2013 Denver Broncos offseason: Champ Bailey

Justin Edmonds

There's been a lot of talk from fans that the Broncos offseason plans should include Champ moving to safety....

Knee-jerk

Definition: readily predictable.....reacting in a readily predictable way

From the tendency of the knee to jerk involuntarily when hit sharply, properly called the patellar reflex. That was recorded by Sir Michael Foster in his Text-book of physiology, 1877:

"Striking the tendon below the patella gives rise to a sudden extension of the leg, known as the knee-jerk."

Champ Bailey gets burned, thrice, twice for TD's. Broncos lose the game, Champ should move to safety...right? The best way to define this reaction is "knee jerk". Peyton Manning had three turnovers, should he be benched (or cut) so that the reign of Oz may begin? Rahim Moore committed one of the most egregious errors in Broncos history, GET RID OF HIM! The Broncos defense allowed 38 points, guess they really weren't elite then right?

Let's continue forward in this article under the following premise: there are no sure things in the NFL.

13 game winning streak, top 5 defense/offense, 10 point favorites....there are no sure things in the NFL.

We as a fanbase convinced ourselves we were the best. And quite possibly we were, still....there are no sure things in the NFL. What this led to though was a letdown of gargantuan proportions. The season ended way too early for all of us, I know the feeling, in fact, let's continue with another premise: in defeat everything is amplified.

John Fox is too conservative, Champ Bailey can't play corner any more, Manning still can't get it done, Rahim Moore sucks, the officials screwed us, on and on.

Many of us here warned of John Fox and his conservative coaching decisions throughout the season, so that isn't exactly a strawman for the fanbase to grab at in the afterglow of defeat. That's the way it is, we have to deal with it.

Manning still can't get it done.....had his team up by 7 with 40 seconds left.

Rahim Moore sucks....had a breakthrough season washed away by one mistake

The refs screwed us....were up 7 with 40 seconds left. Missed a FG, allowed three long TD plays, failed to stop Ravens on 3rd and 13 from inside their 5 etc etc.

Champ Bailey can't play corner anymore....wrong. In fact the only games of note I remember Champ struggling consistently were against the Ravens and the Bengals with AJ Green. Champ may not be able to shut down the best in the game anymore, and he may have lost a step speed-wise, but that doesn't mean he can't play anymore. In fact I'll take it one step further, Champ Bailey is still the best corner on our team, even with the emergence of Chris Harris Jr. In fact let's take a look at some numbers. These examine the amount of first downs and TD's given up by a corner and the percentage as related to their total snap counts. (via Pro Football Focus)

Rank

Name

Snaps

1st Downs & TDs

1st Downs and TDs by Snap

1

Chris Culliver

493

17

3.45%

2

Leon Hall

507

19

3.75%

3

Sam Shields

342

14

4.09%

4

Prince Amukamara

434

18

4.15%

5

Casey Hayward

433

18

4.16%

6

Champ Bailey

586

25

4.27%

7

Adam Jones

414

18

4.35%

8

Antonio Cromartie

527

23

4.36%

9

Kareem Jackson

635

28

4.41%

10

Alterraun Verner

579

26

4.49%

11

Robert McClain

379

18

4.75%

12

Chris Houston

541

26

4.81%

13

Richard Sherman

590

29

4.92%

14

Brandon Browner

446

22

4.93%

15

Josh Wilson

658

33

5.02%

16

Brandon Flowers

436

22

5.05%

17

Chris Harris Jr.

493

25

5.07%

18

Antoine Winfield

609

31

5.09%

19

Kyle Wilson

511

27

5.28%

20

Asante Samuel

472

25

5.30%

- Champ was 6th in the league amongst starting CB's when applying this metric.

- Champs 586 snaps were 4th most amongst starting CB's.

So what does that mean exactly? It means that Champ Bailey gave up a first down once every 23 snaps. Or about two per game.

Here's the crazy thing though, Champ only gave up 1 TD ALL SEASON....it happened week 9 against AJ Green.

I want to do some analysis here, I'm going to explain what happened on every play Champ was burned in the Divisional game.

