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Denver Broncos News: Broncos' Mailbag


Mason's Mailbag: Coin-toss strategy, Ring of Fame, Andy Janovich and Barney the dinosaur

You can tweet questions to me with the hashtag #AskMase or use the submission form to your right (if you're viewing on a standard browser) or at the bottom of the page if you're on the mobile site.

Well, if you take a look at the upper deck facade on the east side, there are two open areas where you could fit names, plus two more areas where there are three Broncos logos next to each other. You could fit another name in each spot, so that really takes you up to room for four more names in front of the 500 level.

One possible solution is making the letters on the names smaller, increasing space. Another could be to build fascia signs that rise up above the top of the south grandstands (I reserve the term "South Stands" for old Mile High Stadium's bleachers) and just below the signs to commemorate the retired numbers and Super Bowl wins.

Others may have better ideas; I'm no design expert. They'll find a way.


In Monday night's game Brock Osweiler fumbled the ball and recovered it and was touched down by Von Miller. If Brock had stood up with the ball to throw it and was tackled by Miller that would've been considered a sack, right? Why wasn't it considered a sack when Von Miller touched him down?**

-- Blaine Drye

If Osweiler had dropped back and begun setting up to pass, it would have been a sack. But because he dropped the snap and instantly fell on it, there was no way to judge the intent of the play. Basically, "run" is the default of every play until there an intent to pass is displayed, and after that it would only revert to a run if the quarterback gains at least one yard beyond the line of scrimmage with his feet.

When no intent to pass has been shown, the play is considered a run -- although, in a statistical quirk, it is only considered a run from the spot of recovery. Thus, even though the play is a 5-yard loss, it goes into the rushing table as a carry for no gain.

"Interesting" is a fascinating adjective. It doesn't always mean "best" or "most memorable," in fact, sometimes it can be a pejorative.

So if taken in that way, I'll cast my vote for the 2006 game in Denver in which the Broncos lost a 24-7 lead, with one of the Chargers' comeback touchdowns coming when defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban tried in vain to cover LaDainian Tomlinson out of the backfield. Since Ekuban was 275 pounds at the time and Tomlinson was a fleet 221, it didn't go well once Tomlinson got a step on the veteran D-lineman, and one quarter later, the Chargers finished off the rally. Those Broncos were never quite the same after that game.

But if "interesting" is in the positive sense, I offer these five candidates, in chronological order, obviously written from a Bronco-centric perspective:

Oct. 7, 1979:Broncos shut out the Air Coryell Chargers, 7-0.

Nov. 17, 1985:Louis Wright returns a blocked field goal 60 yards in overtime for the most dramatic sudden-death ending in Broncos history (until Tim Tebow-to-Demaryius Thomas on Jan. 8, 2012).

Sep. 18, 2005:This one is forgotten, but it was a second-half revival at halftime that not only won the game, but launched the Broncos to a 13-3 season. At halftime, though, the team was a mess, down 14-3 after losing the previous week's season opener 34-10 at Miami -- a tidy little 48-13 deficit to start the year that would have probably triggered mass social media panic if it happened today. To make matters worse, at halftime the press box didn't have any hot dogs, leaving an exasperated Jim Saccomano to tell ravenous media with hunger pangs that the fault lay with the caterers, not Broncos public relations ... and then, on the first play of the second half, Champ Bailey, about to begin a two-year run that is the best I've ever seen from a cornerback, stepped in front of a Drew Brees pass and returned it 25 yards for the touchdown that restored order. A 37-yard Darrent Williams punt return set up the Kyle Johnson score that put the Broncos in front, and after San Diego tied it, Ron Dayne's clutch running -- including a fourth-and-1 conversion -- set Jason Elam up for the 41-yard game-winning field goal.

Nov. 27, 2011:So much is frozen in my mind about this day ... the postcard-perfect California conditions (84°F on Thanksgiving weekend) ... the halftime tribute to Junior Seau, who was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame, a memory tinged with so much sadness because he killed himself barely five months later ... Chargers kicker Nick Novak relieving himself by the Gatorade coolers on the Bolts' sideline, then metaphorically relieving himself by slicing a 53-yard overtime field-goal attempt in the encroaching darkness to resuscitate the Broncos' chances ... and, finally, Willis McGahee shredding the exhausted Chargers for 45 yards on three overtime carries, including the 24-yard dash to set up Matt Prater's game-winner.

Oct. 15, 2012: Even if I cover the Broncos for 30 more years, I doubt I'll ever see a regular-season comeback more memorable than the rally from a 24-0 halftime deficit for a 35-24 win. It was the night that launched Peyton Manning on a career-defining run that spanned three seasons ... but it wouldn't have happened without two defensive touchdowns from a big-play defense that found its form after halftime.

I can. In 2010, the Broncos were swept by the Chargers and Raiders. Quite a bit went wrong that year.

Thinking about DeMarcus Ware and how much time he has left, makes me wonder... When he enters the Hall of Fame will it be as a Bronco or Cowboy? Amazing career there but I think he has had a larger impact in Denver, on the team as a leader and player plus the Super Bowl win.

-- Michael Borne

He will go in as both a Bronco and a Cowboy. The inscription by the name of each Hall of Fame player shows all teams for which he played in the regular season.

The question will be how the team commemorates him -- and it's a question without an answer right now. Willie Brown played 50 games over four seasons with the Broncos, but he is not among the Hall of Famers with a banner inside the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse. Neither is Tony Dorsett, who only carried the football as a Bronco in the 1988 season.

