The first key I see to the success of the Broncos in 2008 is the performance of # 63, Dewayne Robertson. I know that is a lot of pressure to put on the shoulders of one player, but I doubt if the big guy from Tennessee spends a lot of time worrying about what some old codger in Alaska thinks anyway. There is some method to my thinking. The first is the defensive coordinator adage "One great DT is worth two". (I conveniently borrowed this adage from HT). This was further explained by HT in his now epic post Defensive Line Gaps and Techniques published in early March of this year. See here for the entire post and comments. In short HT explains
“While it is nice to have two great DTs, one domineering DT can create enough tension on the line to make an average "other" DT look great. In short, we really need just one DT to really work out to solve our defensive line woes (and to help out our LBs). “
If Robertson is the dominant player envisioned by the Jets when they selected him as the fourth player chosen in the draft, he can make Marcus Thomas great while Thomas continues to mature as a DT. I have a feeling Carlton Powell will make the 53 man roster and that leaves the winner of the McKinley/Harris/Mustard battle as the fourth DT. They will probably all play a great deal to save wear and tear on Robertson’s knee. If our DTs are this dominant we will be stopping the run up the middle. This plays directly into the speed of our LBs. It allows K2 to escape many blocks by OL and to make the number of tackles made by DJ last year, except at the line of scrimmage instead of five yards in our backfield. Boss can deal more effectively with TEs, blocking as well as covering pass-catching TEs. Now all of a sudden we are putting seven men up front more and more and eight less and less. This allows our Corners to take some chances knowing there are two Safetys behind them. This equates to more picks and more coverage sacks. In addition, the dominance at DT makes Offensive Coordinators focus more on them and then the strength of our DEs really comes out. DOOM gets his 15+ sacks and Moss and Crowder continue to improve.
This gets better. With the dominance provided by our DTs thanks to Robertson, we average three more three and outs by the defense per game. This translates into roughly six more offensive plays per game and six fewer defensive plays. I like our chances when Cutler and Co. have six additional snaps per game.
So what happens if Robertson is merely “very good” rather than dominant? Much of the same as above. The difference is that Thomas will have to take bigger strides sooner to become “very good” also.
Lastly, what happens if Robertson is a complete bust? It just means that two of the McKinley/Harris/Mustard battle make the squad instead of one. That is not all bad either. This scenario even leaves room for two season-ending injuries.
The second key is the performance of Anchorages’ own, Chris Kuper. If Kuper remains the powerful Offensive Lineman that he was in the Minnesota game last year, it doesn’t make any difference what position he plays. He can play Guard or Tackle, right or left. Hell, he can probably snap the ball as well. (I think he is the back-up to Leach in some situations). My point is that in short yardage situations we get three yards insterad of one. On first and ten we get six instead of three. In the red zone we get seven instead of three. We go back to the days of Bronco grind it out, own the TOP, keep the other offense on the bench football. In my humble opinion, even if Clady is a total bust, Kuper has the size, speed, strength, and IPS to make the same kind of impact. In pass protection, it will give Cutler the extra few milliseconds to make the life of any DB miserable, regardless of receiver.
I conclude by saying that if both of my keys pan out, Mike Clark and Zappa’s la la land is not unrealistic at all. 13-3 is THERE. If one pans out ant the other is a bust, the 10-6 goal is realistic. If they both fall on their kiester, well we just made those boobs at ESPN look smart.
I don’t like that outcome.
Camp starts soon.