Questions on zone blocking have been pouring in. There’s no question that it has advantages for Denver, whether Peyton Manning stays or not. The question for today is whether we should expect Denver to begin a change to more mobile linemen.
The answer is, not necessarily. I see that as a good thing.
In Dennis Hooper’s March 2009 article on inside zone blocking, he laid out what you want in a zone blocking lineman. Here’s what he listed (I've numbered his bullet points):
The Broncos announced on Wednesday the hiring of Joe Woods as their defensive backs coach. Over the past 11 seasons, Woods has held that same position in Tampa Bay (2004-05), Minnesota (2006-13), and Oakland (2014).
Woods, 44, has apparently not worked with Wade Phillips or Gary Kubiak before; in Minnesota, he worked under Leslie Frazier; in Tampa Bay, he worked under Monte Kiffin and tutored Raheem Morris, who was his assistant secondary coach.
The Broncos have brought back Wade Phillips to be their defensive coordinator, it was announced on Wednesday. In his first Denver stint, Phillips coordinated the Broncos defense from 1989 to 1992 and took over as head coach for two seasons after the firing of Dan Reeves.
He was something of a placeholder head coach for Mike Shanahan, who turned down the head job in 1993 but returned two years later. According to various reports, Phillips may again be taking a temporary position, as Vance Joseph's contract in Cincinnati will be up after 2015.
The Broncos can forget about Perry Fewell stepping in as a replacement for Vance Joseph in Cincy. The former Giants DC is reportedly heading to Washington, where he'll take over as secondary coach for the departed Raheem Morris. As Jeff Legwold told it, Denver had hoped the Bengals might allow Joseph to become the Broncos' DC if Cincy could in turn hire Fewell as a replacement.
Instead, it now looks like the Broncos will turn to either Wade Phillips - who was/is interviewing today and may keep the seat warm for a year until Joseph's Cincy contract expires - or former Falcons head man Mike Smith.
If the Broncos can't pry Vance Joseph away from Cincinnati, they may just have to wait out the last year of his contract. According to multiple reports, Wade Phillips is interviewing for Denver's DC vacancy on Tuesday. Alex Marvez suggests Denver may hire Phillips for the 2015 season, with the intent of making Joseph their DC in 2016, and shifting the Son of Bum to an advisory role that year.
Joseph coached defensive backs for the Texans from 2011 to 2013, when Gary Kubiak was head coach and Phillips was DC.
With Richard Smith headed to Atlanta, the Broncos have hired former Texans, Cowboys, and Bears assistant Reggie Herring to coach their linebackers. The 55-year-old Herring coached under Wade Phillips for six seasons from 2008 to 2013 between Dallas and Houston, including the last three under Gary Kubiak with the Texans.
There's a chance Herring will again be working under Phillips in Denver, as the latter has been described as the primary fallback should the Broncos be unable to hire Vance Joseph away from the Bengals.
As Ian Rapoport suggested might happen, Denver linebackers coach Richard Smith is headed to Atlanta, where he'll be a part of Dan Quinn's defensive staff. Per Rapoport, Smith may be a co-DC along with Raheem Morris.
Smith had been considered a DC fallback option for the Broncos, who are still hoping to hire Vance Joseph away from Cincinnati. Earlier on Monday, Mike Klis wrote that Smith, Wade Phillips, and Mike Smith were the other candidates to run Gary Kubiak's first Denver defense.
The Broncos hope to wrap up their DC search early this week. According to Mike Klis, Denver's fallback plans to hiring Vance Joseph are Wade Phillips, former Falcons coach Mike Smith, and incumbent linebackers coach Richard Smith. The list does not include former Broncos DC Wink Martindale, who Klis suggested last week to be a candidate.
Two more Denver assistants have followed John Fox to Chicago: defensive line coach Jay Rodgers will hold that same position with the Bears, now that the Broncos have hired Bill Kollar from Houston. Rodgers joins his brother, special teams coordinator Jeff, who was among the first assistants to make the move.
While the rest of the league's new head coaches continue to fill out their coaching staffs, the Broncos and Gary Kubiak would still like to hire Cincy secondary coach Vance Joseph to run their defense.
Per Jeff Legwold, the Bengals are only willing to let Joseph out of their contract if they have a suitable replacement in waiting, and the Broncos are apparently hoping that former Giants DC Perry Fewell might be that guy.