Peyton Manning throwing in practice session Monday near Denver
Manning practiced Monday at a Denver suburban-area high school in a non-team sanctioned throwing session.
Here they are, the first photos of Peyton Manning working out in Denver Broncos gear. Still surreal, right? According to Lindsay Jones, Manning worked out with J.D. Walton, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas; Decker told LJ his injured knee is healing well, and he'll be ready for OTAs.
As Decker told LJ,
Just some drill work, talking through stuff, so he gets familiar with the verbage and the calls. The biggest thing is he wanted to get a feel for us, and a feel for being under center. He looked real good, though he probably won't admit that he's feeling good or feeling back to the way he wants to be.
Of course, CBA rules (scroll down) prevent these guys from practicing together at Dove Valley and receiving coaching, so expect this to be a daily occurrence.
Perhaps the best linebacker-specific quote I’ve ever heard came from Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher:
I always say this: running backs and linebackers are very easy to recruit. When you hand them the ball and watch them, and you have to tell him where to run and what's going on, he's not a running back. If he's a linebacker and he's standing around the pile, he's not a linebacker. If he's at the bottom of the pile, he's a linebacker.”
I think that pretty much covers it. I want the guys who you find at the bottom of pile after pile. They generally have that only-slightly-controlled insanity that a top LB, particularly a middle linebacker, tends to carry, and finding them at the bottom of the pile tends to mean that they either made or helped make the tackle, or they've stolen the ball.
It’s official - according to the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective, there is no correlation between Combine tests or drills and success in the NFL. This is not news to me. The drills give me a chance to look at postures - how do they set their feet? Do they drop their hips easily on the backpedal? Smoothness? Power? The tests - the 40, three-cone and so forth - can confirm what you see on film, and they can sometimes give a marginal player’s scouts a reason to review his film, but they don’t prove much about future success. I list them for what they do or do not confirm, not what they predict.
Expect Broncos 2012 schedule to load up on primetime games
The early word on the Broncos’ schedule: “Our fans should get ready for more night games,” Ellis said. “Home and road.”
A team can have a maximum of six primetime games a season: four scheduled on ESPN’s Monday Night Football or NBC’s Sunday Night Football; one on the NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football and a sixth that can be flexed on NBC’s Sunday Night Football after week 10.
With Peyton Manning the toast of the league, look for the Broncos to have five primetime games on their 2012 schedule when its released. And then look for a “flexible” opponent in the final weeks.
Gonna be lots of late nights in Broncos Land this year. Of course, IAOFM will have you covered.
Bounty saga still dominating league landscape at owners meetings
Tebow and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, absolutely had a choice on where the Broncos would trade Tebow, despite Tebow’s statement that only Denver controlled that. The Jags had a better fourth-round pick on the table than the Jets were offering—by seven draft slots. The Jags were offering $500,000 more than the Jets in compensation for the advances paid on his contract. But Denver was willing to deal Tebow to either team. And it was a very difficult choice for the young quarterback, because he is from Jacksonville. But the decision made sense. The Jets wanted him more, and would use him more, ostensibly. It’s simple.
Oh, and PK finds it interestingly interesting that Peyton Manning remembers the names of the coaches with whom he spent SIX+ HOURS EACH over the past few weeks. Yeah, incredible. Guy would clearly put Ken Jennings to shame.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Dave Anderson finds it notable that Peyton Manning would join only Norm Van Brocklin (pre-SB era) as a great QB to win a title after a late-career team switch, if he wins one in Denver.
We're going to be subjected to a lot of this stuff going forward, for however long Peyton plays in Denver (unless, of course, he wins one).
But really, the list of championship quarterbacks is pretty short to begin with (29 different SB winners), and the tally of guys who led their team to a SB title at 36 or older is obviously shorter (John Elway, Johnny Unitas, Jim Plunkett). And as we can see from Anderson's column, the list of great QBs who switched teams during the autumn of their NFL time is quite brief to begin with. Teams tend to hang onto great QBs, unless they are the rare organization like the Niners or Packers with a great replacement on tap like Steve Young or Aaron Rodgers.
