This week I did the unthinkable. I watched every play, but instead of focusing on one player on each side of the ball, I watched the play over 3 or 4 times and focused on multiple players. The upside is that I was able to take all of your requests from last week.
The downside? It took a hell of a long time. Usually I get this done on Saturdays, but with the extra player analysis, you are getting it right before Sunday's games. I hope this is okay. If not, I apologize and will get next weeks Spotlight out a little earlier. But, all in the name of Bronco analysis.
This week was fascinating to the say the least. On the offensive side, I looked at Ryan Clady, Casey Weigmann, and Eddie Royal. On the defensive side of the ball I looked at Andra Davis, DJ Williams, Wesley Woodyard and Jack Williams. As I indicated in previous weeks, you learn a lot by focusing on individuals during a play without paying attention to the ball. For example, on offensive in Week 3, you won't see a lot of Eddie Royal because Denver ran a ton of TE sets and Royal is not featured in these. But when he was in the game, he did excellent (more on this below). On defensive, Denver really stayed a lot in it's base 5-2 formation. Andra Davis and DJ were like cannons shooting through the line and stuffing the run. Well, on to the players!
*I would also say that I am not including the entire narrative this week since it will make this post extremely long looking at this may players. I trust the readers of MHR believe me when I say I looked at every play.
There were many articles about "Iron Clady" (one needs to ask BroncoBear for permission to use this now ;-)) on MHR this week. Some questioned why Clady would say he did not think he played particularly well. After looking at every play, it became apparent. Clady is focusing on the 5 to 6 plays in which he could have done better. You want this out of your Pro-Bowl tackle, so I have no problem with it. His normal day at the office is a perfect day for most linemen. A few quick notes.
- While he played excellent, he did whiff 3 times on run blocks during the game, and on a few occasions, missed on some cut blocks.
- He also read a few of the formations wrong a few times and probably should have stayed on the 1st Level.
- However, his pass blocking was damn fine. He regularly stoned Seymour (the hair incident has been mentioned, so I won't beat a dead horse) and often kept the pass rushers 5 yards away from Orton. For a left tackle, it doesn't get any better.
- My favorite plays were when Clady pulls and kicks to the outside on a sweep and Asomugah found himself face to face with the Ironman. The All-Pro corner is no Champ Bailey. He wanted no piece of taking on the run.
- Lost in the talk of his pass blocking is how well he pulls in the running game (his speed for a large man is insane) and how well he seals off the backside. He could give a clinic all day on backside sealing.
Overall Grade: I'm giving him a 9 out of 10, just because if I graded him higher, he might kick my ass.
Honestly, it was hard to find anything wrong with this dude's game. And I am serious. He is so smart, the guy just knows where the play is going and where the defenders will be. I would be shocked if he doesn't get to the Pro-Bowl again.
- He is super quick off the line once the ball is snapped and generally pounds out a double team with the guard immediately.
- On pass blocking it's not uncommon for the center to not have a guy coming. Casey immediately looks for a teammate to help on the edge.
- His pass blocking is underrated. Clady must be teaching him a few tricks, because he is smooth like butter riding the defensive tackle to the outside of the pocket.
- For a smaller offensive lineman (whatever that means) he has incredible strength and uses leverage extremely well. Last week, I was critical of Ryan Harris for not getting enough push on run blocking. Harris should watch a little tape of Wiegmann. This is how you get push. Dude is strong.
- I saw Wiegman make really one bad play all day. This was simply not staying with this block and thinking Orton had already thrown the ball downfield.
Overall Grade: 9.5 out of 10. Could have given him a 10 if I wasn't still afraid Ryan Clady would kick my ass. It doesn't get any better than this as a Center. He got insane push on his run block and his man rarely got close to Orton. This guy played out of his mind.
Do not be fooled by those rumors that Eddie Royal is not part of the offensive. They simply are not true. After looking at every play, it was clear that Eddie was not in the game for probably half the offensive snaps because of the formation, and that's it. Nothing more. I repeat, DO NOT believe he is not as good as he was last year. A few notes.
- Denver played most of the game in TE sets. Royal was on the sideline.
- When he was in the game, his routes were crisp and well run.
- Even when in the game, Denver still ran a lot.
