Fat Camp: The Erhardt-Perkins Offense, Part 1

As we shift from the player-evaluation mode of the preseason to games that count, I thought this would be a good time to turn our focus to just what type of offense we can expect to see from the Broncos. Exhibition games offer only a hint of what's to come, as teams are reluctant to telegraph their intentions for the regular season and are concentrating more on roster construction.

Denver is employing their own variation on the Erhardt-Perkins offense, which was very much what Josh McDaniels used both in New England and in Denver. The new version Denver will utilize will emphasize the run more, where McDaniels preferred to use the short pass more as a sort of ball-control passing game - in a certain respect, not dissimilar to the Bill Walsh theory of the game.  However, most of the passing from Denver is likely to be vertical, and of the Air Coryell variety.

A few simple things should be covered before we get into much detail on the offensive system, and we'll start today by revisiting the history of the Erhardt-Perkins Offense; we'll get more into the nitty-gritty on Saturday.

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The Daily Lard 9-7-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! On Broncos TV, Brian Xanders tells Chris Hall the team had settled on two or three players to make waiver claims on, but in the end decided the players already on the roster were preferable - or at least until they decided they weren't, and signed Tony Hills yesterday. Xanders also reminds us that waivers are a daily process and that the FO and coaches are constantly evaluating the roster - remember how Shanny used to try out several players almost every week during the season? Or the Curse of Brett Kern? And as Legwold points out, not only are the contracts of vested veterans not guaranteed if they're signed after Week 1, they are only paid on a week-to-week basis after that.

So in keeping with Ted's point yesterday to keep calm, realize that the roster as presently constructed is unlikely to remain unchanged for even three or four weeks. Plus, throughout the preseason we've generally been seeing the second and third units operating as a whole, rather than backups mixing in with starters. Yes, it's still about winning individual battles, but when the guys next to you are losing theirs...

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Broncos sign OT Tony Hills, waive Herb Taylor

As has been speculated upon for several days now, the Broncos have made a change at their backup OT spot, signing ex-Steeler Tony Hills (6'5" 304 lbs) and waiving Herb Taylor to create room for him on the roster. Hills is a fourth-year player who was originally drafted by Pittsburgh in the fourth round (130th overall) of the 2008 Draft out of Texas, and he played in four games for the Steelers during his time there (all in 2010, no starts). Hills, who will turn 27 in November, was waived by Pittsburgh on Saturday, and the Broncos have signed him to a two-year deal, according to Adam Schefter.

You Got Served - Freak out! (not)

Happy Tuesday, friends.  I had a nice Labor Day weekend, and I hope you did too.  It was busy, though, and I’m coming back to a busy workweek, so I’m kind of squeezed for time from both ends.  That said, I’m going to get moving and play for maximum value over minimum time.  I may even offend some people, with or without really meaning to.  Ready… BEGIN!!!

1.  Our friends at the DP rubed out again this weekend, breathlessly reporting that the Broncos would definitely be hitting the waiver wire hard before seeing them claim nobody at all.  As a staff, we were laughing at what seems to be the front office’s new practice of building up the expectations of the local media, only to make them look bad when things don’t happen the way they were speculated.  Woody is already bitching about John Fox’s skill in saying nothing at all while saying many words, as Doug pointed out in Monday’s Lard.

Personally, I’m not very surprised at all that the Broncos didn’t claim anybody.  I did a fairly basic exercise on Saturday where I picked through a lot of chaff looking for wheat, and I didn’t find much quality among young players who were waived.  The only guy I really liked was Tavares Gooden, and I can’t make a great case that Gooden is better than Mario Haggan or Nate Irving.  Of course, when you claim a guy on waivers, he goes to the active roster and you have to immediately cut a player to make room for him.

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The Daily Lard 9-6-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Some terrific news among Mike Klis' practice notes from yesterday - defensive tackles Brodrick Bunkley and Marcus Thomas may both return to practice sometime this week, which of course would be an enormous development as the Raiders bring their dominant rushing attack to town Monday night. Plus, Demaryius Thomas practiced yesterday as expected, although there is no publicized timetable as to when he'll return to action - apparently at this point it's strictly a matter of Demaryius getting back into football shape. Granted, that could take awhile.

Meanwhile, Chris Kuper was back at practice yesterday after missing last week with a toe injury. The team is off today and will practice tomorrow.

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Von Miller’s coaches

Following his graduation from Texas A&M, Von Miller was excited about getting drafted and finding a new team to call home and to work out with. Unfortunately, although he did get one of the rare and valuable playbooks, there was little communication between teams and their drafted players due to the lockout. Miller’s a fortunate player - he has four coaches other than John Fox who have helped him since the beginning of 2011. One of them isn’t even with the Broncos.