AFC West notes
The Broncos are visiting with Pittsburgh reserve quarterback Dennis Dixon. His visit started before Denver signed QB Caleb Hanie. Hanie has the inside track to back up Peyton Manning in Denver, but the Broncos are still interested in signing Dixon to compete with Hanie during training camp.
If Dixon is signed, Denver may still draft a quarterback to develop.
Adding Dixon would make four QBs for Denver, and drafting one would make five. Heck, why not draft two?
Peyton Manning's announcement that he was joining the Broncos prompted a fascinating and immediate reaction: People instantly decided that Mike McCoy was unimportant and that Manning himself would run the offense. It would be his offense, run his way, and would look as much like Indy as the Broncos could accomplish. It is an interesting theory, but Manning himself has demurred:
The offense that I ran in Indianapolis unfortunately doesn't exist anymore anywhere. Not even in Indianapolis. These other offenses, like Bill Walsh's (West Coast) offense, Don Coryell's (Air Coryell) offense, they all kind of continue. Our offense is no longer around, and it's kind of sad in some ways.
Mike McCoy's the offensive coordinator. I'm hoping to be a good teammate and quarterback for him and his staff. I have work to do on that end.
As far as his statements on the offense, he’s saying the right kinds of things, true or not, and while Denver will use his knowledge, I suspect they’ll also keep many of their own concepts. I recall watching a couple of Indy/New England games as part of a project and marveling at the specific use of routes on Indy’s part; the way they interwove them, sometimes to create rub routes, other times using one route to disguise a second or third stem in the pattern...so much creativity was there that I’m sure that the Broncos will be glad to add some of those routes into their arsenal. But that will also make a total of three schemes for McCoy to develop and teach in two seasons, so I expect some transition before Denver jumps all-in on the Indy playbook, if that’s their goal. They may prefer to keep some or many of their own approaches intact.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Although Jeff Saturday chose to go to Green Bay over joining Peyton Manning in Denver, it appears the writing was on the wall that the Broncos were less interested in adding Saturday than was the QB. Says Saturday:
Peyton is a close friend and I loved playing with him. I loved the time we spent together. It was the most difficult call I've ever made. I told him before anyone else that I was going to Green Bay.
I told him I don't think the Broncos wanted me as much as he did. They've got things going on that they're happy with and are moving forward with and I didn't think it was an exact fit. I always felt like in Green Bay I was their very first choice.
Saturday agreed to a two-year deal with the Packers; apparently the Colts had offered him a contract to play and then join the team's front office, but playing for the NFC's overdog trumped sticking around for a rebuild. We could speculate all day about the Broncos' apparently tepid interest, but it's impossible to know whether it was financially motivated, the team has a rosier opinion of J.D. Walton than we do, or they have plans to acquire another center via free agency or the draft.
A little over a month ago, John Fox said the Broncos would acquire at least two new quarterbacks to the Denver roster this offseason:
Who, what, where, when, what market — it's still way too early how we get those quarterbacks.
Of course, few could have predicted that the first two steps in Denver's QB overhaul would be the acquisition of Peyton Manning and trade of Tim Tebow for a mid-round pick. That changeover is another step closer to completion today, albeit in less dramatic fashion, and involving a far-less heralded player.
The Broncos added former CSU Ram and Chicago Bear Caleb Hanie, who agreed to a two-year deal; Hanie (6-2, 222) spent four seasons in Chicago backing up former Broncos Kyle Orton and Jay Cutler, going winless in four starts last year after Cutler broke his thumb.
“We are good with what we have, so I wasn’t too worried about it,” Hawkins told The Tennessean in a report published Friday. “This year, with all of us coming back and with (quarterbacks) Matt (Hasselbeck) and Jake (Locker), we want to build off the things we did last year. I want to grow with those guys.”
The veteran Hasselbeck and rookie Locker led the Titans to a 9-7 finish last season, when the team fell just shy of making the playoffs. Hasselbeck started every game, throwing for 3,571 yards and 18 touchdowns. Locker played in five games, racking up 542 passing yards and four scores without getting picked off once.
“If Peyton would’ve come, we would have started a lot of things over,” Hawkins said. “Now we can just continue on with what we have.”
There are two kinds of receivers out there: