We get it. The big topic tonight will be the strength of Peyton Manning's arm. Does he have it? Did he ever lose it? When will he get it?
That's fine if all you want is a casual relationship with the Denver Broncos. But if what you're looking for is a passionate affair--and I'm talking hot, steamy friction--then take your eyes off Manning's member (his arm, dude), and keep your eyes out for a few other things tonight:
- Do the Broncos feature three wide receivers and one tight end? Or do they experiment with a larger package?
- How often do you see the fullback in the play? Does he function as a tight end?
- Remember, one way to gauge this is to think of the simple three-number system that goes: RBs-TEs-WRs. So if you see the Broncos with a tailback, a tight end, and three wideouts, you can simply write it (or say it before the play) as: 113. Since we're always going to see (generally) two tackles, two guards, a center, and a quarterback, your three numbers will always add up to five. How the packages are used can provide you some insight into the Broncos' strategy this year. If you want to use the two-number system, just drop off the last number; it will be implied. So the example above would be 11 personnel.
Del Rio's Corners
- Will Jack Del Rio favor a zone shell in Cover 2? Or will he go man?
- Watch Tracy Porter and Champ Bailey and the other Broncos corners tonight. Notice if they are lined up at the line of scrimmage and to the inside of the receiver (a sure sign of man coverage) or if they play on the outside shoulder at a 45-degree angle (a sign of zone).
- And how does the alignment of the corners change given the context of the game? The answers to these questions will tell you a great deal about the defense you'll see this year.
- Notice I said nothing about Manning's arm. Instead of focusing on Manning's arm, count his drops. Are they five-step? Three-step? Even seven? Just by watching the drops alone, you can say a lot about the offense and the context of the game.
Defensive Tackle Techniques and the Linebackers
- What techniques do the tackles play? And when?
- How do these techniques coincide with the coverage?
- Do the tackles maintain their gap integrity?
- And if so, are the linebackers keeping up on their end of the bargain? Or do they completely blow their gap responsibilities? The answers to these questions will dictate a lot of what happens on defense this year.
Von Doom's Arsenal
- We saw Von's speed rush last year (did we ever) and the occasional spin move. Does he add to his toolbox this year? A bull rush perhaps?
- What does Dumervil have in store aside from his typical leverage advantage? Watch how each man uses his hands as well while he's disengaging. Now that Miller's hand is healed, you are in for a treat. Of course, you may not get a lot of plays to watch tonight, so pay attention early.
So you see, there's plenty more to keep you busy. And if that's not enough, there's always the Olympics on broadcast delay.