After Day 3 of Denver Broncos camp was in the books, head coach Vance Joseph was asked how far along they were with the installation of the offensive playbook. Joseph noted they were about 35-40 percent through, which is pretty good given the limited number of training camp practices they have.
“I’m guessing probably about 35-40 percent,” Joseph said on Monday. “We’ve put everything in in the spring on both sides of the ball. Here’s why: in my opinion, the spring is for guys to stretch their minds. We give it all to them, even though it doesn’t look pretty sometimes, but at least they’ve heard it. That way in the fall, when you’re in Week 8 or 9, you’re not reinventing the wheel for players. You may not call those plays until Week 8, but at least they’ve heard them. If they’ve heard them, they can get them during the week. If they haven’t heard it, it creates anxiety for players, it makes them nervous and they don’t get it right. Our install is heavy, just because we want a big library so we can survive the season without reinventing the wheel in Week 8, 9 or 10.”
In 2017, we saw them reinventing the wheel during an 8-game losing streak and it was clearly catastrophic. Former offensive coordinator Mike McCoy had a very complex scheme that proved to be overwhelming for a young quarterback like Trevor Siemian to run. It got a little better once Bill Musgrave began calling the plays, but he was tasked with installing a brand new offense late in a very frustrating season.
Now, with a full offseason to prepare and a quarterback in Case Keenum who can run an NFL offense, the team looks crisp on that side of the ball and the entire vibe in training camp is completely different this year.
The new offensive installation isn’t without its bumps in the road. The rookies have struggled to pick up the playbook and schemes, but they are working hard and the practice sessions have been vital to putting meeting room to memory for those younger players.
“It’s tough on rookies,” Joseph said. “We had a rough day today with some of our young guys. The more you practice and the more you install, they have to study more. We had some guys today that struggled with their assignments. That’s all rookies, even the really mature ones. They’ve got to understand it’s first, second, third down, it’s punt team, it’s punt return, it’s kickoff—it’s a lot that goes on with being a football player. The more we put in, the more we practice, the more they have to study and that’s a deal with all rookies.”
As the process continues, both the young and the veteran players will begin to grasp the entire Musgrave playbook. So far, the first-team offense has been making some excellent plays early on in training camp, but with the pads coming on Tuesday we likely see a great evening out as the advantage shifts significantly towards the defense during those practice sessions.