Second-round pick Montee Ball made a lot of fans in Denver happy when he chose Mike Anderson’s old number 38, as an homage to ‘Sarge’. The Broncos are hoping that he can also recreate the kind of tough-nosed performances that made Anderson such a fan favorite during his time in Denver.
As a young man who started off his life as a Broncos fan, he’s already taken the right first steps.
One thing you can count on - any team of John Fox’s will try and use a committee approach to the game. Said OC Adam Gase,
Coach Fox has always been great mixing in the multiple backfields and using different guys. He did it in Carolina. We'll do the same thing here.
While going through some of last year’s film, I found a play that demonstrates so precisely how to stop the run, that I wanted to share it with you.
It’s from the first quarter of the Broncos' 30-23 victory over San Diego in Week 11 - the first play of the first possession. It exhibits two versions of classic shed techniques, and in doing so, the Broncos turn a potentially good gain by San Diego into a one-yard play.
In the first shot, fullback Le’Ron McClain (33) is split out to the side and pretends to go in motion, then settles back into the wing slot. Jackie Battle (44) is the ballcarrier. They’re in a two-tight end package, sometimes called a max, max-protect or, depending on personnel, jumbo package.
San Diego ran it a lot due to their odious offensive line - it gave Philip Rivers some degree of cover. Denver lines up with their defensive ends flipped - Elvis Dumervil (92) is on the defensive left, across from the outside shoulder of tight end Randy McMichael (81).
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Brock Osweiler has one of the most fortunate situations in professional sports.
Osweiler gets to apprentice under one of the greatest of all time, in Peyton Manning.
He’s been taken in hand by the likes of John Elway, Mike McCoy, Adam Gase, Manning, and now Greg Knapp, with Knapp being one of the best in the business of developing quarterbacks. Brock’s being paid millions to soak in every drop of knowledge about the position that exists. It’s an enviable circumstance.
Via Andrew Mason, for the team site:
John Fox and his three coordinators sat down just after the draft to talk with reporters about the team so far, and to no one's surprise, the subject of the newer-look defense came up.
Jack Del Rio noted that the Broncos are looking to get an edge rush from Von Miller, while 2013 first-rounder Sylvester Williams and Derek Wolfe crash up the middle to keep the quarterback from stepping up into the pocket. There is an assumption that the edge opposite Miller will also be attacking the QB, but it wasn’t stated.
The idea of Miller on the edge with Wolfe and Williams up the middle has taken on wings with the almost instant connection between Wolfe and Williams. Del Rio updated his thoughts on the two last week:
Both of these young men, you've watched them come in the building — they both have approached it very similarly. Come in kind of determined, serious, mature in their approach. I think you’re going to see Sylvester be able to come in and impact us in a similar way (to that we saw from Wolfe in 2012).
When the Broncos recently added Quentin Jammer to their already crowded defensive backfield, one issue that arose - although hardly one that can’t be overcome - is how to handle that positional glut. Some folks have suggested that David Bruton should be one player to get the axe.
One reader wondered if Bruton was worth keeping...
Wait one second. Bolden and Irving were ST tackle leaders?! I thought L Ball and D Bruton were the ST aces? It shall be interesting come TC cut time.
...while another was succinct in pleading his case...
You can't let Bruton go. He is our best ST player.
From reader Isaac H:
[DC Jack] Del Rio talked about the "installation" of the defense being pretty much complete over these OTA's. I've heard the term "installation" of either the offense or defense a lot over the years and have often wondered what exactly that means?
It's a very good question, Issac, so thanks for asking it. We always appreciate having the chance to learn exactly what our readers want to know about.
So, what's in an installation? In brief, its main function is to give the players a chance to learn precisely how they - the offense, defense or special teams - are going to handle all the game situations by walking through them in a slow, thorough manner. It lets them see how the group functions as a whole and how the chosen scheme applies to game situations.
It’s become a local mantra - the move from older base formations to using a nickel package as a team’s base package is a natural response towards slowing the pass-centric tendencies of the modern NFL.
I’ve been on that bus for a few years now. Last season, the Broncos used their nickel defense 65% of the time. Nickel is the new base.
But along with that recognition, there’s been an increasing suggestion that you don’t need three-down linebackers as much. The starting Mike, in particular, often leaves the field for nickel downs. That’s particularly the case if the Mike has better skills downhill than in outracing running backs, wideouts, or tight ends in a coverage role.
Does a team have to change their linebackers out when they move to nickel?
Most of us has been impressed with the level of innovation under John Elway, but the installation of Luke Richesson along with his equipment and staff may turn out to be one of the best of them all.
From Eric Decker on Wednesday:
We worked out at Duke in March or April and I definitely felt like he had more zip on the ball. I think he's come back stronger, he's come back with the program that we've got — it's unbelievable the amount of muscle mass and endurance that guys have and the cut-down of injuries that we had last year. I think that's a compliment to the strength and conditioning staff here and I think Peyton is one of those that took advantage of it and really got himself in good shape and is stronger and healthier this year.
The nickel formation is usually dated back to the early 1960s, when Jerry Williams of the Eagles used it to try and defend Chicago Bears tight end Mike Ditka. The Dolphins made it popular in the 1970s with creative coordinator Bill Arnsparger running the defense for Don Shula (Arnsparger also employed an early form of the zone blitz).
Every team has some version of the nickel now and it’s constantly getting more common to deal with the pass-happy and increasingly tight end-centric offenses.
According to John Elway, the Broncos played nickel in 65% of their defensive snaps. Since the nickel has become the new base defensive formation, I thought we should take a quick look at Denver’s ‘new’ approach to defense.
Two years earlier, the Sport Science team put Von Miller through their testing gauntlet. I enjoy their work - they bring some solid technology to measure the things that make a certain player effective, and it highlights aspects of that player’s skill set. Even if it's a bit late, I thought I'd discuss Von's Sport Science segment here.
Watching Miller’s work is like seeing the Mikhail Baryshnikov of the NFL. Baryshnikov himself used to seem to leap up into the air and just pause there for a long moment; it was astonishing to watch. Miller reminds me of that quality - he often looks as if he’s playing at a different speed than the rest of the people on the field. He dashes through what are pauses between moments to the rest of us.