Oakland, rather.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 31, Raiders 0 — Halftime

    —Here’s the count: Peyton Manning has 55 touchdown passes (four today) and the NFL record for single-season passing yardage (266 today). He’s 25 of 28 with four touchdowns. His passer rating: 145.8.

    —Think that was the greatest half of quarterbacking I’ve seen. Yes, even considering the level of competition.

    —Will Manning play in the second half? Gotta think he’ll play one series. Did the same in the third preseason game, at Seattle. 

    —Sit him, John Fox. Consider the repercussions if Manning were to get injured.

    —Wild to consider the Broncos’ offense during the Tebow era vs. the Broncos’ offense now.

    —How bad is it for the Raiders? As he walked off the field, defensive tackle Daniel Muir shouted something at a coach. Not sure if the TV cameras caught it, but the coach sure did.

    —The Broncos definitely knew Manning’s status in regards to the passing yardage record. John Fox came out to the hash marks to greet him after  he broke it.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 17, Raiders 0 — 7:08 left in second quarter

    —Doherty grad Lamarr Houston sacked Peyton Manning. That’s his fifth sack this season. Having an effective game with four tackles so far.

    —Raiders (backup?) quarterback Matt McGloin chillin’ on the sideline. Raiders wanted to get another look at Terrelle Pryor, whom we compared to Tim Tebow back in September.

    —At one point, the Raiders had nine total yards in 10 offensive plays.

    —My guy in the Stabler jersey now working on nachos.

    —Aside from the tarp, Coliseum has filled up. Probably 80-percent full now.

    —What will you do on the bye week? I’ll break down the next step for the reeling Nuggets, then go fishing below Pueblo Reservoir. Good story on this blossoming fly fishery from the Denver Post’s Scott Willoughby.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 14, Raiders 0 — End of first quarter

    —Boos already coming down from the Black Hole, aimed at the home team. We’re only at the end of the first quarter.

    —The Raiders will finish with five-or-fewer wins for the ninth time in 11 seasons. That’s almost hard to do.

    —Bears are beating the Packers, 7-0. Is this the final time the former Broncos quarterback will be the Bears quarterback?

    —Raiderettes, still dancing.

    —My guy in the Kenny Stabler jersey is loving his stadium pizza.

    —Sylvester Williams showing signs of being a player the past few weeks.

    —Goodness, the Raiders are bad.

    —Broncos need four points to break the NFL’s single-season scoring record. 

    —Broncos had 11 first downs in the first quarter. Raiders had one.

    —Breaking: Peyton Manning missed an open receiver. Eric Decker was like a lonely seal in San Francisco Bay.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 14, Raiders 0 — 5:39 left in first quarter

    —Sign of the times: there are Elway/Manning/Thomas jerseys sitting (or standing) in the Black Hole. Can’t  imagine that’s usually acceptable. 

    —Raiders in a giving mood. Broncos recover a Pryor fumble, quickly go up 14-0. 

    —Peyton Manning has No. 53, this time to Knowshon Moreno.

    —The Raiderettes are still dancing. So it’s all good here.

    —Official prediction might have been a tad low.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 7, Raiders 0 — 7:05 left in first quarter

    —That’s No. 52 for Peyton Manning. Like clockwork, that drive.

    —71 yards, 12 plays, 3-yard TD from Manning to Decker. Drive time: 5:54. 

    —Little-known fact: Knowshon Moreno indulges in IVs of Red Bull prior to kickoff.

    —Former Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen risking a sunburn today. Going without a hat/visor.

    —Standing-room only in lower deck. Appreciate their spirit, if not their team.

    —Scary thought for Denver folks who frigidly sat through the Mile High Mistake: At this rate, Broncos would get Colts, Chiefs or Chargers in divisional round of playoffs. Two of the teams (Colts, Chargers) that beat them.

    —Still feels like Montee Ball is so afraid of fumbling, so focused on securing the ball, he loses some big-play ability.

    —Decent breeze going into the Broncos’ faces in first quarter.

