Revisiting the Manning offense

Happy Wednesday, friends.  Today, since we’re at the halfway point of the season, I want to revisit the series of articles I wrote in March and April about the Manning offense, and update them.  If they’re going to live on as strong reference material, they deserve an update. 

In advance, let me say that you shouldn’t take this as a victory lap, although I was right about a lot of stuff.  And don’t even get me started on how right I was about the results of the Presidential election.  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Here is a set of links to the whole series of articles:

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Broncos gain heaps of midseason props, FWIW Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! So much of the talk this season has been about Cam Newton's struggles.

But as several numbers-centric writers have noted recently, Cam's not been performing measurably worse in a lot of categories. Yes, he's passing and rushing for touchdowns at a lower rate this year, but that happens. His Y/A and NY/A numbers are actually better than they were in 2011, while his AY/A and ANY/A trail last year's figures by a tiny margin.

He even has a higher YPA on the ground than last year, albeit with fewer touchdowns and a lot more fumbles.

Point is, Cam Newton has not suddenly been figured out, nor turned into a crappy QB. He's still a serious threat, and five of his team's six losses have been by six points or less.

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Kuper injury not disastrous Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As feared, a severe ankle sprain will keep right guard Chris Kuper out for as long as a month.

While the credit is not all his, the team's streak of three wins and three games without Peyton Manning having taken a sack, does coincide with the return of Kuper from the forearm injury he suffered during training camp. Denver also had (by far) its most productive game running the ball with Kuper, totaling 225 yards on the ground against New Orleans.

In 175 snaps played over three games, Kuper has graded out at an excellent +3.5; backup Manny Ramirez has a -2.4 grade in 387 snaps.

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Open Thread: MNF Week 9 - Eagles @ Saints

Here are the game's inactivesAndy Benoit, Doug Farrar, and Steve Palazzolo analyze the matchup; Drew Brees claims the ass-kicking delivered to New Orleans by the Broncos last week has served as a sort of wakeup call. Enjoy the game!

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No trap games with PMFM at helm Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The trap game. It's been a while since the Broncos were good enough to actually have one, but the memories are still painfully fresh.

There was the 2006 playoff-costing finale against San Francisco, the 2008 duds against Kansas City, Miami, and Buffalo, and any number of recent losses to Oakland.

But instead of laying an egg in Cincinnati yesterday, Denver overcame a few big mistakes and left town with a 31-23 victory (Gamebook, ANS box score) over the Bengals.

Of course, there are some whopping differences between those middling squads and the 2012 Broncos - namely, Peyton Manning and Von Miller.

With the demanding perfectionist Manning leading the way, it's hard to picture this team having a letdown. Sure, it can lose - but probably not for having overlooked an opponent.

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Gut Reaction: Week 9 - Broncos @ Bengals

Today's game was the sort of contest previous Broncos teams would have lost.

There they were--on the road, starting early, serving up two critical interceptions, and running the ball as sluggishly as they have all year.

Instead, they were ahead by two scores with a few minutes remaining.  I guess having Christopher Walken Peyton Manning at quarterback has something to do with it.

That's an effort you'd expect from a top-flight team and a division champion.

Perhaps a championship team?

We'll see.  Suffice to say, things are beginning to feel a lot different in Denver this year.

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Open Thread: Sunday Week 9

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Who’s afraid of Andy Dalton? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Among the main storylines for Denver's season is the string of marquee quarterbacks they've opposed and will continue to see.

The preseason chatter on that topic included Cincy's Andy Dalton, but now that tune is starting to change. Why? Because Dalton's had a few poor games in a row, with his team mired in a three-game losing streak.

Mike Klis is declaring that the TCU alum is amidst a sophomore slump, even suggesting that, "No other explanation is needed for his disappointing play this year as the Cincinnati Bengals' starting quarterback."

This, only a few weeks after having called the Red Rifle the league's 12th-best QB, even suggesting he could meet Cam Newton "in a future Super Bowl or three."

Perhaps he's being a bit tongue-in-cheek with the sophomore slump stuff, and we're not meaning to pick solely on Klis here.

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Front office love Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Been forgetting all week to mention a couple of points that came up in our game chat last Sunday.

For one, it was very encouraging to see the extra gear of speed provided by Ronnie Hillman on offense and Trindon Holliday returning punts. It's been a long time since the Broncos have regularly put the ball into the hands of anyone with as much pure speed as either of these guys - a quick look during the game at recent Denver rosters took us all the way back to 2006, for Tatum Bell's first (pre-mobile phone salesman/Lions baggage thief) stint with the team.

Each has some learning ahead of them - Hillman has Willis McGahee to show him better reads and the proper balance between decisiveness and patience with the ball, and Holliday could stand to gain a better understanding from Jim Leonhard of how/when to fair catch a ball. Both have time on their side - Hillman is the youngest player in the NFL, and Holliday has only returned 23 punts in his brief NFL career.

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Chiefs probing new depths of futility Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Anyone remember when the 2012 Chiefs were supposed to be all kinds of teh awesome?

Haha.

KC managed to stay with the host Chargers for three quarters - but then the floodgates opened, in the form of three quick touchdowns - two of them off Matt Cassel turnovers. The $63M man now has 18 out of his team's league-leading 29 turnovers, and the Chiefs have still not held a lead at any point during this season. Among entire teams, only the Cowboys have more giveaways (by one) than Cassel alone.

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