Has Champ Bailey passed his expiration date?
Champ Bailey did not cost the Denver Broncos their season on Saturday. He was however a big player in the equation of the loss.
The 34-year old Pro Bowl cornerback has had a storied career. Is it time for Denver to look elsewhere?
Murmurs of Bailey’s decline have been simmering for the better part of two seasons.
A lost step here. A big play lost there. But it was never enough to indulge the feeling that he’s fallen off the cliff.
Those murmurs will now become roars as Bailey clearly proved that he may not be able to hang with the NFL’s fiercest young lions anymore.
The Baltimore Ravens speedster Torrey Smith torches a lot of defensive backs at any age.
During key moments he has a knack for making his quarterback Joe Flacco look very good.
In the first half of their AFC divisional round matchup, Smith owned Bailey in a way that was never thought possible,
As he contorted and twisted on each of Smith’s long-distance quick strike knockout blows, Bailey appeared to be out of his league.
Before the end of the first half, Bailey appeared to tap out as he stared into space as Smith outplayed him for a crucial score.
Quite frankly it was easy to feel embarrassed for Bailey even on a missed opportunity in which Flacco overthrew Smith on what would have been a walk-in score.
Smith is not the greatest route runner in the game.
He runs a few routes on the route tree pretty well and they all involve getting up field and underneath a deep football.
He will never be confused with some of the game’s more elite pure route runners.
He’s a excellent run blocker and he has a great deal of speed and solid hands.
The artist formerly known as Champ Bailey should have been able to hold him check.
Blame Peyton Manning for his own faux pas that let the game slip away.
He himself threw a interception that resulted in a early Ravens score.
He threw another in overtime that let to the game’s deciding points.
But for the most part, Manning did not seem out-of-place on a NFL field. He was a guy just having a bad game.
In the second half Denver’s defense was forced to shift to cover up Bailey’s falloff.
Smith did him that dirty in the first two rounds.
Next season, one would assume that Champ Bailey will be forced to take a pay cut.
His current contract states that he is due $9 million plus a $1 million dollar roster bonus.
It would be irresponsible for the Broncos to carry them at that amount.
One game is not a serious strike against any future hall-of-famer.
Unless within that game, he has shown that time has passed him by.