Despite line struggles, Manning’s quick release limited pressure

Sig Stats: PBE, O-Line Units

The Broncos top the whole-line PBE rating, but some of that is certainly due to Peyton Manning and his league-low average of 2.22 seconds from snap to pass attempt.

We all know the Broncos didn't rank #1 because their linemen played particularly well. More specifically, Orlando Franklin posted the second best Pass Blocking Efficiency among the league's guards in 2014, but none of Denver's centers or tackles ranked among the top ten at their respective positions.

Klis: John Elway met with Peyton Manning on Thursday

Peyton Manning, chaperoned by Joe Ellis, flew to Denver on Thursday and met with John Elway to discuss his near term future, but is not yet ready to announce a decision, according to Mike Klis. Manning's team physical will take place sometime between Feb 23 and Mar 5, and his $19M salary becomes fully guaranteed on Mar 9, the final day of the 2014 league year.

All signs have pointed to Manning returning in 2015, and Klis says Thursday's meeting is another positive indicator. Earlier in the week, Jason Cole reported that Elway & Co. weren't absolutely certain about wanting Peyton back.

Bucs appear locked in on quarterback at #1

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The 2015 NFL Draft is still a full 12 weeks away, but some clarity is already developing at number one.

Tampa Bay cut starting quarterback Josh McCown, who had one year and $5.25M remaining on his two-year deal. The team may also look to trade Mike Glennon, their 2013 third-rounder who started 18 games over his first two seasons.

This clearing of the decks appears to confirm the Bucs' plan to take either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston with the #1 overall pick.

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PFF: Broncos didn’t blitz often in 2014, but when they did…

Sig Stats: Team Blitzing

Near the bottom of the list we find mostly 4-3 teams or teams with two good edge rushers.

That's the whole point of having Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, isn't it? When the Broncos defense did blitz, they were the fourth most productive unit in the league. However, they were 22nd when not blitzing, and that's what kept them from being a great defense, despite their unmatched overall efficiency.

PFF: C.J. Anderson among the NFL’s most elusive backs in 2014

Sig Stats: Elusive Rating

C.J. Anderson provided the Denver Broncos a similar boost late in the season and looks like Denver’s running back of the present and future.

Funny thing - or not, depending upon one's viewpoint - it seemed Ronnie Hillman had grown out of his tendency to go down when a defender just breathed on him. However, the numbers don't support that observation, as according to PFF, Hillman had the fewest yards after contact per attempt of any back in the league. Yikes.

Brooks: Broncos have to be thinking tackles in the draft

AFC West rookie grades: Oakland Raiders aced 2014 NFL Draft

The Broncos will investigate the top offensive tackles in the 2015 draft class to determine if there is an ultra-athletic edge blocker ideally suited for new coach Gary Kubiak’s zone-based scheme. The emphasis on athleticism should put Pittsburgh’s T.J. Clemmings, Stanford’s Andrus Peat and Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi under the microscope.

This all depends upon the progress of Michael Schofield. Either way, a replacement for Orlando Franklin is another likely draft focus.

PFF: Broncos’ ST tackling was as bad as it seemed

PFF rolled out a trio of posts today covering 2014 tackling efficiency figures. Overall, Denver's defense ranked very well, tying for the sixth-best missed tackles rate. But as Broncos fans might have expected, the special teams coverage units tied for 30th according to that same measure.

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Wes Welker reportedly considering retirement

Pending unrestricted free agent Wes Welker is seriously considering retirement after 12 seasons, according to Mike Garafolo. In 2014, Welker played only 27 snaps fewer than he did in 2013, but his production fell off signficantly - from 73 catches, 778 yards, and 10 touchdowns, to 49 catches, 464 yards, and two touchdowns.

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Report: John Elway not 100% on wanting Peyton Manning to return

Recent speculation from all corners suggests Peyton Manning wants to play in 2015. However, Jason Cole reports that the Broncos and John Elway aren't certain about wanting Manning back, especially if he's only going to play for one more year. As transcribed by FOX Sports:

At this point in his career, the Broncos could fail Peyton Manning for any reason, including the four neck surgeries that he has already had. In talking to sources close to the team, there's a big question here about whether the Broncos want to bring him back for one more year. They're going to have to feel very comfortable about this.

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How do Denver’s current backs fit within a zone blocking system?

The issues of zone blocking itself and the personnel for it are now well covered. The next step is considering the personnel that will be carrying the ball. These were David Hooper’s preferred qualities of running backs for the zone blocking scheme:

  • Disciplined, willing to do their job and not improvise.
  • Decisive.
  • Crisp runners - not necessarily fast, but they must have sharp cuts.
  • Committed, willing to blast toward a gap that doesn't exist - yet.
  • Decisive. No, really. A backfield dancer is absolutely doomed.

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