Open Thread: TNF Week 8 - Buccaneers @ Vikings

Bucky Brooks, Doug FarrarNathan Jahnke, and Dan Parr preview the matchup; Bill Simmons predicts a Vikings win and Bucs cover. Enjoy the game!

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Mile High Ass Clownery

Let me preface this by saying we don't have any axe to grind with Mile High Sports (MHS).  Sometimes we'll even link to them.  For us, content is king, whether it's our own excellent work by Ted Bartlett or Doc Bear, or our take on someone else's content.  However, sometimes, in the haste to be first with the news, providers of content can--and we mean this with as much respect as we can possibly muster--look like complete ass clowns.

Today provided a good example:  A few hours ago, Chris Bianchi of the aforementioned MHS wrote the following:

It turns out that Denver Broncos cornerback Tracy Porter isn’t dealing with an illness. It turns out he’s coughing up a bad attitude, and he could be gone soon.

A source told Mile High Sports’ Robin Carlin on Thursday that Porter, who signed a one-year, $4 million contract in the offseason, is not suffering from an illness, as the Broncos claim. Instead, Porter is sitting out due to poor performance and to what the Broncos coaching staff perceives as a “bad attitude;” the Broncos may look to move Porter in the near future as a result. Porter is not expected to play against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, per the source.

A few moments later, the Denver Post broke the story that Porter was actually sitting out because he was suffering from seizure-like symptoms.  

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Porter missed time due to pre-seizure symptoms

Broncos' Tracy Porter missing time after summer seizure; hopeful vs. Saints
www.denverpost.com

Tracy Porter has been sidelined in recent days because of precautionary measures the team’s medical staff is taking after the Broncos’ cornerback suffered a seizure in August.

Last Sunday, before the Broncos were to leave for San Diego for a game against the Chargers, Porter was experiencing light-headedness and his heart was racing — symptoms that occurred before he had a seizure in August. “I had never had one before, 26 years I’ve been living,” Porter said Thursday…

...Porter returned to practice this week. He missed the workout Thursday because of a doctor’s appointment where he hoped to get cleared to play Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints, his former team.

As of Thursday afternoon, Porter still was hoping to get cleared by a doctor.
...

Good move by the Broncos on this one--both in holding Porter out and getting in front of this story.  There had been too much speculation in the last few days as to what was wrong with Porter.

When it comes to the health of players you can never be too cautious.

Digesting the Saints defense

Happy Thursday, friends.  I have a few minutes to cook up a bite-size nugget, so open up.  I had occasion to watch the Saints-Bucs game on Wednesday night, and the most noticeable thing is that the Saints defense is atrocious.

To that end, they’re 32nd in total defense, 30th against the pass, 31st against the run, and 29th in scoring defense.  It’s a complete horror show.

I don’t think too highly of Steve Spagnuolo as a coach, because I think his defenses have tended to be very good when his talent is great.  It’s easy to have a team with a great pass rush when you have Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Justin Tuck.  I don’t think he’s ever elevated marginal talent through excellent scheming, like, say, Mike Nolan or Rex Ryan.

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Former Broncos QBs not faring well at the polls

SI poll: Tim Tebow most overrated
espn.go.com

Five months after being named one of the top 100 players in the NFL, the New York Jets’ backup quarterback was voted the most overrated player in the league—in a landslide—based on a Sports Illustrated poll released this week.

A total of 180 players voted in the survey, with 34 percent naming Tebow. How’s this for a twist? Jets starter Mark Sanchez finished tied for second, receiving eight percent of the votes. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo also got eight percent.

It's been a rough week at the ballot box for ex-Denver signal callers -  Neilsen found Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton, and Brady Quinn among the least popular players in the league, while current Broncos QB Peyton Manning has one of the highest fan approval ratings.

One has to wonder why Orton and Quinn, who would seem to inspire apathy more than love or hate, are on this list. With that in mind, we had our expert pollster, TJ, formulate a questionnaire to help probe the bottom of this mystery:

Benoit: Expect Brees to target Porter and Moore, Manning to go after Harper

Film Room: Falcons-Eagles
www.footballoutsiders.com

It’s hard to imagine veteran Champ Bailey getting fooled too often by Brees’ body language. Porter, on the other hand, is an aggressive plant-and-drive gambler. Of course, even more enticing than Porter is Rahim Moore. If Jimmy Graham can return from an ankle injury, expect New Orleans to create inside matchups for him against the young safety.

