Shallow Thoughts & Nearsighted Observations

I am not a very big Sum 41 fan, but they had a great album title a few years ago, in All Killer, No Filler, which our friends at Wikipedia inform me was borrowed from Jerry Lee Lewis, who was significantly cooler than them.  I always thought of it as the Sum 41 rule, until I just looked it up, so that continues, I guess.

Anyway, I have adopted it as a rule of ST&NO, in the sense that if I can't think of enough interesting topics to fill a decent column, I won't post one, because I owe it to those who read my work not to waste their time with weak stuff.  I started writing some content last week, and it didn't pass the test, so I didn't post anything on Monday.  Here goes 2 weeks worth of material, on a Memorial Day Monday.  As a veteran myself, I would remind our American community members to take a moment to reflect on the brave servicemen and women who lost their lives in the service of our nation.

To business, then.  I am a big fan of versatility.  When I work, probably nine days out of ten, I wear black shoes.  For that one day when I wear brown shoes, I sure appreciate a reversible belt.  It keeps me from having to put incremental cost into purchasing, owning, and maintaining a separate brown belt.

Because it's a pretty slow time of the reloading season, I decided that I would take a run at projecting who makes the 53-man roster out of training camp, and what I came away thinking is that the Broncos' offensive personnel and Josh McDaniels' creativity might lend themselves to being the most versatile offense ever.

The Shanahan-era Broncos were always pretty versatile on offense, but Mike was sort of a football ideologue, in that he believed his overarching schematic principles were better than other principles in use elsewhere.  We haven't seen Josh McDaniels run a team yet, but I suspect that he'll be even more adaptable than Shanny, which is one of the most important traits a coach can possess.  We already know that he has the chutzpah to trade away a Pro Bowl QB who refused to embrace the program, which is something very few coaches can claim.

Below the fold is my first run at a 53-man roster, and depth chart.  I'll be working off of it for the first part of this piece.  Ready... BEGIN!!!

1st String 2nd String 3rd String 4th String Practice Squad
QB Kyle Orton Chris Simms Tom Brandstater  
RB Knowshon Moreno Peyton Hillis JJ Arrington Correll Buckhalter Kestahn Moore
WR Brandon Marshall Chad Jackson Nate Swift
WR Jabar Gaffney Brandon Stokley
WR Eddie Royal Kenny McKinley
TE Daniel Graham Tony Scheffler Richard Quinn Marquez Branson
LT Ryan Clady Tyler Polumbus
LG Ben Hamilton Kory Lichtensteiger
C Casey Wiegmann Blake Schlueter
RG Chris Kuper Seth Olsen
RT Ryan Harris
LDE Robert Ayers Darrell Reid Matthias Askew Everette Pedescleaux
NT Marcus Thomas Ronald Fields Chris Baker Carlton Powell
RDE Kenny Peterson J'Vonne Parker Rulon Davis
Rush LB Elvis Dumervil Jarvis Moss
WLB DJ Williams Nick Greisen Lee Robinson
MLB Spencer Larsen Andra Davis
SLB Wesley Woodyard Boss Bailey
LCB Champ Bailey Alphonso Smith
RCB Andre Goodman Jack Williams
FS Brian Dawkins Darcel McBath David Bruton
SS Renaldo Hill Josh Barrett
LS Lonie Paxton
K Matt Prater
P Brett Kern Briton Colquitt
Active Roster Practice Squad Offense Defense Special Teams
53 8 24 26 3

 

1.  Offense -

The beauty of a versatile offense is that it can attack the weaknesses of any defense.  The personnel group which the Broncos have lends itself to playing any style that the coaching staff deems to give the team the best chance to win.  If you want to go run-heavy and pound the Colts, no problem.  You have 3 good TEs, and a lot of quality at RB.  If you want to spread out the Steelers, also no problem.  There are plenty of receiving threats on the roster at WR, TE, and RB.  If you want to be really balanced, and keep the Patriots guessing, that's very doable too.  It's a beautiful position to find yourself in as an offensive coach.

a.  QB - I think Orton will beat out Simms, and that he will play very well.  He has weapons and protection here which are vastly better than anything he ever had in Chicago.  I expect Simms and Tom Brandstater to both be on the roster.  The days of carrying 2 QBs are likely over.

b.  RB - Here's the deal on the RB position.  There won't be a true FB, but Peyton Hillis will be on the team, and will play a prominent role.  (Incidentally, let's also just say no to this H-back foolishness, because the Broncos won't be using one, just like the other 31 teams won't use one, either.  Thanks.)  If you've seen much recent Patriots football, picture how they used Heath Evans at times, but at a higher volume.  Peyton is more talented than Evans, and I'd expect him to touch the ball 8-10 times per game, between the running and passing games.  I think that Moreno will start, and be the primary ball-carrier.  Arrington has been battling some injuries, but I think he makes the team as the primary kickoff returner, more than anything.  Buckhalter probably makes the team, considering what he was paid, and I like Kestahn Moore as a developmental type on the practice squad.  He has the look of a guy who can be a key special-teamer.  I think Ryan Torain looks like the odd man out, as this regime is not particularly invested in him.