    —Andre Caldwell’s emergence has been a pleasant surprise for Broncos. Heckuva grab for 16-yard first down.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Oak.PFM

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (12-3) at Raiders (4-11) — O.co Coliseum, Oakland, Calif. — Kickoff (2:25 p.m.)

    —Broncos take the field. Black Hole boos, hisses, spits face paint.

    —Peyton Manning (above, running across the the Raiders logo) and the Broncos’ offense need 18 points to break the NFL’s single-season scoring record. He needs 266 yards to break Drew Brees’ passing yardage record.

    —Might get both by halftime.

    —The upper deck here at the Coliseum is the black hole. Meaning, there’s a black tarp over it. The stadium’s roughly 50-percent empty right now.

    —The two teams Denver doesn’t want to see in the playoffs, me thinks, reside in the AFC West: Chiefs and Chargers.

    —Official prediction: Broncos 37, Raiders 21.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Oak.Field

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (12-3) at Raiders (4-11) — O.co Coliseum, Oakland, Calif. — 40 minutes until kickoff (2:25 p.m.)

    —The Raiders are honoring their 1983 Super Bowl team today (above). Broncos coach John Fox spent a few minutes chatting up the former champs. 

    —Yes, kids, there was a time when the Raiders were good.

    —What’s the official explanation on the Raiders’ decade of being bad? Is it only bad drafts? Bad free-agency decisions? Coaching turnover? Hard to believe it’s been 11 years — and counting — since the Raiders have finished better than third in the AFC West. Third! In a league set up for franchise turnarounds, that’s a remarkable stretch of futility.

    —The Chiefs are doing the Chargers a great favor by sitting their guys today.

    —Peyton Manning’s offense is on the field. More scoring records are destined to fall today.

    —Nuggets are playing the opposite of Action Ball right now. Good thing Knicks are, too. 

    —On a limb here, but I still like the Panthers coming out of the NFC.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    IMG_20131228_135615

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (12-3) at Raiders (4-11) — O.co Coliseum, Oakland, Calif. — One hour until kickoff (2:25 p.m.)

    —Champ Bailey just took the field. He’s active today.

    —And right behind him, Charles Woodson, another No. 24, takes the field. Quite a pair right there.

    —The Broncos have won four straight against the Raiders, including a 27-13 Thursday night win last season. I remember NFL commissioner Roger Goodell cruising through the Black Hole on that Thursday night

    Broncos favored by 13 today, according to our friends in Las Vegas. 

    —Trindon Holliday just took the field doing his airplane routine. The Black Hole didn’t appreciate that.

    —No sign of John Elway, whose wife is a former Raiders cheerleader.

    —Sebastian Janikowski’s pregame routine includes cruising around the field, helmet in hand. He’s still good from 60, right?

    —The Broncos handled the Raiders, 37-21, in Week 3. 

    —Just looked up my column from their first meeting. Huh, I got one right.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Oak.Stadium

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (12-3) at Raiders (4-11) — O.co Coliseum, Oakland, Calif. — One hour until kickoff (2:25 p.m.)

    Afternoon everyone. Paul Klee joining you from the Coliseum for this Live Report from Broncos-Raiders, the regular-season finale. Another perfect day in Bay Area, where it’s around 70 degrees and sunny (above). I’ll be here through the final horn….

    —Julius Thomas, one of the Broncos’ five Pro Bowl selections on offense, is down on the field going through his pregame routine. It doesn’t include trading the 51st touchdown ball with a babe for her phone number.

    —As pointed out by Jeff Legwold, the former Fighting Illini sitting to my right, check out the Chiefs inactives today: Dontari Poe, Jamaal Charles, Alex Smith, Derrick Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Tamba Hali. 

    —Clearly, the Chiefs are throwing in the towel on this season.

    —Easy $1.75 trip on the BART to the Coliseum, an endearing quality of the Raiders.

    —Reports coming out that former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan will be fired in Washington tonight or Monday.

    —Equal number of Broncos fans as Raiders fans in the Coliseum right now.

    —Broncos inactives include Wes Welker and Kayvon Webster. Both will be needed for the playoffs.

    —Raiders inactives include Tim Brown, who is retired, so he can’t hurt the Broncos’ chances of earning the No. 1 seed.

