Good Morning, Broncos fans! Many of you have been with us from our modest beginnings, and some even know us from our earlier days at MHR. Of course, we are grateful to all of you for your continued readership, and for the new readers we've gained over the past twenty months or so.
Over that time, we have received many requests for access to older material, and we've hinted at providing it in the past. It's time we finally honor those requests by making that prior content available, including most of our pre-Fat Man writing and Ted's work on One Man Football. Unfortunately, his Smarter Fans columns have been lost to the ether.
Our archives will be evolving as we figure out more intuitive and thorough ways of organizing them, but for now our guess is the Fat Camp, Broncography and Mail Revue sections will be most appreciated. As always, TJ (Mark it Zero), Doc (Doc's Musings), and Ted's (Ted's Analysis) work can be found under the parenthesized headers. Happy reading, friends!
Update: For technical reasons, we've had to remove the "Archives" moniker, but the content is all there for viewing. As mentioned, we'll gradually make this all easier to navigate.
Depending on who you ask, there are 4-5 different “premium positions” in the NFL. Everybody would agree that Quarterback is on the list, and most would say Left Tackle and Right-side Pass Rusher. Many people say Cornerback, and I would say Run-Stuffing Defensive Tackle is premium as well. What makes those premium positions, though? Have you ever thought about that?
I would say that the primary reason those positions are held in such high regard is that the athletic skill sets which are required to be an elite player at them are difficult to find. It’s a function of resource scarcity, and not necessarily of on-field importance, in other words.
If I want to run a Cover-2 scheme, I don’t need CBs with elite man-to-man coverage ability, so I wouldn’t place a premium on those skills. If I always have the lead in games, maybe I care a bit less about stopping the run. The last six Super Bowls have been won by teams with below-average LTs (Marvel Smith, Tarik Glenn, David Diehl, Max Starks, Jermon Bushrod, Chad Clifton, and Diehl again). The evidence would indicate that you don’t necessarily need a great player at that position.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Now that it's okay to be honest about it, Mark Kiszla says the Broncos are better off sans Tebowmania, and do you see the position of that ball? Just, wow. Kiz observes that the chatter in Denver is about actual football rather than who's not dating whom. But since the Broncos' first OTA wrapped up on Wednesday, what else is there to talk about than young Teebs?
Timmy threw two picks when he should have checked down (sound familiar?) and worked as a punt protector yesterday during the open session of the Jets' OTA. After practice, the crisper Mark Sanchez conversed with Jets brass, while Tebow worked to maintain the polish on his image with the PR guy.
In other Tebow-related news, Olympian Lolo Jones says she still has her V card, prompting Timmy's Jets mates to suggest a potential love match; plus, Snoop Dogg Tebowed after throwing out the first pitch at Comiskey.
A particular segment of Andy Benoit's NYT column from Tuesday on Ryan Clady caught my eye:
Unfortunately, offensive linemen have no other statistics. Sure, there are the little-known rushing stats by field lane (the Broncos when running left last season had 67 power runs, 22 runs of 10-plus yards and 19 negative plays, which are solid all-around numbers), but those are vague and often misleading. For example, a lot of runs to the left are set up by a right guard’s pull block. How is that depicted in the stats?
Many football statistics are circumstantial and/or influenced by a multitude of factors. What’s important is to trust how a player – especially an offensive lineman – looks on film and make that the backbone of evaluation. Because this is what quality front offices do, don’t be surprised if Denver’s “mistake-prone” left tackle soon becomes one of the highest-paid players at his position.
It’s a good point. I do base my evaluation of Clady on film, and here’s what I found:
2012 NFL season over/under win totals released: AFC analysis
Denver Broncos, 9.5 wins
Over (-110) / Under (-120): Perhaps the most interesting over/under of any team in the NFL, the Broncos are getting much more attention this offseason than last. It’s easy to assume that new quarterback Peyton Manning will automatically get this team 10 wins; that’s about what he was good for with the Colts. Cantor Sportsbook director Mike Colbert told Covers.com he doesn’t think the Broncos will nine games. Will Manning be healthy? Will his weapons be ready? Can the defense hold up? If all those answers are “yes,” the over is a nice bet. Verdict: OVER
Two weeks ago, Cantor released lines for the first 16 weeks of the regular season, with Denver favored in seven games and three games listed as a pick'em. (h/t to reader Orange_and_Blue for nailing the over/under)
As will be the overarching theme for months (years?) to come, expectations have been raised with the addition of Peyton Manning. The other main commonality of the four players' comments was a discussion of their body weight, with Elvis (250, down 10) and Demaryius (228, down from 232, aiming for 222) shedding the pounds to increase endurance and maintain health. Thomas took on yoga during the offseason to help.