It's obviously a slam dunk for John Lynch to get the big HoF banner in the Fieldhouse if and when he is inducted, because he's already a Ring of Famer ... and with fellow finalists Steve Atwater and Terrell Davis long since in the Ring of Fame, they'll get banners, as well.

But what if Ware doesn't meet the four-season minimum for Ring of Fame induction? And what do you do about Brian Dawkins, who was selected for two Pro Bowls in three Broncos seasons?

Some fascinating scenarios are ahead.


When doing the coin toss is there actual strategy involved whether it is receiving, kicking, or taking what side of the field to play on first if you win the toss? I have always been a firm believer in kicking the ball first if you win the coin toss and taking possession in the second half. However, you see coaches switch up every week.**

-- Ethan Stanton

Conventional wisdom has come to dictate that if you win the toss, you defer your option, as you noted, so you get the first possession of the second half. Then you have that possession in your back pocket, and if things break right, you have the chance for back-to-back possessions to bracket halftime, which can be particularly devastating to an opponent if you capitalize fully on them.

Sometimes, you're judging the wind -- but there's some gamesmanship involved. Here's an example: Let's say you have a balanced or ground-centric offense and are playing a team that is pass-intensive. You win the toss and defer, knowing that the team will take the possession when it has the option ... and then you choose to take the wind in the first quarter, thus potentially reducing the opportunities your opponent has to work with the wind at its back.

Bill Belichick, of course, famously opted to take the wind at his back in overtime against the Jets last year. There's a long strain of this thought on the family tree from which Belichick descends, because one of his old bosses and mentors, Ray Perkins, liked to take the wind if the situation called for it. In a 1988 game at New England when coaching Tampa Bay, Perkins opted to get a 25-miles-per-hour wind at his back to start overtime ... and, of course, the Patriots drove to the game-winning field goal.

Whatever you do, just don't say, "We'll kick to the clock," as Abner Haynes did after the Dallas Texans won the coin toss before overtime of the 1962 AFL Championship Game. Because his first words were, "We'll kick," he had effectively given the football to Houston, which then had the option of choosing which end to receive the kickoff. The Oilers chose to have the wind at their backs, thus getting both the wind and the football. But the teams played a scoreless 15 minutes, and then the Texans won anyway on a 25-yard field goal 2:54 into the second overtime.


Will we see Andy Janovich see more playing time the rest of the season? It seems the offense plays so much better when he is out there and PFF did rank him as the number 1 FB. I mean, does he really need to be a "well kept secret" at this point?**

-- Joseph Ngai

Game flow will likely determine how much Janovich plays; if the Broncos trail early and have to pass the football more often to try and come back, you'll obviously see more three- and four-wide receiver formations and less use of the fullback. But if the Broncos can stay in front -- or keep the game within one score, allowing them to run their offense without tweaking -- then you'll see more of Janovich.

Any chance of a future vote on the dominant color of next year' jersey color. The dark navy blue is such a professional and classy-looking color.

It reminds me of the greatest Super Bowl ever played - Elway vs Favre.

It is just a much better-looking jersey than the orange jersey -- do it for Pat!

Any chance of a new vote?

-- James Matthew

Don't hold your breath.

It was overwhelming fan sentiment in 2010 that spurred Pat Bowlen and the Broncos to announce the change from using blue as their primary jersey color back to orange. Bowlen understands that the fans are at the heart of the business -- as revealed so many times, most dramatically after Super Bowl XXXIII when he held aloft the Lombardi Trophy and said, "This one's for you!"

I recall looking around the stadium during the 2000s and seeing a mishmash of colors -- blue, orange, white, gray. Now you go to the stadium -- especially on the kind of short-sleeve days we've had for home games this year -- and Sports Authority Field at Mile High is a sea of orange. The people seem to have spoken.

Blue is a nice change of pace to use one or two times a year as the alternate, but it's not the Broncos' core identity. Orange is. No other team uses orange for the color of its primary jersey. It makes the Broncos unique. If the Broncos go to navy, as you suggest, that would make them one of eight teams that uses navy blue as its primary colored jersey (including Dallas, which only wears them sparingly because it dons white at home), and one of 13 whose primary colored jersey would be some shade of blue.

You'd prefer the Broncos be one of a crowd, and that's fine. I prefer the Broncos be unique and celebrate a color that is at the heart of their identity and team culture.

Love your stuff, Andrew. My neighbors told me that I can don my Barney the Dinosaur outfit and dance in the street only if the Broncos win the Super Bowl again, any other occasion and they would call the cops again. What do ya think Andrew, can our offensive line get their groove on? I think that I have a reserved optimism that we will at least compete and rough some teams up during our journey. Crossing my fingers Andrew cause Barney doesn't much care for that taser.

-- Frank Thomas

I think we'll have a better idea when we see how the Broncos function without C.J. Anderson in the backfield -- and whether the recent injuries to Matt Paradis, Brandon Marshall and Aqib Talib are short-term inconveniences or potential long-term issues.

The offensive line had its best game of the season last Monday; it looks like it's starting to gel, especially with Donald Stephenson getting settled in after missing three weeks. But if Paradis' hip issues hinder him or keep him from playing altogether, the Broncos will be on shaky ground. His leadership and intelligence, which manifests itself in his ability to get everyone set and on the same page before the snap, would be tough to replace if he has to miss any time.

And thanks for putting Barney in my head ...

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The analysis, opinion and speculation in this story represents that of the author, gathered through research and reporting, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Denver Broncos organization.



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