But first… I must apologize for no write-up last week. I managed to set aside some time to start writing my ode to Shanahan and soon stepped back to notice that’s exactly what it was going to be… in fact, it probably could be held against me in a court of law if I break the restraining order. Again. So, I’ll refrain and move on and let Terrell Davis speak for me with, “He’s the Vince Lombardi of Denver”.
And as the Broncos go, so does this crappy-blog, so let’s rebound with some football talk after a great win against the greatest and tannest coach (No, you don’t count, Mike Tomlin) there has ever been.
The Defense is Back?
It never left. While certainly impacted by the absence of key players like Woodyard and Miller, people simply have unrealistic expectations of all things defense and have turned facets of that aspect of the game into complete hyperbole.
Pass rush is a massive area of hyperbole. “We have no pass rush! Where’s the pressue?!” is what guys say when pressure doesn’t work. In this game, RGIII was sacked or under duress on over 42% of his throws, which is a fantastic amount. In the much maligned “pressure-lacking” Cowboys game, Romo was sacked or under duress on nearly twice that… but the pressure didn’t work and Romo managed to not only extend the play but his receivers similarly converted.
Zone defenses routinely get comments like “Guys are wide open! Where’s the coverage?!” which sometimes is indicative of zone coverages. In a zone defense, defensive backs are playing the Quarterback (and his eyes) first, then the receiver and finally the ball. In man coverage, defensive backs are playing the receiver (in bump, corners will key receiver and quarterback if they’re using their read steps), and then the ball. Yes, zones have seams where it appears no defender is near. Unfortunately, defenses are limited to 11 players who cannot make contact after 5 yards (*unless you’re playing against the Broncos, then prison rules apply), and those openings happen.
Most importantly, the NFL does not function on a round-robin basis. Every team’s perception, production and results are all quite literally a product of their competition. Our defense’s best results have come against the Giants, Raiders, Jaguars and Redskins, while their worst performances came against the two best opponents they’ve faced—the Cowboys and Colts… is anyone surprised?
To exemplify this a little further, the Denver Broncos are scoring 43 points a game. Does that mean every team we’ve faced has a terrible defense? Not even close. Even factoring in the public sodomy inflicted by the Broncos, the Colts (#8), Ravens (#11) and Raiders (#12) are top half scoring defenses.
The Broncos are the best team in the league and everyone knows it. Professionals rarely lay down and die. These are proud men with chips on their shoulder who don’t like being told they’re inferior. Because of this, the Broncos need to be prepared for EVERY team’s best shot. Offensively and defensively. A huge part of being ready to combat this is found in…
Everyone is noticing that the Broncos are not attacking down the field with much regularity. So why?
On Sunday, Peyton Manning was 1-of-8 for 16 yards with two interceptions on 15+ yard downfield passes. Further, four of Manning’s six interceptions this year were on deep throws.
Nerve damage? Ankle injury? Overblown?
I decided to take a closer look at this, specifically in the Washington game to try and answer those questions.
Interception 1 – Short throw, Deangelo Hall just beat up Demaryius and took the ball away for a quick 6 pts.
Interception 2 – Man coverage with two deep safeties (each playing a “deep half”). Peyton tries to look off the right hash safety by using Decker streaking down the sideline and then throws to Welker down the middle. Safety isn’t fooled, ball is a little short which permits the defender to tip it and the safety makes the pick.
Interception 3 – Peyton finds Demaryius in single coverage, pass a little underthrown and picked by Deangelo Hall.
Let’s clarify something. Demaryius Thomas is still the engine that drives the receiving group. He’s the Broncos’ playmaker. When Peyton sees him single covered, he throws it there. While two passes were slightly underthrown—and are likely a byproduct of discomfort stepping into his throws with the ankle injury—Deangelo Hall simply outperformed Demaryius Thomas for two of those interceptions. Granted, the other was a slightly poor decision… but even Vishnu got duped by Ravana.
The fact remains, Peyton Manning is the league’s…
Most Valuable Player – Peyton Manning
See above. Despite a multitude of neck surgeries and a newly nagging ankle injury, Peyton has transcended the sport in 2013. In 8 games, Peyton Manning is responsible for 30 Broncos touchdowns. For further context, Peyton will break his own Denver Broncos franchise passing record before December arrives.
Offensive Player of the Year – Calvin Johnson
Despite missing a game and dealing with a nagging injury, Calvin leads the league in receiving by nearly one-hundred yards and is only trailing Wes Welker’s TD lead by two.
Defensive Player of the Year – Robert Mathis
Also a game behind (though due to the “Bye”), Robert leads the league in sacking the QB, on pace for over 26 sacks. The record belongs to Strahan with 22.5. It will not last to 2014.
Midway All-Pros Adjusted to the Modern Game—“First Team; Second Team”
Offense (11-personnel, 3 receiver sets):
QB- Peyton Manning; Drew Brees
WR- Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Wes Welker; Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson
RB- LeSean McCoy; Jamaal Charles
TE- Jimmy Graham; Vernon Davis
OT- Andre Whitworth, Sebastian Vollmer; Joe Thomas, Trent Williams
OG- Marshal Yanda, Louis Vasquez; Evan Mathis, David DeCastro
C- Alex Mack; Manny Ramirez
Defense (Nickel package, Pass-Rushing OLBs measured against DE’s):
DE/PR OLB- Robert Mathis, Robert Quinn; Justin Houston, Mario Williams
UT/5 Tech- Jason Hatcher; JJ Watt
NT- Dontari Poe; Damon Harrison
OLB- Lavonte David, Alec Ogletree; Danny Trevathan, Vontaze Burfict
ILB- Sean Lee; Kiko Alonso
CB- Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Alterraun Verner; Aqib Talib, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, Deangelo Hall
FS- Earl Thomas; Eric Reid
SS- Kam Chancellor; Eric Berry
Free Money (LOL at that title, right?!? Please put your money in a Spider Index instead. Your kids deserve an education)
Green Bay -10.5
Some big spreads, but some big mismatches
Cumulative Record: 13-16 (Nice rebound last posting, let down by two ATS stalwarts: Denver and New England)
That’s Good Broncos: