Ted's Analysis

You Got Served: The copycat NFL (we hope)

Happy Tuesday, friends, and welcome to what will be a somewhat abbreviated version of You Got Served.  The Broncos lost, and frankly, my Digesting preview from Friday had it pegged.  I got a bunch of reaction that thought I was underselling the Broncos, but I wasn’t.  I just had it right; this Broncos team isn’t ready to compete with the Super Bowl Champions in their building yet.  Hilariously on Sunday, one of my least favorite trolls from my four years of writing about football accused me of “blatant homerism” in the Lard comments because I can see that Robert Ayers is a good player, and I frequently say so.  I got a good laugh at that when I was sitting in the Key West airport on Monday morning waiting to come home.  Evidently, I’m a homer who has somehow picked the Broncos to lose three of their four games this season so far.  I had a win against Oakland and a loss against Cincinnati, but otherwise I’ve had it right, and in the case of the Tennessee and Green Bay games, I’ve had it very right.

I’ve got rebuilding fever, even if John Elway doesn’t really like that word, because he feels like it provides a built-in excuse.  At least his objection was of a semantic nature, and he didn’t just dismiss the idea out of hand that a clear transition is underway.  Teams have to be honest with themselves about what they are, and since our analysis here aspires to be of a similar quality to what teams are seeing themselves, we also have to be honest about what the Broncos are.

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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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You Got Served - Losing respectably

Happy Rebuilding Tuesday, friends.  Since I got my mind right last week and remembered what was really going on, I found myself significantly less upset about Sunday’s game than I’ve historically been about Broncos losses.  I also decided that I think Foxball is a great way to rebuild, because as TJ pointed out Sunday, it makes it hard to get blown out of games.  As much as I can be a pretty good sport about losing 17-14 on the road when I expected practically that exact result, it remains to be seen how I do with something like the 43-13 stinkbomb against Arizona last season.

In any case, this might be the busiest week that I have all season, because it’s my month-end close, I have a test in my MBA class on Thursday night, and I’m heading out with my girlfriend for a weekend in Key West on Friday morning.  I was a crew member of the original USS Spruance (DD-963), which was the lead ship of the Spruance class, and as such I was invited to attend the commissioning of the second USS Spruance (DDG-111), the 61st ship of the Arleigh Burke class, which will take place on Saturday evening.  I’m going to do the best  I can today and Friday, and I’ll be watching the game on my iPad on Sunday but no other games, because you know, it’s Key West.  Anyway, it’s down to football as time allows.  Ready…BEGIN!!

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Digesting the Titans

Happy Friday, friends.  I hope you enjoyed Tom Gower’s thoughts on the Titans that we posted earlier today.  He’s a respected writer who contributes to Football Outsiders, and we’re happy to have his work appear at our humble site.  My work likewise appeared over at his site, and I only hope that the readers at Total Titans find our contribution up to their normal standards.

Since Tom gave us some Titans thoughts, I said to myself, “Self, maybe you should go light, or even skip the Digesting piece, and just leave it to their “inside” guy who’s really familiar with the team.”  I considered doing so for a few minutes, but y’all know me: I like excess.  More is better than less.  That said, here are some observations on the Titans:

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Digesting the Bengals

Happy Friday, friends.  When we last talked I was depressed, and really down on Kyle Orton.  Today I’m doing fine, and I’m still really down on Kyle Orton.  A few of his cheerleaders on this site tried to get me to argue with them about Orton’s suckitude, but I have a long-standing policy of not arguing; I just say what I think.  Besides, their rationalizations are about as meaningful to me as a billboard is to John Fox.  He trusts his eyes, and I trust mine.  This article is not about Kyle Orton, though, so let’s get down to the business of digestion.  (Hat tip to broncosmontana for suggesting the title in last week’s comments.  We’re going with it every week.)

Game Watched : Week 1 at Cleveland

Bengals Defense

a.  My general observation is that the Bengals seem to have two tactics that they use frequently: They either line up in a Cover-2 look and play Cover-2, or they line up in a blitz/man look and blitz and play man-to-man.  There’s very little effort to disguise what’s coming on defense, or to disguise who is blitzing when they blitz.  They’re keeping it simple and trying to just go out and execute, and that kind of makes them parallel to the Colts' way of playing offense, except that the Colts (with Peyton Manning) are a lot better at executing on offense than the Bengals are at executing on defense.

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Opposition Research: Oakland Raiders - Week 1

Happy Friday, friends.  Can I talk frankly?  Yes, I think I can.  Since I started my football writing “career” back in 2008, I’ve always been kind of a loose cannon.  I’ve mostly avoided agreeing to put myself in any boxes, rather than to generally say that I’ll have something written on this day or that day.  A lot of times, if I have something due on Friday at noon, I’ll have no idea what I want to write about when I’m driving home after work on Thursday afternoon.  I just like to let stuff go from my mind to my fingers to the screen.  It’s kind of like being a 30-something dude who lives with his parents and won't date a chick for longer than three months because he doesn’t want to grow up.

