Five things you can watch while everyone else is busy talking about Peyton Manning’s arm strength

We get it. The big topic tonight will be the strength of Peyton Manning's arm. Does he have it?  Did he ever lose it?  When will he get it?   

That's fine if all you want is a casual relationship with the Denver Broncos.  But if what you're looking for is a passionate affair--and I'm talking hot, steamy friction--then take your eyes off Manning's member (his arm, dude), and keep your eyes out for a few other things tonight:

Personnel Packages

  • Do the Broncos feature three wide receivers and one tight end? Or do they experiment with a larger package?
  • How often do you see the fullback in the play? Does he function as a tight end?
  • Remember, one way to gauge this is to think of the simple three-number system that goes: RBs-TEs-WRs.  So if you see the Broncos with a tailback, a tight end, and three wideouts, you can simply write it (or say it before the play) as: 113.  Since we're always going to see (generally) two tackles, two guards, a center, and a quarterback, your three numbers will always add up to five.  How the packages are used can provide you some insight into the Broncos' strategy this year.  If you want to use the two-number system, just drop off the last number; it will be implied.  So the example above would be 11 personnel.

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Pregame Limerick: Cutler and Marshall

Nothing beats mocking your opponent in the hours leading up to a game--even if it's only preseason.

Obviously, this week's topic is the Chicago Bears, or as I like to think of them, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. 

Absurd in a word is the pair
of Jay and The Beast in a stare.
The eyes are a lock,
the pattern a mock--
the safety just picks from the air.

Take your shot.  Mocking Jay Cutler never gets old.

And for more limerick fun, check out the entire history of IAOFM's limericks here.

Elway’s BFF Mike Silver strikes again

Broncos VP John Elway eagerly anticipates Peyton Manning taking first hit
sports.yahoo.com

While Elway specifically declined to comment on Manning’s polarizing predecessor, current New York Jets backup Tim Tebow, it’s clear from his comments that he believes the quarterback transition has been transformative. Whereas Tebow routinely delivered errant balls in practice, literally putting some of them in the trees bordering the fenced-off fields at the team’s training facility, Manning is fitting most of his throws into tight windows.

For young receivers such as Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, that’s not an insignificant change.  “They’re gonna be a lot more refined, and they’ve got hope,” Elway says. “Because they know if they run the right routes at the right depth, the ball’s going to be there waiting for them when it’s supposed to. They got really sloppy at the end of last year, because the ball never came out on time.”

I knew I should have checked the trees last year at Dove Valley for souvenirs.  I could have auctioned one of those balls off to a church group for some gambling and strip-club, girl money.

Elway's sentiments seem to agree with our own Doug Lee's last year when he speculated that one reason the receivers were having trouble was Tebow's inconsistent ball placement and timing from practice to games--even between quarters.

Dumervil: Don’t blow

Elvis Dumervil: “I Haven’t Felt like this in Three Years”
sportsradiointerviews.com

On if he learned anything from the incident:

“Absolutely. Number one, don’t blow your horn when somebody get in front of you. … Just one of those situations, kind of really just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think anything in life you gotta learn from it, can’t ignore it. Even though I didn’t do anything, but it’s something you can try to learn from it. So I just try to humble myself and try to learn from any situation.”

I think I speak for everyone when I say there are certain lessons in life we should impart upon our children (our most precious resource, if you haven't heard). Two immediately come to mind:

  • Treat others the way you want to be treated (Tebow came up with this one, according to Twitter sources).
  • Don't whizz on electric fences.

The wisdom of Elvis Dumervil reveals yet another.  Simply put: don't blow. 

Give it some time to sink in--that's it. Ruminate. Meditate. You'll find the advice applies to everything in life.

Elway: With two more titles, PM’s the greatest

Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos built from John Elway's experience
www.nfl.com

“If he wins two more championships, he’ll be, without a doubt, the greatest quarterback ever to play the game. So when I said that, for me, what I meant, that’s about winning world championships. He’s got the numbers, he has the stats, those will never change, they’ll just get better and better.

But for us to make Peyton the greatest quarterback that’s ever played, what will separate him, because now he’s in the conversation, if he wins a couple more before he’s done, then he’ll be right at the top of the list.”

