Happy Tuesday, friends. I wanted to take a few moments today to evaluate the overall state of affairs for the 2012 Broncos. When you’re a fan of a team, it’s easy to watch a few losses, and take them hard, and get all emotional about them. It can seem like all is lost, and that this guy should get benched, and that guy should get fired, and that if you were the GM, things would be different.
I’m a professional analyst, and a key part of the analyst skill set is the ability to be dispassionate, and just try to see things for what they are. I work with a guy who is a Steelers fan, and he keeps his security badge on a Steelers lanyard, and he has Steelers crap on his car, and in his office. That’s not the kind of Broncos fan I am. I’ve owned two Broncos jerseys in the last 10 years or so, and they’re both useless now. (Catler and Teebs, if you must know).
I’m not a fanatic – I started out being one as a kid, but in the course of becoming a widely-read writer about the Broncos, my approach to fanhood became kind of professional and dispassionate. This is like a job, and today, I’m going to do my job, and tell you what I think is going on with the Broncos without emotion.
Happy Monday, friends. I’m going to give yesterday’s game a broadcast-angle review tonight, and another coach’s film review on Wednesday, but for today, I wanted to write a quick article about something that gets talked about frequently, but isn’t well-understood. Today’s topic will be the first-place schedule.
The best path to the playoffs in the NFL is in winning your division. Organizing in divisions is a true test of quality for a subset of teams, because for 14 of their 16 games, they play the same teams. Here is how an NFL schedule rubric lays out:
|Type of game||Number|
|Division home-and-home||6 games|
|Another division in same conference||4 games|
|Another division in the other conference||4 games|
|Teams from the other divisions in same conference with same finish||2 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.
Happy Tuesday, friends. I’m still feeling good after the Broncos blew out the Raiders, and I’ve been thinking about ideas on defending the Patriots. Expect some words and maybe pictures on that topic later in the week.
For today, I wanted to talk generally about route-running technique. Every receiver who gets drafted into the NFL is within a certain range in the areas of size, speed, quickness, and catching ability. There’s a range of variance on talent, but it’s not really all that wide. What really separates receivers in the NFL, when you look at their ability to affect an overall game, is technique.
In my last job, I was a controller for a business within Xerox that sold custom learning solutions to large businesses. A lot of the people I worked with had Master’s degrees and PhD’s in the area of adult learning. There’s a lot of research done, and theories derived, and models built in the service of understanding how adults learn, and how to best improve their performance.
Every time you turn around, somebody is reminding you that the NFL has become a passing league. Through a combination of offense-friendly rule changes, innovative passing concepts, and vastly improved QB coaching at the high school and college levels (not to even mention the excellent private tutoring out there), passing offenses in the NFL are better and more efficient than ever.
I agree wholeheartedly that passing rules in the NFL. It’s easy to hear that, and read it, and conclude that the running game doesn’t really matter, though, and that’s not the case. In fact, I would say that the ability to be very sound in run defense is the most important factor in defending the pass.
That may be tough to get your head around, but let’s explore the idea, by first beginning with offense. The offense is going to do something, and all 11 guys generally know what that something is. The defense is reading keys, and trying to figure out what it will be, but they never really know until the play is underway. This is the fundamental advantage of the offense.
Embed this thought - you can lose games just as easily on defense by failing to stop the run, as you can by failing to stop the pass. The reason for that is because failure to stop the run very often causes failure to stop the pass.
Happy Thursday, friends. I’m back from my trip to Cleveland, and I’ve dug out of the two-days-away hole at work, so I decided that it was time to get back on the horse. So have you seen any cases of simultaneous possession lately? I saw one on Saturday night at a wedding reception.
The bride tossed the bouquet, and the maid of honor and my girlfriend both caught it. They both held it for a few seconds, before Laura deferred to the MOH and let it go, which was the right call. The MOH was actually really gracious about the whole thing, and let Laura have the bouquet, which was cool until she left it in a hotel in Charlotte on Monday morning.
As for the garter, who do you think caught it? I got my fifth one in my last seven weddings attended (starting in 2009). I think we can safely say that I have elite garter skills. To wit:
Happy Friday, friends. As you read this, it’s likely that I’ll be in the air headed to Cleveland, but I wanted to give you a little something, since I’ll be off the grid for a few days. I’ll be attending a wedding, and then driving back with my girlfriend to move her down to Florida.
I’ve occasionally mentioned over the years that I’m an alumni member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and by number of chapters, we’re the biggest Greek letter organization in the world. Among our football-related members are Terry Bradshaw, Phil Simms, Marv Levy, and Aaron Rodgers, and that’s not even getting to guys like Ronald Reagan, Elvis Presley, and many other famous people.
I bring this up, because fraternity men have a tendency to drink adult beverages (responsibly, of course) and sing songs with vulgar lyrics and subject matter. At my chapter at Cleveland State University, we have a song called Godiva, and we always dedicate the last verse to a brother. It goes:
Happy Thursday, friends. The All-22 film was made available yesterday, and I had occasion to review the Falcons game. I saw a lot of positive things to feel good about, but for today, I’m going to focus on some negative things.
Peyton Manning threw three interceptions in the first quarter, and that put the Broncos in a very tough position. They nearly rallied to win the game, nut ultimately fell short.
I’ve reviewed the three plays repeatedly, and there are three general reasons why the interceptions occurred:
1. Mike Nolan is a good defensive coordinator, and the Falcons disguised their coverages well.
2. The Falcons have a very underrated pair of safeties in William Moore and Thomas DeCoud. Each is among the top ten players in the NFL at his position.
3. Manning’s mental game hasn’t been perfect. He may have some rust there that needs to be overcome.
Happy Football Monday, friends. Because I’m a swell guy, I decided to write a quick article about pass coverage relating to tonight’s game between the Broncos and the Falcons. As we saw last week, the Chiefs got lit up, and I’m going to talk about why that happened, and what the Broncos should (and certainly will) do better.
In Week 1, the Chiefs were without their best CB Brandon Flowers, and their best pass rusher Tamba Hali. That puts you at a disadvantage against a team with good passing weapons from the jump, especially a team like Atlanta, whose protection weakness at LT went unexploited. The Chiefs were also seemingly very worried about the Atlanta running game, and they played eight in the box quite a bit.
If you’re dropping the eighth man, you basically have two choices of coverage shells. If you want to play zone, you can use a three-deep shell, and if you want to play a lot of man-to-man, you can used a one-deep shell. The Chiefs chose the latter option a week ago, mostly using a very deep single-high safety, and man-to-man coverage.
Happy Friday, friends. We've been telling you for a while how awesome access to all-22 coaches film would be, and I can now confirm, it's pretty awesome.
For those who aren't subscribers, allow me to briefly explain how it works. There's no sound, and for each play, you get a high sideline view that includes all 22 players. Following that, you get a tight view from behind the QB.
What that allows you to do is to watch the downfield action of a play (receivers and secondary), and then watch the backfield action (pass rushers, QB, RB) for the same play. So, if I want to gauge the effectiveness of the passing scheme, I can watch the route combination against the coverage for a play, and then watch the protection for the same play.
In the Steelers game, I was impressed with how well the Broncos protected Peyton Manning, and I was interested to see the difference in methodology from last season. With Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow (a slow mover and a slow thinker), the Broncos almost always used at least six men in protection, and often, it was seven. With Manning, the Broncos mostly kept five men in, and sent five men out into the pattern. The use of extra blockers was quite limited, actually, and it speaks to their confidence in Manning recognizing the rush scheme, and getting the ball out quickly to the open player.