Well, I went and agreed to produce a recurring feature on Fridays as part of our game lead-up package, which is going to be just outstanding, even if it isn't scantastic.  I don’t have a fitting gluttony reference for it yet, so I’m just going to call it Opposition Research, because that's what it is.  Basically, I plan to watch some recent video of the upcoming opponent, take some notes, and then talk about some non-obvious things that I saw, particularly stuff that you can't get just by looking over a couple box scores.  Then, I’ll talk about what the Broncos can do to be successful in light of those observations.  Pretty straightforward, right?  Here goes, as we break down Tranny Nation after the jump.

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Thoughts on cutdown day

Happy Saturday, friends.  I have a few thoughts on the Broncos' roster, and then some thoughts for some potential pickups from the rest of the NFL.

1.  I am only really surprised that Kyle McCarthy and Jeremy Jarmon were cut.  Perrish Cox earned the axe by playing poorly in the preseason, and from the rest, only David Anderson was mildly surprising.  The waiving of McCarthy seems to be a function of a decision that Quinton Carter can do everything that Kyle can do, and that you really only need two box safeties.  Jarmon’s athleticism impressed me, and I’m sad to see him go.

2.  I’d like to see Eron Riley, Eric Olsen, Jeremy Beal,  Jeremiah Johnson, and McCarthy on the Practice Squad.  None of the rest of the eligible guys have really showed me much.  That’s 4 offensive players and 1 defender, so I’d want to find three other defenders around the NFL.  (Jarmon isn’t eligible, because he was on Washington’s 53-man roster for most of the 2009 and 2010 seasons.)

3.  I'm slightly concerned about carrying just three RBs, and obviously no backup offensive lineman is worth a damn at this point, including Russ Hochstein.  On defense, I'm not freaking out about any position except CB.  I'd definitely like to see somebody better than Chris Harris come along, and I would also be amenable to an upgrade over Mitch Unrein (sorry, TJ) and/or Ryan McBean at DT.  There are some good players available at both CB and DT, as we'll discuss below.

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How good are the 2011 Denver Broncos?

I think that predicting specific sports outcomes is a useless filler exercise, and I say that as a guy who does a good amount of forecasting in my day job.  As a controller, a revenue forecast helps you work back to figuring out the costs of the inputs needed to make the forecasted revenue, and it can/should illuminate opportunities to achieve cost savings.  It’s a value-adding exercise, and like painting a ship, it never really stops.

Predicting the outcomes of games, or the record of a football team in August really adds no operational value to anything.  Once the actual event happens, the prediction work that you did becomes entirely useless; nobody would ever refer back to it for any reason, so why would you have it in your archive?

There’s been a lot of talking lately about what the Broncos’ record will be this season, and I don’t really want to speculate on that specifically.  Having seen two preseason games, though, I am ready to say that I think this looks like the best Broncos team since at least 2005, and I’m ready to discuss the reasons why I think that.

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Pregame Thoughts: Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos

Happy Friday, friends.  With Game 2 of the preseason happening tomorrow night, I decided to share some thoughts on what I’ll be looking for in the game.  I think we learned some stuff in Game 1, at least at a cursory level, and that we’ll have a good opportunity to learn and evaluate more tomorrow.

1.  Does personnel grouping on offense still seem to follow the QB?  Last week, Kyle Orton played with a lot of 21 and 22 personnel, while Tim Tebow had a lot of 11 personnel, and Brady Quinn had a lot of 12 personnel.  It will be interesting to see if those concepts continue.

The implications are that when Orton is on the field, the offensive staff sees itself as a running/play action operation, and that to some extent, Quinn follows that.  Tebow’s typical package places more of a premium on spreading out the defense with the formation, ostensibly to create running lanes for Tebow, and angles for the kinds of throws that he makes the best.

Tebow has a different skill-set than Orton or Quinn, so it’s no surprise that they’d have different play-calling.  I wonder if this recent media push to claim that Quinn is #2 stems from thinking within the coaching staff that any in-game change at the position is best handled by a player who is more well-suited to running the same game plan as the starter.  In that case, I could still see Tebow getting some snaps in games using specialty packages, even as the nominal #3 QB, while Quinn sits behind Orton, waiting for an injury or ineffectiveness in a game.

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Defensive alignment concepts from the Broncos’ preseason opener

Happy Tuesday, friends.  As expected, I had a crazy two-wedding weekend, and it just ended around midnight Tuesday morning.  I caught the garter at the Cleveland wedding, because I catch a disproportionate number of garters at weddings, and I now have a Cleveland Browns garter on my man-cave bulletin board, next to the other two I’ve gotten in recent years.  People sure love their football.

Logistically speaking, I watched the Thursday night game live and participated in the Chewing the Fat discussion that you read a couple days ago.  That ended around midnight ET, and I had to be up 4.5 hours later for a 6 AM flight on Friday morning.  There was another early morning flight Saturday morning, hustling to get to the second wedding, a drunk/disheveled wakeup in a hotel Sunday, marked by explaining why my drunk friend got mad and punched the glass out of a picture that was in a room under my name and credit card (accident, of course!), followed by recovery, and then an opening-to-closing visit to Cedar Point amusement park on Monday.  It was a really good weekend.

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