One thing that everyone can agree on is that the Broncos have a wealth of gems in the area of receiving. Pass-catching running backs, tight ends, and skilled wide receivers abound. The team couldn’t get much better than they were last season.
Or could they? Gerell Robinson could be a path to the receiving corps staying even or getting better. If that’s so - is he a wide receiver or a tight end? To me, the differences are small with Denver’s current approach. With Gerell, they’re minuscule - and that’s about the only thing about him that is.
Schadenfreude. It’s impolite to take pleasure from the travails of others.
It’s also hard to pretend that I have any particular sympathy for the Raiders, and free agency is showing why.
Oakland was going to give Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie two years to make changes; this may not be the way to prove that.
After having lost Rahim Moore to a lower leg compartment injury, with young Duke Ihenacho playing physically but erratically, and Mike Adams a better backup than starter, Denver recently found some help at safety in the form of T.J. Ward.
A former second-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, Ward was selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2013. The Broncos are betting that his physical playing style will benefit the way their defensive secondary holds off both passing and running games.
T.J. Ward was born Terrell Ray Williams Ward Jr. on December 12, 1986, in San Francisco. He's one of three children of Terrell and LaNeita Ward, and has a brother and a sister.
If you don't consider middle linebacker one of Denver’s biggest issues, please raise your hand. There will be men in white coats coming around to take you for a nice car ride soon...
We all know that the Mike has been problematic for Denver ever since Al Wilson went down with a neck injury back in 2006.
There’s been a laundry list of people who stepped in and did their best, but none were truly up to the job. I thought Wesley Woodyard was the best of the group (especially in coverage), but he’s a bit too small to hold up to the runs up the middle. That showed last season.
Given that the Broncos' front five was completely dominated in SB 48, it’s no surprise that there’s talk about what to do with a pair of linemen - Zane Beadles and Chris Clark. It’s not hard to see that Denver’s line was overmatched by Seattle’s front four that ugly day.
A year after he was named a Pro Bowl alternate, Beadles was the least effective player on PFF's top line in the league, and now he's a pending unrestricted free agent. The question comes down to this: given the ups and downs in his level of play, is it worth keeping him? If not, what should Denver do to replace him? If so - what is he reasonably worth?
Whether you like Zane or not, it’s just reading his history to say that he has been extremely erratic in his NFL play.
The Broncos' offensive line play has been incredible this year, and it's a big reason the team was able to dispatch with the Chargers and Patriots with relative ease.
Peyton Manning’s lightning release (2.36 seconds on average, according to PFF) surely helps their numbers, but what they’ve done for the running game as well as stonewalling the pass rush has been historic as well as heroic.
One tool that the line used during every game and to great effect was the combination block. This block starts with two offensive linemen converging on a defender, and then one of those lineman will slide off to attack a defender on the second level.
During the week before the AFC title game, it seemed like the media couldn’t stop talking about Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount. Denver didn’t really have a good run defense, went the chorus, and Blount had run for 166 yards in the Patriots’ 43-22 victory over the Colts.
That, we were constantly told, would be a big key to the championship game.
All week long, I kept seeing pieces about the Pats and Blount: San Diego had run effectively on Denver during the regular season, what Denver could (or couldn’t) do, and how much they were vulnerable. I got tired of turning things off and generally just ignored it, but the repetitive talk about how the Broncos couldn’t stop the run was like having a small bird endlessly pecking the top of my head.
He’s 35 years old, 6'0" and 192 lbs, but Champ Bailey has shut down receivers a half a foot taller and 60+ lb heavier than he is. In all the years I’ve read and written on football, I’ve never seen anyone question Champ Bailey’s heart. This year, it was his foot that betrayed him - but we’re about to find out if his courage will be able to overcome it.
The Broncos secondary has been stretched thin, just as the playoff stretch is upon us. This year may be the last best chance that Champ has to add a Super Bowl ring to properly top off a storied career.
We knew that if he could walk, he’d be on the field. But where, many of us wondered, would he play? How could he best help the team?
Rookie Sylvester Williams had a unique journey to the pros, and struggled early, but lately has been showing exactly why Denver made him their first choice in the 2013 Draft. No one seemed to imagine a scenario where Williams would still be on the board when Denver chose, but an early run on offensive linemen left him to the Broncos, who gratefully snapped him up at #28.
That has turned out to be the right choice at the right time. Defensive line leader Kevin Vickerson suffered a season-ending hip injury in the Week 12 loss to the Patriots, and Williams started to see more time on the field.
He’s made the most of it, with a solid performance during the last quarter of the season. What Williams has done of late is to show that he understands the pro game and that he can play well at this level.
Earlier today, we got refamiliarized with San Diego's offense. Let's check in on the defensive personnel, plus consider some ideas for how the Broncos can complete a season sweep of the Chargers.
Defensive line - San Diego’s line has begun to come together, but they’re still not the team's strongest link. Third-year right end Corey Liuget (94) struggled early in the season with a shoulder injury, but he now has 4.5 sacks, and according to PFF, zero missed tackles. He has also committed six penalties and has struggled at times to get to the running back.
If he gets there, he doesn’t miss, but his lateral movement needs to improve. Luiget also has the most QB pressures on the team, with only 27 - that’s the lowest production from a team leader in the league.