Many of the posts at MHR have get me thinking – sometimes in ways I haven’t thought before. Mostly, I think about how the Broncos have changed in this year, how I see McX building the team and the way I (and others) feel about that.
This is my first post but I’d like to have reactions on a couple of things.
I’ve kind of divided it into three sections: First, some considerations that I often forget but which I should keep in mind because they are probably important; second, how I see what has happened so far under McX; and third, what I look forward to and expect in the immediate future.
One – More and more “Special Teams” ranks almost equally with offense and defense as a team category. In the past, it was regarded more like an appendage and players were picked for their abilities on either offense or defense.STs were then configured from use of these players (often non-starters) who hopefully had ability to play STs. The current trend seems to be that ST is its own equally important category with some players selected who excel at ST who hopefully have ability to play other positions on offense and defense (as both starters and backups), just the reverse of the approach in the past.
Two – The concept of starter is becoming more fluid for several reasons.
A - The increasing size, strength and speed of players has increased the number and severity of injuries a team experiences during the year. Depth at every position has become much more essential to compete on a high level..
B – All three categories – O, D, ST – have multiple situations that thrive on versatile personnel. (Offense & Defense – down & distance, red zone, etc.: Offense – no huddle, etc.; Defense – “amoeba” configurations, etc. ST – punt, kickoff, field goal/extra point, etc.)
Three – Roster spots are very valuable and the 53 spots on the active roster should be considered in conjunction with the 8 practice squad spots for a total of 61. Injured reserve should also be viewed as both a place for players not able to perform and possibly for players who might show promise but would not be ready for at least a year.
Four – If the average life of an NFL player is 3.5 years than an average team should lose 17.5 players each year. This includes retirements, cuts, and waived players who are not picked up by other teams. It does not include players lost through trades or who are picked up by other teams. On a building team, this 3.5 year NFL life average should raise each year (Players stay longer in the NFL).
Five – the actual number of roster changes might not actually be too significant because the number of players leaving the team to join other teams (through trade or pickups of waived or cut players) might actually reflect an improvement in the talent and skill level of the team with higher level skill replacing lower skill which is still capable of playing on a team with a lower skill level at a position (the more changes in this area might mean a rapidly improving team).
A look at the Broncos so far under McX.
One – According to my analysis (subject to modification and corrections) of the 61 players McX inherited last year. 27 stayed on the roster (meaning 34 left. One – Cutler – was traded. I don’t know how many of the others were picked up by other teams (Paymah, Bly, ??). However, I suspect an embarrassingly low number were picked up by other teams which would reflect the low level of talent McX inherited.
Two – FA (not including Rookie FA) last year, according to my count (again subject to modification and correction) added 24 players to the roster, supposedly all upgrades or potentially so.
Three – 9 of 10 draft picks last year made the 61 man roster (only Schlueter didn’t)
Four – 5 of the 16 Rookie FAs last year made the roster.
Five – this total of 63 includes 1 who was eventually placed on Injured Reserve (Griesen) and 1 who was eventually cut (Kern).
Six – Up until now in 2010 as far as I can tell, 4 players have been cut or waived (Wiegman, Jordan, Erickson, Petersen).
Seven – And as far as I can tell, in 2010 until now 13 have been added to the roster as FAs: Batiste, Fry, Ball, Powell, Atkins, Trapasso, Colquitt, Bannon, Green, Williams, Arrington, Jones and Hall. (which means already, before including the draft and Draft FAs, 9 current team members will have to be cut or waived or traded for draft picks).
One – Looking at these numbers, I’m kind of surprised we won 8 games last year.
Two – So far, 37 (according to my count) FA’s have been added to the team and many have played important roles. Not all, however, will make impacts or stick (i.e. - Jordan is already gone and I do not expect Berger or Law to be back).
Three – almost every area has been addressed. The most uncertain up till now IMO is the OL, but part of that is my lack of knowledge or feeling about Batiste and Fry and my uncertainty about how Harris, Kuper, Polumbus, Hochsteing or Olsen might fit into next years plans. (Polumbus, Hochsteing or Olsen at center?, etc.) I know McX appreciate flexibility and they may expect that a very serviceable OL can be molded from this group. They certainly would be a lot bigger. In addition, they may still attempt to land at least one OL in free agency.
Four – I wouldn’t be surprised at any pick at any draft position. Each pick will replace someone on the current roster so will be viewed as a potential upgrade. Consequently, I suspect McX feel that they are in a good position to follow BPA in their picks. I also suspect that their picks will surprise because of their concentration on some characteristics that I won’t have enough information to judge – i.e. smart, versatile, leaders. They may have some players rated higher than I do (or lower) because they have better information in these areas that are important to them.
Five – specifically, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a OT or CB or S or ILB or OLB picked early. For instance, a player like Taylor Mays might be very highly regarded as an immediate impact player on STs with a potentially large upside as an almost freakish SS. The only picks that might surprise me would be RB, WR or QB for I see the better values (if not actually better picks) available in the later rounds.
Six – If McX are as big on versatility as a necessary characteristic for players, I assume they also expect it from coaches. Which means one underlying assumption (seldom discussed) is that McD expects himself and his coaches to be versatile in making the most of the talent that can be collected. Like the players, the coaches also have to be adaptable.