Happy Sunday, friends. I had some time materialize on my calendar yesterday, so I used it to watch the Patriots’ last two games.
In Week 9, they hung a franchise-worst 55 points on the Steelers, and won 55-31, and in Week 11, they lost a hard-fought game to the Panthers, on what was frankly a screwjob call by the officials as the clock expired.
The Steelers game was a clear outlier among a ragged group of offensive performances this season, and everything worked well in that game, as they had for Patriots teams of past years. Against the better Panthers defense, the Patriots had a harder time stringing together the drives they had two weeks earlier.
Happy Friday, friends. Rather than doing a Digesting article about the Eagles today, I decided to look at the big question: is their offense a fad, or does it have staying power? Nothing gets football talkers more riled up than speculating on whether new tactics can work over the long haul in the NFL.
Most of them are of the default belief that nothing new can ever work. I’m sure that, in their early days, that was said about innovations like the 3-4 defense, or the zone-blitz, or the shotgun. The reality is that some new stuff works, and some of it is relegated to the dustbin of history.
And then you have something like the Run and Shoot, that worked well for a while, and then ostensibly faded away, but quietly, its principles are still quite common to this day.
Today, I’m going to explain why the Chip Kelly design works, and why it will continue to work in the NFL on an ongoing basis. Hit the jump, and we’ll get to the bottom of this.
Happy Saturday, friends. Today, I'm going to preview the New York (Football) Giants. There are a number of teams in the NFL that I'm indifferent toward, but the Giants are not one of them.
They actually play a key role in my founding story as a Broncos fan. If it wasn't for the Giants, and my dad being an ass on January 25, 1987, I most probably wouldn't be writing for this site today.
You know what I hate the most about the Giants? Their homers in the media, of which there are plenty. I had to listen to Bob Papa Friday morning on Sirius XM NFL Radio make the case that the Giants were going to beat the Broncos because Bill Parcells is getting his Hall of Fame ring on Sunday, and they'd want to make him proud.
Happy Game Day (again), friends. Our loyal reader BRASO called us out in an email for being a bit light on the content lately (sorry about that), so we’re stepping it up. We don't want our readers having to resort to visiting lesser Broncos sites in the absence of content from us.
As in past years, I plan to do an opposition research article each week about the team the Broncos will play. This week, it’s the Ravens.
This is a hard task for the opener, because there’s no regular season film to watch. I did get to see the Ravens’ starters some in the preseason, though, and that combined with things that I think I know from observations of last year’s NFL season will have to suffice. Let’s break down the Super Bowl champions. *vomits*
Happy Football Sunday, friends. I want to run through some thoughts relating to today’s Broncos-Panthers game in Charlotte. I watched the Carolina-Washington game from last week, and I came away feeling like the Panthers have a good amount of talent, certainly more than I'd thought. They’re not a proficient team, though, and their execution comes and goes.
1. I think this is a great test for the Broncos, because it’s a second consecutive early road game in the Eastern time zone, and because with the talent the Panthers have, they’re definitely capable of winning the game.
I frequently talk about proficiency, and I believe that the Broncos are becoming a proficient team, one which expects to execute consistently. Proficient teams show up at 1pm in downtown Charlotte and handle their business against less proficient teams. In so doing, they ensure that they’ll win their division, and they stay in the mix for byes and homefield advantage in the playoffs. This is what the Patriots and Colts did throughout the 2000s, and I’ll be looking for Peyton Manning to preside over a businesslike victory today.
Happy Thursday, friends. I have a few minutes to cook up a bite-size nugget, so open up. I had occasion to watch the Saints-Bucs game on Wednesday night, and the most noticeable thing is that the Saints defense is atrocious.
To that end, they’re 32nd in total defense, 30th against the pass, 31st against the run, and 29th in scoring defense. It’s a complete horror show.
I don’t think too highly of Steve Spagnuolo as a coach, because I think his defenses have tended to be very good when his talent is great. It’s easy to have a team with a great pass rush when you have Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Justin Tuck. I don’t think he’s ever elevated marginal talent through excellent scheming, like, say, Mike Nolan or Rex Ryan.