So, Peyton Manning with three rings > Joe Montana with four, and Tom Brady with three? Certainly worth debating, and of course QBs shouldn't be measured solely by championships, else Terry Bradshaw be in this discussion.

But it's still a window into how John Elway perceives Montana, and he also gets in the obligatory implied swipe at Dan Reeves for not surrounding him with better talent earlier in his own career.

Elway: Forget the neck

John Elway: Peyton Manning will play 'one or two series'
www.nfl.com

“I’m not afraid about him getting hit. I’m really not,” Elway said. “Everybody’s worried about whether he can take a hit or not, he wouldn’t be on that football field if he couldn’t take a hit. If our doctors were worried, we wouldn’t have done anything on him a long time ago. I wanna see him get out there, get the rust off, complete a couple balls, and see how everyone reacts underneath the pressure and how we can do some different things and getting him under the bullets to where some things we do at the line of scrimmage, if he wants to change some things around and how we react to it.”

So, the Duke has spoken. What about you? Does Peyton's neck concern you at all?

Turn on the lights; the party’s starting Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team held a walkthrough yesterday morning (John Fox) before heading to Chicago for tonight's preseason opener (BTV). New Broncos Jim Leonhard and Keith Brooking did not make the trip, nor did injured players Justin Bannan, Quinton Carter, Tyler Grisham, and Greg Orton.

Chris Kuper and Ronnie Hillman traveled with the team, but the lineman is not expected to play. The rookie back will be a gametime decision, as is D.J. Williams, who has apparently been working with the scout team during camp and not totally inactive.

Kevin Vickerson and Ty Warren are expected to start at defensive tackle; one matchup to watch for will be Champ Bailey versus Brandon Marshall.

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Here’s why stats are dangerous in the wrong hands

Neat little trick from Jeff Legwold today. He came up with a premise that the Broncos have given up too many big plays of late, and his column was titled thusly:

Broncos defense prone to yielding "explosive plays" in recent years

In classic Legwoldian, he writes that "most teams" consider 10-yard rushes and 20-yard completions to be "explosive plays." Not sure if he polled the league's coaches, or what, for that one.

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Will Matt Moore eventually find his way to Denver?

Reflecting on training camp travels
espn.go.com

Thinking about the Broncos’ backup situation: The Broncos have the quarterback of the present in Peyton Manning and the quarterback of the future in Brock Osweiler. The current backup is Caleb Hanie. From watching practice, you get the idea that Osweiler, though listed No. 3, might end up beating out Hanie for the backup job. That might be a big gamble to have him as a backup. I could see the Broncos signing Matt Moore if he’s cut by the Dolphins. Moore has a good background with Broncos coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy from their days in Carolina. There is a good chance David Garrard will beat out Moore, which puts the Dolphins in a position to decide if they want Moore or Ryan Tannehill as their backup.

Matt Moore is frustrated in Miami.  John Fox and Mike McCoy once coached Moore.  And Brock Osweiler may end up beating out Caleb Hanie.  Are these three connections enough to think the Broncos would sign Moore in favor of Hanie? 

It probably depends on your view of Matt Moore.  Moore's career rating is 80.1 in 35 appearances compared to Hanie's 61.7 in 11 appearances--if you're into the numbers.

Speed Heals: Defense

When Mike Shanahan was fired by the Broncos, he left behind a team that was a shell of its former self. The players who had been stallions during the Super Bowl years were long gone. The defensive players who remained were, they said publicly, treated as second-class citizens.

The roster was depleted in multiple areas and then a young former offensive coordinator tried to move the team to a reflection of the 3-4 system that he’d just left, but without the kind of players who made that system work. The offense wasn’t exactly loaded, either. A lot of things were missing on defense during that transition - stronger players, workable draft picks, a middle linebacker who keeps his helmet on, common sense - but one vacancy stood out as the roster was changed over:

Speed

It means linebackers with the legs to catch a returner in the open field, or to give cornerbacks a shot at covering the multiple players they are matched up against in passing situations. It means backside pursuit and pass rushers who can reach the quarterback before he can carve up the secondary. It’s essential to the new concept of Broncos defense that John Fox and Jack Del Rio will be implementing this season - which, whatever else is true, will require a faster pocket pressure with quicker linebackers and better defensive backfield speed.

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