    —Column in today’s Gazette: Broncos injury struggles are ongoing. The latest and greatest is that of Von Miller, whose torn-up knee could derail this Super Bowl train.

    Back in a few.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

    Email: paul.klee@gazette.com

  • Broncos: How good is good enough?

    Sat, December 28, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

     

    IMG_20131228_135615

    Just landed in San Francisco for Sunday’s Broncos-Raiders game. Gorgeous, sunny day in the Bay Area.

    And I’m trying to figure out two things.

    First, the Broncos this season have played two games in Texas and three in California, including the preseason. The Texas stadiums are sights to see, big-boy football palaces. The California stadiums are landfills with turf. 

    Why is that?

    Second, are Broncos fans enjoying what they’re watching? Case in point: a pleasant gentleman on the flight this morning wanted to talk football. He’s a lifelong Coloradan, an Arvada guy. He said the Chargers game in Denver was a disappointment. I said the Broncos were bad that Thursday night, then asked about the 13 wins. He pointed to the Indianapolis game. I asked about Peyton Manning’s 51 touchdowns. He said the quarterback can’t win in New England.

    After two coffees at 6 a.m., I egged him on, of course. But is this where we are? Are we in a place where 13-3, the most prolific offense in NFL history and probably the No. 1 seed in the AFC aren’t good enough?

    It’s not always like this. I remember 1999, 2007 and 2010. Do you? 

    It’s not just the guy in Row 14 on United Airlines flight 1721. The phone lines and comments section light up when the Broncos lose. And that doesn’t happen very often. Since the Monday night comeback in San Diego on Oct. 15, 2012, the Broncos are 24-4. Think about that. 

    This Broncos season was, and is, Super Bowl or Bust. We labeled it that way, everyone else labeled it that way, the Broncos labeled it that way. But is it still OK for fans to soak in the ride? Win-every-game-or-else seems like an awfully unsatisfying way to follow a football season.

    I wrote back in training camp it’s dangerous to take Peyton Manning for granted. I had a hunch the quarterback would do things this season we’ve never seen before. He has. 

    Here’s another hunch: Colorado’s going to miss him when he’s gone. 

    It could be a worse, you know. You could be the Raiders, playing in one of California’s crumbling stadiums.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Broncos: Von’s gone, the biggest blow

    Fri, December 27, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Color me surprised that so many are trivializing the loss of Von Miller.

    At some point it’s not just about Peyton Manning. At some point you take away enough cards and the house is bound to fall. Miller’s done for the season, and this one’s going to hurt.

    This could be the straw that broke the Broncos.

    A coach who was inside Houston’s Reliant Stadium on Sunday once told me that a championship franchise must be built around three positions. To win it all, all three should be elite: The quarterback. The left tackle. The pass rusher.

    The Broncos were built on those three positions. They are down to 1 of 3. The quarterback is still standing. But the left tackle and pass-rushing linebacker are donesies.

    It’s odd, and predictable, how some observers are downplaying the significance of the Broncos’ injury situation. These are the same observers who, if the Broncos don’t win the Super Bowl, will target Manning as the goat.

    But when Miller was removed from Sunday’s game in Houston, I looked on the field and saw one player on the defense who started for the Broncos in the playoffs last January. One of 11! The one was Mike Adams. 

    At some point these injuries are going to catch up with the Broncos. Miller and Ryan Clady are two of their top-three players. They are stars, and they are out. Derek Wolfe, Wes Welker, Champ Bailey, Rahim Moore and Kevin Vickerson are either ailing or unavailable for the playoffs. These are starters, and they are out, or injured. 

    Did I miss anyone?

    The Broncos will miss Vonnie Football, big time. More on this in Sunday’s Gazette.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Live Report: Broncos at Texans

    Sun, December 22, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    FINAL: Broncos 37, Texans 13.

    —Peyton Manning’s 50th touchdown went to Eric Decker. Jacob Tamme walked off the field with the ball. His record-setting 51st touchdown went to Julius Thomas. Eric Decker walked off the field with the ball.

    —The entire Broncos bench greeted Manning after No. 51. 

    —Brock Osweiler finished the game at quarterback.

    —If the Ravens beat the Patriots this afternoon, Osweiler will finish next Sunday’s game, too.

    —The Broncos wrapped up their third-straight AFC West title today. That’s a franchise first.

    —It also means the Broncos will have a first-round bye in the playoffs.

    —I’m sure Peyton Manning would give back No. 51 if it meant having Von Miller for those playoffs.

    —The Broncos defense today: three sacks, two interceptions, season-low 13 points allowed.

    Thanks for reading today’s Live Report. More coverage from Houston coming to Gazette.com later today.

    Klee 

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 30, Texans 13 — 6:57 left in fourth quarter

    —Peyton Manning ties the NFL’s single-season record for touchdown passes with a perfect ball to Eric Decker. That’s No. 50.

    —Good-teammate Jacob Tamme made sure the actual football made it to the sideline. One for the trophy case.

    —Official attendance: 71,061.

    —Good things happen when the Broncos don’t ditch the running game.

    —ESPN ace reporter Jeff Legwold points out the Texans play close with just about everybody.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 23, Texans 13 — 11:11 left in fourth quarter

    —On previous defensive series, Manning and Decker were on the bench, analyzing photographs. On the ensuing offensive possession, Manning hit Decker for a touchdown pass.

    —The Broncos have 421 total yards of offense, despite going three-and-out three times this half.

    —The Chiefs are in a giving mood. Still down big against the Colts.

    —Brock Osweiler is throwing to Decker on the sideline. He’ll play, someday.

    —Malik Jackson joins the sack party. 

    Back in a few.

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 16, Texans 13 — 14:11 left in fourth quarter

    —The lone bright spot for the Broncos in Houston: Meh. Can’t think of anything. 

    —The lone bright spot for the Broncos elsewhere: the Chiefs are down 23-7 against the Colts.

    —The Broncos have never won the AFC West in three straight seasons. That could happen today.

    —Peyton Manning’s head bounced off the turf. Instead of hustling to the sideline, like he usually does, Manning trudged to the sideline. He’s on the bench now, looking over photographs with Eric Decker.

    —Huge play by Mike Adams, the vet.

    Back in a few.

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 16, Texans 13 — 2:00 left in third quarter

    —The Broncos have gone away from their running game, again. Adam Gase said last week at Dove Valley that couldn’t happen. Yet it’s happened.

    —Ryan Clady, here in the press box, applauded Danny Trevathan’s sack of Matt Schaub. He’s huge, so he’s allowed.

    —The Broncos have 10 yards of offense in the second half. Make that 24. Still, though.

    —Does this look like a Super Bowl team right now? 

    Back in a few.

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 16, Texans 13 — 7:41 left in third quarter

    —The Texans committed their first penalty with 9:40 left in the third quarter.

    —Riddle me this: How does a team outgain another team, 357 to 157, and only lead by three points?

    —The Broncos haven’t forced a turnover since the Tennessee game.

    —But really, the biggest story today is Von Miller’s injury. We’ll know more after the game. It doesn’t sound good.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 16, Texans 13 — 10:18 left in third quarter

    —Too easy for the Texans. 

    —With all the new players, you get the impression the Broncos are trying to overhaul their defense… in Week 16.

    —The Broncos have committed seven penalties. The Texans, zero.

    —The sun is shining through the roof. Is that why Andre Johnson dropped the touchdown pass?

    —Once again, looks as though it will be up to Peyton Manning.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 16, Texans 6 — Halftime

    —Peyton Manning with 296 passing yards in the first half. If our math is correct, he’s on pace for 592 today.

    —And it feels like the Broncos aren’t sharp, doesn’t it? Boy, are we spoiled or what.

    —Best half by the Denver defense since….?

    —Total offense numbers: Broncos, 355; Texans, 83.

    —Ryan Clady is up here in the press box. The lone exception when cheering is allowed. Who’s going to argue with an offensive tackle?

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 13, Texans 6 — 00:46 left in second quarter

    —Most guys get knocked into the opposing bench, opponents scatter. Peyton Manning got knocked into the Texans’ bench, and the Texans caught his fall and helped him up.