- Royal should get a lot of credit for his run blocking. He sealed off the corner on the backside of the play like Rod "freakin'" Smith. I am serious. Go and watch the tape.
- Even when he knows the play is a run or it's not coming to him, he runs his routes like he's going 150%. This always keeps the CB out of the play.
- My favorite Royal play was pure genius. On the long 40 yard Buckhalter run, Royal was on the side of the run. He ran a fly route as fast as he could, even while C Buck was running free through the hole. Royal put his hand up in the air as if so say "throw it to me." Of course, the CB thought is was a fly route and Royal kept running with C Buck behind them. He essentially took the defender out of the play without even blocking him, which allowed C Buck to get another 10-15 yards. Eddie Royal...Super Genius.
Overall Grade: 8.5 out of 10. How can I knock him? Okay, I'll ding him for not returning punts as well as we would all like. However, the ball wasn't thrown to him, but he was open on his routes. His run blocking was excellent, especially on the backside, and he is simply a mental giant. There is more to being a WR than simply catching the ball.
Guru has to eat some more crow. Andra is a stud. A few notes;
- It's like night and day watching Davis fill his gap from last year's LB corp. He literally looks like he's shot out of a cannon when he fills the hole.
- He's not afraid to blow up a fullback or a guard.
- He doses out punishment to the ball carrier if he comes through the middle.
- Occasionally, in his haste, he'll take a bad angle or on a pass he'll misread run.
- His pass drops are much better than you think so when Nolan is thinking run and the defense throws, it's not a big deal.
- He is almost always around the play when he's on the field.
- He feeds off of his emotion, it's clear in the defensive huddle with him pumping guys up.
Overall Grade: 9 out of 10. He only made 2 or 3 mistakes all game. This guy is a hitter and there is little wonder why Denver's run D is difficult. He is a freight train hitting the hole and doesn't care what is coming through it.
I could say virtually the same things about DJ as I did about Davis. But here are some additional notes.
- DJ is faster and can make plays on the sweeps as well.
- DJ was responsible for the fumble on McFadden because of his excellent sideline to sideline pursuit.
- He drops into zone coverage very easily, although he did get beat by the TE on one play.
- Is playing with more emotion this year (I believe thanks to Davis and probably BDawk). I did not see DJ so vocal during plays last year.
- Is so much more aggressive this year on filling his gaps. His speed is uncanny, although it can get him into trouble when he overshoots the play. He's got to watch this sometimes.
Overall Grade: 8.8 out of 10. I think Davis probably played a slightly better game (although very slight), but DJ does have more responsibility. I have to ding him for his pass coverage one one play and taking a few bad angles on others. But in all, this dude is playing at a much higher level than last year.
Many members of MHR wanted me to take a look at Woodyard. This probably wasn't the best game to highlight WW because Denver ran a lot more of its base defense in week 3. So I should probably reserve judgement. But:
- It's clear Woodyard has not lost any speed. Nolan obviously values this on 3rd down.
- Woodyard clearly understand his zone drops and was not beat during the game.
- When Oakland ran the ball when Woodyard was in, he was near the play.
- He was a special teams nightmare, in on at least 4 tackles that I could see.
Overall Grade: 8 out of 10. Hard to ding him for anything. He did his job when he was on the field. He's got wheels. Can't wait to see more of him during pass heavy weeks.
Jack "Mofo" Williams:
Like Woodyard, Williams was not in the game that often because of Denver's preference for their base D during week 3. However I was impressed with this little dude. He replaced Alphonso Smith very early in the game and the Bronco D did not miss a beat.
- He played mostly zone when he was in, taking away the out routes at level 2.
- He did this effectively, and was not beaten on any plays that I could see.
- He made 3 or 4 nice tackles. I was surprised by his sure tackling.
- Although not a ball hawker like Smith, Williams plays sound man coverage too.
- Bronco fans need not worry with Smith out, Williams will not give up a big play this year.
Overall Grade: 8.5 out of 10. Williams filled in for Smith nicely and played sound football, both in zone and man coverage. He also demonstrated surefire tacking abilities that were missing last year.
It looks like I am just in time to catch the start of this week's games. I will be again taking your requests for the Dallas game for the spotlight. Until then, simply abide.