Game Previews

Digesting the Raiders

Happy Friday, friends.  Today, since the Broncos have already played the Raiders this season, we’re going to leverage the article I wrote before that game, and I’ll focus on where things have changed between then and now.  Then, we’ll talk about how the Broncos can work toward a better outcome this time than the 23-20 opening night loss they took at home.

We all hate the Raiders, and they hate us too, but it seems that they’ve built the sort of team that has been giving the Broncos trouble over the last couple seasons.  They’re big, physical and fast, and those are three good things to be as a football team. Luckily, they're still the Raiders, and they still make dumb trades, so we have that going for us.

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Fat Off the Bone: Week 8 - Tebow and Stafford

Tomorrow's game features two young quarterbacks who still have a lot to prove.

For Matt Stafford, it's if he can stay healthy. For Tim Tebow, it's if he can play quarterback at all.  A lot has been said about Tebow's mechanics, decision-making abilities, and abilities in the pocket. Most of it comes in the form of generalities.  This includes heaping portions of the words "intangibles" and "pocket awareness."

The two quarterbacks are separated by about 600 throws in the NFL. That's the rough equivalent a full season. As I scouted the Lions for tomorrow, what kept coming up over and over again was just how Matthew Stafford had improved in his presnap reads, getting the ball out on his drops quickly, and trusting his instincts.

If Stafford is what Tebow want to aspire to, then what exactly does he need to do to improve?

Let's remove the hype and the emotion; let's remove the stats; let's simply see.

Perhaps then we can find agreement.

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Digesting the Lions

Happy Friday, friends.  I watched some Lions-Falcons on Thursday evening, and I think this game looks a little better for the Broncos than I thought it did a few weeks ago.  Teams are figuring out how to play the Lions, and there were a lot of lessons to be taken away from this game.

This may be shorter than a usual Digesting piece, just because the Lions aren’t doing anything tremendously complicated.  They’re trying to execute, and lately, they haven’t been getting that done very effectively.  There are reasons for that, which we’ll now explore:

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Digesting the Dolphins

Happy Friday, friends.  I hope you're hungry, because today we're going to munch on some Dolphins that got caught in the nets.  The Broncos travel south to sunny Miami, where they've never won a regular season game.  Since the Dolphins seem hell-bent on winning the Suck for Luck sweepstakes, it's looking like the Broncos will have a solid chance to end that streak.  Can you hear the zealots?  Tebow is the greatest ever!  He did something that no Broncos QB has ever done!

Personally, I'd be happy with continuous improvement from Tebow, and effective overall play.  If the Broncos get that, and if the defense plays like it did in the second half vs. San Diego, I feel pretty good about their chances to improve to 2-4.  If not, there's always next week.  Anyway, let's get on with the show.  As En Vogue once said, Now it's time for a breakdown.

Game Watched: Dolphins at NY Jets (Week 6)

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Fat Off the Bone: Week 6 - Tim Tebow goes here so this page will get more clicks

Despite being well bred, well read, conversant in all manner of topics in multiple languages, and possessing an uncanny and impeccable taste for the finer luxuries in this world, I admit--during moments of weakness--a passing yet substantive fancy for tramping and a penchant for lap-dance discussions;  after all, there exist, as a matter of due course, those occasions upon which nary a second should pass without thrusting erect (oh yeah) and headstrong into those crevices of the human mind that have proven baser and more carnal.

In short, it's fun to argue.  I find great comfort in it.  If one can't anonymously jump on the internet and falsely lord over others with jargon, statistics, and outright buffoonery, where can one truly suck the marrow out of life?  Nowhere, that's where.  One's girlfriend or wife (or special lady friend) simple won't stand for it.  So on a Saturday like this, there are two options: 1) rake the lawn; 2) argue about Tim Tebow.

I'm picking the latter, thank you.

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Fat off the Bone: Week 5 - Chargers

Last week, the Packers did almost everything the scouting report said they would, but the Broncos were powerless to stop them.  Although the Broncos employed the right strategy defensively (playing nickel most of the game), they simply didn't have the horses to stay in the fight.

This week, the Broncos will again be the least talented team on the field; however, their familiarity with the Chargers' scheme and the Chargers' scheme itself should help the Broncos stay in the game.