59 yd TD to Torrey Smith

Champ is lined squared up with Torrey about two yards off the LOS. It appears to be press man coverage from the cues I can see. At the snap, Torrey fakes a quick out, this makes Champ stab forward with this right foot which is important because when Torrey turns it back to the inside, Champ now has to swivel his hips back the other direction. This is no problem, he does it fine. Champ is actually right on Torrey's hip after about 15 yards, but Torrey is much faster than Champ and builds separation. I chalk this up to not getting a jam on the LOS, and Champ not being as fast as Torrey.

Flacco to Smith incomplete

This is almost a mirror image of the last play except this time Champ lines up on Torrey Smith's outside shoulder. He seems to be protecting the sideline. The problem is the safety help is over the top on the other side of the field. IMO, if he's locked in a one on one with Smith and the safety help is over the top on the other side of the field, he should play inside leverage and try to redirect the route to the outside where the boundary will help him. I chalk this up to either a misunderstanding of the coverage on the backside by Champ and also bad technique. Good thing Flacco misfired.

32 yd TD to Torrey Smith

The Broncos are in straight up cover 2. Champ this time flashes inside leverage. Champ does everything correctly this time, he gets his hips moving in the right direction from the get go, presses Smith to the outside and uses the boundary for help. He stays with him step for step. Flacco throws it high and short (this is very close to a back shoulder throw) and Torrey goes up and gets it. Champ still had good positioning, but his momentum carried him out of the play when Flacco threw it short. Chalk this up to a good throw and catch, nothing more.

From these plays, I count bad technique twice (coupled with Torrey Smith being faster than Champ on one of those instances. Nothing indicates to me at least that he's over the hill or incapable of being the #1 corner. So how would I fix it? Let's first identify the issues that came up:

- Faster receiver. Against the faster receivers in the league, simple, instead of putting Champ on an island, give him safety help. Have him play inside leverage forcing the receiver to the outside. If the receiver goes inside, Champ will be in great position to jam him up, plus he still has help.

- Technique....the coverage shell behind should dictate what sort of leverage Champ plays. Admittedly, I'm not a genius when it comes to the intricacies of coverage or leverage but I do know that if you have help over the top in a shell like Cover 2, the corner can use both the boundary to help protect the outside and the safety to help inside. I expect Champ and the secondary coach along with Del Rio to work on techniques through the offseason.

So now can we move on from the "Champ should move to safety nonsense?" Bottom line, I see a shutdown force who might need some help with speedy guys from time to time, not a broke down has-been that can't hang anymore.

So what then with the secondary?

Champ should be #1, and Harris should be the slot guy. Harris did well as a #2, but he is an elite corner in the slot, the Broncos should go after a true #2 opposite of Champ. Discussing things with Topher Doll, some names that came up are Adam Jones, Chris Houston, Darius Butler. After Champ and Harris things get murkier. I'm not sold at all on Tony Carter. He made some great plays this year, but after going through and looking at each TD the Broncos secondary gave up, both he and Mike Adams seemed to be the main guys involved. I'm just going to throw this out there right now, Mike Adams needs to be upgraded. He was shaky at best in coverage in the middle of the field, and a lot of the struggles the Broncos secondary had with TE's can be attributed to him. All that being said, I think the Broncos need to bring in middle tier free agents at both positions and look to draft some in the middle rounds to add competition. The wildcards in this group are Omar Bolden and Quentin Carter. Carter coming off injury has shown some big play ability. Bolden on the other hand was owned quite frequently when he was put into action. The growth that Bolden must exhibit this offseason will have to be quite a bit in order to factor into the CB rotation heading into 2013.

Revis

Last week I kicked around the idea of the Broncos going after Revis. After going through days when I thought it would be a good idea, and days when I thought it wasn't, I've made up my mind. This would be a mistake IMO. The thing that finally turned the tides for me was realizing that Revis wants elite franchise QB type money in his new contract. He wants to be paid as much or more than Mario Williams. This means an annual figure between 14 and 16 Million dollars with 50 Million or more guaranteed. Ask yourself, should this guy be paid as much as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Peyton Manning? When going through that exercise, remind yourself that on any given play he will only take out one receiving option. Remember, Manning didn't torch us in the playoffs by throwing at Champ, he burned us by throwing at Roc Alexander. While it is a novel idea to ponder him and Champ on opposite sides of the field with Chris Harris in the slot, I think our resources could be better spent.

That's about all I have for now Broncos Country, cheers!

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