c. WR - I don't know if I think that Chad Jackson is particularly worthy of making this team, but when you use 3 WRs almost all the time, you need 6 on the roster.  I feel very good about the other 5, though.  I kept Nate Swift on the practice squad too.

d. TE - I mentioned versatility, and these guys, along with Hillis, are the reasons I feel so good about it.  I think you can really load up with power guys, with Graham and Quinn, and you can use Scheffler as he has always been used, as a downfield matchup nightmare.  I loved the Quinn pick, and this is a tremendously strong position group. Marquez Branson sticks on the practice squad.

e. OL - This starting group is among the best in the NFL, and is definitely the best in pass protection.  With legitimate RBs, I expect them to rank near the top of the NFL in both rushing and passing.  I am excited about some of the young backup players, too.  I think you can stash Schlueter on the practice squad, and work with Polumbus, Olsen, and Lichtensteiger as backups and special teams contributors.

2.  Defense -

The thing about a 3-4 is that it's really a lot like the old 5-2.  By that, I mean that the key to stopping the run rests with the OLBs setting the edge, and forcing the play back inside to the other players who are maintaining gap discipline.  This is a key reason why it works well against zone blocking, because it forces the runner back inside to the lateral pursuit.  I think the Broncos can do a decent job of this, with the personnel they have.

a.  DL - I think there is actually both quantity and quality here.  I consider Robert Ayers and Marcus Thomas to constitute the quality, and a lot of other guys to represent the quantity.  I learned recently that Thomas had put on some weight, and was attempting to convert to NT.  Whether he plays there, or at DE, I expect that he'll start.  He's tremendously talented, and was the team's best D-lineman last season.  There is some hand-wringing over whether Ayers is a DE or a LB, but I expect him to play at DE.  He plays with enough strength, violence, and physicality to do well in a 3-man front.  I like Kenny Peterson to be the 3rd starter, and Ronald Fields, J'Vonne Parker, Darrell Reid, and Matthias Askew to be the backups.  I think that Chris Baker, Everette Pedesclaux, and Rulon Davis will stick around, and that two will be practice squad players, Pedesclaux and Davis, in this projection.

b.  LB - Elvis Dumervil will be the starting rush LB, and I expect that he'll be backed up by Darrell Reid and Jarvis Moss.  I think Moss gets a legitimate chance to convert, and that he can take advantage of it, and contribute.  Tim Crowder doesn't make the team in this projection.  I think Spencer Larsen will beat out Andra Davis inside, and that DJ Williams will start as a weakside ILB, even though I am not the biggest fan of the idea.  I think that Wesley Woodyard was the best LB on the team last season, and I expect him to start at OLB, with Boss Bailey backing him up, more for financial reasons than anything else.  I think that Nick Greisen and Lee Robinson will make the team, and contribute on special teams.

c.  DB - This will be the strength of the defense, after being the biggest weakness last season.  The starters are obvious, with Bailey, Goodman, Dawkins, and Hill, and Alphonso Smith will be ready to play in sub packages right away.  I think that Darcel McBath will replace Hill on passing downs, sooner rather than later, and that his ability to play CB will allow the team to keep both Josh Barrett and David Bruton for their special teams abilities, rather than keeping 5 true CBs.  I think Jack Williams is the 4th CB, but he'll face a challenge from fellow holdover Josh Bell.

3.  Special Teams -

a.  Specialists - Prater, Kern, and Paxton are all fairly obvious.  I like Britton Colquitt to stick on the practice squad as insurance.

b.  Coverage teams - I wanted to call attention to this area, because this is where things get interesting.  The coverage teams have been terrible in recent years, but I think there is a lot of available talent to work with now.  Imagine this group of 10 players running down on kickoffs:  Larsen, Woodyard, Bruton, McBath, Barrett, Jack Williams, Lee Robinson, Greisen, Alphonso Smith, and Champ Bailey.  That is a group of athletes who can run and tackle.  Expect major improvement in this area.

c.  Return game - I think Eddie Royal keeps returning punts, at least part-time, and JJ Arrington will be the primary kickoff returner, with somebody other than Royal joining him.

4.  That is a significantly more talented 53-man group than last season's.  I know I am supposedly a big homer, but from a pure football evaluation standpoint, I can make a case that the Broncos will be better in all phases of the game in 2009 than they were at the end of 2008.

Think about it.  With a more effective running game, and another excellent blocker at TE, the Broncos should convert touchdowns at a higher rate in the red zone.  The passing game should be just as effective, owing to the better running, and still execellent WR and OL play.  The defense will almost certainly be better, with the revamped secondary.  The front-seven could use another draft to improve, but a good start was made this reloading season.  If the defense can be league-average, which is clearly feasible, this is almost certainly a 10-plus win team.  Add to that what I expect to be vastly improved special teams, and you are on to the reason why I believe the MSM is getting their lowball predictions very wrong.

