The Denver Broncos are officially looking for leadership.
With the acquisition of former New England Patriot Le Kevin (pronounced leh KEE vin) Smith, the Broncos have once more gone for a player who was a leader during his collegiate career. Playing for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Smith teamed with Titus Adams over his last two seasons there to a top-level pair of defensive tackles on a 4-3 line. Smith himself contributed a stellar swim move and 6 sacks to a defensive line that accounted for a total of 50 sacks, the best in the USA, over Smith's senior year in college (2005). NFLDraftScout.com referred to him as the 'high energy leader' of that line. This importation continues a pattern that has carried over since the first of the Josh McDaniels/Brian Xanders free-agent signings was confirmed. Character matters. So does intellect. And, after the bend-and-break defenses of the past few seasons, physical and mental toughness are now flat-out requirements.
While perusing the sports archives of the Gazette the other day, I came across this article on the Denver rushing attack. The information wasn't really new - (Doug) and I came to much the same conclusions early this year in our Divining The McDaniels Way 4-part series and in other articles - but the point of the article was that Denver will almost certainly use some form of a committee system at running back. Josh McDaniels has said as much several times, so this isn't big news; but there is a growing stream in the collective football consciousness about this hot-button issue. As we move forward, will the measure of a running back be established any longer only by the individual’s gross yardage per year? Or will we begin to see the team rushing totals as more important than that of the individual?
Now that the initial depth chart for the Broncos has been released, it's easy to forget that head coach Josh McDaniels has already pointed out that it's not of any major interest. It's essentially a snapshot of a few moments in camp and tells us only who was where on a certain day. With that disclaimer out of the way, we can now get on to the real task of over-analyzing, jumping to conclusions and cross referencing the information.
When we glance through the summer's roster for the Denver Broncos, there is a palpable sensation that pulls at our thoughts; a pattern of character, respect and leadership that has influenced the way the team changed itself in the draft and in free agency. The powerful vehemence that Brian Dawkins exudes, the mature humility of Andra Davis, the intellect of Tom Brandstater, the maturity personified by Knowshon Moreno; these men are perhaps the best-known among our newer acquisitions.
But since the first interview I saw with him, there has been something about David Bruton that has piqued my interest. Perhaps it's the implied contradiction between the manners of his his soft-spoken Midwestern drawl and the inherent violence, controlled as it may be, of his chosen profession. Perhaps it's the open way he talks of his love for his son Jaden, who will turn 4 on November 9, 2005. this year. The Broncos will be playing a Monday Night Football game against the Steelers . Whatever it might be, there is something about David Bruton that draws me to him - and to his story.
In case anyone has been comatose, MIA or oblivious this week, Peyton Hillis has been rapidly making a name for himself in camp. The past two times that Josh McDaniels ahs been on film being interviewed and was asked about the Arkansas product, he's laughed before going on to respond. Hillis is a name on everyone's lips, because he's showing everything that the MHR has talked about this offseason.
A while back, I posted some work relating to the principles of kicking that were laid out in Stephan Fatsis' book A Few Seconds of Panic. In it, Fatsis describes the process of learning to kick, and of extending the 'life' of the kicking leg. Despite media and fan rumors that kicker Matt Prater 'lost his confidence' later in the 2008 season, a more accurate analysis is simply that he over-kicked during the competition in training camp as well as in practice and experienced the kind of leg fatigue that is a normal issue among younger kickers. This also points to a weakness in the Special Teams coaching that year.
Years ago, when teaching western doctors about the principles of Oriental medicine, I taught my students about the three energies. There is Yang - the power of activity; hot and vital, sometimes called the energy of the heavens. There is Yin - passivity; cold and hard, the energy of the earth, and there is the interaction between yin and yang that creates the phenomena of our world. They call that energy 'The 10,000 Things'. Still later, I found that there are also names for similar phenomena in Sanskrit. Rajas is the vibration of action, similar to Yang. Tamas is the vibration of inaction, similar to Yin and Sattwa is the vibration in which those two come into balance (The 10,000 Things). A western discussion of the same basic principles from a philosophy standpoint was expressed by Hegel as thesis, synthesis and antithesis.
Our 2009 Denver Broncos Preview concludes with today's section on the Linebackers. This is, perhaps, the group that has seen the most change from the forgettable performances of the 2008 season. The move to a base 3-4, using an attacking two-gap approach (which several players have indicated that they are learning) and being varied at time in some hybrid form (such as a 4-3 under or over) is about the farthest thing possible from the speed-oriented base 4-3 approach of the Broncos' past. However, it harkens back to a day when Joe Collier pulled the strings on a fierce defense.
Going into the draft, a lot of folks expected that tight end was one position where the Broncos would stand pat. Before the first pick of the third round, that belief bit the dust. The Broncos shocked many observers by taking on second-round pick Richard Quinn. Having graduated from North Carolina in December of 2008, Quinn has a reputation as a talented blocker whose receiving skills were suspect, due to lack of evidence (12 receptions in his college career, which had several pre-NFL players on the roster). Tony Scheffler was the subject of trade rumors. Was Quinn a replacement? Where were the Broncos going?
Myth #3: Mobility and the Quarterback
"He makes plays with his feet!"
That's something that you frequently hear from color announcers on football games when trying to explain the value of a quarterback. They're talking about the guy who can move the pocket, who can gain you yards out of the pocket, who loves the bootleg and the roll out. There's not a thing wrong with that - in Elway Country, there had better not be if you want to avoid being spammed, flamed, tarred and feathered (in no particular order). But the quarterback who really makes plays with his feet isn't necessarily the guy who leaves the pocket.