Fat Camp: Understanding the Manning offense - Part 3

Hello, friends, and welcome to Part 3 of our series about the Manning offense that we can expect to see in Denver.  Today, we’ll focus on the running game, which I think will schematically have a lot of similarity to the base running game we’ve seen in Denver the past three seasons.  The philosophy will be very different, though, and it’s on that aspect which I will dedicate most of my focus.

If you missed Parts 1 or 2, and want to catch up, please see these links:

Part 1 – Basics – Formations, Personnel Groupings, and Fit of Existing Personnel

Part 2 – Presnap Recognition Concepts

Let’s begin by asking a simple question – why do football teams run the ball?  The main answer that I would give is that it’s tradition.  American football was invented in 1869, and the forward pass wasn’t introduced to the game until 1906.  It actually was introduced as a safety measure, because a bunch of people got killed or seriously hurt playing the game in 1905, and President Teddy Roosevelt demanded rules changes.  (The horror of government overreach!)  The rules committee that was formed was the precursor of today’s NCAA.

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Broncos have plenty of cap room Lard 3-31-12

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! There's been a lot of mystery surround Denver's cap space this offseason, with wide assumptions that the team was running low on cap space after having added Peyton Manning, Joel Dreessen, Jacob Tamme, Andre Caldwell, Tracy Porter, Mike Adams, and Caleb Hanie, plus having re-signed Wesley Woodyard, Joe Mays, Jason Hunter, and Manny Ramirez.

But thanks to the team's whopping $26M cap carryover from 2011 - second only to Jacksonville's $31M - Denver still has a very comfortable $13.8M in current available cap room. Only nine teams - Cincinnati, Cleveland, Jacksonville, KC, Minnesota, Philly, Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Tennessee - have more space left.

There will be draft picks to sign, the team reportedly still has interest in bringing back Marcus Thomas, and there remain some viable free agency options - including tackles Derek Landri and Amobi Okoye. So while there's no way for us to know whether the team plans to make any more splashes in free agency, it's great to know they have the flexibility to do so.

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Marcus Thomas’ twitter feed indicates he wants to sign with Broncos like yesterday

Check out Marcus Thomas' twitter feed lately?  

If not, you should consider it.  

Not only is Thomas openly tweeting about his desire to re-sign with the Broncos, he's re-tweeting fan tweets about him re-signing with Denver. 

So far, nothing has been inked, but (it appears) not for a lack of desire from Thomas.

Here are a few of his recent re-tweets:

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The Daily Lard 3-30-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Jeff Legwold spoke with Jeff Fisher, Leslie Frazier and Mike Shanahan about the problems Peyton Manning creates for defenses. The best quotes come via Fisher, whose Titans played Manning twice yearly for nine years, plus once in the 1999 playoffs (a Tennessee victory that included a !15-yard! rushing TD by Peyton). Said Fisher:

He'll raise the offense to a level where they are consistent week after week after week. He eliminates a lot of mistakes, and they'll score a lot of points week after week after week. He kind of changes the defensive philosophy (the Broncos) will face because all of a sudden (defenses) aren't rushing the passer against Denver or protecting a lead.

We've always said it's like preparing for one of those quarterbacks in a video game. You just can't fool him. He'll move fast and get the ball to the right people.

He's going to get up under center, scan the field and he knows what you're doing," Fisher said. "It may look like you're doing something else, but he knows what you're doing. It goes beyond staring into the eyes of the safeties. He understands presnap looks, the signals, the communication. He just knows all that.

Sound good to you?

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Some quick thoughts on how defensive tackle could play out

Right now the Broncos are trying to re-sign Marcus Thomas and have an interest in Amobi Okoye.

What's the common trait between the two?

Both play the 3-technique (often known as an under tackle).  Most teams expect the 3-tech to be a penetrator and a disruptive force, and further, to create at least a little bit of havoc in the pass rush.  For a quick refresher on gaps and techniques, you can always click here.  Suffice to say, your 3-tech needs to be active.

Thomas played well last year (25 stops ain't too shabby), but wasn't a huge factor in the pass rush.  He ended up with zero sacks, one QB hit, three QB pressures, and one batted pass.

Okoye by contrast had four sacks, six QB hits, 21 QB pressures, and a batted pass.   He was less of a factor in the running game, however.  He ended up with 15 stops.

