Pregame work for NE-DEN—Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez is a virtual certainty to miss the Bronco game, I’m told, but could be back for Wk 6.
New England is still loaded without Hernandez, as evidenced by their 52 points and 580 yards of offense against Buffalo. Rob Gronkowski still looms as a devastating TE, and Denver has had their problems covering that position. But Gronk also missed practice yesterday due to a hip injury.
However you cut it, the Patriots being without Hernandez is a boon to Denver's chances on Sunday.
Fourth quarter, 12:20. Oakland’s trailing 34-6. They’re in 21 personnel, I formation with two WRs on the offensive left, starting from their own 39 at 1st and 10. Denver’s countering with man coverage on the WRs, a balanced-front defensive line, and Von Miller standing up as the RDE. Elvis Dumervil is at LDE, next to Mitch Unrein, and both are backed by LBs, with Champ Bailey behind them - an overload ensues on the defensive left. It’s a fake, but it draws lots of attention.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! As the team prepares for its trip to New England, it's only natural that much of the talk focuses on the showdown between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
QBs aside, these are two franchises that are very familiar with each other; not only did they face off twice last season, and seven times in seven seasons, but several players (Dan Koppen, Brandon Lloyd, Daniel Fells) have played for both teams (Niko Koutouvides doesn't count*). And of course, there's the Pats offensive coordinator, some dude by the name of Josh.
Unfortunately, three of their last four meetings have been absolute shellackings, with the exception being the Hoodie Jr./Hoodie Sr. game of 2009.
One key to this week's edition of Broncos/Patriots could be health.
Like most of you, I was pretty thrilled with the Broncos' 37-6 victory over the visiting Raiders on Sunday.
A few first-half errors (you tried a pass from who to who?) left me feeling that Denver should have been up by more than four points at halftime. The lights-out play of Carson Palmer, who had one good WR, a decent TE, and a great running back to throw to, kept the Raiders somewhat in the game.
Three three-and-outs in the third quarter, though, and the ensuing onslaught of the Broncos offense sealed the deal. Overall, I came away impressed with Denver’s composure, elated with Jack Del Rio’s play-calling, and comfortable going on the road for four of the next five, to see what this team really has in store.
These are some thoughts taken from my notes during the game, not always in any given order:
Jason Whitlock raised eyebrows two weeks ago when he wrote the following about Peyton Manning:
Manning can't throw the ball accurately or with zip more than 20 yards. Manning is toast.
It was a lethargic takeaway from Peyton's three-interception debacle against the Falcons, and while Ted thinks the picks were a matter of poor decision-making rather than an issue of arm strength, Whitlock was certainly entitled to his opinion there.
Granted, the numbers through four weeks (small sample alert) don't exactly back up Whitlock's assertion that Peyton is inaccurate beyond 20 yards. According to PFF, Denver's QB ranks twelfth in the league in terms of accuracy on throws beyond twenty yards. At 46.7 percent, he's just a tick behind Tom Brady in that category, while placing slightly ahead of his brother (44.4%), Jay Cutler (43.5%), Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger (42.9% each), and far better than the strong-armed Joe Flacco (39.4%) and Matthew Stafford (38.5%).
Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis addresses concerns about the boringness of using Jim Leonhard as Denver's punt returner.
He's right - although Leonhard isn't making any big plays, he's also not making major gaffes. And once the defense has gotten the opposing offense to give up the ball, the next play is all about making sure Peyton Manning gets his crack with it. Sure, a faster player might bring an extra couple of yards per return, but that doesn't seem worth the tradeoff of a less-experienced returner who may be more likely to fumble or make a poor decision.
Unfortunately, the Broncos just don't have a punt returner who's the complete package. This was readily apparent during the preseason; it's just one of those things the Broncos will have to accept until next offseason, when they are yet again presented with the issue.
Reed was signed by Cleveland as an undrafted rookie out of Florida State; Weems was an undrafted signee by the Vikings out of Oregon, and he was on Indy's practice squad for the first two weeks of this season.
The Broncos had two open spots on the practice unit following last weekend's promotion of Mohamed and Duke Ihenacho to the 53-man roster. G Adam Grant was waived from the practice squad to create the third open spot for today's additions.
Happy Tuesday, friends. I’m still feeling good after the Broncos blew out the Raiders, and I’ve been thinking about ideas on defending the Patriots. Expect some words and maybe pictures on that topic later in the week.
For today, I wanted to talk generally about route-running technique. Every receiver who gets drafted into the NFL is within a certain range in the areas of size, speed, quickness, and catching ability. There’s a range of variance on talent, but it’s not really all that wide. What really separates receivers in the NFL, when you look at their ability to affect an overall game, is technique.
In my last job, I was a controller for a business within Xerox that sold custom learning solutions to large businesses. A lot of the people I worked with had Master’s degrees and PhD’s in the area of adult learning. There’s a lot of research done, and theories derived, and models built in the service of understanding how adults learn, and how to best improve their performance.
A week ago, we found the advanced metrics to say the 2012 Broncos were a far better team than their 1-2 record might have indicated.
After a brutal start to the schedule which featured the Steelers, Falcons, and Texans (the latter two remain undefeated), having the rebuilding Raiders into SAF@MH for a visit portended two things:
First, it was something of a breather, traditional rivalry notwithstanding. If everything were to play to form, the Broncos were due to finally whip their AFCW brethren at home.
Second, the strength of schedule figures were sure to take a hit this week. Indeed, they have.
After the high of a great win over a division rival, it’s hard to come back to earth. One thing that’s a difficult reality for Denver, though, has been the disappointing play of Joe Mays.
Suspended for Sunday’s contest with the Oakland Raiders, he was effectively replaced by Keith Brooking, who looked better on Sunday than Mays has all year.
I give Mays, the Broncos, and Jack Del Rio credit for improving Mays’s coverage situation via changes in scheme somewhat as the season has progressed. Mays gave up four completions on four targets in the opener, two completions on three targets at Atlanta, and just one target and completion against Houston, with an average reception of 7.4 yards overall. They’re getting him out of danger well, but there’s more to the problem here. I have to wonder if they’re not following what they expected to have work, despite finding that it doesn’t. They need to look seriously at what has been more effective.