Thursday Musings: More on the Zone Read; a complete victory

I thought I’d share just a few more thoughts on Sunday’s victory in Oakland. I usually stay with the offensive lines right now, but there were a number of things that really deserved to be looked at after the Broncos took it to the Raiders right in their own home. I'll start with a reference from one of the OL pieces that the plays Denver ran were also part of - the Zone-Read running game of Wisconsin.

Barry Alvarez

Alvarez is the Athletic Director at the University of Wisconsin. I quoted some of his work a few weeks ago and mentioned him again earlier today - he took over as the head coach of the Badgers in 1990 and was trying to figure out his offensive direction when he, much like Denver coach John Fox, decided to put the onus of the team’s offense on the running game. Why? It wasn’t a preference one way or the other for a certain type of attack, although Fox has been rightfully accused of that. It was simply a matter of logic meeting necessity. Alvarez and his coordinators and position coaches met and talked it out. They all came to the same conclusion that Denver did, unusual though it is in the modern game. Alvarez explains:

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Fattening Up More on Ryan Clady

After bearing up through the first two weeks of Tim Tebow struggling as Denver's starting quarterback, Sunday's game was a grand change. It was the first time I've seen the Broncos play like a complete team in a long time. It was good to see, and I can't wait to see how much they can hold up to it consistently - they were able to put all the pieces together and despite Oakland’s protests that they expected it, it clearly caught their players off guard on the field. Stellar performances by the OL, Willis McGahee and Tebow, as well as a couple of nice catches by Eric Decker and an outstanding performance for Eddie Royal (with a tie-breaking punt return TD and a TD reception) rounded off a resounding route of the much-disliked (okay, hated) division rival.

The best part of the entire game was to see each aspect of the team (offense, defense, and special teams - even with that punting mishap near the end zone) contribute greatly to the final outcome. Without any one of them coming through on the right plays, the game goes down as a loss. With all three working together, the Raiders did not seem to know what hit them. It was by far Tebow’s best all-around performance to date and Denver’s best game of the season.

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The Daily Lard 11-10-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Andrew Brandt points out that the deadline has passed for teams to extend players' contracts and confine the financial impact to the 2011 salary cap. This means it's likely Denver will allow Eddie Royal, Daniel Fells, Marcus Thomas, Brodrick Bunkley, Wesley Woodyard, Mario Haggan, Joe Mays, and Matt Prater become free agents, among others (not that it's a shock). Based upon their respective roles, age and what interest they'd likely command on the open market (not much, frankly), I'd say the only one I'd like to have seen locked up would be Prater - and Denver can always franchise the guy if they're unable to reach agreement with him after the season. Then again, the team is still able to work on a new deal with any of these players until the day before the season finale, and Denver has plenty of cap room - so any guaranteed money would be prorated over the length of the contract rather than assigned to the 2011 cap.

Obviously it'd be nice to hang onto most, if not all of those other guys, but the question is at what cost and rather than which potential draft/FA replacements? Even if Denver were interested in keeping Royal, it's safe to presume he'll want to test the FA waters to find a situation where he can start instead of potentially being stuck behind Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas in a run-first (and second) offense. The question to consider is whether there will be better, cheaper and/or younger options available in the offseason, and the only resounding "no" in that regard is Prater.

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The Playbook Abides - The Dennis Allen Files

Lost in the Tim Tebow debate this year has been the upswing on the defensive side of the ball.

The Broncos have yet to become the defense they really want to be.  That much is clear.  Yet they are no longer last in the league in yards allowed per game (22nd).

Much of this incremental upswing can be attributed to Von Miller and the signing of Brodrick Bunkley.  However, I believe the signing of defensive coordinator Dennis Allen--along with his aggressive style and 4-3 scheme--has been a big factor.  We all thought Allen would create more pressure on the quarterback.  It turns out Broncos fans were correct in that assumption.

Today I'd like to look at some of the tools that Allen uses against the pass to get the most out of a defense that was one of the worst in Broncos history only a year ago. 

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The Daily Lard 11-9-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his weekly film review, Andy Benoit is stunned that Oakland didn't spy Tim Tebow as much as Miami had, and he's baffled that the Raiders were so ill-prepared for Denver's zone read when considering the Broncos' lack of offensive diversity. Yes, Tebow & Co. had a few big pass plays including the two scores, but if 113 net yards on 23 attempts + sacks were enough to keep a defense honest, the whole league would be showing a 60/40 run/pass split every week. Seriously. It will be an outright shock if any Denver opponent going forward does not truly sell out to stop the run and keep Tebow in the pocket; doesn't mean it'll work or that the Broncos won't be able to win any more games in Sunday's manner (presumably Tebow will make at least some plays through the air, and hopefully the defense plays better than it has been), but don't expect other teams to be so hapless in defending the zone read.