Peyton Manning will be looking for one man when he steps to the line of scrimmage Sunday night: Roman Harper. If he sees the seventh-year strong safety in the box, he’ll pass. If he sees him out of the box, he’ll run. Or maybe pass some more, as Harper out of the box equals Harper in coverage, and Harper in coverage equals a very exploitable weak spot in the Saints defense.

FWIW, PFF has graded Porter at -2.0 (only Joe Mays has fared worse among Broncos), and Moore at +3.3 (best on the team) in pass coverage. Harper gets a -1.6 grade, while secondary mates Patrick Robinson (-3.2), Malcolm Jenkins (-6.2), and Corey White (-8.3) have been even worse.

Of course, Brees and Manning tend to make most secondaries look rather poor, and the continuing questions surrounding Porter's health mean the Saints QB may not have his former teammate to pick on come Sunday night.

STDL: Broncos’ metrics get healthier during bye

What's that old saying? A week off makes the metrics grow fond? Something like that...

Following Denver's Week 7 bye, they remain atop Brian Burke's efficiency rankings, and are now ranked number one in offensive efficiency (up from fourth). Their defensive efficiency ranking has slipped from third to fifth.

Broken down by unit, the Broncos rank fourth in passing, are tied for seventh in rushing success, and are eighth in pass defense, and tied for seventh in run defense.

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Top of Broncos’ 2011 draft paying dividends

4 Analysts, 4 Questions – The 2011 Draft Class
www.profootballfocus.com

Khaled: We’ve gone a long way into this piece without mentioning our 2011 rookie of the year, but in me choosing the Denver Broncos, that’s all about to change. Of course this class has a big leg up on the competition by having the (at this time) most dominant player from the entire class in it. Von Miller has been nothing short of sensational, and looks to be getting better the more he plays. When you add in a solid starting safety like Rahim Moore, and an underrated right tackle like Orlando Franklin you’ve done your job and then some. The rest of the class is still a little of a work in progress, but they nailed their top three picks.

Just like it was too early to call Moore and Franklin busts after their rookie seasons, it's not yet time to view their sophomore campaigns as having acquitted the job done by John Elway & Co. And there's still the matter of Nate Irving and Julius Thomas, who have significantly underwhelmed. But atop the Broncos' 2011 draft class, so far, so good.

Denver offensive line: TYJE Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The talk at Dove Valley yesterday was of getting a winning streak going - something that hasn't happened yet this season.

Of course, cleaning up their odd habit of first-half mistakes would go a long way to help build a string of wins, and Peyton Manning says it's about time for the team to put together a sixty-minute game. You'll recall that even their one blowout win, against Oakland, featured a halftime advantage of just 10-6, their only one of the season.

But it's not just a matter of cutting mistakes, especially with the big-play, pass-happy Saints coming to town.

The team is basically at full health, as Sealver Siliga missed practice for non-injury reasons, while Tracy Porter was a limited participant; six others were listed on the injury report as full participants.

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Notes on the Broncos defense, and a step back from writing

Over the bye week, I turned my attention to the notes that I’ve made on the team. Just as the offense did, the Broncos have made key errors on defense that cost them some games.

They’ve also showed the ability to play better. Here are some thoughts on Jack Del Rio's crew:

1. Rookie Derek Wolfe has played every position along the line (including nose tackle on at least one play) and already has three sacks to his credit - he’s also setting the edge with increasing effectiveness. Teams are commonly double-teaming Wolfe and/or handing him off from one blocker to the next, but all that’s done is to create more options for Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, and the other players.

Del Rio isn’t shy about using his own immense creativity in putting new pressure packages together, and he’s started to use defensive secondary players in his QB pressure schemes, which helps. Most defensive ends/tackles need a couple or more years to really mature, but Wolfe’s off to a fine start.

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