The Denver Broncos run probably the most complicated defensive scheme in the league and one of the most, if not the most, complicated offensive schemes (the Shanahan scheme) in the league. As such getting players, particularly rookies, familiar with the scheme on both sides of the ball was going to take time. How long? Well, given the evidence, I’d say four regular season games (plus preseason and in some cases training camp).
|game 1||game 2||game 3||game 4||game 5|
|Todd Davis||Todd Davis||River Cracraft||Kareem Jackson||Adam Gotsis|
|Bryce Callahan||Bryce Callahan||Bryce Callahan||Bryce Callahan||Bryce Callahan|
|Juwann Winfree||Juwann Winfree||Alexander Johnson||Juwann Winfree||Juwann Winfree|
|Andy Janovich||Andy Janovich||Andy Janovich||Troy Fumagalli||Troy Fumagalli|
|Joe Jones||Joe Jones||Joe Jones||Joe Jones||Josey Jewell|
|Corey Levin||Ja'Wuan James||Ja'Wuan James||Ja'Wuan James||Ja'Wuan James|
|Dre’Mont Jones||Mike Purcell||Mike Purcell||Mike Purcell||Calvin Anderson|
Note that Mike Purcell was active for this game (and played really well despite not showing up much on the stat sheet). Adam Gotsis was a healthy scratch - new for game 5. Josey Jewell replaced Joe Jones as the ILB who was game-day inactive because of injury and newly signed OT, Calvin Anderson, filled the spot that was occupied by Kareem Jackson on the inactive list game 4.
Offensive snap counts and snap percentages
|Player||game 1||game 2||game 3||game 4||game 5|
No real surprises here other than maybe Andrew Beck seeing 25% of the offensive snaps. We used three TEs quite a bit on Sunday including opening the game with that offensive set. Andy Janovich appears to be fully healthy as he saw his highest snap % (and snap total of the season).
Devontae Booker continues to be the forgotten man on offense. He has had one offensive snap so far this season. He really doesn’t get used that much on special teams either - only being in on 46.4% of our special teams’ snaps. Admittedly, that is the 4th highest ST snap % on the team behind Malik Reed (77.5%), Trey Marshall (66.0%) and Keishawn Bierria (50.7%). Bierria was waived/released and Reed is now a starter, so Booker’s role on special teams might increase. At this point in the season, Diontae Spencer (who has one catch and one carry for us), Fred Brown and Juwann Winfree all have been used more on offense than Booker.
Defensive Snap Counts and Snap Percentages
|Player||game 1||game 2||game 3||game 4||game 5|
Jeff and Joe are going to go in depth on how the insertion of Duke Dawson, Mike Purcell, Malik Reed and Alexander Johnson dramatically increased the effectiveness of the defense (at least for one week) in their upcoming article, so I will not steal their thunder.
What’s really interesting with Purcell is how much of an effect he had despite only playing on 29% of the defensive snaps. His size (328 lbs) and ability to two-gap effectively was something that we sorely lacked with Shelby Harris playing NT.
I should also mention that despite losing De’Vaunte Bausby to injury early in the game (and now for the season), Isaac Yiadom was not the player who got the snaps in replacement of Bausby; that would be Davontae Harris (and yes, I have to Google the spellings between Booker, Bausby, and Harris almost every time). D. Harris (see what I did there) had not gotten a single defensive snap in the first four games, similar to Alexander Johnson. D. Harris played 31 defensive snaps against the Chargers (44%).
Duke Dawson Played one defensive snap in game 3 after getting zero in games one and two. Admittedly, we traded for him late in the preseason so he needed time to get up to speed in the complicated Fangio defensive scheme. He played 51 defensive snaps in game 4 (60%) and has now become a starter (at slot corner, I think) playing 57 snaps (81%) against the Chargers.
There are four “losers” in all of the this. First is Yiadom. He is effectively 4th string at CB behind Chris Harris, Dawson and D. Harris. If Bryce Callahan ever plays for us this season, I would expect Yiadom’s defensive snaps to got to close to zero. His three defensive holding and/or DPI penalties in one quarter are a rare and dubious feat. Second is Adam Gotsis. Gotsis is now the odd man out on the defensive front. Barring injury he probably continues to be game-day inactive as he appears to be less valuable as a game-day active than DeMarcus Walker. Both are maligned second round draft picks. Third is Corey Nelson, who, because of injuries, was forced into the starting lineup in the first game of the season. He proved, yet again, that his ceiling is special teams player and limited backup ILB (he’s still above average in pass coverage, but woefully limited against the run). Fourth is Will Parks. Parks played every defensive snap against the Jags and was demonstrably bad. His missteps and missed tackles turned two yard runs into seven yard runs against the Jags. This was not unnoticed by the coaching staff. Parks only played 16 defensive snaps against the Chargers (23%). Having Dawson playing a hybrid CB/S role allowed us to let Kareem Jackson play just safety. Jackson was the second best player on the field for the Broncos on Sunday.
Alexander Johnson was the best. I guess he just wasn’t ready for the snaps until week five, or at least the coaches did not think that he was ready. His play on Sunday showed that he is ready now and we needed his play. He gave us the size and instincts at ILB that we haven’t seen in Denver in a long time. He’s like Joe Mays, but with the ability to move left and right and not just forward. I know it’s only one game, but he reminded this aging Bronco fan of Al Wilson. Similar to Wilson he has the size/strength to shed blockers and the quickness to be an asset in pass coverage and an asset as a blitzer.