5.  I feel like I need to address the term troll, which I used on this site about the behavior of a few people semi-recently.  I've been being called a hypocrite for using it, which is an inapt characterization.  It is not my word, and in fact, when you want to flag a comment or post on this blog network, Troll is one of the built-in classifications along with Inappropriate and Spam.  Troll is a standard, worldwide internet term.  It even has its own Wikipedia page here.

From that page:

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response[1] or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.[2]

When I used the word troll, I was not referring to these people's character as much as their behavior.  Thread-jacking and intentionally inflammatory commenting are examples of troll behavior, and are deserving of the name.

The good doctor, Broncobear, had a great idea in the comments of Sunday's Horse Tracks. 

 

If someone has a different perspective, may I suggest that they post an article? I can’t really be expected to write from a perspective that I don’t have or agree with, and neither can you. Please – I’d love to see more contributions from folks of differing perspectives. As Broncoman’s post on the Washington Redskins has shown, people here take a lot of pride in debating, but the debate can and should avoid name calling and personal attacks. Please enrich the perspectives by adding a well written, well thought-out post on your perspective.

That way, you can let your thoughts stand on their own, and people can comment on them (or not) as they see fit.  If you follow the Code of Conduct, your opinions will be allowed to stand here for all to see, just like mine or anybody else's, regardless of what the substance of them is, and nobody will call you a troll.  Sounds like a good deal, right?  Write whatever you want in your own posts, within reasonable standards of respect and decency, and your voice gets heard.

Now, I suspect that some people will consider this, and figure that most members will just ignore their negative opinions in independent FanPosts, so they will decide to stick to their existing playbook of polluting threads, and denigrating other people's work and opinions.  More people irritated is better bang for the buck, right?  Understand that that will make you the definition of a troll, and I'll be happy to flag your troll comments every time you make them.

6.  I am more interested in this NBA playoff season than I have been in any recent year.  I think the reason is that the successful teams are having most of their success because of their role players, more than their stars.  That is where the games are mostly being decided, a big last second 3 from LeBron notwithstanding.  It reminds me a little of football, where so much hinges on players whose names aren't ever known, or thought of, by casual fans.

One thing bothers me, though, which occurred to me as Cleveland's Goodyear blimp flew over my softball game last Wednesday (which I am proud to report, was won by the Feisty Goat 14-12, with 2 runs and 2 RBI from yours truly.)  What in the world is the point of aerial coverage of an NBA game?  All you can see is the exterior of the Thinly Disguised Cult Center, or whatever it's called.  Why is that compelling television?  Couldn't the blimp operating company just buy a few commercials, and leave the blimp in the barn?  That would be a good baby step toward reducing our national carbon footprint, which we could all feel good about.  Just a thought....

7.  Retired for John Elway.

8.  I saw this article on ESPN.com on Sunday, with the headline "Report :  Ex-con advised on Dallas facility."  This is a classic ESPN journalistic turd.  The fact that this person team spent time in prison on drug trafficking charges is absolutely irrelevant to the facility failing to hold up to the wind.  What may be somewhat meaningful is the fact that he seems to have falsified his educational credentials, but that is mentioned at the bottom of the story.  Emphasize that, and try to make a case that the guy is incompetent, based upon the independent accounts of those who have been colleagues or clients of the guy.  Otherwise, don't waste the bandwidth or the storage space, mmmkay? 

9.  It's interesting to see that Braylon Edwards and Shaun Rogers are now both claiming to be happy to be Cleveland Browns.  I have to wonder if that isn't simply the realization that they can't do much to change it right now.

10.  I would be pretty happy to have Greg Ellis at the right price as another option on the edge of the defense, and it appears that the Cowboys are determined to move him.  The Broncos haven't been mentioned in any rumors yet, but a lot of national writers forget that the Broncos exist sometimes, so I wouldn't say it means that much.  Ellis is a guy who has been very solid for a long time.

11.  (Emphatically NOT retired for Patrick Ramsey.)  From the Programming Department of ST&NO, once the preseason starts, I am planning to shift ST&NO to Tuesday mornings, and give it even more of an around-the-league feel.  Since TSG already does a Monday morning post-game analysis, I think this new approach adds more value in the holistic sense.  I will have a fair amount of Broncos thoughts, and some thoughts about several featured other games.  (I watched every game for the first 9 weeks of last season, and realized that that is really hard to do, so I won't try to repeat it.)

One feature that I think will be really cool, and definitely original, will be a dedicated weekly analysis of the offensive and defensive line play of both teams in a selected game.  That way, when a terrible player like Flozell Adams makes the Pro Bowl again, you can refer back to the time when I analyzed him, and described how Osi Umenyiora eviscerated him, in between the 4 false start penalties he had.

I am open for other suggestions also, so if there's something you'd like me to cover, drop me a line.  Just about anything can fit into ST&NO, as you know by now.  Have a great week, and we'll see you next Monday, as I already know what to do the rest of the reloading season, on the killer vs. filler front.  Until then....

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