Von had quite a friend on his side to help ease his transition to the pro game this offseason, a man by the name of Dat Nguyen. Nguyen had attended college at Texas A&M before spending seven years playing linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys until an injury ended his on-field career. He chose to go into coaching, and after three years working with the Cowboys, Nguyen headed back to Texas A&M in 2010 as the Aggies' inside linebackers coach. Miller was enthusiastic about describing what he and Nguyen worked on and how they did it:

He played in the 4-3, did it in the NFL. He knows what to expect, so I've been working with him. I want to have all of the terminology down, know my responsibilities, so when we get the word I'm ready to...do what I'm supposed to do in the Broncos' defense.

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The Daily Lard 9-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Legwold says the FO just didn't see any players on the waiver wire who could contribute quickly to the team, hence their lack of claims. He also repeats what Klis wrote yesterday about the team not wanting to absorb any pre-existing contracts, but truly that one is hard to believe. As I wrote last night, most young players make the minimum salary for their respective experience levels, so anyone picked up on waivers would in essence be on one-year contracts as the claiming team would be able to cut them at any point with no bonus accelerations or cap hits.

Meanwhile, Demaryius Thomas has been working only with the medical and strength/conditioning staffs as he comes back from his Achilles injury. Brian Xanders says Thomas will be working with the scout team today as the team prepares for next Monday's opener against the Raiders.

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Broncos add CB Jonathan Wilhite, waive McBath, sign McCarthy, Johnson, Weber, Beal to PS

6:09pm ET - The Broncos have announced that WR D'Andre Goodwin, OT Adam Grant, RB Jeremiah Johnson, S Kyle McCarthy, WR Eron Riley and FB Austin Sylvester will join Beal and Weber on the practice squad. Earlier reports had suggested that McCarthy was ineligible for the PS, but obviously those were incorrect.

5:34pm ET - Denver has signed former ZOMG Patriots CB Jonathan Wilhite, a fourth-year player whom New England originally selected 129th overall in the 2008 Draft (4th round). What are they trying to do, become the Patriots West?!?! In 39 career games (13 starts), Wilhite has three INTs, nine passes defensed and 93 tackles. New England had waived Wilhite last Monday.

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The Daily Lard 9-4-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Following yesterday's leaguewide cuts and waivers, the Broncos have an opportunity to claim some young talent today. For any players with less than four years of service, the Broncos will have second crack (behind Carolina) at picking them up - and in all instances, they will have to immediately cut or waive another player to make room on the 53-man roster. FWIW, players who are claimed on waivers today cannot then be traded to other teams - so while Denver has an advantage with their place in the waiver order, they cannot leverage it into acquiring other assets.

For players like RB Lance Ball, OL Chris Clark, Manny Ramirez and Herb Taylor, DL Ryan McBean and Mitch Unrein, and CB Chris Harris, this could mean the excitement of having cracked Denver's roster may be limited to but a day. Meanwhile, vested veterans (those with four years of service) will have their 2011 salaries guaranteed come next Saturday. All waiver claims must be submitted by teams by noon ET today and will be awarded at 4pm ET. Any players that clear waivers today will immediately become free agents.

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Thoughts on cutdown day

Happy Saturday, friends.  I have a few thoughts on the Broncos' roster, and then some thoughts for some potential pickups from the rest of the NFL.

1.  I am only really surprised that Kyle McCarthy and Jeremy Jarmon were cut.  Perrish Cox earned the axe by playing poorly in the preseason, and from the rest, only David Anderson was mildly surprising.  The waiving of McCarthy seems to be a function of a decision that Quinton Carter can do everything that Kyle can do, and that you really only need two box safeties.  Jarmon’s athleticism impressed me, and I’m sad to see him go.

2.  I’d like to see Eron Riley, Eric Olsen, Jeremy Beal,  Jeremiah Johnson, and McCarthy on the Practice Squad.  None of the rest of the eligible guys have really showed me much.  That’s 4 offensive players and 1 defender, so I’d want to find three other defenders around the NFL.  (Jarmon isn’t eligible, because he was on Washington’s 53-man roster for most of the 2009 and 2010 seasons.)

3.  I'm slightly concerned about carrying just three RBs, and obviously no backup offensive lineman is worth a damn at this point, including Russ Hochstein.  On defense, I'm not freaking out about any position except CB.  I'd definitely like to see somebody better than Chris Harris come along, and I would also be amenable to an upgrade over Mitch Unrein (sorry, TJ) and/or Ryan McBean at DT.  There are some good players available at both CB and DT, as we'll discuss below.

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