Fat Camp

Fat Camp: Undervalued roles - the Matchup Safety

Happy Wednesday, friends.  There’s some big news in Tedistan, but I’m not able to announce it publicly just yet, so we’re going to return to Undervalued Positions.  Today, we will look at the Matchup Safety, which I think will go nicely against our last edition of this miniseries, where we looked at the Move TE.

When an offense uses 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR), it forces a defense to choose whether to use Base (four DBs) or Nickel (five DBs) personnel.  In most cases, that’s a situation of being damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.  An offense in 12 personnel should have success in passing against Base defenses, and should have success running against Nickel defenses.

It gets especially interesting, offensively speaking, when one of the TEs has WR traits, and can be flexed out in a slot or flanked alignment.  We’re talking about players like Aaron Hernandez, Jimmy Graham, and Jermichael Finley, who have the ability to release efficiently with a two-way go, and then separate in space (meaning outside the interior traffic that often helps TEs get open).

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Fat Camp: Undervalued roles - the Move TE

Depending on who you ask, there are 4-5 different “premium positions” in the NFL.  Everybody would agree that Quarterback is on the list, and most would say Left Tackle and Right-side Pass Rusher.  Many people say Cornerback, and I would say Run-Stuffing Defensive Tackle is premium as well.  What makes those premium positions, though?  Have you ever thought about that?

I would say that the primary reason those positions are held in such high regard is that the athletic skill sets which are required to be an elite player at them are difficult to find.  It’s a function of resource scarcity, and not necessarily of on-field importance, in other words.

If I want to run a Cover-2 scheme, I don’t need CBs with elite man-to-man coverage ability, so I wouldn’t place a premium on those skills.  If I always have the lead in games, maybe I care a bit less about stopping the run.  The last six Super Bowls have been won by teams with below-average LTs (Marvel Smith, Tarik Glenn, David Diehl, Max Starks, Jermon Bushrod, Chad Clifton, and Diehl again).  The evidence would indicate that you don’t necessarily need a great player at that position.

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Fat Camp: Understanding the Manning offense - Part 6

Happy Tuesday, friends.  Welcome to Part 6 of our seven-part series about how Peyton Manning plays offense.  Today, we’ll cover the seven-step passing and screen games.  Later this week, we’ll close out the series, and then it’s on to Draft coverage.

Here are links to the first five parts of the series if you need to catch up on something:

Part 1 – Basics – Formations, Personnel Groupings, and Fit of Existing Personnel

Part 2 – Presnap Recognition Concepts

Part 3 – The Running Game

Part 4 – The Three-Step Passing Game

Part 5 – The Five-Step Passing Game

As I mentioned on Wednesday, the Manning offense tends to revolve around the three- and five-step passing games, particularly the five-step version.  The seven-step game takes a long time to work and requires better protection, generally with fewer receivers in the pattern.

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Fat Camp: Understanding the Manning offense - Part 5

Happy Wednesday, friends.  Today we get back in the saddle with the technical series about the offense that I expect to see the Broncos run this season.  Today, it’s Part 5, where we’ll discuss the five-step passing game.  If you’ve missed any of the first four installments of the series, please check them out at the following links:

Part 1 – Basics – Formations, Personnel Groupings, and Fit of Existing Personnel

Part 2 – Presnap Recognition Concepts

Part 3 – The Running Game

Part 4 – The Three-Step Passing Game

The five-step passing game is the key element of any offense, because with a five-step drop, and its concomitant protection schemes, the QB can create the correct timing to threaten all levels of the defense.  When a WR is asked to run a Dig route at 18 yards, that’s an activity that takes around three seconds to execute.

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Fat Camp: Understanding the Manning offense - Part 4

Happy Tuesday, friends, and welcome to Part 4 of the ongoing series about the Peyton Manning offense.  Today we’ll take our first step into the passing game, beginning with the key concepts that make up the three-step game.  If you’ve missed any of the prior installments of the series, please feel free to catch up by following the appropriate links:

Part 1 – Basics – Formations, Personnel Groupings, and Fit of Existing Personnel

Part 2 – Presnap Recognition Concepts

Part 3 – The Running Game

Every team runs some key three-step passing plays, which accomplish the goal of getting the ball in the hands of players in space by way of high-percentage completions.  With an excellent QB like Peyton Manning, the three-step game is especially effective, because he’s so quick at identifying the best receiver to throw the ball to and then put it on the guy’s upfield shoulder, which allows him to immediately begin running after securing the catch.

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Fat Camp: Understanding the Manning offense - Part 3

Hello, friends, and welcome to Part 3 of our series about the Manning offense that we can expect to see in Denver.  Today, we’ll focus on the running game, which I think will schematically have a lot of similarity to the base running game we’ve seen in Denver the past three seasons.  The philosophy will be very different, though, and it’s on that aspect which I will dedicate most of my focus.

If you missed Parts 1 or 2, and want to catch up, please see these links:

Part 1 – Basics – Formations, Personnel Groupings, and Fit of Existing Personnel

Part 2 – Presnap Recognition Concepts

Let’s begin by asking a simple question – why do football teams run the ball?  The main answer that I would give is that it’s tradition.  American football was invented in 1869, and the forward pass wasn’t introduced to the game until 1906.  It actually was introduced as a safety measure, because a bunch of people got killed or seriously hurt playing the game in 1905, and President Teddy Roosevelt demanded rules changes.  (The horror of government overreach!)  The rules committee that was formed was the precursor of today’s NCAA.

