Happy Wednesday, friends. Here I go for the third day in a row. Yay! I left work at 5pm yesterday, which is rare, because it was primary election day in Florida. I live an hour from work, so in order to go vote, I had to get out on time, and hustle.
To my pleasant surprise, Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan of Sirius XM NFL Radio were at Dove Valley for Broncos training camp. I always like when they talk to football people, because coaches and players tend to open up to them a lot more than they do with other media. The difference is really clear with a guy like Bill Belichick, who obviously feels that telling regular idiot media anything of substance is a waste of time and breath, but that telling Tim & Pat some substantive things is worthwhile, because they know what he means. It’s a very similar phenomenon with John Fox, who appears on Movin’ the Chains every Tuesday evening during the season.
Sirius isn’t so good about making a lot of audio available online, so Doug asked me to paraphrase some of the things I heard, which included some good insight, much of which tended to confirm our speculation.
* The team continues to beat the drum that Peyton Manning has had to learn a whole new offense, which is probably true by half. The Sirius guys saw a lot of 21 personnel stuff in the 9-on-7 inside run drills that were conducted on Tuesday, and Manning isn’t used to that. It’s really a John Fox thing.
* Per Kirwan and Ryan, expect a lot of no-huddle this season from 12 personnel, featuring Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, and a RB. That won’t surprise IAOFM readers, of course. The Broncos ran a bunch of no-huddle yesterday, and went up and down the field a couple times, changing formations on virtually every play. The key swingman is Dreessen, who often lined up at FB.
* Kirwan and Ryan said Denver's Tuesday practice was easily the most physical that they’d seen in visits to eleven camps over the last couple weeks. They said it reminded them of a Carolina practice when Fox was there.
* Derek Wolfe said he was mainly playing as a 4-technique DE in base defense, and that he was dropping inside on passing downs. That’s all pretty much as we expected, and Wolfe said that in the long run, the plan is to get him up to speed all across the line. He said that he should have had a third sack Thursday night, but he rushed outside when he should have taken a path the guard gave him to the inside.
* Interestingly, Wolfe said he has the most trouble so far playing as a 9-technique over a TE. The reason is because being that far outside, he can't really play the snap of the ball, because the angle makes it too hard to see. That leaves him playing the movement of the man in front of him, and not the movement of the ball. Luckily, I think that 9-technique will probably be the DL spot that Wolfe plays the least.
* Wolfe also talked about having been a very successful high school wrestler in Ohio, and how it helps him as a defensive lineman. He mentioned how he learned to feel the movement of his opponent, and to put pressure on pressure in the run game, and to move counter to the man in the passing game.
* Peyton Manning talked about the constant push for precision and consistency on offense, and Fox said that Manning was raising all boats with his excellence.
* Manning was highly complimentary of the intelligence and work ethic of Decker, Thomas, Dreessen, and Andre Caldwell, and he talked about how his comfort with Tamme and Brandon Stokley has been a big help. Kirwan and Ryan said they thought the Broncos would field a passing game that’s terrific overall from the neck up, and that that would create significant on-field value. I tend to agree, particularly in an offense that’s going to feature a lot of adjustments based on defensive clues.
* Kirwan noted that J.D. Walton is doing an excellent job with the hard part of playing Center for Manning, and that’s managing all the checks and protection adjustments. He seemed to think that Walton looked like a lock to keep his job, and do pretty well.
* Kirwan and Ryan both expressed some concern about the Broncos’ ability to get a conventional running game blocked effectively, especially as long as Chris Kuper is out. The Broncos will probably have to throw to set up the run, and Manning will need to pick his spots when he has matchup advantages in the box.
* Ronnie Hillman stood out on Tuesday in terms of making plays in space. Unfortunately, he tweaked his hamstring after that.
* John Elway talked about creating competition throughout the roster, and about how the biggest priorities in the offseason, vis-à-vis personnel acquisitions, was improving the Broncos’ ability to defend spread-out passing games. He was very complimentary of Rahim Moore, Mike Adams, Tracy Porter, Drayton Florence, and Omar Bolden.
* Elway also talked about how having a QB the caliber of Manning gives the team a chance to win the Super Bowl every year, especially if you put good talent around him. Thank you, John Elway.
* Dreessen talked about how hard it is to block Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil in the run game, and that trying to do so was good practice for teams with lesser players on the edges. He said Miller is great at missing contact and cutting down angles quickly, and Dumervil is tough to get your pads low on.
I was driving, so I wasn’t able to take notes, but I hope you enjoyed this. See you when I see you.