The Broncos' pursuit of Asante Samuel is more than an admission they want to upgrade their secondary.
It might be the very clue we needed to put this whole question of their defensive scheme (and perhaps their draft strategy) together.
How so? It starts with the overlooked fact that Asante Samuel's skillset is not tight, man-to-man coverage. It's playing off man in a Cover 2. In fact, Samuel is world class at this style of cornerback play. Coincidentally (not so much), it's also Champ Bailey's strength, although Bailey is certainly adept at playing tight man coverage when the situation calls for it. But Bailey's preference is off man, where he can play five to seven yards off the line of scrimmage, aligned straight legged, and heads up or slightly outside of the receiver, peering into the backfield at the quarterback.
You'll recall that when Bailey finished runner-up to Jason Taylor as Defensive POY in 2006, he played a majority of his coverages out of this scheme. It allowed him to utilize his experience with offensive play and route recognition, along with his catlike reflexes.
Samuel, although not in Bailey's league when it comes to man-to-man coverage, has a similar ability to react to the quarterback and read routes out of off-man coverage. Of course, this is exactly why the Broncos wanted to trade for him. Their intention was for their base defense to feature off-man coverage from the corners. It's no coincidence the Broncos have also signed Tracy Porter, another cornerback, who, although younger than Samuel, also has a preference for off-man coverage.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to Woody Paige, the new Denver offense will be complected of:
Peyton Manning also tells Woody he's been spending some quality time with Johns Elway and Fox, and that he's found a house in the area.
The result was a spaghetti pile of a throwing motion, the mechanics of a man in a hurry…Manning’s body was way out in front of his arm, forcing his throws to catch up to his chest and legs instead of pushing through with them. For reference, Cutcliffe dug through the mountain of film he’s kept on Manning over the years…
During visits to Durham and back in Indianapolis, Manning started an autumn-long ramping-up process. First were tosses to no one. When his arm began catching up to his chest, he began throwing routes to receivers, starting with one, then expanding into multiples.
(Todd Helton) declared he could keep up with Cutcliffe’s football workouts, then quickly demanded a TV timeout when it got too intense—“because that’s what you football guys do.” He played every position on the field during Manning’s simulations.
Manning and Helton would work out in the morning while Cutcliffe ran Duke’s spring practice and watched film at lunch with his coaching staff. Come late afternoon, the three would meet on the field to run their own drills….Helton never openly campaigned for Denver, because at that point no one believed the Broncos would even be suitors.
McGee's story also tells of Brandon Stokley, Austin Collie, and Jeff Saturday joining Peyton to simulate the 2009 AFC championship game on the Duke campus while the Blue Devils hosted Maryland's Terps at Cameron Indoor. (Insider or ESPN Mag required)
Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the reason the Eagles and Broncos did not complete a deal to send CB Asante Samuel to Denver is that the Broncos and Samuel were unable to agree to a renegotiated contract. The 10th-year corner has expressed a willingness to rework his deal, but apparently the two sides haven't yet been able to find common ground.
And while Mike Klis's story from yesterday suggests that Denver has given up hope of completing a deal, McLane's account makes it sound more open-ended:
While Samuel has agreed to restructure the remaining two years of his contract - he's slated to earn $10 million this season and $11.5 million next season - he has yet to consent to some other requests by Denver, sources said.
McLane also says the Eagles "appear willing to take whatever they can get before the draft starts Thursday," so this truly isn't a matter of Denver Philly playing chicken.
Grand Junction native Ben Garland is back with the Broncos after receiving an early release from his Air Force commitment. The 24-year-old defensive tackle was originally signed by Denver as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and tallied six tackles that preseason before being placed on the Reserve/Military list.
During his time at the Air Force Academy, Garland started 34 of the 39 games he played and accumulated 115 tackles and 11.5 sacks while forcing three fumbles and blocking two kicks.
