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Have Denver's players "given up?"

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I found this interesting article on Yahoo...now I just hope it's true because that would surely benefit the Bengals when they play the Donkeys. :P


December 12, 2006


Pass rush. Pass protection. Run defense. Special teams. Pass coverage.

Locker room turmoil?

Mike Shanahan's long list of things he must address for the Denver Broncos to recover from their four-game losing streak grew by one very big item Monday when second-year cornerback Darrent Williams suggested some of his teammates don't believe their season is salvageable.

"Some people are ready to hang it up, you know, you can tell," said Williams, who didn't name names. "And it's hard when you're losing. It makes everything hard, it makes coming to practice hard. It makes coaches harder on you. It just makes everything harder when you're losing.

"So, a few guys are probably ready to hang it up. I don't know who. But I'm not."

The Broncos (7-6) believe they must win their final three games to reach the playoffs.

Yet Williams, who gave up several big plays in Denver's 48-20 loss at San Diego on Sunday, said that while nobody was outwardly conceding the season, he sensed some teammates were ready to cash it in.

"You can kind of feel that it's just one of those seasons," Williams said. "... It can get hard right at this time, and it's easy to just say, 'I'm going to just play these three games and get an early vacation."'

As possible evidence of his charges, Williams blamed the Broncos' four-game skid -- only the second in Shanahan's 11 seasons -- on some players taking some plays off.

"Because," he suggested, "if we got 100 percent effort from everybody, we could easily win these games."

Williams' remarks came three weeks after veteran wide receiver Rod Smith blasted his teammates' heart in an outburst following Denver's loss at Kansas City.

They also were made about half an hour after Shanahan met with reporters. At that time, Shanahan said he sensed some frustration on his team: "Oh, I think everybody's frustrated. If you're not frustrated when you lose four games, then you're in the wrong business."

Several players, however, including Champ Bailey, Domonique Foxworth and Kenard Lang, said Monday that they were certain everyone in the locker room believes they can win their last three games, starting Sunday at Arizona.

"One hundred percent, I believe everybody believes, we have talent here and we've got mature guys who have seen crazier things happen," Foxworth said. "Needing to win these last three games, it's something that's definitely within our reach."

Tight end Tony Scheffler said the Broncos were confident they could turn things around and he doesn't feel there's any fissures in the team.

"For losing four games in a row, everybody's still upbeat," Scheffler said. "I don't see anyone hanging their head or anyone too down. The spirit is still kind of upbeat."

Lang said he thinks everybody is still on the same page.

"I haven't heard nothing else. I mean, if anybody's down, they're down because we're losing. But nobody's not playing hard. I think everybody's still playing hard," he said.

Besides, Lang said, there was no reason to think the Broncos were finished.

"We still have a chance to go to the playoffs, so I don't see why you'd be down at all," he said.

In the last 10 years, eight teams have rebounded from a four-game skid to reach the playoffs.

The last time the Broncos lost four in a row was in 1999, when they started out 0-4 while adjusting to life without John Elway, who had retired that offseason after winning his second straight Super Bowl.

This time, the Broncos are adjusting to another new quarterback, but rookie Jay Cutler is the least of their worries:

-- Their offensive line isn't protecting the passer.

-- Their defensive line isn't pressuring the passer.

-- Their depleted secondary isn't playing the pass very well.

-- Their linebackers could do better against the run.

-- Their special teams are exacerbating all these troubles with poor tackling and bad blocking.

Shanahan said every player and coach has to step up his performance the rest of the season.

"If we do that, we've got a chance to do something down the stretch," he said. "If we don't, we'll be sitting home."

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The Bronco's gave up when they benched Jake Plummer in favor of Jay Cutler. Mike Shanahan basicly told the team that Cutlers development was more important then making the playoffs when he made the change. Jake gave them their best chance to make the playoffs and the rest of the team knew it. Thus, they have given up because of the change.

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Well, being a local, I might be able to shed some light on this issue. First of all Shanahan has been quoted as saying that the reason they made the switch was that it gave his team the best chance of winning right now, not next year. It has been well documented in the local media how frustrated he has become by game planning for Plummer's inadaquacies. It is thought that he viewd his current team as the Steelers of 04, great defense, solid running game, and bring in the highly touted rookie QB to manage the games. Cutler is thought to be not only be physically more gifted than Plummer, but also brighter in the playbook sense. Shannie thought he was going to have another Rottenburger experience except that the defense has suddenly become not so great due to some key injuries, and the running game has been less than stellar.

As far as Darrent Williams comments are concerned, I would tend to agree that at the very least the lockeroom seems split on the change a QB. I don't know if they have given up necessarily, but the veterans on the team were very much on Jake the Snake's side. In fact, only a few weeks before the switch, Rod Smith called a local media guy an idiot for suggesting that the Broncos start Cutler over Plummer. This has been a very hotly debated topic since Cutler was drafted. Both sides have been very vocal and it seems like the type of situation that could easily divide this team. Williams also commented on the defensive problems saying virtually the same thing, that some guys are just going out to get paychecks at this point. Personally I think he is talking about the D-line, because they are mostly FA's from Stainsville.

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Thanks for providing a local view point. But what Shanny forgot was Big Ben inherited the job due to an injury to Tommy Maddox at the start of the season, not because Maddox was struggling. And he did not replace the Maddox mid-season with a playoff spot on the line. While Jake Plummer may have struggled at times, I think he gave them a better chance to win then Cutler. Cutler may have "wowed" everybody with his strong arm in practice, it does not always translate to wins on the field without experience. I have to say that Mike Shanahan over estimated his ability to evaluate a teams talent and made a decision that has now put them out of the playoffs this season. When the Bengals eliminate them on Christmas Eve, I hope Mike has the ability to admit his own ego got in the way and apologizes for his poor decision.

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