Open Thread: Preseason Opener 2012

Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Broncos!

PS. We have Peyton MF Manning

Five things you can watch while everyone else is busy talking about Peyton Manning’s arm strength

We get it. The big topic tonight will be the strength of Peyton Manning's arm. Does he have it?  Did he ever lose it?  When will he get it?   

That's fine if all you want is a casual relationship with the Denver Broncos.  But if what you're looking for is a passionate affair--and I'm talking hot, steamy friction--then take your eyes off Manning's member (his arm, dude), and keep your eyes out for a few other things tonight:

Personnel Packages

  • Do the Broncos feature three wide receivers and one tight end? Or do they experiment with a larger package?
  • How often do you see the fullback in the play? Does he function as a tight end?
  • Remember, one way to gauge this is to think of the simple three-number system that goes: RBs-TEs-WRs.  So if you see the Broncos with a tailback, a tight end, and three wideouts, you can simply write it (or say it before the play) as: 113.  Since we're always going to see (generally) two tackles, two guards, a center, and a quarterback, your three numbers will always add up to five.  How the packages are used can provide you some insight into the Broncos' strategy this year.  If you want to use the two-number system, just drop off the last number; it will be implied.  So the example above would be 11 personnel.

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Pregame Limerick: Cutler and Marshall

Nothing beats mocking your opponent in the hours leading up to a game--even if it's only preseason.

Obviously, this week's topic is the Chicago Bears, or as I like to think of them, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. 

Absurd in a word is the pair
of Jay and The Beast in a stare.
The eyes are a lock,
the pattern a mock--
the safety just picks from the air.

Take your shot.  Mocking Jay Cutler never gets old.

And for more limerick fun, check out the entire history of IAOFM's limericks here.

Turn on the lights; the party’s starting Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team held a walkthrough yesterday morning (John Fox) before heading to Chicago for tonight's preseason opener (BTV). New Broncos Jim Leonhard and Keith Brooking did not make the trip, nor did injured players Justin Bannan, Quinton Carter, Tyler Grisham, and Greg Orton.

Chris Kuper and Ronnie Hillman traveled with the team, but the lineman is not expected to play. The rookie back will be a gametime decision, as is D.J. Williams, who has apparently been working with the scout team during camp and not totally inactive.

Kevin Vickerson and Ty Warren are expected to start at defensive tackle; one matchup to watch for will be Champ Bailey versus Brandon Marshall.

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Here’s why stats are dangerous in the wrong hands

Neat little trick from Jeff Legwold today. He came up with a premise that the Broncos have given up too many big plays of late, and his column was titled thusly:

Broncos defense prone to yielding "explosive plays" in recent years

In classic Legwoldian, he writes that "most teams" consider 10-yard rushes and 20-yard completions to be "explosive plays." Not sure if he polled the league's coaches, or what, for that one.

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Speed Heals: Defense

When Mike Shanahan was fired by the Broncos, he left behind a team that was a shell of its former self. The players who had been stallions during the Super Bowl years were long gone. The defensive players who remained were, they said publicly, treated as second-class citizens.

The roster was depleted in multiple areas and then a young former offensive coordinator tried to move the team to a reflection of the 3-4 system that he’d just left, but without the kind of players who made that system work. The offense wasn’t exactly loaded, either. A lot of things were missing on defense during that transition - stronger players, workable draft picks, a middle linebacker who keeps his helmet on, common sense - but one vacancy stood out as the roster was changed over:

Speed

It means linebackers with the legs to catch a returner in the open field, or to give cornerbacks a shot at covering the multiple players they are matched up against in passing situations. It means backside pursuit and pass rushers who can reach the quarterback before he can carve up the secondary. It’s essential to the new concept of Broncos defense that John Fox and Jack Del Rio will be implementing this season - which, whatever else is true, will require a faster pocket pressure with quicker linebackers and better defensive backfield speed.

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Marshawn Lynch, King of Corn (rows and mazes) Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Justin Bannan (calf), Ryan Harris (ankle), and Quinton Carter (knee, hamstring) were among those who did not participate in yesterday's practice (Peyton Manning, photos, more photos), while Ty Warren left early with a possible stomach virus. Newly signed LB Keith Brooking was already on the field for individual and 7-on-7 drills; he cannot join padded practices until Saturday.

D.J. Williams even saw some action, but it was only at the Sam spot when Von Miller got a late start to the morning walkthrough. A failure to stay in bounds by Knowshon Moreno while trying to run out the clock yesterday calls both his low Wonderlic score and Marion Barber to mind, although he did see first-team snaps.

The Broncos also had a walkthrough yesterday evening, and this morning's practice will be somewhat abbreviated so the team can catch a flight to Chicago for tomorrow's preseason opener.

After several days' worth of heaping praise, Brock Osweiler has struggled in the past couple of practices; Adam Weber was the only QB to lead a successful two-minute drill, as Peyton's turn ended with four straight incompletions at the goal line.

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No charges for Dumervil in Miami incident

At a time of year when football news tends to be of the negative variety (injuries), the Broncos instead got some of the pleasant kind today: the Miami-Dade state attorney will not be filing charges against Elvis Dumervil.

Elvis had been arrested last month in Miami under suspicion of having displayed a gun in a threatening manner during a road rage incident. But from the outset, his lawyer and agent both maintained that no charges had been or would be filed.

Updated 5:13pm ET

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You Got Served: K.C. Joyner is a tool

Happy Tuesday, friends.  I’m a little hard up for stuff to write about today, so I decided to eat some low-hanging fruit.  Being a person who subscribes to ESPN’s Insider service, I get an interesting mix of useful and useless material.  Among the useless stuff that I get is articles from K.C. Joyner, The Football Scientist, or as I like to call him, The “Football Scientist.”

Joyner was an early screamer about football stats, and how there weren’t enough of them, and how they weren’t good enough.  He had a point, but his personal capacity to remedy the situation was, shall we say, limited.  He created a bunch of metrics, many based upon his own subjective observations.  For an example, I give you Good Blocking Yards Per Attempt.  What exactly does “Good” mean?  It sounds like he’s measuring something that’s not exactly measurable.

I guess it’s good to be first on the scene, because then ESPN pays you to write stupid articles and pimp your book through oblique references to it, as if everybody bought and memorized the thing.  Actually, it’s good to be second too, because they do the same thing with Football Outsiders, who also acts as if their own proprietary stats are the bomb-diggity, be-all, end-all fountain of all football knowledge.  I’d like to see them have a nerd fight – My VYPA is better than your DVOA!  I’ll unleash my 23rd-level warlock on your paladin!  Pokemon to the rescue!  (I know, I’m kind of an a-hole jock – sue me.)

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Terrell Owens, back to troll the world Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team returned to work yesterday (video, photos, more photos) following a day off Sunday.

Demaryius Thomas sat out the second half of practice with tightness in his Achilles; Thomas missed the first five games of 2011 after tearing his Achilles in February of 2011. Ryan Harris, Von Anthony Miller, and Greg Orton (all ankles) also left early, while Ronnie Hillman did conditioning work as he works back from a slight hamstring injury. Justin Bannan (calf) and Quinton Carter (knee, hamstring) remain sidelined.

Orlando Franklin practiced for the first time since having suffered a concussion a week earlier and took some snaps at right guard as Chris Kuper continues to work back to full strength.

Robert Ayers and Kevin Vickerson both took first-team snaps, and wideouts Matt Willis and Jason Hill impressed.

Working on the two-minute drill, Peyton Manning and Caleb Hanie each led drives that culminated in field goals, while Brock Osweiler threw a pick on the second play of his possession.

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