    —Nice people here in Texas.

    —Manning passed the 5,000-yard barrier. He’s the sixth human to throw that many yards in one season. It’s the first time that human has done it.

    —We’re assuming Peyton’s human, of course.

    —He’s on pace for 500-plus yards. And we’re wondering why the Broncos aren’t sharp again today.

    —On a recent defensive series, the Broncos had only one player on defense who was a starter in the playoff loss to the Ravens. That would be Mike Adams. The other 10 guys are either injured, on the sideline or in Baltimore (Dumervil).

    —Great stadium you have, Houston. Looks a little like Lucas Oil.

    —Two field goals doesn’t make for a happy Peyton Manning.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 10, Texans 6 — 5:35 left in second quarter

    —Heckuva play by Robert Ayers on third-and-1. Three-man rush, and Ayers still got to Schaub.

    —Steve Vallos is out with a concussion. Got blasted on special teams. Scary-looking deal.

    —Peyton Manning appeared to give his offense a pep talk prior to their last drive.

    —Someone needs to get Steve “Greek” Antonopulos a pep talk. With this banged-up roster, he’s the busiest trainer in the biz.

    —Trindon Holliday’s usually yapping. In his return to Houston, which cut him last season, he seems to be yapping more often than usual.

    —Quiet crowd here in Houston. Maybe they’re still in shock the Rockies gifted Dexter Fowler to the Astros?  

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 10, Texans 3 — 14:54 left in second quarter

    —Today couldn’t be off to a worse start for the Broncos. Von Miller’s out with a knee. Eric Decker was helped off the field with a lower-body something or other. Steve Vallos has a concussion.

    —The injuries have gotten to the point it’s worth wondering: when the Broncos signed Peyton Manning as a free agent, was the deal with the devil? 

    —Big-time double move by Demaryius Thomas on the touchdown. Left his defender back at the 30.

    —That’s No. 48 for No. 18. Two more ties the record, three more breaks it.

    —The Broncos have over 200 yards of offense…. through 16 minutes.

    —Why is the score only 10-3? Dumb penalties.

    —The crowd here is probably 30-percent Broncos fans. The other 70-percent is asking this question: Teddy Bridgewater or Jadeveon Clowney?

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    IMG_20131222_120311 

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 3, Texans 0 — 5:06 left in first quarter

    —Apologies for the delay. Computer issues! Think we’re good to go now.

    —The Broncos spent time with former President George H. Bush here in Houston this weekend.

    —Peyton Manning preferred to go for the first down on 4th-and-3. Instead, Matt Prater booted another field goal.

    —Knowshon Moreno running hard today. Also doesn’t mind signaling for a breather when he needs one.

    —The Ball-Moreno punch looking much better than against San Diego, which isn’t hard to do. 

    —The Broncos must be the most undisciplined 11-3 team in the NFL. This goes back to our theory: the only (AFC) team that can beat the Broncos is… the Broncos.

    —Von Miller with a knee injury. His return is questionable. Not good. But no reason to play him today, if there’s an issue.

    —Julius Thomas can’t pick up the first down on fourth-and-3. That’s the first time this season the Broncos have missed a fourth-down conversion. They were 7-for-7.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

     

    Hou.Bubble

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (11-3) at Texans (2-12) — Reliant Stadium, Houston — 30 minutes until kickoff (11 a.m.)

    —The Broncos’ stay in Houston had its share of difficulties already. During a power outage at the team hotel, the team held meetings by candlelight.

    —Former Texans return man Trindon Holliday seems to be a ringleader on the field during warmups. One man’s plea: if you’re going to use Holliday, use him. Don’t shuttle in Wes Welker or Eric Decker for return duties.

    —The Texans’ practice facility (above) is across the street. It’s known as one of the better facilities in the league, all-knowing ESPN reporter Jeff Legwold says.

    —It sure seems to be setting up for a Ravens return to Mile High in the divisional round of the playoffs.

    —Which is fitting, when you think about it. After the Jags upset the Broncos in the 1996 playoffs, the Jags returned to Denver in the 1997 playoffs. The Broncos smoked ‘em, 42-17.

