Good Morning, Broncos fans! The NFL's Competition Committee passed some changes to kickoff procedures yesterday, although not in as drastic a form as originally proposed. The ball will indeed be moved from the 30-yard line to the 35, reversing a change the league had made (to make kickoffs more exciting, naturally) prior to the 1994 season. But unlike the first proposal, touchbacks will still place the ball at the 20-yard line, and the two-man wedge remains legal. Meanwhile, the coverage team will only be allowed a 5-yard running start rather than one of 10 or 15 yards. What do these changes mean for the Broncos? Firstly, Matt Prater becomes even more valuable - unless he's facing strong winds, he should be able to get a touchback on every kick at the Big IF and reach the end zone on the road consistently. The downside is that Denver has a more dynamic crew of kick returners than they've had in decades (Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Cassius Vaughn), yet their positive contributions will more often be turned into touchbacks.
Another significant change was to the play review system - all scoring plays will now be reviewable by the replay official. This is a good move for everyone, as coaches no longer have to weigh the risk of losing challenges and/or timeouts when considering whether to protest a questionable (and potentially game-changing) play. More importantly, a missed call by the on-field officials will still be correctable even if a team is out of challenges or timeouts; this was the most unfair facet of the replay system, bringing a game-show quality to the NFL. Good riddance.
Here's a lengthy conversation with John Fox on Broncos TV in which we bizarrely cannot hear or see the interviewers, and poor Fox is just trying to finish his breakfast in peace. Fox covers plenty of ground, and Gary Myers of the Daily News sneaks in for a few minutes. Here is a partial transcription from the team.
Klis summarizes more of Fox's quotes from the breakfast and makes a big deal of the fact Denver hasn't had a defensive-minded coach in a long time. Last time they did (1994 under Wade Phillips), they finished 25th in points and 28th in yards allowed (out of 28 teams).
Notes from Klis: season-ticket holders have been asked to cough up half of their ticket money now, the Broncos have requested to begin the season at home after six straight road openers, and their request to switch back to orange jerseys in 2012 is still pending a decision.
Big Fat Innuendo of the Day: The Commish announced that five teams had "impermissable contact" with players earlier in the year; thankfully the Broncos were not among the offenders.
La Canfora spoke with Fox from the owners meetings about QBs and defense; nothing we haven't heard a zillion times prior.
In listing the Broncos' biggest draft busts, Adam Rank comes up with the same names we did. He includes Dan Williams, who did play seven seasons and had success in KC - but yes, it was a bad pick (and terrible trade).
In considering the division's draft needs, Kirwan thinks the Broncos will go defensive line on at least two of their first four picks, with a RT and TE to follow.
KC will apparently work out Aldon Smith and Justin Houston.
The Lions are appealing the tampering charges they were found guilty of with the Chiefs.
Philip Rivers got some of his teammates together to work out yesterday.
Plus, he points out that the kickoff move should help nullify the dangerous weapon that is Oakland's Jacoby Ford.
Jason Cole presents a scenario where the judge presiding over the Brady suit can force the NFL and players into a quicker agreement.
De Smith spoke to PFT a couple days ago - here's a partial transcription.
Farrar on coach reactions to the lockout at their breakfast.
Competition Committee head Rich McKay explained for NFLN how the group arrived at the latest rules decisions.
Sadly, the Broncos can never have an orange or blue field.
The Eagles have reportedly already been offered a first-round pick in return for QB Kevin Kolb.
LT (the real one) has managed to avoid going back to jail for being a total scumbag.
Tom Zbikowski is training with Emanuel Steward.
Kirwan's reactions from the coaching breakfast.
Like everyone else, Cole says the lockout is hurting young QBs.
Bowen wonders if the new kickoff rules may serve to devalue kick-coverage guys.
PK responds to emails.
Don Banks still thinks the Panthers are going with Blaine Gabbert at #1. Plus, the Seahawks are a prime destination for Kolb.
Bucky Brooks considers whether Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Smith can overcome the shots being taken at their character.
Wes Bunting on the rising stock of a few draft prospects.
Farrar offers a deeper analysis of Carolina defenders Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin.
Greg Gabriel scouts out Miami WR Leonard Hankerson and Mississippi St. OT Derek Sherrod.
Bunting wonders if Brooks Reed will get overdrafted due to his Combine heroics.
There was a bizarre (and nonsensical) twist at AJ Green's workout at the Georgia pro day.
Gil Brandt on the Ole Miss pro day.
Jack Bechta says most of the media's draft speculation is meaningless.