Linebacker: The Broncos’ scheme and needs

Understanding Linebacker Play Within the Broncos Scheme

One of the big questions going into the 2010 offseason is deciding exactly what, if anything, the Broncos are going to do about their linebacker position. Given that Coach Don Martindale has been named to the defensive coordinator position, it's clear that that Broncos both like his style of coaching and appreciate what he's done with a group that was cobbled together from continuing players, castoffs from other squads  and players from Denver moving from different positions.

It says here that Martindale has been one of the top coaches on the team, and if they move him up to DC, I hope that they can find someone nearly as good to take his place. By the way, for those who asked - the style of defense and the terminology were part of the package that Josh McDaniels impressed Pat Bowlen, Joe Ellis and Jim Goodman with. It's not going to change, so there will be continuity. 

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A Fistful of Bowlen: 27 years of cool

I'm going to be honest with you.

I haven't a clue who the Broncos are going to draft right now.

I don't know Tim Tebow's 40-yard dash time.  I'm sketchy on how many times Taylor Mays is going to bench press 225 pounds.  And Mike Iupati's biceps?  I'm guessing they are pretty large.

But a draft expert I am not.  Coincidentally, the real draft experts like Mel Kiper, Jr. aren't either, so I guess I'm in decent company.  At least I saved on the hair spray.

So if you wanna get mocked, I apologize in advance.

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The power and zone blocking running games and the Broncos

After reading two of BShrout's articles this week, I liked them both very much. The article on the running game was very interesting to me, and I thought I'd bring a little extra info to your attention. Most of it probably isn't new.

The points that were made on the comments were quite accurate. One of the things that came out was that it was very effective for Denver, under Mike Shanahan, to use the passing attack to get ahead, and use the running game to close out the game. This is taken directly from Bill Walsh, the inventor of the West Coast Offense. Although other coaches have used this same line over the years, he understood (and used that phrase in an interview I saw with him) the phrase "Pass to score, run to win". At the very least, he based much of his system on it. Lots of teams know this principle and use it - as in, all of them - in degree.

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Every Rose Has its Thorn: Life after Mike Nolan

Love--like defensive coordinators--is a game of easy come and easy go.  Just listen to the McDJ on the radio.

Now that Mike Nolan is heading to Miami to work on his South Beach tan, we are left to ponder (at least for a few days) the fate of the Denver Broncos defense.  And lonely Broncomaniacs everywhere want to know: 

Was is somethin' we did or somethin' we said?  Did our words not come out right?

We may never know the exact reason.  What we do know is that Mike Nolan is gone.   And it's not sitting well with a lot of us. The latest rumor from the Boston Herald is that McDaniels wasn't a fan of the number of times Nolan blitzed this year so the marriage had to end.  Personally, I'd like to see the Broncos blitz on every play of the game, but that's why I'm just a stats guy. Either way, as much as we may need a reason for Nolan's departure, we may never get a good one.  He may have left Denver because he's an East Coast guy. He may have left because he wants to work with Bill Parcells.  Perhaps he left because he's a closet Jennifer Lopez fan. 

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Matt Prater is no Kathy Ireland

If you've seen the movie Necessary Roughness, I'm very sorry.  Those are two hours of your life you're never getting back.  

If you haven't, I'll save you some time.  The best part of the movie was watching Kathy Ireland play the role of Lucy Draper, a female placekicker.  For a few brief scenes, placekicking somehow seemed...slightly more interesting.

But outside of the rare and fictional supermodel, placekickers don't get a lot of attention.   Most often they are known for either making or missing a late-game kick (i.e., Scott Norwood), or for their ability to shut down an all-you-can-eat-buffet like Sebastian Janikowski.

But we should make an exception for Matt Prater.  Not only should we be talking more about him, but we should acknowledge one fact right now: 

Matt Prater, despite playing at altitude, and without ever having done a Sports Illustrated bikini shoot, was the best kicker in the NFL in 2009.

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Tales from the SunnySide: Marquez Branson

Born in Arkansas, the son of Amos and Elsie Branson, and growing up in Starkville AK, Marquez Branson is one of two things. Depending on exactly how you like to see the world, either he's a converted wide receiver who doesn't really fit anywhere in the NFL game, or he's another of the multi-talented, versatile players that coaches like Josh McDaniels is looking for. After only a single season on the Denver Broncos practice squad, it's really anyone's guess which one he is, but right now he's someone who is clearly worth keeping an eye on.

Branson's name has come up in two different capacities in the past week. First of all, he's ostensibly a tight end and the Broncos seem to be debating the future of Tony Scheffler with the club. At about 6'3 and somewhere between 242 and 250, he's obviously somewhat light for the position right now, but has the frame to fill out another 10-20 lbs over the next few years.

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Tales from the SunnySide: Team building 2010

I have a confession to make. I love the draft.

To me, it's both Christmas and birthday, rolled into one. Optimally, the general manager and the head coach combine with every scout, position coach and assistant to pick out my presents for me, and I can't wait to get a chance to play with them. It's a great time to consider the issues of strategy and tactics, to review one's own way of viewing the game and the concepts of team-building. It's an opportunity to watch the front office carefully and to pick up ideas about how your own team views these same ideas. In short, it's a heck of a chance to debate, theorize, argue, bloviate and pontificate. It's two of the most enjoyable days of the NFL calender year, back to back. In many ways, there's nothing like it.

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Who got lucky this year? A dash of Clint Eastwood, a pinch of high school geometry

You've got to ask yourself one question:  do I feel lucky?  

Well, do ya, punk?

Like it or not, luck is a part of sports.   The bank shot from half court to win a game.  The blooped broken-bat single. The tip for a pick-six interception.   All of these can break the heart of fans who can't come to grips with the idea that sometimes, for whatever reason, the ball doesn't bounce in their preferred direction.   

You've probably heard one fan say to another, "Well, you guys got lucky."   In fact, many fans accused the Denver Broncos of this very thing in Week 1 on the last play of the game (the tipped touchdown to Brandon Stokley if you're living on planet Al Davis).  But what they are really saying is, "You didn't deserve to win."

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Tales from the SunnySide: Eddie Royal faces next year

Eddie Royal didn't have the 2009 that he had intended to have. On the other hand, Eddie Royal is a man who is used to difficult experiences.

You could say that his whole life was just such an experience - he was the last child born into a family of seven children. He and his siblings were raised by Pearl Royal, who was a single mother. The family stayed together. They went to church together. Sometimes there wasn't much food, but Pearl was a constant positive role model for Eddie. Eddie saw people in his life making the wrong decisions and it drove him to do better. He realized from an early age just what was and what was not important in life. One of those things was an education. Eddie realized that he could play football pretty early on. His choice of Virginia Tech showed that he was just as concerned with his classroom work as he was with the playing field. He did well at both.

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The Dude Abides: The Stats That Don’t Lie, Week 17

Quick to the stats to the stats no fakin', cookin' MCs like a pound of bacon.

--Vanilla Ice

Alright, stop.  Collaborate and listen.  Josh is back with a brand new invention.  

You knew I couldn't get through a whole season without bringing out the worst song of all time

I'm not sure what's worse.   That song or the idea that Week 17 actually meant anything in the NFL.   The way things ended up, there wasn't much drama involved, as both the Ravens and Jets took care of business.  As expected, the Raiders got the business end of another loss.  Sorry, Pittsburgh. Sorry, Houston.   And sorry, Den....

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