Happy Thursday, friends. I have a few minutes to cook up a bite-size nugget, so open up. I had occasion to watch the Saints-Bucs game on Wednesday night, and the most noticeable thing is that the Saints defense is atrocious.
To that end, they’re 32nd in total defense, 30th against the pass, 31st against the run, and 29th in scoring defense. It’s a complete horror show.
I don’t think too highly of Steve Spagnuolo as a coach, because I think his defenses have tended to be very good when his talent is great. It’s easy to have a team with a great pass rush when you have Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Justin Tuck. I don’t think he’s ever elevated marginal talent through excellent scheming, like, say, Mike Nolan or Rex Ryan.
What's that old saying? A week off makes the metrics grow fond? Something like that...
Following Denver's Week 7 bye, they remain atop Brian Burke's efficiency rankings, and are now ranked number one in offensive efficiency (up from fourth). Their defensive efficiency ranking has slipped from third to fifth.
Broken down by unit, the Broncos rank fourth in passing, are tied for seventh in rushing success, and are eighth in pass defense, and tied for seventh in run defense.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The talk at Dove Valley yesterday was of getting a winning streak going - something that hasn't happened yet this season.
Of course, cleaning up their odd habit of first-half mistakes would go a long way to help build a string of wins, and Peyton Manning says it's about time for the team to put together a sixty-minute game. You'll recall that even their one blowout win, against Oakland, featured a halftime advantage of just 10-6, their only one of the season.
The team is basically at full health, as Sealver Siliga missed practice for non-injury reasons, while Tracy Porter was a limited participant; six others were listed on the injury report as full participants.
Over the bye week, I turned my attention to the notes that I’ve made on the team. Just as the offense did, the Broncos have made key errors on defense that cost them some games.
They’ve also showed the ability to play better. Here are some thoughts on Jack Del Rio's crew:
1. Rookie Derek Wolfe has played every position along the line (including nose tackle on at least one play) and already has three sacks to his credit - he’s also setting the edge with increasing effectiveness. Teams are commonly double-teaming Wolfe and/or handing him off from one blocker to the next, but all that’s done is to create more options for Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, and the other players.
Del Rio isn’t shy about using his own immense creativity in putting new pressure packages together, and he’s started to use defensive secondary players in his QB pressure schemes, which helps. Most defensive ends/tackles need a couple or more years to really mature, but Wolfe’s off to a fine start.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! As would be expected, the Broncos aren't taking for granted that they're going to cruise to an AFCW title, despite the turmoil permeating the rest of the division.
Chris Harris says experience and film work are what helped him nab his game-sealing pick-six in San Diego, and he thinks the same pass would have been completed on him last season.
According to Mike Klis, the determinant in Matthew Willis (still don't understand how he's making more than Willis McGahee this season) being a weekly game-day active over Andre Caldwell is special teams, and he doesn't expect the team to make any deals prior to Tuesday's 4PM ET trade deadline.
Jeff Legwold suggests that Denver's giant fourth-quarter deficits, and the aggressiveness they've necessitated, have led to their whopping 79-6 scoring advantage in the final quarter. Makes sense.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! After four days off for their bye week, the Broncos returned to practice yesterday.
With his former team coming to town, Tracy Porter was cleared on a noncontact basis yesterday, after he was held back from the trip to San Diego by what is being called an illness. According to Mike Klis, it's questionable whether Porter - who is not making a big deal of the reunion - will be able to suit up against New Orleans on Sunday night.
Then again, the player himself declared himself "ready to go," so we'll assume that's the case.
Brandon Marshall, self-proclaimed student of the game:
Five years ago, I didn’t know what conference I was in, probably. When you go back that far, the game was different. It was definitely different for me. I was seeing a lot of one-on-one coverages and we were out there just throwing it all over the place. Now, we have to be smarter. The looks that we’re getting, the disguises, you have to be a student of the game. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, if you’re not a student of the game, you’re definitely going to fail. I think the things you guys are hearing from me is just a maturity — learning the game more, learning the business and understanding the business more — so it’s also refreshing to me to see the growth in myself and the guys around me.
In Peter King's weekly shameless SNF promotion, he notes that Denver has 26 pass plays of 20+ yards so far this season, second only to their upcoming opponents, the Saints.
We have the word stat in quote marks because really, this amounts to trivia (why 20-yard plays, and not 19-yard plays?). 20 yards is a totally arbitrary threshold for a play to become labeled as explosive, and it's not the sort of figure you can correlate to winning or losing. More appropriate would be to just measure yards per attempt, and then figure in the effect of touchdowns, interceptions, and sacks - as we did last week.
Perhaps it doesn't have the ring of Peytonpalooza, or of Tebow Time, but the Brady Quinn Era will continue indefinitely in Kansas City, according to Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel.
Quinn had started in place of the injured Matt Cassel in KC's Week 6 blowout loss to Tampa Bay, and Cassel, who's in the fourth season of a six-year, $63M contract, has been cleared to play this week.
Coming out of college, I had the impression that Cam Newton had impressive mental toughness. It came out in the middle of Auburn's season that his dad had tried to get paid for sending him to a college, and Cam seemed to ignore it, and just keep dominating.
Last year, he flashed really impressive talent, and some huge plays as a rookie. It seemed like he was the next big thing in NFL Quarterbacking.
The 2012 season is going terribly for Cam, though, and for the Panthers, who just fired their longtime GM Marty Hurney.