    Back in a few.

    Klee

    Hou.Roof

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (11-3) at Texans (2-12) — Reliant Stadium, Houston — 30 minutes until kickoff (11 a.m.)

    —The roof is open at Reliant Stadium (above). There was some rain this morning, though it’s clearing up now.

    —Andre Johnson is on the field, warming up. On a bad team, he leads the NFL in receptions. 

    —Colleague David Ramsey had a good column on Wes Welker earlier this week. 

    —Peyton Manning is on the field, having a chat with guys who look to be the Texans’ ownership.

    —The Broncos have one eye on Chiefs-Chargers today. With a Chiefs loss, the division is theirs for a third-straight season. That would be a franchise record.

    —Call me nuts, but me thinks the Chiefs now present the greatest obstacle to an AFC championship. 

    Klee

    Hou.Lot

    Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos (11-3) at Texans (2-12) — Reliant Stadium, Houston — One hour until kickoff (11 a.m.)

    Morning, everyone. Paul Klee joining you from Reliant Stadium for the first early kickoff of this Broncos season.  We’ll keep this Live Report going through the final horn…

    —The tailgate lots are virtually empty (above). A healthy percentage of Texans fans are simply counting the days until they own the first pick in the draft. Which prospect should be their pick? It won’t be the best quarterback in the draft. 

    —Champ Bailey will return to the cornerback rotation today. He’s not expected to start. 

    —Brock Osweiler is going through his pregame routine down on the field. So are Trindon Holliday, Britton Colquitt and Matt Prater. Prater is stretching it out from 47 yards.

    —This is Houston’s final home game. At the moment, there are more Broncos fans in the building than Texans fans. In their previous trip to Texas — at Dallas — Broncos faithful accounted for roughly 30 percent of the crowd.

    —What to get the Broncos for Christmas? We broke it down in Sunday’s column.

    Back in a few.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Broncos: Wes Welker and playing football

    Fri, December 20, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    In Thursday’s Gazette, colleague David Ramsey writes a column on Wes Welker and his concussions. We’ve seen a few takes with this opinion lately, none quite as thoughtful as Ramsey’s. He uses an excellent source on the matter, Broncos great Floyd Little, who knows a thing or two about getting smacked upside the head on a crossing pattern.

    The opinion is that pro football players, guys who have sustained concussions, should rethink their career choice. Step away, even.

    But — and you knew a but was coming — if we’re living by this school of thought, miners should quit the mines, heli skiers should take up ice skating, hurricane pilots should stop flying into hurricanes.

    If you sign up to play professional football — or football at any level, really — you know what you’re getting into. You know there’s a possibility your brain gets scrambled. You know concussions are part of the deal.

    It’s 2013, and the necessary information on the dangers of concussions is on the table. 

    Thirty years ago? That’s different. We didn’t know then what we know now. But I have a hard time empathizing with the 2013 NFL player who complains his brain is in danger, his career choice is hazardous, or anyone who says we need more regulation on the issue. If you didn’t know football was dangerous, your brain’s already scrambled. 

    My kids won’t play football. Not a chance. I’ve written many times how it’s surprising more NFL players don’t sustain more nasty injuries, the kind that paralyze them or send them into comas or otherwise alter their lives for the worse.

    But if guys sign up to play this dangerous game, let ‘em do it. It’s their choice. 

    Should Wes Welker continue to play for the Broncos this season? I don’t know. We aren’t privy to his concussion tests and medical records. I don’t know how bad it is. But if he’s cleared to play and wants to play, it’s his head, his life, his choice. 

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • NBA: Thunder wise to draft, keep Reggie Jackson

    Wed, December 18, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

     

    Reggie

    This goes with today’s column on Palmer grad Reggie Jackson, who’s been mighty impressive, if under the radar, the half-dozen times I’ve watched the Thunder this season. The numbers back it up.

    Now I would like to see Jackson (above, during Tuesday’s shoot around at Pepsi Center) on a roster where he can become everything he can be, which, I think, is a valuable starter in an NBA backcourt. We’d be hard-pressed to find 25 more gifted lead guards in the NBA. He won’t be a starter in OKC, not with Russell Westbrook in front of him. Westbrook was spectacular against Denver again Tuesday.