Who should Denver sign?  Right now, either will do.  The free agents left on the market at defensive tackle are growing thin.  So they don't have a ton of wiggle room.  Should Denver sign either one, it will bring a sigh of relief--the Broncos will have at least plugged one of their gaps at defensive tackle.

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The Peyton Manning Billboards

We started a little fire with our original Tebow billboards

Then, we added some kindling in part 2.

Finally, we poured on the gasoline and gave Kyle Orton his own set of billboards.

Now that Peyton Manning is coming to Denver, we decided to simply burn the house down.

It's billboard time.  

Keep your eyes open as you're driving the Denver-metro area for these.

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The Daily Lard 3-29-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Elway provided some insight into how the Denver and Manning offenses will be melded, and what he said wasn't much of a surprise: Peyton will get to use the verbiage he's familiar with when making calls at the line.

Obviously, this will require all of his new teammates to adjust to him rather than vice versa, but it makes sense. Since the players cannot work out at Dove Valley or under coaches' supervision, they can get to learning right away, and since Manning is already organizing workouts, there's a good chance they've already started the process.

Besides, they probably all forgot what it's like to change a play at the line anyway...so what's the difference?

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Scouting the Draft: 2012 Defensive backs

I recently rewatched the Combine film from Indy to study the DB tests and drills again. Combine can be overrated, but there’s an aspect to the live views of players that’s very helpful to a guy like me who makes part of his living doing and teaching postural analysis. It comes into evaluating players - usually ones that i’ve seen before, but if not, it helps me to understand what’s being said about them and to look for those tendencies, even on highlight film (which is often terrible).

I enjoyed watching the various players through the drills - not as much the tests, although I always like getting a greater feel for the players’ posture, and build - before I went back for a second and third look purely out of the pleasure of it. Although I strongly agree with those that feel the Combine tests are often heavily overweighted, the opportunity to do some analysis of why you see the things that pop out on film of the drill segment is one that I don’t get all that often.

Say, for example, that you have a player who has problems in his backpedal. On your average broadcast film, the back end of the field is out of the frame more often than not. I get to see the guy as the snap occurs (usually), then there’s generally a point where they don’t show anything on the defensive backfield until the pass is thrown or the runner breaks into the second level.

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Stokley may yet return Lard 3-28-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver is reportedly among several teams to have shown interest in Bears DT Amobi Okoye, the remarkable young man who graduated from Louisville at 19 years old before the Texans drafted him 10th overall in 2007.

Meanwhile, the team may end up bringing back WR Brandon Stokley as had been rumored shortly after Denver signed Peyton Manning. DT Marcus Thomas is apparently choosing between the Broncos and two other teams, and Denver is also trying to re-sign DE Jason Hunter.

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Was Manning’s velocity waning even before the injury?

Today's article from Albert Breer may give Broncos fans pause.  Breer suggests that the velocity on Peyton Manning's throws was already in decline during 2010--before his neck injury. Breer writes:

"The fall-off was significant on film," said one scout from a rival AFC team. "He showed stiffness and lost athletic traits. What made him special was never his athletic ability or movement skills, but you could see it with his arm strength, too. We break the field into 'short', 'intermediate' and 'deep', and on patterns deep and outside the numbers, you'd notice more air under the ball. There'd be more arc. Some it's by design, placing the ball where it needs to be. But it looked like his velocity was tailing off at the end of 2010. That's probably what he's most worried about. His rotation was fine, his accuracy was fine. But as far as the ball getting from Point A to Point B, and how much time he was giving defensive backs to drive on the football, there was enough there for concern."

The questions about Manning's arm strength go all the way back to the day he was drafted (Ryan Leaf had a stronger arm, after all).  However, was it possible that in 2010, Manning had lost too much zip on his passes?  The statistics certainly suggest as much.  His Y/A, AY/A, NY/A, and ANY/A were all down by a full yard. At the same time, guys like Blair White, Pierre Garcon (which I believe means "dropped pass" in French), and Austin Collie weren't helping Manning's cause.  And we saw what happened to the Colts in 2011 without Manning: they went down like they'd been shot by a sniper. 

Manning has had other seasons with lower numbers than he had in 2010.  So what is one to make of all of this?

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