Sunday, December 28, 2008

For whom the bell tolls.....

That ringing in your head is from Michael Bush running over you for his first of two touchdowns.

Or, it could be the bell on the playoff train ringing as it pulls out of Tampa Bay with the Bucaneers not on board. All I have to say to Tampa is that they got what their effort, or lack thereof, deserved. Four straight losses to end the season and miss the playoffs??!! Ouch. But keep your heads up, Bucs. Depending on how the Broncos do tonight, you may not be the only ones sitting at home in your "Catostrophic Collapse" recliners this offseason. (I'm sure Jeff Garcia isn't that bummed, though. He gets to spend the offseason at home with his wife.)

Let's bring this back where it belongs, The Silver and Black. To a team that won two games in a row to close out the season. To a team that looks to be improving and actually heading in the right direction.

The last two wins have had a lot of things in common that allowed the team to win. Protect the quarterback and you win. Stop the stupid penalties and you win. Use your great running backs to set up the pass and take the pressure of Russell and you win. Call plays so Russell can effectively manage the game through the air and you win. Convert on third down and you win.

A lot of credit has to go to the offensive line and the head coach the last few weeks. The offensive line was more than solid, protecting Russell, opening holes for Bush, McFadden and Fargas and not holding or false starting on seemingly every play. Cornell Green has been a huge part of that, replacing Kwame Harris. Tom Cable's play calling has been good the past two games, also. He put the players in situations where they could succeed and made sure the opposing defenses were guessing as to what the offense would do next. That helped Russell and the entire offense to be able to do what they did the past two games.

Rob Ryan's defense stepped up to support the offense and make plays when they had to against both Tampa Bay and Houston. Throw in our depth at running back and Russell's slow, steady improvement and we have two wins in a row to close out the 2008 season.

After the game finished up today, I did wonder to myself, "Where the hell did this team come from and where have they been all year?" They beat a very hot Houston team at home and a playoff contender on the road. Very encouraging. The young players were given their shot and they are showing promise and performing (especially Higgins and Schilens). Leads me to wonder if we need to keep the high priced free agents at the WR spot. That's one of the decisions that will need to be made in the offseason.

For now, the bell's rung on the 2008 season and we've ended up 5-11 and slowly improving. If you're a believer in momentum, let's hope we can carry these two big wins over to the draft, offseason and the 2009 season.

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