The Bartlett Defense: Part 1 - Personnel and alignment

In football, I’m an offense guy, going way back to when I was a kid.  I’ve always thought deeply about the passing game, and been able to really see concepts, and understand why they do what they do.  This is despite not playing the game at a high level, or coaching at any level above Pop Warner.  I just feel offense, and as such, I’ve read dozens of books written about offense and watched hundreds of games, and the result is that I can do what I do with the subject matter. 

In transitioning out of my current job, I have a couple of visitors in Cleveland to document my processes, and one of them paid me the compliment Monday of saying that I do a good job of explaining complicated things.  I appreciated her saying that, and really, I think that it stems from the writing I’ve done on football sites over the last four years. I know what knowledge I ultimately want to share, and I plan out a logical way of getting there, all while making sure all of the important interim knowledge points along the way are disseminated in an order which makes sense, and which lays a strong foundation for holistic understanding of the major knowledge item at the end.  Like Lester Freamon said, we’re building something here, and we’re building it from scratch, and all the pieces matter.

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Peyton Manning is kind of a big deal

Mayweather Tops List Of The World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes
www.forbes.com

Peyton Manning is the NFL’s highest-paid player with earnings of $42.4 million, which ranks 10th overall. The Indianapolis Colts paid Manning $26.4 million in 2011 even though he missed the season recovering from neck surgery. Manning joined the Denver Broncos as a free agent in March, when he inked a five-year, $96 million contract that paid him a $6 million advance on his 2012 Broncos’ salary. Manning continues to be the NFL’s top pitchman, earning $10 million annually off the field from Reebok, Gatorade, Sony, DirecTV, Wheaties and Papa John’s.

Here's the PMFM entry on Forbes's latest abusive slideshow which makes you click 100 times to read a single list. Thanks to the folks at NowPublic for posting it in its entirety and sparing us all.

Peyton does good deed, DP nowhere in sight

Two earn Manning Scholarship
www.knoxnews.com

“The scholarship has always brought me back to the University of Tennessee every year,” Manning said. “It makes me feel old now that we’re up in the teens as how many we’ve given. This year, we’re giving two, and we’ve always just given one. The scholarship that I won as a student-athlete was put in an endowment and was matched and added to by the university, and this year, Ashley and I added one donation back to the university. We wanted to give two because it’s such a great program for these scholars to get into, because they automatically get into the Haslam Scholars Program, which is just outstanding. It’s been a special connection for me to not just the football program but the entire university.”

In related news, Archie and Olivia Manning recently celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary, not that Mike Klis felt it was worth mentioning.

NFL’s kangaroo court on full display Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! There was plenty of drama yesterday in NYC, where the NFL held the appeal hearing for the Saints bounty case.

Saints LB Jonathan Vilma left the hearing early, claiming the league refused to present evidence of the alleged bounty system. Vilma's lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, called the day's events "shocking and shameful" while saying that former DC Gregg Williams and former assistant Michael Cerullo had retracted their admissions that players had participated in such a system. Ginsberg accused the Ginger Hammer of distorting facts, misrepresenting the words attributed to Williams, and manipulating the media via information leaks.

Following the hearing, the league gathered a group of reporters, including Mike Freeman and Peter King, to present some of the evidence, which can be seen here. A $35K bounty was allegedly placed on Vikings QB Brett Favre during the 2009 NFC title game, but this is according to a typed transcription of handwritten notes which were not shown. The league even accused Saints interim coach Joe Vitt of contributing to the bounty fund for the first time yesterday.

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Studying third-down theory, Part 2

When we started talking about third downs last week, I put up a set of numbers on how many third downs Brian Billick said that you could expect per game. Some readers found it light on total first downs, and they were right. Part of the reason the number seems low was that I left a set out deliberately - the number of third downs that you should expect in the red zone. It’s an entire area of study on its own, and I’m going to talk about it separately next time.

For today, we’re going to take on the offensive coordinator’s headache - third and long, both third and 7-10 yards and third and eleven or more. They are handled in much the same way, but the odds of success are understandably different.

There’s nothing surprising about it. The toughest third downs are the longer ones, just as you’d expect. When you’re dealing with a third down and more than ten yards, your odds of success are down between 12% and 18% for getting a first down. It’s a little better at 7-10 yards - about 20-25%. You can’t overestimate the importance of gaining your average of four or more yards on first and second down - how well you convert your third downs depends on it.

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John Elway just told us everything we need to know about Knowshon Moreno

KOA Q&A – Elway, Part Two
blog.denverbroncos.com

850 KOA: What do you think this offense will look like this season? Will it look like what Broncos fans saw when they watched the Colts? Will it be a combination of different personnel groups?

