Digesting the Chargers Offense

Happy Thursday, friends.  I thought I’d take a few minutes today to talk about the Chargers offense, and how the Broncos can best contain it.  They did a pretty solid job against them in San Diego last November, holding Philip Rivers and Company to thirteen points, and in a general way, Monday will see a stronger Broncos defense playing against a weaker Chargers offense.

Mr. Rivers has always reminded me of Bernie Kosar, and I think his game is slipping in his early 30s, similarly to how Kosar’s did.  His numbers aren’t that bad so far in 2012, but I just don’t see the same guy on video that I saw three or four years ago.

The receiving group that Rivers is working with is diminished from 2011, too.  Losing Vincent Jackson and replacing him with Robert Meachem is a bad deal.  Eddie Royal, nice guy that he is, still struggles to get open against a zone defense.  An underrated loss in the Chargers’ passing game is running back Mike Tolbert, who caught 54 passes for the Bolts last season.  His replacement, Jackie Battle, doesn’t have that kind of receiving skill, and he has just six catches for 49 yards in five games.

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Quick breather turned into long one for Von Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's been an interesting week for discussing the quality of each city's fans, what with the Arrowhead cheering of the concussed Matt Cassel.

Denver is certainly not above the fray, as some of our own booed then-new starting QB Kyle Orton in the team's 2009 scrimmage at the then-Big IF. Of course, then came the billboards a year ago.

Due south of Kansas City, Dallas's fans have been dragged into the discussion. You know, America's Team.

Brandon Marshall went so far as to say his team's trip to play the Cowboys "felt like a home game," what with the large Bears contingent in attendance.

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Dominance, thy name is Terrell Davis Lard

Good Evening, Broncos fans! By now, all of us who were around for the heyday of Terrell Davis's Denver career have either delivered or been presented with the case for his HOF worthiness.

We like to stress his status as the greatest postseason runner in NFL history, but the most common ammunition is that TD was absolutely dominant, and for a period, the best player in the NFL. He's got the hardware to back that up: the SB MVP, the league MVP, and the 2,000-yard season. Only TD comes to mind as the best (eligible) player on multiple SB-winning teams to not be in the HOF.

Generally, the argument against his inclusion boils down to the supposed brevity of his career, or the success of subsequent Denver running backs in the Shanahan/Gibbs zone-blocking system.

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Brees: My boy Phil is elite for another decade

No mistaking the player, but Rivers the person is just misunderstood
sportsillustrated.cnn.com

“Philip is an elite quarterback,” Brees said after throwing for four touchdowns in a 31-24 defeat of the Chargers and Rivers on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. “I know at the end of the day quarterbacks are judged on wins, losses and championships, but there have been Hall of Fame quarterbacks who’ve played this game and not won Super Bowls—Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Dan Fouts. There are certain circumstances that sometimes come into play ...”

Brees paused.

“Philip’s in the prime of his career and he could be in the prime of it for the next eight to 10 years,” he continued. “The story is still to be written on him.”

Epilogue:  Philip Rivers's career suddenly took a turn for the worst in 2012, when the usually hard-nosed quarterback became skittish in the pocket--flinching from phantom defenders, rushing his throws, throwing off his back foot inside the pocket, and tossing the ball out of bounds at the first sign of trouble.  Perhaps the beginning of the end came with a four-interception performance against the Denver Broncos on Monday, October 15th, when Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey returned two interceptions for touchdowns, and Von Miller (currently nominated for the Hall of Fame), tallied five sacks in one game.  After the game, Rivers could only repeat the word: "Rosebud."

J.J. Watt is 15 feet tall

Woody Johnson: Tim Tebow with Jets for 3 more years
www.nfl.com

“We should’ve done a better job of accounting for (Watt). And keeping an eye, spy on him. And just don’t throw in that area or throw extremely high ... He’s 6-6. He can jump 30 inches. So he’s probably like 15 feet when you add it all up.” Johnson said.

Putting a spy on J.J. Watt.  Geeze, why didn't we think of that, Woody?

Unlike in 2011, 2012 Broncos gashed on third and long Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mistakes and a difficult schedule have often been cited as the main culprits in Denver's three losses.

But let's not forget about the factor of luck, specifically when it comes to fumbles.

As mentioned by Andrew Mason, the team has had the remarkable misfortune of having lost all seven of its offensive fumbles - three by Demaryius Thomas, two by Willis McGahee, and one each by Peyton Manning and Knowshon Moreno.

For clarity's sake, Thomas's first fumble was on the game-ending hook-and-lateral play against Houston, and of course, Knowshon's fumble was clearly recovered by Eric Decker before the scab refs did their thing. From our vantage that's really six offensive fumbles and what should be one own recovery.

Even with those tweaks, the Broncos have been unlucky - but not quite as unfortunate as Mason's 47.82% defensive recovery figure suggests.

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STDL: Broncos still pretty good, despite 2-3 record

Welcome to the Week 6 edition of the Stats That Don't Lie. So far, we've been tracking the Broncos' ranking via the metrics of Brian Burke's efficiency ratings and PFR's Simple Rating System (SRS).

Starting today, we'll add in PFF's grading system, so that we're accounting for what the tape says as well.

As we expected, Sunday's loss at New England did little to harm Denver's standing relative to the ANS and PFR metrics.

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PFF: Von was the best player on the field Sunday

ReFo: Broncos @ Patriots, Week 5
www.profootballfocus.com

Last season we thought he was as good as any defensive player in football before injuring his thumb and this season he is every bit as good if not better. In this game his grade of +12.3 breaks the scale of the PFF player pages thanks to a day in which he dominated at the point of attack with speed, power and quickness.

If there was a player that impressed every time you looked at him in this game, it was Von Miller who edges a great performance from Welker to earn the game ball.

We already heaped praise on Von Miller for the dominance of his play on Sunday; it was undeniable watching it live, the ANS figures backed it up, and now we have PFF's grades to reconfirm.

On the season, Von ranks second among linebackers in ANS's EPA figure, while his PFF grade (+31) dwarfs that of any other NFL linebacker, regardless of scheme. His +12.3 grade for Sunday alone, is better than the full-season grades of all but NaVorro Bowman (+13.4), Daryl Washington (+13.2), and Justin Houston (+12.7).

Anyone pining for Marcell Dareus (-7.4) or Nick Fairley (-1.1) right about now? Didn't think so.

You Got Served: Taking stock of the Broncos after five games

Happy Tuesday, friends.  I wanted to take a few moments today to evaluate the overall state of affairs for the 2012 Broncos.  When you’re a fan of a team, it’s easy to watch a few losses, and take them hard, and get all emotional about them.  It can seem like all is lost, and that this guy should get benched, and that guy should get fired, and that if you were the GM, things would be different.

I’m a professional analyst, and a key part of the analyst skill set is the ability to be dispassionate, and just try to see things for what they are.  I work with a guy who is a Steelers fan, and he keeps his security badge on a Steelers lanyard, and he has Steelers crap on his car, and in his office.  That’s not the kind of Broncos fan I am.  I’ve owned two Broncos jerseys in the last 10 years or so, and they’re both useless now.  (Catler and Teebs, if you must know).

I’m not a fanatic – I started out being one as a kid, but in the course of becoming a widely-read writer about the Broncos, my approach to fanhood became kind of professional and dispassionate.  This is like a job, and today, I’m going to do my job, and tell you what I think is going on with the Broncos without emotion.

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Carter apologizes for tasteless tweet

Tony Carter set the Twittersphere afire last night with a wildly insensitive remark about seeing a late movie in the Denver area. Not sure what took so long, but he recently apologized:

We'll hope Carter truly understands how vile his original tweet was, and that it's the last of the sort from any Denver player.

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