Doom says he's looking to cut down on processed foods, a societal problem one might not expect to find among professional athletes. Yet, a quick glance at players' Twitter feeds shows otherwise, and even in a post-Shannon Sharpe NFL, the guys who cook for themselves and/or employ nutritionists and/or personal chefs appear to be the exceptions more than the rule.
Although John Elway said prior to the draft that Denver's roster had more strength at defensive tackle than people were aware, the team still used its first draft pick (early in the second round) to take Derek Wolfe, a penetrating, one-gap defensive under tackle. As usual, actions speak louder than words, and the Broncos weren’t quite in the shape at DT they wanted other people to believe them to be. That’s especially normal in the leadup to the draft - you never show your hand. As with most politicians, you can tell if the front office is lying by whether or not their lips are moving.
But the issues facing the Broncos defense go far beyond just the line. Within the draft, the Broncos addressed both defensive end (via the addition of Malik Jackson) and off tackle, via Wolfe. They also added a potential weakside linebacker who has a history of getting to the quarterback in tackling monster Danny Trevathan. With veteran linebacker D.J. Williams facing a six-game suspension for allegedly violating the league's PED policy (plus a DUI trial), there will be a competition to see who can obtain the downs that Williams will be missing. Adding another linebacker with penetrating skills should improve the overall quality of the front seven, and that’s who Denver chose with their last pick, in Trevathan. As a sixth-round pick he will have to show that he can handle the rigors of the NFL, but he has a history of getting to the QB, too.
According to Mike Klis, director of personnel Matt Russell was responsible for the deal, meaning the former CU Buff has essentially assumed the job of recently fired GM Brian Xanders, in addition to his own duties running the scouting department.
Chris is the middle of the NFL's three Gronkowski brothers; older brother Dan, currently a TE for the Cleveland Browns, was acquired by Denver in a trade for notorious Josh McDaniels draftee Alphonso Smith. Rob, the youngest and best of the trio, announced his presence as the NFL's preeminent TE in 2011 before going on to dominate the offseason as well.
Updated 3:04 pm ET
If football isn’t the ultimate masculine/gladiator sport, it’s certainly right up there. As a result of that factor, not to mention the perceived group-think of the locker room, meeting room, and huddle, and supposed “caveman” mentality some believe it takes to play the game, there are some who would tell you that no openly gay player would be able to survive (literally or figuratively) in the NFL. But in a recent series of interviews with current and former NFL players, OutSports.com found that the perception is not reality. If the small group interviewed represent the majority, attitudes have definitely come around about any NFL player who would choose to come out…
...That tolerance goes back further than you think. Vince Lombardi, seen as the ultimate authority figure, and championed as a pillar of supposed “clean-cut” values for generations of football fans, had an openly gay brother, and often told his players that anyone who had a problem with the concept of homosexuality could not play for him. It was the same as any other kind of bias to the coach—and in an era where he had to wait far longer than he should have for a head coaching job because of his Italian heritage, Lombardi despised prejudice of any kind…
...Perhaps the most encouraging part of the interview was the take of those players just coming into the league—OutSports spoke with rookies Trent Richardson, Robert Griffin III, Doug Martin, Coby Fleener, Nick Foles, LaMichael James, and T.J. Graham. To a man, the players who will comprise the future of the league didn’t have a problem with the concept—and many wondered why it was a big deal at all.
File this under: Things I didn't know about Vince Lombardi.
The real test, of course, for all of this stated tolerance will come out (pun totally intended) when a current NFL player says he's openly gay. It's likely the issue will divide the locker room internally--even if only a little. There are simply too many players like David Tyree out there. Publicly, the team and the league will support openly gay players. Legally, they'll have little choice. And the public backlash they'd receive for not doing so would be more intense than Tebowmania x 10.
Never forget that sports is often simply a reflection of the culture upon which it was built. As American culture and attitudes change (or don't), so do its sports, arts, and entertainment. Art often sets the pace, while sports, like a set of economic indicators, often tags behind.
It's obvious, no matter your personal views, where the trend is going, however. In another decade, it won't even be an issue.
Naturally, everyone is happy to be on the same team as Peyton Manning and smitten with the idea of playing with leads. Regarding the league's decision to require thigh and knee pads in 2013, Porter already wears them and is fine with the mandate, while Bannan is skeptical about the benefits and is more concerned with the "integrity of the game," whatever that means. Florence isn't thrilled with the pads requirement and is adjusting to the new standard helmets, which are larger for concussion prevention.