Now, the real Ted Bartlett version of things. First, a heart-felt thanks to Bill “Pork Chop” Williamson, James Walker, Alex Marvez, Adam Schein, and Mike Patrick for inspiring some of my language and thinking in the humble version of my pregame column. They are truly the best at what they do, and stand as excellent examples for a young writer who’s trying really hard to be simultaneously silly, unstylish, and boring. I humbly thank Jewish G_d (it’s his turn, and he doesn’t like the “O”, you heard?) that I have those All-Stars to crib from.
Speaking of Adam Schein, I particularly can’t stand him, which my regular readers know. He’s pretty near the top of my list of lame football talkers. For one thing, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, whatsoever. For another, he’s an awful, awful writer. See here for examples. He’s on a completely craptastic talking heads show on Sportsnet New York called Loudmouths, (with Chris Carlin) which is an appropriate name for something which is loud and annoying. More than anything, though, I hate Schein on Sirius NFL Radio.
I get a lot from listening to Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan, who have an excellent show called Movin’ The Chains from 3-7 Eastern. They both know what they’re talking about, and they work really well together on the radio. I won’t call it schtick-free, exactly, but the schtick that they do employ is reasonable. In fact, if you want to read a good book about football, I’ll plug Pat’s new book, Take Your Eye Off The Ball, which you can buy at PatKirwan.com. (Ted is arrogant alert) I didn’t learn a lot from it that I didn’t already know, but I think that most people really would, and I would call the information to be of high value, and rare availability. It’s well worth the 16 bucks, even if you do know a lot of football.
Most of the other Sirius guys are decent, like Jim Miller, Randy Cross, and others. Schein is just atrocious, though. He and Miller were on the Sirius Blitz (clever name, huh?) on Friday, and they were picking games. They follow an “imagine the storyline” kind of format, and justify their predictions with it. Here’s how the Schein and Miller treatment of the Denver-Tennessee game went. Unfortunately, I worked from home Friday, and I drove to pick up lunch, so I heard it in the car.
(Paraphrasing) Miller: Now on to the game between the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos. I actually think the Broncos have a chance in this game.
Schein: No, they don’t.
Miller: No, really, I think they do, because they are throwing the ball very well, and doing some interesting things in the passing game with Josh McDaniels’ scheme. They have a chance.
Schein: No, they don’t.
Miller: In the end, though, I think that Chris Johnson rushes for a lot of yards, and the Titans win 21-17.
Schein: I told you they don’t have a chance. I knew you weren’t going to actually take the Broncos.
I’m really disappointed, because I’m a Broncos fan, and I learned on this credible radio source that my team has no chance on Sunday. An expert said it, so I might as well not even watch. The Broncos draw such negativity from people who don’t know much football, and never watch them.
First thing, have you ever noticed that I never predict outcomes of games, or final scores? I think it’s a fairly worthless exercise, because even if you’re ultimately right, who the hell cares? It becomes completely valueless work, as soon as the game is played. I’d much rather talk about what DID happen than guess about what COULD happen.
That said, I have some advance thoughts to share about Sunday’s game. For one thing, Tennessee isn’t as good on defense as they’re imagined to be. Their pass defense is very beatable, despite the fact that they’re currently ranked 5th in the NFL against the pass. (The Titans opponents so far: a Jason Campbell led Oakland with 150 yards, a Dennis Dixon/Charlie Batch led Pittsburgh with 21 yards, and a struggling in pass protection Giants, who still had 364 yards passing.) The Titans were 31st against the pass in 2009, and that’s a much better indicator. They’re also missing starter Jason McCourty due to injury, and starting Jamie Winborn at SLB (really).
Their leading pass rusher is WLB Will Witherspoon with 3 sacks. That presents some opportunities, because if Witherspoon is coming, the zone defense in the middle of the field is going to be shaky. That’s a thing that Kyle Orton will certainly be watching for. The Titans are good at DT with Tony Brown and Jason Jones, but if the Broncos can block them, I am not worried about either of the DEs, Jason Babin and William Fuller.
The simple fact is that the Broncos are by far the best passing offense that the Titans have seen this year, in every way. We’re talking about the best QB, the best guys catching the ball, and the best offensive line in pass protection. Nobody seems to be on this, despite the fact that a few people, like Miller approach the edge of the revelation. Then, they get stuck on a stupid stat like, the Titans are good on 3rd down. Here’s a fun table that addresses that:
Gee willikers, that’s an impressive number, 27%, isn’t it? We’ve already covered how that came against inferior passing offenses, so I won’t belabor that. Especially with the return of Ryan Harris, if the Broncos can avoid turning the ball over excessively, I expect that they’re going to be just fine in this game offensively.
Defensively, I think the Broncos are uniquely well-suited to containing the Titans. Let’s do a thought exercise. Does Nate Washington worry you against Champ Bailey? How about Justin Gage against Andre’ Goodman? No? How about Kenny Britt against Perrish Cox? Bo Scaife against anybody? This is a really non-imposing group, that has played like a non-imposing group this season.
The Broncos have the ideal secondary group in the whole NFL to be able to match up well with Tennessee. That’s because they play a lot of man-to-man on the outside, and they do it very well. If you can man up Tennessee’s average-at-best group of WRs, you can stack the box with 8 men, and not be worried about it. You’ll recall that I talked about run-fits in August, and what the term actually means. (More TB arrogance coming) I’ve never seen it described anywhere else online, so I felt like it was a good service I was providing the football watching world.
The gist of it, if you don’t want to review the column is that on any running play, there are 8 lanes to control, and that it’s a lot easier to control 8 lanes with 8 men. Check out this diagram, if I may be arrogant enough to draw for you with my computer machine.
There are 6 gaps. The ones between the Center and each Guard are called the A gaps. The ones between each Guard and each Tackle are called the B gaps. The ones between each Tackle and Tight End (if any) are the C gaps. Outside of the Tight End, or lack thereof is an area called the Edge. These areas are noted in White in the fancy diagram. Each of those areas is called a run-fit, and you can think of it as the width of the field roughly being split into eighths. (The edges are wider, but when a player sets the edge well, he makes a runner turn back inside to where the help is.) A run-fit is simply a zone that a defensive player is responsible for.
The defensive front 7 is specifically assigned to seven of the eight run-fits. This scheme is leaving the Will LB to cover both the weak side C gap and Edge, but favoring the Edge. (The lack of a second TE allows the Will to play both areas. The Free Safety, generally Brian Dawkins, is flowing to the weak side, and is free to take on the play wherever it goes. He’s the eighth man in the box. The Strong Safety is actually a ninth man in the box, because he has man-to-man responsibility for the TE.
This is exactly the sort of thing the Broncos can do, because they can play Cover-1 and Cover-0 on the back end against Tennessee. The receivers can’t consistently beat the Broncos’ corners, and I doubt that Vince Young can make the kind of throws you need to beat tight coverage. If the Broncos can tackle Chris Johnson, and keep Vince Young in the pocket, they’re going to win this game. Of course, those aren’t easy things to do, but I expect the defensive scheme to be designed to facilitate them. That means trusting the secondary, stacking the box, and using more of a mush rush concept than a sack-the-QB plan.
Anybody who says the Broncos have no chance Sunday is full of hot gas. I’m not just saying that because the guy I heard say it is Schein the Terrible. I was going to play 18 Saturday, and I got rained out, so this is the result of the extra time I found. We’ll see how things play Sunday, but I have a good feeling about this matchup for the Broncos.
Originally posted at One Man Football