JE: I think there’s a misconception out there a little about Peyton in that they (the Colts) didn’t run the football in Indianapolis. When they were successful in Indianapolis, they ran the football. What we’re looking for is balance. When we won the championships back in the 90’s, we had balance. Willis McGahee had a great year last year. (Mario) Fannin, the young kid we signed as a free agent last year out of Auburn, is coming back off a knee injury in camp. (He) looks good. And then (Ronnie) Hillman, who we drafted in the third round, is a guy that has big-play ability. I think you’re still going to see good balance. I think the misconception is that Peyton throws the ball all the time but when they were winning and doing well, they were top 12 in the league in rushing.

If you had any doubt about the Broncos' plans for Knowshon Moreno, you've got clarity now.

Perhaps the mention of Knowshon Moreno slipped John Elway's mind.  What's more likely, though, is Moreno will compete with Jeremiah Johnson and Lance Ball for a spot on the roster.  Unfortunately, with each passing season, the expectations for the former first-rounder continue to plummet.  He's now--in John Elway's mind--less valuable than two guys who have yet to see the field.

What also sticks out from this interview is the Broncos' plan to use more two-back sets than Manning is used to in short-yardage situations--precisely the reason they acquired Chris Gronkowski.

Peter King does not make for a good football historian Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In today's MMQB column, Peter King pronounces the Sproles type to be one of the five most versatile running backs of the past 30 years.

Now, PK writes a lot of stupid stuff, but this is really high on the list of Stupid Stuff PK Thinks He Thought to Think. Sproles is a versatile player for sure, and a dangerous one at that, but he's also more of a receiver and return man than he is a running back, and do we really want to go around ranking him on a list with Marshall Faulk, LDT, Thurman Thomas, and Marcus Allen?

As for which players should be sitting on this list instead of the Sproles type, that's easy. How about rushing/receiving threats Roger Craig, Curtis Martin, Tiki Barber, Edgerrin James, Warrick Dunn, and Ricky Watters, to name a few?

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Former Bronco joins Cromartie to create nonprofit for über dads

New York--Former Broncos running back Travis Henry today announced he is joining current Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie in creating a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the cause of super fathers.

"It's like MENSA," said Henry via telephone from an undisclosed location.  "Except for dudes with exceedingly high sperm counts."

The nonprofit, called KHAN (Keep Her Away Now) is named for the legendary warrior Genghis Khan, who it's thought is the ancestor to over 16 million people living today.  It's estimated the Mongolian warlord fathered thousands of children with hundreds of women during his lifetime.

"Genghis is my boy," said Cromartie.  "He really tapped that ass. The cat was the straight up pimp of 1206."

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Tomlinson to retire, not be missed by Denver fans Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! An old, great Denver nemesis has decided to call it a day: LaDainian Tomlinson will sign what will presumably be a one-day contract with the Chargers this week so he can retire with the franchise he spent his first nine of eleven NFL seasons.

Tomlinson was drafted fifth overall by the Chargers in 2001 after the team traded down from the #1 pick (Michael Vick). Incidentally, that trade also netted them WR Tim Dwight, whose career highlight was a 94-yard kick return TD against the Broncos in SB 33. With their own second-rounder that year, San Diego drafted Drew Brees.

But, back to LDT: although Tomlinson's career against the Broncos amounted to just a 10-9 record in 19 games (including one as a Jet in 2010; he didn't play in last year's meeting), Denver's success against his teams mostly came early. To wit, LDT's Chargers went 3-7 against Denver before winning six of the next eight matchups following the ascension of Philip Rivers to replace Brees as the starting QB in 2006, with one of the two exceptions being the notorious Hochuli Game.

Updated 12:20 pm ET

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NFL to extract extra $10 out of fawning football viewing public Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Ah, the NFL is so sly. After getting the football and sports blogosphere in a gigantic tizzy over the forthcoming availability of All-22 film to the general public, they've already pulled a fast one on us all by increasing the price by $10 overnight.

Those bastards.

Obviously, it's still a great deal, and All-22 access will mean better football writing across the board. Charley Casserly and Mike Freeman think this will open coaches and players up to unreasonable criticism, but really this makes no sense at all. More information and knowledge is always a good thing, unless you're coming from the parochial viewpoint of someone like Casserly who probably figures lowly fans won't know what to do with the added info. Or, perhaps you're one of those fools who thinks that either film or stats alone is all you need, or you know...you played/coached the game in junior high school, so you have a feel for which guys have "it" and which don't.

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