Finally, The Old Man and the Hyperbole, Woody Paige, wrote:
Hannibal never endured such a demanding march, or October — road games against the Patriots and the Chargers and a home game with the Saints. Guess what? The final eight games are no bargain. The Broncos do get the Bucs and the Browns at home, and conclude the regular season at SAF at Mile High, as they did last year, against those pesky Chiefs. But they must play at Carolina — ever heard of Cam Newton? — and K.C., Oakland and Baltimore.
Woo. I've been covering the Broncos since 1974, and there hasn't been a schedule this grueling in any season since then — or, certainly, before.
This, of course, settles the issue, since 1974 was a watershed year. It brought us "Jungle Boogie" from Kool and the Gang, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (warning, nightmares will ensue), and Woody Paige, Denver's own cuddly serial killer of football knowledge.
Trades for high NFL draft picks discussed more than previous years
The more important issue to consider is that trading at the top of the draft is no longer cost prohibitive. Because of the slotting system devised by the league and the NFL Players Association, teams are locked into only four-year deals with the draft’s top picks.
Moreover, those deals feature far less guaranteed money…That’s why trades at the top of the draft…are now much more doable.
Multiple sources said teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 11 and Philadelphia Eagles at No. 15 have talked about moving up into the top eight selections.
Would anyone be disappointed by an aggressive move up the board by KC to take Ryan Tannehill? Yeah, didn't think so.
Q&A with Charley Casserly
Let’s assume there’s going to be a lot of similarity to the system in Denver as it was in Indianapolis. So you’ve got Tamme, who can handle the tight ends, teaching them, and now you’ve got Stokley, who can teach the receivers. I think that’s really critical when you’re implementing a system that you’ve got somebody in the locker room, in the meeting room—besides the coaches—that can work with the players and understand the system. I think it’s important to have a couple people in that locker room that understand Peyton Manning’s personality. Manning has been described to me as the most driven player people have ever been around. I think he’ll be even more driven, if that’s possible, this year…I think people are going to have to understand the personality they’re dealing with, and I think Stokley and Tamme will help on that.
It's too bad for Denver that Green Bay was willing to pay Jeff Saturday so much, because it sure would have been nice to have a center (or any lineman, for that matter) so well versed in Manning's LOS histrionics, not to mention one who can handle Peyton's ire.
Great news for all of us out-of-town fans - DirecTV has cut prices for its NFL Sunday Ticket package. The Max package, which includes computer and mobile access to game broadcasts, the Red Zone channel, and the 30-minute Short Cuts versions of games, will now cost $299.95, down from the $385 price from 2011. The price for the standard Sunday Ticket package has been slashed 40% from $334.95 to $199.95, and Sunday Ticket will again be offered at no extra charge to new DirecTV subscribers.
The asking price for four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel is dropping.
Reports the Philadelphia Eagles “we’re looking for a 3d or 4th rd pick for (Samuel) were wrong. They are willing to take a 5th or 6th,” tweeted Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Interested teams remain aware of Samuel’s age—he’s 31—and can’t be thrilled with his contract. With two years left, Samuel’s set to earn $10 million with a $100,000 offseason workout bonus in 2012 and $11.5 million with a $100,000 workout bonus in 2013. The Eagles are reportedly willing to chop $2.5 million off next season’s bill, but that won’t please Samuel.
$10M sounds steep, but Samuel did rate +9.2 overall last season according to PFF (-1.7 run defense, +9.6 pass coverage, +1.3 penalty), which was 12th-best among cornerbacks and ahead of Denver's own Champ Bailey (+7.5 overall) and Chris Harris (+6.0). Gotta wonder if the price will continue to drop, or if Philly will consider cutting Samuel outright, a move that would appear to cost the Eagles about a $2M cap hit. Of course, at that point Denver would presumably be competing with other teams for Samuel's services, if they were to maintain interest in the 10th-year player.
As Matt Bowen sees it, any team that employs a good deal of Cover 1 should be pursuing a deal for Samuel.