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Fat Camp: Understanding the Manning offense - Part 2

Happy Tuesday, friends, and welcome back to Fat Camp.  Today, as part of the ongoing series covering the Manning offense, I’ve decided to do some work on identification concepts that Peyton will use in diagnosing the defense and getting the Broncos into the right play.  Most of this stuff is standard across all teams, and all offenses, but it’s so important to what we’ll see from the Broncos that it deserves a couple thousand words and prominent placement on a football Tuesday.

If you missed Part 1 from Saturday, here’s the link:

Part 1 – Basics – Formations, Personnel Groupings, and Fit of Existing Personnel

Have you ever watched a football game and wondered what the QB is doing at the line of scrimmage?  He says some stuff and looks at things, and then the play happens.  Today, I aim to demonstrate, through the liberal use of diagrams, what Mr. Manning will be looking at, and what it means he will/should set the play as.  Exciting, huh?  (Yes, I just used the word liberal – I wonder if I’ll be accused of making this a political pontification?  Probably.)

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Fat Camp: Understanding the Manning offense - Part 1

Hello, friends.  I know it’s been a little while, but I’ve been super-busy with work and other pursuits the last couple weeks.  Today, let's explore what the Broncos offense might look like this season with the addition of Peyton Manning.  Since it’s a really simple scheme, I think we can pretty easily have a really good sense of what to expect once the regular season arrives.

Since we’re the only Broncos site which possesses the capability of getting deep into the X’s and O’s, we’ll be the ones to lead the way in educating Broncos fans on what to expect.  Let’s get going shall we?  Ready…. BEGIN!!

Let me first start by saying that as much of a fan as I am of Tim Tebow, I'm relieved and glad that he's gone.  The price of having him is just too high, with all of his yahoo bandwagon fans acting as a totally pious menace to intelligent society.  It will be interesting to see whether they drown out New York, or whether New York drowns them out.  Picking the Big Apple to win seems obvious, but you never know, and it will be interesting to see.  When people are determined to believe what they want to believe, it does little good to apply standards of reason to it.

I'm rooting for Tim Tebow the Quarterback to succeed, steal Mark Sanchez's job and women, and maintain his relationship with the homie Jesus, if that's what he wants to do.  Thanks for being a good Bronco, Tim, and good luck in Jersey.  Hopefully your fans don't ruin your career by making you somebody that no team would want to sign.  They're off to a pretty good start, unfortunately.

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Fat Camp: Pass protection basics

The 2011 Denver Broncos were really bad at protecting the Quarterback, whether it was Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow.  Part of that was on the QBs themselves – Orton lacks escapability, and Tebow was extremely conservative about throwing against tight coverage, and often held the ball too long.  But most of the issue was the play of the individual protection players, and some questionable scheming. 

LT Ryan Clady had a down year, which still put him in the top 10 or so of players at his position.  His foot quickness has never gotten back to what he showed in his first two seasons, and sometimes he gets beat with quickness.  LG Zane Beadles and C J.D. Walton don’t anchor well enough, and both need to get significantly stronger as their careers progress.  RG Chris Kuper was the best of the bunch, but he’s coming off of a broken leg, which is a significant injury.  Finally, RT Orlando Franklin buried guys in the run game, but his foot quickness needs a lot of improvement if he’s going to play outside.

The good news is that this is a group of five players who are all still in their 20s and showed a high degree of durability.  I’ve said this before, but for an offensive lineman, durability is a skill.  Teams tend to carry only eight of them, so if a player gets hurt a lot, he’s a liability.  Linemen get hit a lot, but they tend to be lower-impact close area hits, where the guy they’re colliding with doesn’t have much of a running start.  You have to be able to take 1,000 or so of those hits and play every snap while managing some aches and pains and avoiding ankle sprains and the like.

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Fat Camp: Screen passes

Denver's defense has bitten - and thus been bitten - a few times on screens this year. The screen that Denver has been biting on is the slow screen, which is sometimes called the conventional screen - it's hard to run and not that many teams use it much. The reason for that is simple - once the team has been together for a while, they usually won't bite on the slow screen.

It's a very hard play to run and time properly. If you're a defensive lineman and you're suddenly not being blocked, there's a reason for it and it generally isn't clean living and good fortune - it's because they're trying to make a sap out of you. Denver has been terribly undisciplined defensively for years now, and I've been a bit disappointed in the lack of progress there - but I do believe that if we give DC Dennis Allen a full season he’ll put a stop to a lot of it, and I doubt that it will be as much of an issue. It’s early in the season, but Broncos DC Dennis Allen looks like one of the finds of the offseason.

Every team needs a screen pass or three on hand to keep the on-rushing defenders honest or to make them pay when they’re not. There are five screens that are generally considered as such - and there is an additional option called a ‘smoke route’ that I’ll also cover, since it does much the same thing - run properly, it makes the defense pay for their tendency towards aggression.

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