Happy Football Monday, friends. For the first time ever, in five seasons of writing about football, I have two posts in the same calendar day. I’ve come a long way from writing one 8,000-word ST&NO every week. Today, briefly, I want to cover a few things that I think will be important in tonight’s game.
1. Sam Monson of PFF wrote a good article for ESPN Insider today that talked about Philip Rivers’s struggles against pressure this season. Per Monson:
Since the start of the 2011 season, though, his completion percentage has dropped to 45.3 percent and he has thrown almost twice the number of interceptions (nine) to touchdowns (five). His throws under pressure have also been graded negatively overall by Pro Football Focus for the first seasons since we started grading (2008).
The Broncos have some horses in the pass rush game, and the Chargers are looking like they’re going to be personnel-challenged at OT tonight. Jared Gaither really solidified the left side for San Diego last season, but he’s expected to miss the game. Jeromey Clary is pretty terrible on the right side.
Happy Thursday, friends. I thought I’d take a few minutes today to talk about the Chargers offense, and how the Broncos can best contain it. They did a pretty solid job against them in San Diego last November, holding Philip Rivers and Company to thirteen points, and in a general way, Monday will see a stronger Broncos defense playing against a weaker Chargers offense.
Mr. Rivers has always reminded me of Bernie Kosar, and I think his game is slipping in his early 30s, similarly to how Kosar’s did. His numbers aren’t that bad so far in 2012, but I just don’t see the same guy on video that I saw three or four years ago.
The receiving group that Rivers is working with is diminished from 2011, too. Losing Vincent Jackson and replacing him with Robert Meachem is a bad deal. Eddie Royal, nice guy that he is, still struggles to get open against a zone defense. An underrated loss in the Chargers’ passing game is running back Mike Tolbert, who caught 54 passes for the Bolts last season. His replacement, Jackie Battle, doesn’t have that kind of receiving skill, and he has just six catches for 49 yards in five games.
Happy Sunday, friends. It's been a hellacious week for me, and it's been a few days since I've had time to write. I decided to share some thoughts today on how the Broncos should try to match up with New England today. Obviously, these are two good teams who both find themselves with 2-2 records, and this game will likely end up influencing the AFC playoff picture.
First of all, let's say something that's obvious, but that Broncos fans willfully choose to get wrong. The Patriots are extremely well-coached and schemed on both sides of the ball. Bill Belichick gets a lot of credit, but quite a few Broncos fans are wrongly convinced that Josh McDaniels is a bad coach. The Patriots had a couple three-and-outs early last week against Buffalo, and I saw a couple Broncos fans on Twitter saying it was the "McDaniels effect." The Patriots then promptly scored six straight touchdowns, and swamped the Bills.
Let's take a look at what the Patriots are doing on both sides of the ball, and think about how the Broncos can find success against them.
Week 4 will feature the much-hated traditional division rival Oakland Raiders coming into Mile High, still feeling good about their come-from-behind win over Pittsburgh. Denver is coming off a tough loss to the Houston Texans, falling short by six points for the second time in two weeks to teams that remain undefeated. Both the Broncos and Raiders see an opportunity to rack up a divisional win in the AFC West. Let’s go through the two teams.
The Raiders come in with the same 1-2 record that Denver has, with both teams’ wins having come against Pittsburgh. The Raiders have struggled to throw for distance, as shown by quarterback Carson Palmer’s 1-of-10 completions for 21 yards when throwing long (20 or more yards). He hasn’t thrown long for a TD, but has an interception when trying to go deep.
Darrius Heyward-Bey appears to have dodged a huge bullet after a frightening cervical injury last week, but he wasn’t helping them in the long game either. Denver should be able to maintain that tendency: Their pass rush appears stronger than the Raiders’ line, and cornerback Tracy Porter is expected to return to the lineup after a brief scare with what turned out to be a bruised knee.