Don’t you love life’s little ironies?
Just moments after Cris Collinsworth had long-windedly and orgasmically extolled the brilliance of Chiefs RT Eric Fisher (#72) during Denver's 27-17 Week 11 win, Derek Wolfe notched his fourth sack of the season by ragdolling Fisher. It happened with 9:35 left in the third quarter, and KC’s Alex Smith (#11) playing from the shotgun.
Since before he was drafted, I have liked Fisher’s play, and I enjoy watching his work. He’s learning quickly enough as a rookie for me to expect that at some point he’s going to take over the left tackle position from Branden Albert, just in view of his play so far. That doesn’t make his first year in the pros any less of a learning experience, though - every player has rookie moments.
During Sunday night's win over the Chiefs, Rahim Moore departed with a leg injury that reportedly had the Broncos' medical staff baffled. Today’s information clears up what occurred, and how Moore will be cared for.
It turns out that Rahim had lateral compartment syndrome, and underwent emergency surgery on Monday morning to correct the dangerous condition.
A compartment syndrome will occur when the muscles swell too much, putting pressure on the surrounding sheath of fascia (connective tissue) and, in some cases, impinging on the local nerves. That muscle swelling is usually linked to bleeding into the fascial compartment.
During Jack Del Rio's first training camp as the Broncos' defensive coordinator, the players laughingly called him ‘The 12th Man’ because of how often he bounded onto the field to demonstrate where he wanted people and what he wanted them to do; his enthusiasm for the game is endless.
Wesley Woodyard said that anyone on the defense would run through a wall for the man.
A year and a half later, JDR is stepping into John Fox’s job on an interim basis while Fox recovers from surgery to replace a defective heart valve. Most of the simple, day-to-day things such as practices will almost certainly continue to be run pretty much the same way.
The Broncos took on Mike Shanahan’s squad in Week 8, and Washington did well to keep themselves in the game for three quarters, before the proverbial roof fell in on them. Denver's habit of finding their adjustments at and after halftime made another furious resurgence, and they put up 31 points in the fourth quarter alone.
Moderately Obscure Fact - Shanny's team has two former Broncos starting on the offensive line: former center Kory Lichtensteiger is at left guard (6-2, 284), and Tyler Polumbus is at right tackle. Tyler’s listed at 6-8 and 305 lb, which is light for a tackle (and it shows at times when he’s blown off the ball). He did fairly well in pass pro, with only one QB hit and a hurry, but his run blocking wasn’t sharp. This is a case where his stats matter less than how he played - this should give you an idea of what I mean.
There has been no shortage of exceptional special team players with the Denver Broncos this year. Among them is linebacker Steven Johnson, currently second to Jacob Tamme with four tackles and an assist.
Johnson's signature play of the season was his Week 4 blocked punt and touchdown return against the Eagles that resulted from two factors: a quick explosion off the snap to the right side of Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos (46), and blown blocking assignments by the offensive line. Let's take a detailed look at what happened.
As you'll see below, the Eagles put four men on the offensive right - the special teams guard and tackle, plus two more - running back Chris Polk (32) and safety Colt Anderson (30). Johnson makes his charge through the A gap between the center and right guard - the guard is ‘covered’ (looking directly at) by Johnson but blocks down (to his own right) on Adrian Robinson (57) while the snapper blocks to his left, making Johnson's charge up the middle easier.
In an effort to learn more about their offensive line, I put on some tape of Jacksonville this week. It didn’t take long to know that I was watching a terrible group, especially when it comes to run blocking. It’s making the work of RB Maurice Jones-Drew much, much harder.
They’re slightly better against the pass, but their quarterbacks - Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne - aren’t playing well. I don’t have any qualms about saying that the Broncos are likely to run roughshod over this OL.
Gabbert played hurt early in the season, but then gave in to a hamstring injury, leaving the team’s leadership to Henne; he isn't the answer either. Both QBs played in the Week 5 loss at St. Louis, with Gabbert leaving after he felt the hamstring ‘pop’. Henne will start tomorrow against the Broncos.
Trindon Holliday may be Denver's brightest special-teams star, but he's far from their only one. Let's check in on how the rest of the Broncos' third unit is faring:
Denver's coverage units have rebounded from a brutal preseason - during which they allowed 15.3 return yards per punt and 42.6 per kickoff - and cut those numbers to 11.8 yards and 24.2 yards, respectively.
They've achieved this by doing an excellent job of staying in their lanes in coverage.
Last offseason, the Broncos signed undrafted rookie Quincy McDuffie to try out for the team as a receiver and return specialist. He had been named a Sports Illustrated All-American as a kick returner, which put him up against returner/receiver Trindon Holliday in a battle of the bantams.
In the end, both the contest and the position went to Holliday, and thankfully so: through five weeks, he already has touchdowns on both punt and kick returns. He’s consistently exciting as a returner and often extends his returns - getting back to the the 35 is a short return for him.
When he does bring it out, he’s averaging 37.7 yards, on six returns; the former NCAA track champion has an amazing four touchdowns among his last 26 returns.
With the placement of Ryan Clady onto IR and corresponding promotion of Chris Clark to starting left tackle, a lot of people are looking at offensive line play with newly interested eyes. I also wanted to share with you some of the sites and information that I’ve used or enjoyed - they’re good places to lurk and learn. Some folks are interested in learning enough to have it help them watch film - others might be inquisitive for other reasons.
Regardless, I think that you’ll learn a bit from this piece and it has several good links that you can peruse at your leisure if you have the interest.
A lot of people are still learning the game of football, and I’ve found that this is why many folks come to IAOFM. We believe that the average fan is a lot smarter than the league believes, and that they often want to learn more about the game than the general media provides. Like you, we’re also constantly learning.
It’s my belief that every fan can benefit from some level of watching film with intent. What I mean by that is that it’s not really all that meaningful to run the game a couple of times, mostly watching the ball and expecting to get anything of value from it beyond the superficial comments of the announcers.
There’s nothing wrong with the superficial, either, if that’s all you feel like experiencing.
Simply put, there’s no one right way to enjoy the sport; I try to keep it entertaining as well as educational. After all, whether you are used to just watching the game casually, or are someone with a background in film, breaking down tape can be quite enriching.