I want to post my thoughts on the potential lineups for the Broncos this week and get some feedback from the MHR community. We have been dealing with a number of injuries, some severe and some not so severe. I think this is the week to put a competitive lineup on the field, but to also keep in mind it is a long season and some weeks you just don't need to use the entire arsenal. Please don't misunderstand my thought, I hope no one in the building is taking the Jags lightly. While they are most certainly the worst team in the NFL this season, they are still an NFL team and their "Tony Romo" effort will be enough to push the Broncos if they are asleep at the wheel. That said, I will go through each of the three position groups and give my thoughts on how I would line it up. Without further adieu . . .
Based on what I saw in the game Sunday, and what the injury report lists, I am firmly in the hold out Robert Ayers camp. Even if he is able to play, this is a game I would hold him out. While I think right now he is playing as well as any of the defensive linemen, and his loss would be a blow, I think it is more important to bring Robert to Indy as close to 100% as possible. Not sure the extent of his injury, but sitting this week will allow him to heal, hopefully, and give him a boost for Von's return in Indy!
I am advocating Wolfe and Phillips as starting ends with Knighton and Vickerson in the middle. Here is where I will go off script a bit. I want to see a bit more of Robinson at RDE in passing situations. Not sure if the final defensive snap against Dallas was his first time at RDE, it certainly produced a nice result. On the other side I want to see Irving used at LDE as Von would in passing situations. He may not have the pass rushing prowess of Von, but he has shown flashes as a blitzer. Additionally, I don't know that Chad Henne has the ability to hurt us with his legs enough to be too focused on pass rush lanes, which would open Irving up to run some stunts and games on the line.
Of course Jackson and Unrein would be part of the regular rotation, but I would also use Sly much more in this game, especially on passing downs. Let's give him a chance to just cut it loose and see what happens.
This is a slightly more complicated puzzle, with less pieces to work with. I will assume that Wood and Von are out. Wood is another guy who I would sit, even if he could play. He is simply too valuable for the rest of the season to risk further injury in this game. My starting group is Lennon in the middle, Danny on the weak side and Nate on the strong side. This is a liability area in my view, and not having Wood creates major problems. Here are the liability issues as I see them:
1) Irving struggles in the middle and in pass coverage
2) Lennon struggles with speed to justify being on the field in nickel
3) Trevathan may get swallowed up in the run game if we use nickel as base
4) Robinson is an unknown entity for the most part
5) Johnson is raw
So what to do? Would love to be able to plug Irving in the middle, and keep him there in nickel, but my feeling is he has not shown himself capable in those roles thus far. Therefore, in base, or 4-3 or however you want to call it, I would have Lennon and Trevathan on the field as much as possible. I would also rotate Irving and Phillips on the strong side (I don't know if Robinson is ready for this role yet, prefer to let him operate as a one trick pony for this game). In nickel I would use Trevathan and Johnson as much as possible. They are about the same size and speed, and I think the best bet we have as far as coverage guys in the group. And I think both are aggressive enough to handle their run responsibilities. Not having Wood creates real issues for our defense, all the more reason to hold him out now me says.
I am predicating this entire post on Champ playing this week. If he doesn't, throw the entire deal in the garbage and I give up! But I think he will play, and will play well. What I want to do with this group is try to give them some continuity, which we have been missing. Not only from a personnel perspective, but also from a scheme perspective. Last few weeks I feel like JDR has not done some of what he wants to, or used to, because Champ has been out. Namely, I want to see our nickel DB blitzing in those perfect moments more often.
So at the corners Champ and DRC of course, and Duke and Moore deep. If/when we get into nickel I lock Carter up on their slot guy, go ahead and challenge him. I would use this set as often as possible, walking Duke up to help in run support if we want to get another guy in the box. I know Kayvon has been playing great, but I would keep him outside rather than moving him into the slot. Let's just keep it simple for him and let him do what he is already doing well. I would get Jammer on the field in lieu of Bolden as often as possible. If he cannot give us more than Omar has, I think it is time to start looking for a roster upgrade.
In summary, in case that was too long, I am looking at a lot of nickel sets, and I want to pressure the QB with a persistent front 4, and bringing an extra guy here and there. Essentially I would dare the Jags to try and do what Dallas did. If we go that route I could see us getting 5-6 sack and 3-4 turnovers.
What say you MHR?