Benoit also blames personnel for Oakland's problems (the absence of LB Rolando McClain), and on the other side of the ball, Benoit thinks the injury to C Samson Satele and their typical slew of penalties are what caused the Oakland rushing offense to go from gashing Denver early to struggling later. Benoit saw Dennis Allen's use of Von Miller as an inside blitzer as a great new wrinkle and isn't yet buying the notion that the real Elvis Dumervil is quite back.

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You Got Served: The Zone Read

Happy Victory Tuesday, friends.  I hope you’re ready for a Serving, because I’ve got one for you.  I’m in last place in the picks competition, and a primary reason why is that I’m now 2-6 in picking Broncos games.  (I had them losing to Green Bay, and beating Miami.)  You can’t win them all, I guess, and I just don't seem to have a great feel for when the Broncos are going to play well.  Maybe if I read the DP rather than Doug's parsing of their work, I might know if they "had a good week of practice."

Anyway, today we’re going to explore in detail why the Broncos beat the Raiders on Sunday.  It was a total team win, as has been said, but more than that, I would say that it was the first time this season that the offense pulled its weight.  Aside from a couple of missed throws by Tim Tebow and some penalties (I’m looking at you, Ryan Clady) it was a consistent and productive effort.  Since offense is kind of my thing, I’m excited to spend some time talking about it.  Ready… BEGIN!!

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The Daily Lard 11-8-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis says he doesn't know how far the zone-read can take Denver, but it's the best offense for Tim Tebow to be running at this point. Plus, he thinks the Broncos will clearly be targeting a top cornerback and defensive tackle in next year's draft, along with of course a quarterback and a running back. Klis thinks Denver will try to hang onto Brodrick Bunkley, who is a free agent after this season, along with Marcus Thomas.

As for quarterbacks, Klis also says that the new rookie pay scale could make a big trade up in the draft to get one to be more palatable, as the cost is more about the picks being dealt away rather than a huge chunk of guaranteed money as in the past. He thinks that unless Miami has the #1 pick, Denver will have a chance to trade up to select Andrew Luck.

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IAOFM on G+

Google+ released "business pages" today, similar to fan pages on Facebook, a place for your brand to have its own page.

So we jumped on it and It's All Over, Fat Man! now has its own Google+ page.

That adds to: Facebook, Twitter and RSS as ways to keep up with IAOFM, besides returning to this site again and again, of course.

Happy +1-ing.

Chewing the Fat: Week 9 - Broncos at Raiders

The IAOFM staff discuss the Denver Broncos' 38-24 Week 9 victory over the Raiders in Oakland

Doc: Hi, folks

Ted: Happy Sunday, guys

Doug: Hey guys - lots of boring football so far today. 6 of the 7 losing teams have 13 or fewer points, and the other has 16 - and only one game closer than 10 points

Ted: Yeah, it seems like it.  I was at a Browns watch party a little while ago, and they had a couple of other bad games on too. Hopefully this game is more interesting

Doc: I saw a headline to the extent that Cleveland is getting tired of Hillis and might even let him go. Any truth, or just media pandering?

Ted: It's been the word on the DL around here all season

Doug: Lombardi says part of Denver trading him was because of the same stuff

Ted: The thing about White Boy Day is that eventually tomorrow comes. He's a good player who does a couple things well and a couple poorly - that's been my take all the way

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The Daily Lard 11-7-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It all went according to plan yesterday, as Denver was able to exploit the Raiders' struggling run defense to the tune of 298 rushing yards, won the turnover battle (three Carson Palmer INTs to no Denver giveaways) and got a big special teams play in the form of an 85-yard Eddie Royal punt return to beat the Raiders 38-24 (box score). In other words, the Broncos finally turned the tables on Oakland and beat them at their own game, physically outmatching them for the first time in over two years.

Willis McGahee gashed Oakland for 163 yards and two scores, while Tim Tebow added 117 rushing yards and two sharp TD passes, one each to Eric Decker and Royal. Tebow took just two sacks and did not fumble, clearly playing better than he had against Detroit even if he still threw some brutal passes throughout the game; Tebow ended up with a 98.1 QB Rating for the game and is now 2-1 as a starter this year (3-3 for his career) with both wins coming on the road (Denver won only one road game last year, at Tennessee).

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