    Here’s the catch: why would the Thunder allow Jackson to slip away? Judging by their sustained success in the Western Conference, it’s a franchise that places great value in a strong bench and the importance of the role player. As my colleague Matt Wiley pointed out, Jackson’s potential also is probably why the Thunder were OK letting James Harden get away, although I don’t think anyone would suggest that was a wise move. 

    Reggie Jackson is their new James Harden, in a way. This isn’t being silly enough to say Colorado’s own is as gifted as Harden, but he’s similarly valuable to the deepest roster in the Western Conference.

    For what it’s worth, after seeing the Thunder on Tuesday night, this is the most complete Thunder team I’ve seen roll through Pepsi Center. OKC has it all. This is one of the few teams — probably the only time — I’ve watched the Nuggets over the past decade and felt they were outclassed at every position, one through five. 

    The Nuggets are now in a position where they have a bunch of good-to-very-good players…. yet still have an obvious need to upgrade. That’s not easy to do. 

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Broncos: Peyton Manning, S.I. Sportsman of the Year

    Mon, December 16, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Good choice?

    Bad choice?

    First thought: If this is a lifetime-achievement award, super. If that’s the case, Peyton Manning absolutely deserves it, whether this year or in 2014 or in 2015 or whenever. 

    If the award is simply a recognition of his first two seasons with the Broncos, in which the Broncos have been arguably the NFL’s best team but haven’t yet won a championship, the pick would be tough to explain. 

    Turns out, this is a sort of lifetime-achievement award. So, good on you, SI.

    “I don’t like the idea of narrowly defining a Sportsman based on what he’s done in the last 12 months,” Sports Illustrated managing editor Chris Stone said today at Dove Valley. “I think you can take somebody’s collective body of work and everything they’ve established throughout their careers.”

    The Sportsman of the Year cover story was written by the excellent Lee Jenkins, an alum of The Gazette. Stone, who mentioned David Ortiz and Miguel Cabrera as other possibilities, said the voting process consists of 17 senior editors with Times Inc. coming to a consensus.

    Other names? I’d say Serena Williams or Nelson Mandela would have been near the top of my list for 2013. I don’t know SI’s stance on international selections, so I’m not sure if Mandela fits the criteria.

    But it’s tough to argue with the Peyton pick.

    “A couple of weeks later, the Red Sox won the World Series the way that they won it, and we rethought it a little bit,” Stone said. “But we’re very comfortable and confident in our selection.”

    One final thought: here’s a suggestion the state of Colorado could be in for another Sports(person) of the Year honor in the near future, when Missy Franklin takes on the the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.  

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • NCAA: One-and-done should be done-and-done

    Mon, December 16, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    There are a handful of things I would change about college basketball, the sports arena I’m most familiar with. Those are documented here. The most impactful of these changes would be the existence of the one-and-done concept.

    The one-and-done should be done-and-done. If a high school kid is good enough to draw a paycheck in his chosen profession — in this case, playing basketball — why is it OK to prevent him from doing so? The idea seems quite un-American.

    The Buffs, who rose to No. 20 in the AP Top 25 today, have been and will be first-hand witnesses to the impact of the one-and-done player.

    No. 20 Colorado beat Kansas despite an outstanding show from Andrew Wiggins, who will be a top-three pick in the next NBA draft. He’s a freshman. Colorado plays Oklahoma State and Marcus Smart on Saturday in Las Vegas. 

    Wiggins is a one-and-done.

    Smart could’ve been a one-and-done but returned for his sophomore season.

    I side with CU coach Tad Boyle on this subject. The Buffs coach prefers Major League Baseball’s approach, which allows prep stars to sign a contract straight out of high school or play three years of college ball before turning pro.

    “You’re coming out of high school and you’re going to go pro, go pro. Sign your contract. If not, go to college for at least three years,” Boyle told me in a recent conversation. “With three or four years of college plus summer school, you’re within a semester or two of graduation. If you want to get your degree, you can.

    “I look at Spencer Dinwiddie. I know he’s probably leaving (for the NBA after this season). I’m not making any bones about that. But I also know Spencer will be within earshot of getting his degree, if and when he wants to do that.

    “That rule and the transfer rule are making a little of a mockery of what we’re supposed to be doing.”

    We can’t blame the likes of Bill Self and John Calipari and Travis Ford for recruiting the one-and-dones of the basketball world. That caliber of player makes a program better, and immediately. Those coaches are smart for doing it.

    But there’s no reason for Wiggins or Smart or Julius Randle or Jabari Parker or Aaron Gordon to be playing college ball. They already should be drawing a paycheck. 

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Broncos: Whither Mike Shanahan?

    Wed, December 11, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    As I pack up my house getting ready for a move, a series of Redskins press conferences are on the tube in the background. 

    It’s quite a fiasco over there, eh? And it got me thinking.

    First, why is Robert Griffin III being portrayed as the victim here? I certainly haven’t seen all of the Redskins’ games. Only a couple. I did cover Redskins-Broncos, and I wrote then I would be surprised if RGIII lasts five seasons in the NFL. 

    I still believe RGIII was the worst quarterback to face the Broncos this season. If not the worst, down near the bottom. It’s a short list, since the Broncos have played a number of quality quarterbacks.

    Brady. Rivers. Romo. Flacco. Luck. Alex Smith. Chad Henne and Ryan Fitzpatrick are capable, too.

    Watching RGIII way back on Oct. 27, I was struck by how ineffective he was. He was immobile. His passes soared high of the intended target. He was sacked three times, tossed two interceptions and had a QB rating of 45.4.

    His supporting cast isn’t very good, either, but RGIII was bad that day. It doesn’t appear that was an isolated performance. To me, the problem in Washington looks more like a scouting issue — a personnel-evaluation issue — than a coach-owner-quarterback quarrel like it’s being made out to be. They simply drafted the wrong guy. 

    The tone of the press conference — the RGIII press conference — was a strange one. It sounded as though folks believe RGIII has been unfairly benched for the rest of the season. Hey, after seeing the Redskins’ offense with RGIII at quarterback, maybe Mike Shanahan simply wants to try things with a different quarterback. Maybe? I’m not there, but that seems to be a reasonable conclusion no one is considering. They’re 3-10.

    This is relatable in Colorado only because the status of Mike Shanahan is and will always be news in Colorado. He won twin Super Bowl titles here and returned to a friend’s welcome on Oct. 27.

    Shanahan won’t be in Washington, D.C., next season. Given the toxic atmosphere in Redskins camp., it’s fair to assume he will be on the move.

    Here’s my scenario, based entirely on speculation: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sees an opportunity to grab an established offensive mind, hires Shanahan and sticks it to the hated Redskins in the process. 

    Mike Shanahan, head coach, Dallas Cowboys.

    Robert Griffin III, quarterback, Washington Redskins.

    Kirk Cousins, quarterback, Chicago Bears.

    Problems solved.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Broncos: AFC West rivalries? What AFC rivalries?

    Tue, December 10, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

     

    Blog.PFM

    “Wait. We’ve won how many in a row against the AFC West?”

    Ten, Mr. MVP. Ten straight.

    That’s one shy of the Broncos’ record. During the Super Bowl years in 1997 and 1998, the Broncos won 11 straight against the AFC West. That was so long ago, the AFC West still included the Seahawks.

    Denver can tie its longest divisional winning streak by beating San Diego on Thursday night.

    “We put more emphasis on the division games,” Peyton Manning said a few minutes ago here at Dove Valley.

    OK, Manning didn’t say the first quote. That was a joke.

    This is no joke: the Broncos are following a similar blueprint to what the Patriots have written for the past decade. The first step is dominating the division. That leads to home games in the playoffs, which usually lead to success in the playoffs. As I’m writing for Thursday, the Patriots have been quite lucky to play in the AFC East the past decade.

    Denver swept the AFC West last season. The AFC West stunk last season. But this AFC West is decidedly better, a challenge aside from the Raiders, and sweeping through the division again would be a significant accomplishment.

    “The division games count double,” Mr. MVP said.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette