Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Another reason to deploy two tight ends?  It gives away the coverage

Two tight end formations will hit NFL by storm in 2012
www.nfl.com

The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks added talented veteran tight ends to their rosters to provide their offensive coordinators with the flexibility to use more double tight end formations in the fall…

...One of the benefits of utilizing “12” personnel is the ability for the offense to utilize a variety of base and spread formations without shuttling different personnel into the game. The H-back plays the role of a fullback, wide receiver or second tight end in the package, aligning in various spots within the formation to create problems for the defense. Offensive coordinators are tapping into that versatility by featuring a variety of open formations with the tight end deployed as quasi-receivers. By opening the formation, the offensive coordinator makes it easy for his quarterback to diagnose the coverage and creates potential mismatches in space…

...By displacing both tight ends away from the line, the Patriots are able to quickly identify the coverage based on the alignments of the linebackers and defensive backs. If the corners are matched up with the wide receivers, Tom Brady knows [it’s] man coverage and he can audible to an effective route combination to exploit the scheme.

This read by Brooks is a good one; it makes an often overlooked point when promoting the use of multiple tight ends--namely, the farther the tight ends are away from the line of scrimmage (horizontally), the easier it is for the quarterback to read whether the defense is playing man or zone coverage.

Brooks also talks about evolution of the H-back:

If the defense remains in base personnel, the H-back enjoys a significant advantage over a linebacker lacking the agility to stay close in coverage. If the defensive coordinator uses nickel personnel, the H-back uses his superior size to post up smaller defenders in space.

Look for the Broncos, like everyone else in the league, to begin to copy what the Patriots did last year. Brooks is correct. The two-tight end set will sweep the league by storm in 2012, but the truth of the matter is that the storm was brewing in 2011, when the Broncos drafted Julius Thomas and Virgil Green. The additions of Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen just make it all the more likely.

Is AP the next TD?

Former Broncos star walked in Peterson's shoes
www.startribune.com

Star running back. In his prime. Tears his ACL in his fifth NFL season. At the age of 26.  It’s no wonder Adrian Peterson’s knee injury hits home with former Denver Broncos star Terrell Davis, who experienced a similar setback in 1999. Like Peterson, Davis attacked rehab. Yet he was never the same, playing just 13 games while rushing for 983 yards and two touchdowns after the injury.

So Davis cautions those who see Peterson’s progress and expect him to be a Pro Bowl player again soon, offering two areas to monitor when Peterson returns. For starters, Davis believed his knee injury made him think too much.

“Rather than being instinctive, you start to choreograph your moves,” Davis said in a recent ESPN interview. “As a running back, you just can’t choreograph your moves. You have to work off instincts.”

As a fan of the What If comics series, I'd like to submit the following:

  1. Mike Shanahan doesn't insert Brian Griese over Bubby Brister in 1999;
  2. Griese doesn't throw an interception in Week 4.  Terrell Davis is spared an ACL/MCL tear;
  3. Mike Silver doesn't write this story (even then he enjoyed blowin' up the Broncos) in which an unnamed Bronco says, "we're done;"
  4. Bubby Brister regresses to the average quarterback he is and the Broncos end the 1999-2000 season with an 8-8 record;
  5. Terrell Davis goes on to play another five or six seasons;
  6. Terrell Davis enters the Hall of Fame.

Check back next week when we ask the question, What if...Al Davis had traded for John Elway?

Osweiler still needs plenty of work

Photos: Denver Broncos OTA practice on Wednesday May 30, 2012
photos.denverpost.com

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) watches quarterbacks Brock Osweiler (6) and Adam Weber (2) during ota practice Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at Dove Valley.

Just because John Elway conveniently rid himself of Tim Tebow, doesn't mean he's without a quarterback who has significant mechnical flaws, despite the insistence to the contrary emanating from Dove Valley.

If Brock Osweiler wants to fix his throwing motion, he's still got work to do. As evidence, check out page (or photo, if you will) 38 from this group of daily photographs of the goings on at Dove Valley. 

The position of Osweiler's arm is so low, he's comparable to Philip Rivers.

As Chris Brown points out:

During the motion, if your arm is too low or not far enough forward of the shoulder to be able to achieve the “zero” position then there are a series of adjustments your brain will make automatically to compensate for your poor arm alignment. None are really optimal. The brain “locks” the shoulder to protect itself from the lower angle, which also forces the wrist outward around the elbow (sidearm delivery) to reduce exposure to injury.

Great Falls, Montana, are you ready to rock?

Archie Manning preps for Heisey Youth Center fundraiser in Great Falls
www.krtv.com

Manning has never been to Montana in his travels, but already has a round of golf and fishing planned during his time in the Treasure State - and with son Peyton now playing in nearby Denver - he admits it likely won’t be his last.

Manning noted, “He’s excited about being in Denver. I know (Montana is) Bronco country, I believe it is at least to some extent, so we’re excited about the Broncos and hope it goes real well.”

Are you ready to rock, Children of Great Falls!

(H/t: David Coverdale)

Peter King doth protest too much, wethinks

Gleason to speak about ALS; more on Tebow, Tomlin, trade deadline
sportsillustrated.cnn.com

I guess we’ll find out. Tebow crosses cultural and religious and sporting lines. I understand the interest—I really do—but I fear the world will be sick of Tebow, through little fault of his own, and he’ll be shoved down our throats so much that it’ll be hard to simply judge his football ability.

This, from the same guy who titled his 16 Dec piece thusly:

Forget Brady, Belichick vs. Tebow the real matchup to watch

Yeah, forget Brady.

Eric Decker feels like we do

Broncos’ Eric Decker on Life After Tim Tebow in Denver: It’s Nice to Have “Focus Back on Football"
sportsradiointerviews.com

On if there’s any sense of relief that the Tim Tebow circus is gone now:

“Tebowmania. Yeah, obviously he’s earned the right to have conversations about him. I guess at the same time, to be honest with you it is nice just to kind of focus back on football, and we talk football and there’s not — there’s still a lot of excitement here with the football. I mean, he is a great teammate. I respect him greatly. But again, like you were saying, a lot of the focus right now is on football, is really talking about how we’re gonna form this team to win some ball games next year.”

It cannot be said enough: Thank You, John Elway.

Vegas sports book sets over/under for Broncos wins at 9.5

2012 NFL season over/under win totals released: AFC analysis
www.cbssports.com

Denver Broncos, 9.5 wins
Over (-110) / Under (-120): Perhaps the most interesting over/under of any team in the NFL, the Broncos are getting much more attention this offseason than last. It’s easy to assume that new quarterback Peyton Manning will automatically get this team 10 wins; that’s about what he was good for with the Colts. Cantor Sportsbook director Mike Colbert told Covers.com he doesn’t think the Broncos will nine games. Will Manning be healthy? Will his weapons be ready? Can the defense hold up? If all those answers are “yes,” the over is a nice bet. Verdict: OVER

Two weeks ago, Cantor released lines for the first 16 weeks of the regular season, with Denver favored in seven games and three games listed as a pick'em. (h/t to reader Orange_and_Blue for nailing the over/under)

In today’s NFL, is being gay okay?

Report: Most NFL players would have no problem with an openly gay teammate
sports.yahoo.com

If football isn’t the ultimate masculine/gladiator sport, it’s certainly right up there. As a result of that factor, not to mention the perceived group-think of the locker room, meeting room, and huddle, and supposed “caveman” mentality some believe it takes to play the game, there are some who would tell you that no openly gay player would be able to survive (literally or figuratively) in the NFL. But in a recent series of interviews with current and former NFL players, OutSports.com found that the perception is not reality. If the small group interviewed represent the majority, attitudes have definitely come around about any NFL player who would choose to come out…

...That tolerance goes back further than you think. Vince Lombardi, seen as the ultimate authority figure, and championed as a pillar of supposed “clean-cut” values for generations of football fans, had an openly gay brother, and often told his players that anyone who had a problem with the concept of homosexuality could not play for him. It was the same as any other kind of bias to the coach—and in an era where he had to wait far longer than he should have for a head coaching job because of his Italian heritage, Lombardi despised prejudice of any kind…

...Perhaps the most encouraging part of the interview was the take of those players just coming into the league—OutSports spoke with rookies Trent Richardson, Robert Griffin III, Doug Martin, Coby Fleener, Nick Foles, LaMichael James, and T.J. Graham. To a man, the players who will comprise the future of the league didn’t have a problem with the concept—and many wondered why it was a big deal at all.

File this under: Things I didn't know about Vince Lombardi.  

The real test, of course, for all of this stated tolerance will come out (pun totally intended) when a current NFL player says he's openly gay.  It's likely the issue will divide the locker room internally--even if only a little.  There are simply too many players like David Tyree out there.  Publicly, the team and the league will support openly gay players.  Legally, they'll have little choice.  And the public backlash they'd receive for not doing so would be more intense than Tebowmania x 10.

Never forget that sports is often simply a reflection of the culture upon which it was built.  As American culture and attitudes change (or don't), so do its sports, arts, and entertainment.  Art often sets the pace, while sports, like a set of economic indicators, often tags behind.

It's obvious, no matter your personal views, where the trend is going, however.  In another decade, it won't even be an issue.

Please, Oakland

Raiders add Ivy League QB
www.ibabuzz.com

The Raiders have signed free-agent quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballer Tuesday. Newhall-Caballero was a two-time All-Ivy League selection during his collegiate career at Brown.

There ought to be a rule against donning the Silver and Black if you've attended an Ivy League institution, you've scored at least a 22 on your ACT, or simply graduated in the top half of your high-school class.

The next battle?  Knee pads

Report: NFLPA would fight against pad proposal
www.nfl.com

A source told Marvez that the league has not provided proof to the NFLPA that the pads would have any effect on player safety, though the union has asked for it.

Marvez reported that another possible issue…is that players will resist being forced to wear leg padding out of vanity or concern that the padding will negatively affect their ability to perform—even if the intended goal of requiring pads is to keep the player on the football field.

“Guys want to feel as sleek as possible,” NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth told FOXSports.com last year. “Anything that inhibits that makes them feel it’s slowing them down or getting in their way. Some guys have never played with those pads. It’s difficult for them to wrap their heads around it mentally.”

It's not clear how wearing knee pads will help with player safety, although one assumes they won't hurt.

Let's be honest, though.  The NFL has a lot of legal reasons to demonstrate they really care about player safety at the moment.  If this includes forcing players to wear more padding, they are going to do it.  

The biggest holdouts, of course, will be the corners and wide receivers.  Like a group of hot chicks going out on the town, if they don't feel just right in their clothes, they may not come to the party.