Gut Reactions

Immediate analysis of NFL games and news

Gut Reaction: Preseason Week 3 - Broncos vs Seahawks

The Denver defense decided to travel back in time tonight.

Their destination?  The year 2005.  You remember that year, don't you?  It was the year the Broncos didn't allow a single yard on defense--or so it seemed.

The Broncos' first-team defense allowed the Seahawks only 39 yards in the first half tonight in their 23-20 victory.  By the end of the 3rd quarter, that total had hardly increased.

Was that Al Wilson or Joe Mays out there tonight?

Okay, I won't get too carried away.  The Broncos were playing the Seattle Seahawks; they were facing a young offensive line.  It's the preseason.

Things won't always be this way.  Will they?

Tonight, I'll dream dreams of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.  There will be a stopwatch.  It will start at 00:00.  Three seconds later, Miller and Dumervil enter the picture.

The stopwatch explodes.

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Gut Reaction: Preseason Week 2 - Broncos vs Bills

Marcell Dareus wanted to make the Broncos pay for not taking him with the second-overall pick in April.

Perhaps another day, big guy.

Tonight, it was Von Miller who brought the punishment.  Miller showed why he's been compared to Derrick Thomas.  His first step is supersonic.

He broke the speed of sound (and the ankles of the right tackle) several times tonight in the Broncos' 24-10 victory over the Bills.

Both Miller and the missile known as Rahim Moore made it clear that the Broncos did not miss with their first two draft picks.  They were part of a defense that, for the second straight week, kept the opposing offense from doing any noticeable damage.

This defense--even without Ty Warren--will make things interesting this season.  If they can get to third down quickly, they might even be more than interesting.

They might be finger-licking good.

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Does ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating correlate to winning?

By now everyone has weighed in on ESPN's new Total Quarterback Rating (TQR) metric.  

Most of the critiques have centered on the following perceived shortcomings of the model:

  1. The Clutch Index.  In short, can one really measure clutchness?
  2. The proprietary nature of the model.  In short, only ESPN knows what goes into the recipe.
  3. The dividing of credit.  In short, we rely on ESPN's video reviewers to tell us how much credit a quarterback contributed to each play.

Since I waited two fulls weeks to react, I didn't want to beat the same drums.  Better stats people than I had already contributed to these discussions. 

Instead, I decided to take a different angle altogether.  I simply decided to look and see if TQR correlated to winning.

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Gut Reaction: Preseason opener - Broncos @ Cowboys

Before you can walk, you'll need to crawl.

Or you can just watch Ryan Clady bury some dude in the turf.

For all of the talk about Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, and even Brady Quinn, the real story of the Broncos' offseason should have been the running game.

The Broncos--for the meat of the game tonight--controlled the line of scrimmage from both sides.  Their third-string defense ultimately gave up the game 24-23, but by that time, the verdict on the Broncos' toughness had already been rendered.

This year, the Broncos will run.  This year, the Broncos will stop the run.

While one half of a preseason game does not a season make, it appears as if the additions of John Fox and Dennis Allen are going to bring respectability back to the ground game in Denver.

That, and a lot of versatile defensive linemen.

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Broncos sign Ty Warren

Adam Schefter is reporting that the Broncos have signed longtime Patriots Defensive Lineman Ty Warren to a 2-year, $10 million deal with $2.5 million guaranteed.  I discussed the prospect of having eight quality NFL D-Linemen, and now it seems likely that the Broncos have nine.  Warren has primarily been a DE for the Patriots, but he grew up as a DT for the Texas A&M Aggies, and I expect that he’ll mostly play inside for the Broncos.

Warren is 6-foot-5 and weighs 300 pounds.  He missed the entire 2010 season with a hip injury that he suffered in training camp, and he was released last week when he failed the Patriots’ demanding physical.  Evidently, the Broncos have a less rigorous one.

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Gut Reaction: Brodrick Bunkley

Now that John Elway is back with the Broncos, the suffering of Cleveland Browns fans can commence yet again.

Enter Brodrick Bunkley.  For whatever reason--whether Bunkley wouldn't report to the Browns or not--Bunkley won't have the pleasure of seeing grown men gorge themselves on dog biscuits.  

Instead, he's coming to Denver.

After watching Brodrick Bunkley on film last year, it's easy to see why the Broncos traded for him.

Bunkley is workmanlike; he does his job.  That's been a rarity in the last two years in Denver.

Bunkley will be a welcome addition. 

I watched two of Bunkley's game tapes.  The first was from Week 17 against the Dallas Cowboys, which Pro Football Focus (PFF) rated as Bunkley's best game.   The second was the Week 3 matchup against the Jaguars, which PFF rated as his worst game.  

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Derrick Harvey and the mining of second-hand talent

I’m a Florida Gators fan, which everybody knows, but that’s not the reason that I like Derrick Harvey.  I think the guy has been a pretty good NFL player since he came into the League, but that he has been judged through the prism of being the eighth-overall pick in a Draft and not showing the pass-rushing production of a pick that high.

Harvey is very solid against the run, but has never shown the quick-twitch athleticism that it takes to be a dominant pass rusher.  The truth is, he’s never been that kind of player, even going back to his college days, when he got a lot of sacks.

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Gut Reaction: Broncos sign Marcus Thomas

For once, I agree with an agent. 

Here's what Richard Bernoski, agent for recently signed Marcus Thomas, had to say only moments ago:

We're excited about the scheme that John Fox is running, it will give Marcus Thomas a chance to reach his potential and do what he does best which is penetrate to get up field to cause chaos in the backfield. He's been the most productive defensive tackle in Denver playing in a system that didn't fit his skill-set.

Bernoski knows his client well.  There was perhaps no player who had to fight his natural tendencies more in the 3-4 defense that Josh McDaniels wanted to run during his time in Denver.  

Thomas was never a fit as a two-gap defender.  He was simply out of place.   Despite this, he played with a lot of effort and held his own as a defensive end.  

Marcus Thomas is your classic 3-technique penetrator.  He split gaps and uses his quick first step to his advantage. 

Then he tries to unleash hell.

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Gut Reaction: Colby Whitlock

In this year's draft, the worst-kept secret in the world was the Broncos' need to acquire a defensive tackle.

Yesterday, they finally did, signing Texas Tech lineman Colby Whitlock.

Surprisingly, he might stick around.

Whitlock played a lot of 3-4 nose tackle for Texas Tech.  As you'll see from this tape, that helped him to develop a certain toughness that one doesn't see from 4-3 defensive tackles.  In the 3-4, you need to be stout at the point of attack, you need to be willing to sacrifice yourself at even the slightest hint of a double team, and you'd better have a motor that never stops.  

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Gut Reaction: Nick Bellore

Note: Bellore is apparently headed to the Jets instead of Denver

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