Daily Archives: August 6, 2010

Elvis has left the building

The Broncos added a name guy and lost a name guy this week, but the loss of OLB Elvis Dumervil to a torn pectoral muscle far outweighs the addition of RB LenDale White. Below are thoughts on both situations.

Dumervil stayed away from offseason work in Denver until he got a new contract, but just after he signed his $60-million-plus extension with $43 million in guaranteed money, he tore a pectoral muscle in training camp. He’ll miss four months, which takes him into the final quarter of the season and could lead the Broncos to put him on injured reserve. That’s a huge blow, because Dumervil developed into a premium pass rusher in Denver’s 3-4 defense last year. His 17 sacks were nearly half of the team’s 39, which is a statement about how good Dumervil was and how little other pass-rush help the team has. Without Dumervil, Denver’s 3-4 will undoubtedly struggle to pressure the passer, which will lead to more gimmick pass rushes that put more pressure on the secondary. For a team whose defense collapsed down the stretch, that’s a recipe for disaster. Now that Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler have been shipped out, Dumervil was one of the two best players Denver had, and losing him is a massive blow that changes the course of Denver’s season. The fact that another of Denver’s elite guys, OLT Ryan Clady, is still trying to get back from an offseason torn patella tendon only makes the Broncos’ prospects bleaker.

Meanwhile, White, who had some good years with the Titans, blew his chance with his old college coach Pete Carroll in Seattle, and he faces a four-game suspension to start the season. But the Broncos, who lost Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter to training-camp injuries and traded away J.J. Arrington, needed a professional running back during camp and turned to White. He may just be a camp body, but if he shows promise, the Broncos might keep him around.

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Why Mike Shanahan will lose by winning

It’s the biggest ego battle in sports right now (except, maybe for Brett Favre’s battle with retirement) – Mike Shanahan vs. Albert Haynesworth. And the truth is that if Shanahan wins, he’ll lose.

The new Redskins head coach is forcing Haynesworth to pass a conditioning test before practicing, in part as a punishment for Haynesworth’s decision to skip offseason training work with the team. Haynesworth, who got a ginormous $100 million contract in 2009 (before Shanahan hit town) and who has already pocketed tens of millions in guaranteed money from the deal, is bent out of shape about being potentially moved to nose tackle in the 3-4 so much that he decided to get out of shape. He skipped offseason work in protest, showing the kind of superstar ego we normally associate with diva receivas.

Now Shanahan is trying to exact his pound of flesh. He’s being a stickler to the conditioning test rules, refusing to let Haynesworth practice until he passes the test. And Haynesworth, who reportedly lost 30 pounds before training camp, seems unable to (or perhaps uninterested in) passing the test at this point so that he’s eligible for two-a-days.

Shanahan is using his head-coaching hammer to show Haynesworth who’s boss. But if he keeps lording over Haynesworth in this way, in an effort to win this pissing contest, the coach will end up losing. And here’s why:

Haynesworth is a great player. He’s disruptive off the field, but he’s even more disruptive on the field. His teammates know this. And they know that if the Redskins’ defense is going to be scary, Haynesworth needs to be on the field. No matter how much other players dislike Haynesworth’s work ethic or practice habits or selfishness, they dislike losing more. Losing costs them money and jobs.

So at some point soon, Shanahan will have to concede defeat in this conditioning-test pissing contest, or else he’ll be accepting defeats come the regular season. Players know grandstanding when they see it, and they’re seeing it from Shanahan now. The coach must back down, knowing whatever credibility he loses by backing down, he’ll get back by winning.

Haynesworth isn’t going to buckle under Shanahan’s iron will. Haynesworth has his money, and missing training-camp practices isn’t a punishment – it’s a blessing. Haynesworth has the leverage, and he has the talent and the contract that lets him live by rules different than everyone else. Blame the system, blame the ego, blame the contract Daniel Snyder gave him, but that’s reality.

The bottom line is this: Shanahan must realize that winning training camp isn’t as important as winning in the regular season. He will lose by winning this pissing contest with Haynesworth.

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Filed under Football Relativity