For those that were brave enough to submit a question, thank you! For those that thought about it but didn't, no worries--you have all week to ask a question for next week's mailbag. We're all friends here and we'll do our best to answer your questions and give you some insight so cheers!
This first one comes from Elkhunter330:
Is the Broncos roster becoming so deep that the guys on the bottom of our depth chart that leave could be starters or more prominent players on other teams?
I love the optimism in this post, but I think its fools gold. Granted, the roster at the top is far superior to anything fielded by the Denver Broncos in the last decade, but if you look a little deeper at the depth chart you will find back-ups who are, well, back-ups. Give me one obvious starter who isn't already starting games? I can provide only one. Chris Harris. Well, I suppose you could include Chris Kuper, but I suspect something will change soon in that regard.
In case you think I'm being a negative nellie, not all is lost. Just compare (insert: http://www.milehighreport.com/2008/8/4/586263/broncos-release-initial-de) this roster to Mike Shannahan's final year. Good God, what were we thinking back then? Playoffs?!
Not really. The Broncos roster is currently a balanced mix of veterans and youth. IMHO, the Broncos have some good "fill-in" players for when a starter needs a rest, and who may well develop into impact players, but I don't see the Broncos as being in a position where they would have -- for example -- three starter-quality safeties vying for two starting slots.
The Broncos are the deepest they have been in quite a while. I remember how all of the McDaniels cuts from the Shanahan days were out of the league the following year. I also remember looking at this team in 2011 and thinking that we need just about everything on defense and a QB. What a difference 4 years makes. I think the competition we have on the roster is great and there are just a few holes remaining but it would be foolish to think teams can pluck our cuts or backups and plug them into starting roles.
The biggest difference I see is the development and progression of the younger guys on our roster. Woodyard had a breakout season last year. Harris asserted himself as our best cover corner. Before the playoff debacle Rahim Moore was quickly putting his disappointing rookie season behind him. Tony Carter "Rudied" his way to starting snaps. Franklin build upon a good rookie campaign and both Thomas and Decker ascended to the next level. All of this is indicative of great coaching. As Elway said the other day "we don't draft All Pro's we coach them up." Be thankful McDaniels drafted some of these guys, Elway others, and most of all be thankful that grownups are now coaching them.
Bronco-Stu-Uk wants to know about the war room on draft day:
One thing I'm interested in is what goes on in the war room on draft day(s)? What will the prep have been prior to the draft, what things are they doing before their pick and what happens once they're on the clock?
Both Brian and Tim elected to punt on this one, so I'm going to run it back to the house Trindon Holliday style ok?
Good question my man, here's a look inside the Broncos war room via NFL.com: http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-draft/0ap2000000154055/Draft-War-Room-Broncos
For a quick article about it go here: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7840048/nfl-draft-war-room
Next up is none other than the "Emperor of MHR" Calikula:
What do you think about our RB situation? What RBs are left in FA and who do you like in the draft and at what position? Or do you like our situation as is?
I think I'm in the minority on this one, in that I believe the RB situation is actually fairly solid. McGahee was running strong (4.4 yards per carry) before going down to injury. Moreno came on and started to show that he could carry the load and Hillman provided a decent change of pace in relief of Moreno. I'm not seeing anyone left in FA that I would call a "must have," and I am not familiar enough with the college players to say there is anyone I believe the Broncos should definitely try to get.
The Broncos running back situation is being overshadowed by the needs on defense, but there is no heir apparent to Willis McGahee and the team is really one injury away from having a wholly ineffective rushing attack. Look for John Elway and John Fox to find a gem in the third or fourth round to help bolster the power rushing game.
I still don't trust Knowshon Moreno enough for full-time work, in spite of his impressive late season stretch and I am not really a believe in Ronnie Hillman either. Hillman isn't as fluid in his movements as I'd like to see from a runner with his speed. In fact, aside from McGahee the only guy on the roster I really trust to carry the rock is Lance Ball.
After missing on Stephen Jackson and Rashard Mendenhall, it is clear the Broncos see this as a need and moreover they want a bigger more powerful back. Outside of McGahee and Hillman, the Broncos have nobody under contract at the RB position beyond 2013. My gut feeling is McGahee/Moreno are battling it out for a roster spot, Hillman sticks as the #2, and Hester sticks as the FB swingman that can also play special teams. As far as the draft, the Broncos were rumored to be interested in Christine Michael and Le'veon Bell.
Kronk-00 wants to know about the Broncos defense in terms of a 3-4 v. 4-3 front ie whether or not they are predominantly a 3-4 or 4-3 front.
Tim and Brian decided to take a knee John Fox style so here goes from Bronco Mike:
They like to run the 4-3 under defense on base downs (which I describe a bit here http://www.milehighreport.com/2013/4/1/4167936/mhr-university-4-3-alignments)
This puts Von closer to the LOS as a Linebacker and maximizes mismatches. They have their D-linemen two gap at times (including LDE Derek Wolfe--this is a characteristic more of the 3-4 front), and they play a wide variety of looks in nickel situations. Most 4-3 teams will play a 4-2-5 front in nickel and it's straight forward, both ends are actually DE's. The Broncos however move Von to LDE, kick Wolfe inside as a 3-tech, and then bring a variety of looks. I've seen 3-3-5 variations with Wolfe at LDE, Mitch Unrein at NT, and Robert Ayers at RDE.
I've also seen variations of the 4-2-5 where the Broncos will drop the UT or RDE back into coverage while a LB or CB/S rushes. This is a classic zone blitz perfected by Dick LeBeau and his fearsome 3-4 defenses over the years. Now, zone blitzing isn't unique to the 3-4 front, but the fact that you have so many linemen playing different roles and dropping back into coverage should tell you how much the Broncos really adapt and scheme to optimize matchups and take advantage of situational football.
Here's a more tangible example: In 2011 under Dennis Allen Elvis Dumervil dropped into coverage a total of 10 times. That is a true 4-3 defense, ends are rarely asked to cover. In 2012 under Jack Del Rio he dropped into coverage a total of 58 times. Del Rio himself has stated that instead of thinking in terms of 4-3 or 3-4 that you should think in terms of "over" "under". Both of those concepts dictate that the defense shift their strength to the closed or open side of the formation to exploit matchups. If you are thinking this way, it is easy to see why you shouldn't classify the Broncos defense as 3-4 or 4-3. They will do whatever is necessary in order to win their matchups.
Last but not least we have a question via email:
Does Champ Bailey have something to prove after getting burned in the playoffs?
Yes, but I believe that it is more a case of Bailey will pressure himself more than he has anything to prove to the fans. He was not the only player on either side of the ball to get burned during the Baltimore game and I believe he feels driven to win a Super Bowl ring before he retires.
Yep, his mouth wrote checks his aging legs couldn't cash. Champ said Torrey Smith would be no problem, not an issue...two TD's later however it was Smith who let his play do the talking.
In all seriousness though, Champ gave up one TD all season before Baltimore and that was to AJ Green. He's still pretty much a shutdown corner, you just would be better off giving him some safety help against the faster more explosive/elite WR's (no I'm not saying Torrey Smith is elite). The Champ over the hill chatter or Champ to Safety chatter is premature.
There you have it--hope we gave you some solid answers. You might not agree with our take, I might not agree with yours, but remember that we all have different perspectives and the most important thing is to be respectful of our Orange and Blue brethren.
Until next week: SEND US YOUR QUESTIONS!
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