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Scangarello’s offense, Fangio’s defense will bring plenty of innovation

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MHR’s Jeffrey Essary joins Ross Volkmer of The Morning Blitz to talk about the Broncos - and how this team is mixing old and new school concepts in its schemes.

NFL: Preseason-Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Mile High Report’s Jeffrey Essary joined The Morning Blitz for its weekly check-in on the Denver Broncos, and it’s well worth your time to get some of Jeff’s insights into the team, how the Broncos have fared in preseason so far and what to look forward to this week during a joint camp with the 49ers that will culminate in a Monday Night Football game one week from tonight.

But one of the more interesting parts of the discussion came at about 11 minutes where they discussed the trend toward a spread offense in the NFL.

“It’s interesting how the spread offense has been taking over. It’s definitely here, and here to stay,” Essary said, adding that teams are now forced to figure out how to steal from that and incorporate it into their own schemes.

But it’s not just an adjustment for offenses. Defenses have to figure out how to stop it.

And that’s been Denver’s focus.

“Vic Fangio - even though he’s an old school coach - he’s got one of the more innovative defenses that integrates the defensive concepts from lower levels where the innovation takes place and bubbles up into the NFL,” Essary noted, adding that in Chicago Fangio showed that his defense could hang with teams like Sean McVay’s L.A. Rams. “So I’m excited for what Fangio is bringing on defensive side to counteract some of that spread stuff.”

But Essary also highlighted that even though Denver will play under center a lot and will rely on a running attack, “sprinkles of the Kyle Shanahan tree” are here via new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello.

“That tree is pretty innovative in and of itself,” Essary said.

For example, while the offense will line up in 21 personnel - with two running backs and one tight end - it won’t always stay there.

“They may come out in that and go empty - motion a fullback out wide and clear a linebacker out of the box - as we saw in Atlanta and also against the Seahawks,” Essary said. “There are things Scangarello can bring from the college ranks and innovations he can bring to Denver’s offense to mix the old and new school together. At least that’s the hope because you’ve got to start innovating on the offensive side of the ball in today’s NFL.”

The performance of the Broncos’ top two running backs last week against the Seahawks was promising, Essary said, especially given that the offense will lean heavily on Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay.

“Scangarello’s offense is heavily predicated on establishing the run and building the offense off of that,” Essary said. “There will be run action and bootlegs and all that, but it all starts with getting the running game going. Exciting to see that early on, especially Royce Freeman busting that 50-yard run against the Seahawks.”

As the Broncos get ready for their third preseason game but officially only the second one for 30 other NFL teams, Essary will be paying close attention to Denver’s offensive line, since it will be a crucial component of the running game Scangarello will be instituting.

“I’ll be looking at that offensive line to build continuity especially against the Niners’ defensive line,” he said. “That’ll be a big challenge.”