Reflections from a reporter born in 1987

Plummer: Shanahan 'still searching for John Elway'

November 4, 2010 - 05:10 PM
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It's OK, Donovan. Jake Plummer understands. (Photo: Associated Press)

The word "bust" was heavily thrown around when Jake Plummer arrived in Denver prior to the 2003 season. A second-round draft pick out of Arizona State by the Cardinals, Plummer struggled on a succession of mostly terrible Arizona teams (making just one playoff appearance in 1998). Here're his key statistics from his professional stint in the desert:

82 games started, 30-52 record, 55.9 completion percentage, 17,622 total yards, 90 touchdowns, 114 interceptions, 209.8 passing yards per game.

In Denver, with the help of head coach Mike Shanahan's famed rushing attack, Plummer's career underwent a turnaround. Here're those same basic stats from his time with the Broncos:

54 games started, 39-15 record, 59.1 completion percentage, 11,631 passing yards, 71 touchdowns, 47 interceptions, 197.1 passing yards per game.

The revival came to a screeching halt in 2006, when Plummer was pulled by Shanahan in favor of Jay Cutler in the middle of this Thanksgiving night loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Plummer would only attempt two more NFL passes before abruptly retiring prior to the 2007 season.

So, Donovan McNabb, Jake Plummer feels your pain.

Here's what Plummer said to Yahoo's Shutdown Corner about his time in Denver:

I had a coach that, regardless of how well I thought I was playing or how well the majority of fans across the country thought I was playing, it was never good enough for him ... It just seemed like every game I could have completed these four more passes or these five more shots here and it would have been perfect. And that just wasn't my personality... But Shanahan wanted perfection and he wore a lot of us down there.

"I think Shanahan is still searching for John Elway. Somehow, someway, he thinks there's going to be another guy like John Elway. He coached a team to almost perfection [with Elway] so he wanted that again, he wanted that every time we went out there. It's just not realistic.

In fairness to Shanahan (and leaving aside Plummer's comments about how wanting perfection "wasn't my personality" in a day and age when the best NFL quarterbacks are required to be a cross between nuclear physicists and logistical masterminds, with a touch of obsessive-compulsive disorder thrown in), the artist formerly known as "The Snake" was having his worst statistical season as a Bronco when he was pulled. Here's how he finished in 2006:

11 games started, 7-4 record, 55.2 completion percentage, 1,994 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 124.6 passing yards per game.

So, it's not like Shanahan was actually benching John Elway that Thanksgiving night. For a comparison, here are McNabb's numbers this year:

8 games started, 4-4 record, 57.4 completion percentage 1,971 yards, 7 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 246 passing yards per game.

Hmmmmm ... perhaps we shouldn't have been so surprised at the events of last Sunday, after all.

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    Alan Rickman

    Nov 04, 2010 - 07:11:06 PM

    Oh BOO HOO, you were given a chance to prove you were better than Shanahan thought you were, as good as you thought you were. But you never did and when given a chance to go to another team that WANTED you to prove it, you ran away. So stay in Idaho and cry into the pillow in silence.

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