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Published on 08/28/2007 at Tue Aug 28 12:37.



I suppose the Todd Sauerbrun vs. Paul Ernster debate is now officially over, although it didn’t end the way I would have preferred. In order to reach the league-mandated 75-man roster today, the Broncos are expected to release Punter Paul Ernster and safety Quentin Harris. 23 more cuts are expected in the coming week as the team is required to reach its 53-man roster by this Saturday, September 1st.

None of the cuts have been officially announced, but as these players did not participate in practice today there is wide speculation that they will be the remaining two players the Broncos must release to reach the 75-man limit.

I have mixed feelings about losing Ernster – I applauded the move of releasing Sauerbrun last year after his 4-game suspension, based on the great work by Ernster. But, as many fans know, his game seemed to fall off last year after the competition wasn’t there nipping him at the butt. When Sauerbrun was brought back, I had said this would be Ernster’s last chance to earn (no pun intended) and keep his job. And he did that – just look at this statistical breakdown courtesy Andrew Mason:

KICKOFFS:

AVERAGE LENGTH: Ernster 72.4 yards, Sauerbrun 69.5 yards (note — I counted the actual distance of Ernster’s game-opening wallop against Cleveland, which was approximately 85 yards, as it landed five yards behind the touchline in the back of the end zone).
TOUCHBACK PERCENTAGE: Ernster 50.0 percent, Sauerbrun 50.0 percent.
AVERAGE DRIVE-START POSITION AFTER KICKOFFS: Ernster DEN 25.5; Sauerbrun DEN 26.0.
SHORTEST KICKOFFS: Ernster 63 yards, Sauerbrun 61 yards.

PUNTS:

AVERAGE LENGTH: Ernster 45.0 yards, Sauerbrun 40.4 yards
NET AVERAGE: Ernster 41.7, Sauerbrun 33.3
PUNTS INSIDE THE 20: Ernster 3, Sauerbrun 1.
TOUCHBACKS: Ernster 0, Sauerbrun 2.
SHORTEST PUNTS: Ernster 33 yards, Sauerbrun 15.

As you can tell, Ernster has plain DOMINATED this preseason. But, when it comes to regular season the Broncos should have more faith in Sauerbrun, bottom line. I had a feeling the move was coming no matter how well Ernster played, but expect some team to snatch up Ernster right away, even today possibly.

I’ll be posting my thoughts on every one of these cuts, and the ones I expect as the week rolls on… sorry no Top 10 today, need 28 hours and only got 24…

  • http://www.broncotalk.net Jonathan Douglas

    WOW! I’m also surprised by Ernster. After that preseason, I thought he was the top guy.

    …I guess you can’t underestimate the effect of Shanahan’s doghouse: “Players go in… but they don’t come out!”

    -Jonathan Douglas
    -BroncoTalk.net

  • OBF

    First off nine punts for TS in preseason games, is WAY to small of a sample to make any judgements from, particularly when taken in the context of both of their careers and career numbers. Also with samples that small the two extremes HAVE to be taken out of the average otherwise you get a very unrepresentitive sample. So the adverage should really looks something like this:

    Ernster Sauerbrun
    Kickoffs: 71.8 71.2
    Punts 45.25 42.1

    Finally, this job was won or lost in practice (where the coaches saw many many more punts that in the few pre season games) and on the negotiating table. Todds salary pretty much garunteed that he was going to be the starter from the very beginning, and of course Earnster totally crapping the bed in the second half of last season didn’t help his cause much.

  • http://www.broncotalk.net Jonathan Douglas

    OBF,

    Good points on both the averages and making the team during practice. Having only watched the games (not practice or camp), I felt like Paul had a better handle on the kicking game. But, you’re right. If Todd had consistantly better practices and just happened to tank a couple of preseason punts, he’d still have the inside track for the job.

    I guess I’m just surprised that they didn’t want to see both of them in his last preseason game — And I certainly agree with Kyle that some team will snatch Paul up quickly after his preseason preformance!

    -Jonathan Douglas
    -BroncoTalk.net

  • TCH

    I don’t think Ernster was in the dog house. Shanny let him go early enough in pre-season that he could be picked up by another team. I just hope he doesn’t go with a team we play often. That situation could come back to bite us!

  • Jack

    Keep in mind that all we see are the preseason game stats. Both Ernster and Sauerbrun will have kicked extensively in practice, which the coaches have to factor in too. Performance in practice may or may not be as telling as performance in a preseason game, but the sample sizes are small enough that numbers can get skewed one way or the other, and it may be that including practice Sauerbrun was tops.

  • MN Bronco

    I gotta say I don’t understand all the dismay over cutting Ernster. He had a season long audition last year and stunk. After the Broncos decided to keep him over Saurbrun, he promptly went in the tank, the 28th ranked punter in the league. Meanwhile, like him as a person or not, Saurbrun has a career as consistently one of the top punters in the league. The Broncos don’t need a “great guy” punting the ball for them, they need someone who can bang the crap outa the ball and also drop it inside the 20 when needed. 28th outa 32 isn’t good enough. Personally, I was relieved Todd was able to get out of New England. I remember him saying when he was cut last year that he wanted to come back to Denver, he loved it here. I know watching Ernster tank last year, the coaching staff felt burned by the decision to keep him. This is just a case of them not making the same mistake twice.