When the 2011 season started, I found myself being more and more drawn to the play of the offensive line. Why? First were the conflicting reports on the play of J.D. Walton and Zane Beadles in training camp; second, the fact that three of the five starters are in their first or second NFL seasons; finally, since 2008, the Denver offensive line hasn’t been exactly the gold standard of the league. So, I wanted to get a much clearer picture of the group together. Every offensive play, run or pass, is dependent in degree on that group of men and given their youth, I’m hoping that some development might be visible over the season.
Over the years, at times I’ve talked to people who see the play of the OL in fairly simplistic terms, and in one sense, that’s very understandable. You’ve got a bunch of very large men in the center of the field - they fight with each other, and just how that affects the play might be obvious - the hole that the running back dashes through, the time the quarterback has to make his progressions, choose and make his pass - but exactly how the OL does or doesn’t achieve that may be both complex and obscure. The camera usually follows the ball, as do the eyes of most fans, and it’s not easy to teach oneself to watch certain players instead. Consider a single partial paragraph from Steve Belichick’s Football Scouting Methods, talking about the 3-4 nose guard and his interaction with the offensive line:
The Broncos took an apparent gamble on Monday when they replaced Brandon Lloyd on the active roster with S Rafael Bush instead of WR Eron Riley while Brian Dawkins recovers from a neck injury, and it may have cost them. The Jets have signed Riley off Denver's practice squad, and the Broncos have responded by bringing back WR D'Andre Goodwin to replace him; both Goodwin and Riley had made strong pushes to make the final roster with their play during the exhibition season. Hopefully we won't be looking back on this move as a younger sibling to the prior losses of Domenik Hixon and Josh Barrett.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The trade deadline has passed, and Kyle Orton, D.J. Williams and Eddie Royal are still Broncos, while Brandon Lloyd is not. Well, that would make sense - only the most talented of the four was coveted by another team. Remember, this is a team that's gone 7-24 over its last 31 games, so the notion that the players we want to see shipped out (Orton, D.J.) would actually be desired elsewhere is perhaps a bit misguided. It would be a surprise to see any of those three players back next year, though.
Yes, D.J. is signed through 2013, but his contract is one that no team would likely want to inherit, and it would be surprising to learn that Denver was interested in paying the rest of it out. He's making $4.9M this year, $5M next year, and $6M in 2013. But it doesn't appear he's due any guarantees going forward, so color me shocked if D.J. isn't cut sometime between the end of this season and the beginning of the next. Perhaps Denver could get a seventh-rounder at some point if D.J. is willing to renegotiate his contract to go someplace specific, but that too seems like a stretch. Oh well. On to Miami...
Happy Tuesday, friends. Since there was no Broncos game this weekend to comment on, I decided to just share some stray football thoughts for a while. Since I actually had to closely watch the Miami game live last night, my normal Monday night writing time was short, so we’ll see what comes out. Ready….. BEGIN!!
1. I suppose I should begin with the “fire sale” concept, and whether the Broncos are having one. I supported the trade of Brandon Lloyd, because clearly the team had decided that they weren’t going to pay him long dollars in the offseason. Teams have to make organizational decisions, and frankly, we’ve seen a few work out pretty well lately. I don’t miss Brandon Marshall, for example. Did anybody see him playing like he just didn’t care Monday night? That guy is a losing football player, and I don't miss him.
6:02PM ET - NFLN is reporting that the conditional second-rounder Oakland is sending Cincy only becomes a first-rounder if the Raiders make it to the AFC title game either this year or next. It had been previously reported that the first-round trigger was a single playoff victory.
5:25PM ET - Post-deadline updates:
12:56PM ET - Baxter McLove is now actively tweeting. What more is there to say? @BaxterMcLove
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver made another roster move last night, filling the spot vacated by the Brandon Lloyd trade with safety Rafael Bush (5'11, 197), whom they signed off of Atlanta's practice squad. The Falcons signed Bush as an undrafted free agent last year out of South Carolina State, and he dressed for their season finale after spending the year on the PS. Mike Klis says the signing of Bush is likely a response to the neck injury which kept Brian Dawkins out of practice yesterday and the poor play by Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter in the Broncos' last game versus San Diego.
