Notes from Broncos/Raiders

Like most of you, I was pretty thrilled with the Broncos' 37-6 victory over the visiting Raiders on Sunday.

A few first-half errors (you tried a pass from who to who?) left me feeling that Denver should have been up by more than four points at halftime. The lights-out play of Carson Palmer, who had one good WR, a decent TE, and a great running back to throw to, kept the Raiders somewhat in the game.

Three three-and-outs in the third quarter, though, and the ensuing onslaught of the Broncos offense sealed the deal. Overall, I came away impressed with Denver’s composure, elated with Jack Del Rio’s play-calling, and comfortable going on the road for four of the next five, to see what this team really has in store.

These are some thoughts taken from my notes during the game, not always in any given order:

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Jason Whitlock’s anti-Peyton Manning vendetta continues with a rewrite of history

Jason Whitlock raised eyebrows two weeks ago when he wrote the following about Peyton Manning:

Manning can't throw the ball accurately or with zip more than 20 yards. Manning is toast.

It was a lethargic takeaway from Peyton's three-interception debacle against the Falcons, and while Ted thinks the picks were a matter of poor decision-making rather than an issue of arm strength, Whitlock was certainly entitled to his opinion there.

Granted, the numbers through four weeks (small sample alert) don't exactly back up Whitlock's assertion that Peyton is inaccurate beyond 20 yards. According to PFF, Denver's QB ranks twelfth in the league in terms of accuracy on throws beyond twenty yards. At 46.7 percent, he's just a tick behind Tom Brady in that category, while placing slightly ahead of his brother (44.4%), Jay Cutler (43.5%), Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger (42.9% each), and far better than the strong-armed Joe Flacco (39.4%) and Matthew Stafford (38.5%).

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Chargers need Peyton’s help to sell tickets Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis addresses concerns about the boringness of using Jim Leonhard as Denver's punt returner.

He's right - although Leonhard isn't making any big plays, he's also not making major gaffes. And once the defense has gotten the opposing offense to give up the ball, the next play is all about making sure Peyton Manning gets his crack with it. Sure, a faster player might bring an extra couple of yards per return, but that doesn't seem worth the tradeoff of a less-experienced returner who may be more likely to fumble or make a poor decision.

Unfortunately, the Broncos just don't have a punt returner who's the complete package. This was readily apparent during the preseason; it's just one of those things the Broncos will have to accept until next offseason, when they are yet again presented with the issue.

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Broncos make quartet of practice squad moves

As expected, the Broncos have re-signed LB Mike Mohamed to their practice squad a day after waiving him from the active roster. Denver also added WR Bert Reed and T Darrion Weems to the taxi group.

Reed was signed by Cleveland as an undrafted rookie out of Florida State; Weems was an undrafted signee by the Vikings out of Oregon, and he was on Indy's practice squad for the first two weeks of this season.

The Broncos had two open spots on the practice unit following last weekend's promotion of Mohamed and Duke Ihenacho to the 53-man roster. G Adam Grant was waived from the practice squad to create the third open spot for today's additions.

Fat camp: WR technique and the capacity to learn

Happy Tuesday, friends.  I’m still feeling good after the Broncos blew out the Raiders, and I’ve been thinking about ideas on defending the Patriots.  Expect some words and maybe pictures on that topic later in the week. 

For today, I wanted to talk generally about route-running technique.  Every receiver who gets drafted into the NFL is within a certain range in the areas of size, speed, quickness, and catching ability.  There’s a range of variance on talent, but it’s not really all that wide.  What really separates receivers in the NFL, when you look at their ability to affect an overall game, is technique.

In my last job, I was a controller for a business within Xerox that sold custom learning solutions to large businesses.  A lot of the people I worked with had Master’s degrees and PhD’s in the area of adult learning.  There’s a lot of research done, and theories derived, and models built in the service of understanding how adults learn, and how to best improve their performance.

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STDL: Broncos confirmed their quality on Sunday

A week ago, we found the advanced metrics to say the 2012 Broncos were a far better team than their 1-2 record might have indicated.

After a brutal start to the schedule which featured the Steelers, Falcons, and Texans (the latter two remain undefeated), having the rebuilding Raiders into SAF@MH for a visit portended two things:

First, it was something of a breather, traditional rivalry notwithstanding. If everything were to play to form, the Broncos were due to finally whip their AFCW brethren at home.

Second, the strength of schedule figures were sure to take a hit this week. Indeed, they have.

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Why the Broncos should start Keith Brooking over Joe Mays

After the high of a great win over a division rival, it’s hard to come back to earth. One thing that’s a difficult reality for Denver, though, has been  the disappointing play of Joe Mays.

Suspended for Sunday’s contest with the Oakland Raiders, he was effectively replaced by Keith Brooking, who looked better on Sunday than Mays has all year.

I give Mays, the Broncos, and Jack Del Rio credit for improving Mays’s coverage situation via changes in scheme somewhat as the season has progressed. Mays gave up four completions on four targets in the opener, two completions on three targets at Atlanta, and just one target and completion against Houston, with an average reception of 7.4 yards overall. They’re getting him out of danger well, but there’s more to the problem here. I have to wonder if they’re not following what they expected to have work, despite finding that it doesn’t. They need to look seriously at what has been more effective.

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Centers have W-L records too Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! After 134 games as New England's starting center, Dan Koppen will be making his Broncos starting debut against his old mates.

But the transition to Koppen from J.D. Walton may not be as difficult as one might expect.

After all, Koppen is well-versed in Josh McDaniels's offense (much of which Mike McCoy still uses in Denver), and he also has loads of experience in operating sans huddle. Of course, the real question is, how familiar is Koppen with the Peyton Manning offense?

And as Sacco & Co. want us to know, all Koppen does is win. So what's there to worry about?

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Open Thread: MNF Week 4 - Bears @ Cowboys

Enjoy the game, everyone!

Here are the inactive lists; Neil Hornsby breaks down the matchup for PFF; Benjamin Hoffman is picking the Cowboys.

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Walton to IR; Mays, Green activated; Mohamed waived

As expected, the Broncos have placed center J.D. Walton on injured reserve with a fractured/dislocated ankle.

Taking his place on the active roster will be linebacker Joe Mays, who returns after serving a one-game suspension for his Week 3 hit on Texans QB Matt Schaub.

Tight end Virgil Green, who is back working with the team after serving a four-game PED-use suspension, was also reinstated to the active roster.

Updated 7:59pm ET

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