Most of us has been impressed with the level of innovation under John Elway, but the installation of Luke Richesson along with his equipment and staff may turn out to be one of the best of them all.
From Eric Decker on Wednesday:
We worked out at Duke in March or April and I definitely felt like he had more zip on the ball. I think he's come back stronger, he's come back with the program that we've got — it's unbelievable the amount of muscle mass and endurance that guys have and the cut-down of injuries that we had last year. I think that's a compliment to the strength and conditioning staff here and I think Peyton is one of those that took advantage of it and really got himself in good shape and is stronger and healthier this year.
Richesson counts two of his assistants, Mike Eubanks and Anthony Lombardo, as Corrective Exercise Specialists certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM-CES). Lombardo also went on to earn a master’s degree in rehabilitation sciences from California University of Pennsylvania in 2008.
The result, as Decker’s points out, is that the whole team is now in better shape in terms of developing muscle mass and shortening recovery from injuries, as well as increasing endurance. The Broncos are at an even bigger advantage when running their new fast-paced offense for the ten (or more) games each year that are played at Mile High's altitude. The improvement that Decker sees in Manning was made possible in roughly equal parts by the skill and knowledge of the training staff and, of course, Manning’s own exceptional work ethic.
A lot of the game of football consists of a series of one-on-one encounters in which the best trained player - in technique, strength, flexibility, and/or endurance - will win. A key example is the linebackers - including Danny Trevathan in the nickel package and Steven Johnson, who will compete for the starting MLB position - which are somewhat smaller and faster than the league average - maximizing their strength without sacrificing their speed makes them that much more effective.
The offensive line is now bigger than at any time in Broncos history, and players like Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson, and even Robert Ayers have taken on both defensive end and tackle responsibilities - they’re big and athletic enough to handle both. It’s easy to see why such ‘tweener players have to be at their own highest level of functional strength without sacrificing agility. The Broncos give them that opportunity.
Each time Manning completes a tough, long pass, or J.D. Walton or Zane Beadles hold off a nose tackle who outweighs them by 20 lb or more, you’re seeing the effects of Richesson’s group in action. Being in that kind of shape will also let the team excel in the fourth quarters - those of individual games, and the all-important last quarter of the season. Richesson and his staff are one of the Broncos' secret weapons.
Innovation is becoming a way of life for the Broncos.