Klis says the Lloyd trade was largely about money, as the team apparently offered Brandon a two-year deal but with no guaranteed money coming until after this season, and a salary below what Lloyd felt he deserved. Add to that the presence of young wideouts Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas (who was back at practice yesterday) and mix in the fact that Denver just isn't chucking it downfield very much under John Fox's guidance, and you have the makings of a trade which both sides are happy with. And to reiterate, the Broncos would not have received a compensatory pick until the 2013 Draft had they kept Brandon around for the remained of the season.
I read the other day that OL coach Dave Magazu said the San Diego game featured Ryan Clady’s best run-blocking of the season to date. Although I had Clady set up for a little later in my film study series, I wanted to see why Magazu, who’s got a pretty top reputation as an OL coach, was that excited about what he’d seen. It didn’t take long to get me excited, either. I’ll share with you what I found, and take you through the second half of that game. On some plays, I’ve listed more than just Clady’s performance - you’ll understand why.
A technical note: I wanted to start making my life easier, so I’m using a version of the shorthand that Steve Belichick, Bill’s father, recommended in his book Football Scouting Methods. I list the quarter and the time at the start of the drive and sometimes if a certain play is worth checking, and I also list the down, distance and the location of the ball. To do that, I use the notation ‘-X yards’ if Denver’s on their side of the 50 and +X yards if they’re in their opponent's side of the field (plus territory). If I’ve listed the location of the ball on first down, and the team gained five yards I usually don’t bother listing the ball location - I just assume that everyone can do the math. So far, it’s confusing my voice recognition software, so keeping my keystrokes down helps my hands out. I hope that you can follow the notations when I kept them short.
3:07PM ET - David Garrard is reportedly to have back surgery. Could this impact whatever market exists for Kyle Orton? Cough..Oakland...cough
2:17PM ET - But wait, there's more! Denver DT Ryan McBean was arrested on Oct. 14 for stalking, according to 9NEWS.
1:36PM ET - According to Schefter, all that it would take for the pick to move up from a sixth-rounder to a fifth-rounder in 2012 is that Lloyd catch 30 passes for the Rams over the remainder of the season. Obviously, this is a highly attainable and likely threshold, and it puts the trade in a much better light.
1:08PM ET - Mort says the Broncos will receive a conditional pick from St. Louis that will come in either the fifth or sixth round of the 2012 Draft depending upon how many receptions Lloyd tallies with the Rams.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! More information is finally leaking out regarding the Broncos' near trade of Kyle Orton to the Dolphins. Apparently, it was Miami owner Stephen Ross who nixed the deal, because he is set upon having a clear franchise QB in place for the 2012 season, and well, you know... Ross also intends to hire someone with the stature of Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher to either run his team or coach it. In case you care about these things for some odd reason, Cowher was TJ's first coaching choice for the Broncos post-Shanahan, while I was hoping for Fisher earlier this year.
Further, Chris Mortensen says the deal was so close to fruition that Kyle's transportation to the Sunshine State had been arranged. In other words, the Broncos were more than prepared to ship Orton off, as we've figured since about nine months ago. But you know, continue to blame John Fox or John Elway for Orton not being moved. We don't need no stinking facts when we have our sights set on someone, right?
Mike Klis is reporting the Broncos are now trying to move wide receiver, Bradon Lloyd, as fast as possible--that is, before tomorrow's practice.
It appears as if
Jim Harbaugh Rocky Balboa has now emerged as the front runner. As Klis reports:
The San Francisco 49ers appear to be showing the strongest interest in the acrobatic receiver, but the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams also were in discussions, according to two NFL sources.
If this is true, it would be a homecoming of sorts for Lloyd, who played for San Francisco from 2003-2005. During his first tour of duty with the 49ers, Lloyd never quite lived up to his potential, although it should be noted that he was a 4th-round draft pick.
The 49ers beat the Lions today to improve to 5-1, but during the game it was clear they are in need of big-play threat for Alex Smith.