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Spotty performances leave Plummer in limbo

DENVER (AP) _ On most weeks after the quarterback throws for 499 yards, the talk of the town is something other than whether that quarterback should be run out of town.

Jake Plummer isn't like most quarterbacks, a point he's proven time and again over his eight-year career.

Plummer set a Denver franchise record for yards passing last week, but also threw three interceptions and the Broncos lost handily.

Around Denver this week, he is largely being derided again as Jake The Mistake, a callow journeyman who can't be trusted to lead the Broncos to the end zone on many days, let alone the Super Bowl.

It's a week-to-week business here, and I know that I'd love to win every single game and be perfect,'' Plummer said Wednesday.But this game, it's hard to perform that way.''

So far in his year-plus with the Broncos, Plummer has spent week after week proving just that.

He goes from brilliant on one play to horrific on the next _ the kind of guy who can throw a perfect touch pass to a well-covered receiver, then come back and throw a left-handed interception. (He's right-handed, by the way.)

He has picked the wrong city in which to be so erratic. An act that was somewhat acceptable in Arizona hardly draws the same approval in a town where John Elway set the standard.

Brian Griese was sent packing after four years as the starter here, in large part because his performance never matched up to his cool, cocky attitude.

Now it's Plummer, Mike Shanahan's hand-picked successor, who is trying to live up to expectations.

The seven-year contract he signed in July 2003 calls for him to receive a $6 million roster bonus before next season. The Broncos must decide whether he's part of their long-term future before they pay the bonus.

Shanahan talks like a coach still in love with his quarterback, which is an expected reaction given the current circumstances _ two-game losing streak, tough game against Houston coming up, etc.

The only thing that matters to him is winning,'' Shanahan said.He puts a lot of pressure on himself. If he doesn't play at the level where we can win, he's disappointed in himself. When you have guys like that, you have a chance to do something special.''

From an outsider's perspective, there is nothing about Plummer that doesn't scream `Team.' Unlike his predecessor, Griese, Plummer hangs out with his teammates in the locker room, the weight room, away from the team's facility.

Nobody could have argued with his reaction after last week's 499-yard game, the most productive game in Broncos history.

``If I had thrown for 2 yards and we'd won, I'd be the happiest guy in here right now,'' he said.

He always comes off as optimistic and confident _ maybe too confident for his own good considering some of the plays he tries to force.

He has thrown 10 interceptions this season five in the last two games and because of his history as a swashbuckling risk taker, almost every pick he throws receives intense scrutiny on the radio, on TV, the internet and in the stands. By the time he threw the third interception last Sunday, he was being booed heartily by the fans.

I can weather that,'' he said.I've weathered a lot of that in the past.''

It's almost a universal belief around town that Plummer is good-to-great when the Broncos are ahead and the running game is working. But when they're behind and the holes aren't opening up _ well, he's no John Elway.

Still, the most remarkable thing about Plummer in his year-plus with the Broncos maybe his entire career is his ability to bounce back from the mistakes and still produce. Despite his foibles, he is 14-5 as Denver's starter. He's on pace for a 4,100-yard, 30-touchdown year (his previous highs are 3,737 and 18) and the Broncos are still tied with San Diego for the lead in the AFC West.

``I think the guys you want surrounding yourself are the guys that put pressure on themselves, knowing that this is the entertainment business and people like winners, not losers,'' Shanahan said.

Plummer gets it. Now, the question is whether he can bring up his game to match his attitude.

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