Before we break down the percentages, remember that the system that Norv Turner uses in San Diego is the same system he's used since the days when he was the offensive coordinator for all the great Dallas Cowboys teams of the 1990s.  Troy Aikman is played by Philip Rivers.  Michael Irvin is now known as Vincent Jackson.  Antonio Gates is Jay Novacek.  At its core, it's a deep spread passing game, in which the quarterback, unlike other systems, reads deep to short.  In other words, Philip Rivers isn't playing around.   If the deep ball is there, he's going to take it.  

Perhaps that's why his career average yards per attempt is 8.0.  In Turner's offense, almost all of the passing plays have a deep option available to Rivers.  The receivers are taught to get as much space as possible between their intermediate and long routes and between their short and intermediate routes.  Rivers rarely uses a three-step drop.  Instead, in Turner's offense, he consistently uses a lot of five- and seven-step drops.  That doesn't mean he takes a lot of sacks, though.  That's because in Turner's offense, which relies on timing, the quarterback is taught to get the ball out quickly.  You've probably heard and read that Philip Rivers has a quick release.  Part of the reason is because he actually does have a quick release.  The other part is because he's expected to get rid of the ball as soon as his back foot hits at the end of his drop.

With this as our backdrop, let's look at how the Chargers attack a 4-3.

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Digesting the Chargers

Happy Friday, friends.  It’s Chargers week, and today we’re going to Digest the Bolts.  After watching the film, I have some reasons to be cautiously optimistic, and I get the impression from some comments on other articles that I’m not the only one.

As with any week where I come back from vacation, it’s been hellacious.  When you sign up to be a salaried employee, they don’t explicitly tell you that your pile only grows when you’re away, but you figure it out pretty quickly - and taking Friday and Monday off means doing six days of work in four days when you get back.  Anyway, on to the analysis.  Between my job, this site, and my Marketing Strategy class for my MBA program, my brain has been analyzing nonstop this week, and the hamster is getting a little tired.  Still, for you, I press on.

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Fat off the Bone: Week 4 - Packers

Mike McCarthy may not like spiders and snakes, but he sure loves zebras and tigers.

This week, I did something a little different.  I took my own advice (for once), and charted the first 15 plays from each of the Green Bay Packers' first three games of the year.  As we've seen in the past, the first few drives can tell you a lot about how a team wants to attack their opponent.  After this, the offense typically adjusts to down, distance, score, and time remaining in the game.

The Packers faced some interesting defenses, but all of them, like the Denver Broncos, were of the 4-3 variety.  In Week 1 they took on Dennis Allen's mentor Gregg Williams and the blitz-heavy New Orleans Saints.  In Week 2, they faced off against John Fox's old team, the Carolina Panthers.  Finally, in Week 3, they battled against the Tampa-2 laden Chicago Bears.

What I found was a heavy dose of animal looks.  What do I mean by this?  Simply put, the Packers and Mike McCarthy rely almost exclusively on their 113 (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) and 122 (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR) when attacking the 4-3.  In McCarthy's offense, these packages are called the Zebra (113) and the Tiger (122).  

These animal personnel groupings are the key to understanding how the Packers plan to take apart the Broncos' defense.

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Digesting the Packers

Happy Friday friends, and welcome to the first ever edition of Digesting that was written in the air or on an iPad.  It's been a hellaciously busy week as expected, but I'm heartened by the fact that as soon as we got over the clouds on the way out of Cleveland, the overcast gloomy view vanished and it was nothing but sunshine.

This week it's the Green Bay Packers in lovely Wisconsin, land of cow patties and beer farts.  I'm not exactly breaking news to say that this will be challenging, and I'd go so far as to say that I think Brian Burke's model which Doug referenced this morning may be over-optimistic in giving the Broncos a 25% win probability.  I've got my rubber gloves on (I lease them with an option to buy) and I'm ready to conduct the examination, so without further adieu, let's get it on.

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Fat off the Bone: Week 3 - Titans

Last week, we looked at the Cincinnati Bengals.  Surprisingly, the Bengals stuck to the scouting report and presented the Broncos with few wrinkles.

Perhaps this is why they are the Bengals.  It's one thing to know who you are and stick to what you do best.  It's another thing entirely to fall into such a predictable pattern by Week 2.  The Broncos' advanced scouting department probably deserves some credit for the win last week.

Today we're scouting the Tennessee Titans, who have been the Jekyll and Hyde of the NFL so far.  In Week 1 they barely moved the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars, losing 16-14.  A week later, behind timely turnovers and big plays, they smacked the Baltimore Ravens 26-13.

After charting every one of their offensive plays from both games,  I came to realize that the Titans are not the world beaters they appeared to be last week.

In fact, there's a good chance the Broncos win this game.

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