Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Here’s one reason John Fox and Jack Del Rio are coaching elsewhere in 2015

Wade Phillips wants to crank up heat on opposing QBs

The Broncos have had one sack in their last three playoff losses combined in two home losses in the divisional round to finish out both 2012 and 2014 to go with the loss in Super Bowl XLVIII to close out the 2013 season.

Denver did force three turnovers in those three losses (two against Indy, one against Baltimore), but the lack of pressure has been glaring; along with the lone sack, PFF has the Broncos down for just seven QB hits (one vs. Baltimore, six, vs. Indy).

Will calling plays limit Gary Kubiak’s effectiveness as a head coach?

Welcome to the Combine

I think that was smart of Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, to divest himself of play-calling duties and hand them to Tom Clements…One of the things Jason Garrett found in Dallas last season, in ceding play-calling on offense, was that it gave him more of a chance to be the coach of 53 players, not just the 25 (give or take a few) on offense.

During his introductory presser, Kubes spoke about not spreading himself too thin, relative to preserving his health. But what about how play calling will affect his effectiveness as a head coach?

Peter King thinks there’s an 85% chance that Peyton Manning returns to Denver

Welcome to the Combine

I think the odds of Peyton Manning returning to the Broncos increased from 65 percent to 85 percent the other day, when Manning met with GM John Elway and, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, told Elway he wants to play in 2015…I think the Broncos definitely want Manning back for 2015. Take that to the bank. John Elway knows Denver’s best chance to go deep in the playoffs in 2015 is with Manning at quarterback. Elway and the Broncos might quietly rattle some sabers about lowering Manning’s salary in 2015.

So, what does the other 15% account for? Cutting Peyton over a couple or few million bucks? Trading him for a draft pick or two?

In 2014, Chris Harris was equally good inside and out

Sig Stats: YPCS, Cornerbacks

Chris Harris Jr. of the Denver Broncos stands clear atop the rankings with a hugely impressive 0.57 YPCS score. He had to work hard for it, being targeted 89 times in total – only Aqib Talib was targeted more often (95 times) and also made the Top 15, making it even more remarkable. Harris was also moved about, spending 40% of his snaps covering the slot, however his YPCS performance inside (0.57) matched precisely his performance on the outside (0.57). Harris allowed just 7.7 yards per catch, the best mark among starting corners, and completed the season with a positive coverage grade in every game.

That's pretty remarkable, but it shouldn't really surprise, as we've all seen Harris's versatility since his rookie season.

OTC: Upside of possible FA departures is more comp picks in 2016

2016 Compensatory Draft Picks Primer: What Can Teams Do To Prepare?

Denver is another team that appears several times, and just as last year it appears that the Broncos under John Elway differ from the Shanahan-led past in that they’re not afraid to move on from certain players.

Nick estimates the Broncos could net fourth-round compensatory picks from letting Julius Thomas and Orlando Franklin walk, plus a fifth-rounder should Terrance Knighton depart.

OTC: Stop suggesting that Peyton Manning rework his contract a la Tom Brady

Manning Set to Return to Broncos in 2015

I know I get a lot of questions on the Tom Brady type scenario, but I can’t picture that occurring. Technically Brady never took a pay cut on that contract but he gave up the opportunity for future earnings. Manning would actually have to take a pure pay cut, which doesn’t seem logical from his standpoint.

Fitzgerald suggests a couple of options for spreading Manning's cap hit into future years, but John Elway and Mike Sullivan have done a great job of avoiding such moves during their tenure. Then again, if and when they extend Brock Osweiler, they'll surely still have a net cap gain (including dead money) whenever Peyton retires.

Ted Sundquist sheds light on Tuesday tryouts

This Article Will Keep Michael Sam out of the NFL

Each Tuesday, five to 10 players at a given position try out for scouts, coaches and either the general manager or a lieutenant. The free agents, often a year or two out of college, undergo physicals, interview with coaches and run drills. The general manager asks the coaches who stood out. Those players go on a short list. The general manager keeps constant track of them, calling their agents and staying abreast of their health status and availability. In the event of injury, those short-list free agents get the call, sometimes minutes after a player clutches his knee on a Sunday afternoon.

As usual, Mike Tanier's column is worth reading in its entirety, and this snippet is not among its most important segments. Still, it answers several questions that arise each year regarding street free agents.

When the Broncos tag Demaryius Thomas, he should take his sweet time in signing it

How Do NFL Players, Teams Prepare for Tag Process?

“From a practical standpoint, what you’re seeing is that players sign that thing immediately to guarantee it, but teams rarely revoke the franchise tag. Once you sign it, you’re obligated. You have to show up. It seems like if there’s the threat of you not showing up, sometimes it helps you get a better deal right around the deadline. If Houston doesn’t sign it right away and they revoked it, his agent would be jumping for joy. He could be the highest-paid defensive player in football.”

The Broncos will have between Feb 16 and Mar 2 to tender Demaryius at the franchise level, and until the afternoon of Jul 15 to sign him to a multiyear deal.

Lammey: Denver’s two-TE sets may slow development of Cody Latimer

Future of Broncos WR Cody Latimer Unclear Under New Offense

Under Kubiak, the Broncos should employ the two-tight end set as their base formation. With 22 personnel (two running backs, two tight ends) on the field, there is little need for a slot receiver.

Latimer is not as proven as Sanders is, so this change in philosophy means the second-year receiver could be more of a backup for the new-look Broncos.

Lammey calls Latimer "one of the brightest young stars on the team," which frankly, seems a case of putting the cart before the Bronco.

Despite line struggles, Manning’s quick release limited pressure

Sig Stats: PBE, O-Line Units

The Broncos top the whole-line PBE rating, but some of that is certainly due to Peyton Manning and his league-low average of 2.22 seconds from snap to pass attempt.

We all know the Broncos didn't rank #1 because their linemen played particularly well. More specifically, Orlando Franklin posted the second best Pass Blocking Efficiency among the league's guards in 2014, but none of Denver's centers or tackles ranked among the top ten at their respective positions.