Another free agency period dwindles away, and the draft is finally in the books. Most of us are about to fall over, myself among them. Doug, Ted, and TJ did an incredible job - again. Now I wanted to consider the team as it stands.
The question always comes up after free agency and the draft have given the Broncos a wealth of new talent. How will these players be used? Are some of them just practice squad/training camp bodies? Are the Broncos a stronger team today than they were in January?
Football is a game of constant change. And yet, many of the scheme changes of today are refinements of techniques that were being played in colleges back as far as the 1870s.
Once in a while, you get to see one that’s new. Or perhaps just new to me, in this case. Somewhere, someone’s almost certainly already done it - I just wasn’t there. The changes are made to help a player’s weakness(es).
Last season, Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman was trying to get the best out of his left tackle. Jermon Bushrod has the size for the position, but lacks the functional strength to play as well as he can. It makes him something of an underachiever. He just doesn’t fit the traditional mold of an offensive tackle, from being a bit light in the bubble. That leads to problems anchoring.
Linebacker is not a small issue. Granted, both Johns Elway and Fox have said that they’re less concerned with the Mike situation than most people think.
While the draft is enticing, there aren’t a lot of true Mikes out there. Many fans adore Alabama's C.J. Mosley. Some even call for trading up to get him, which I don’t see.
Other fans praise Ryan Shazier of Ohio State, with good reason. He’s a good, fast, quick, and instinctive player. As a nickel linebacker, defending the pass, he can play well - provided he can tackle in the open field at the NFL level. He could be developed into a true three-down player, giving Denver a trio of them, along with Von Miller and Danny Trevathan.
Early last week, we learned that Orlando Franklin's oft-rumored shift from tackle to guard is indeed happening. The move clears the way to place Chris Clark at right tackle, and gets Denver's five best linemen onto the field together.
Just knowing where Franklin will be has provided Denver with several benefits.
Firstly, it leaves the team with one less need going into the draft. They could still take a guard or guard/tackle, and I expect they will.
With Lindsay Jones having left the Denver Post, I’ve enjoyed Benjamin Hochman's work on the Broncos. He also writes on basketball, for those who partake.
His story on one of his mentors carries some strong concepts on modern sports journalism. Some teachers seem to stay with us. Here’s what Hochman had to say with one of his better articles:
But I do remember Fred Vultee. He taught copy editing at the Missouri School of Journalism, and to this day I recall his lesson about cautiously quoting athletes about issues out of their realm. "Our job is to ask - how do they know what they know," he'd say.
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.