Good morning, Broncos Country!
Wednesday marked the “11th day of install” for the Broncos offseason work, and as the team finishes the 12th and final one today, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave feels good about the steps forward even if there’s “a lot of work to do.”
"But I like the way we’re attacking it,” he said. ”Had another good day of good progress today.”
Another day of “progress“ with a bonafide starting QB gaining chemistry with his playmakers should easily be another day of celebration for Broncos fans everywhere because it means the team this offseason is already way ahead of where it was at this time last offseason (and frankly, way ahead of where it was by September).
Which means the accolades for Case Keenum just keep on coming.
“He’s a winner, number one,” Musgrave said. ”He approaches every day the same way —professional. Very much into it, and I think the guys have very much rallied around both on offense and on defense just because he’s the same guy every day. He’s consistent and definitely cares about his teammates.”
Musgrave had good things to say about Paxton Lynch too, noting that the somewhat forgotten backup had made strides in his decision-making.
“He really has [improved]. ...We want those decisions, those habits to become part of his fabric so they can just be natural and reactive,” Musgrave said, adding that the training of the quarterbacks has been ”really one of the highlights of this spring” under QB coach Mike Sullivan and assistant Klint Kubiak.
In fact, perhaps the most noteworthy thing Musgrave said regarding Keenum and the offense was the overall emphasis on decision-making. He recalled a comment former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs used to say that has become Musgrave‘s goal for this group.
"Joe Gibbs used to say, when I coached for him, that ‘a good quarterback knows what to do when it’s there. A great quarterback knows what to do when it’s not there,’” he said. ”We’re all out here as a team, but it’s really for the quarterback to train him on what to do when it’s not there.”
The offensive coordinator elaborated that there needs to be a balance of “safe plays” with “explosive plays” because he doesn’t want to “go up to the plate and just bunt, bunt, bunt just so we don’t strike out.”
At the same time, he’s looking for his quarterback to utilize the talent of his skills players and not tax his offensive line too much.
“We don’t want to have negative plays either in the run game or pass game. So, let’s get the ball out of our hand and let our playmakers do what they do best,” Musgrave said, adding that quarterbacks can’t demand too much of pass protection against today’s defenders. ”These guys are tough to block. At times they’re unblockable. So we’ve got to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hand as quickly as possible.”
"[@JakeButtTE] is hungry ... whether it's at the TE position or outside the numbers at the WR spot, he's got the body control to get open, so he's going to be a terrific asset for us." - OC Bill Musgrave@MaseDenver's Day 2 observations » https://t.co/oLISjctfRr pic.twitter.com/fGPAhpHzxv— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) June 14, 2018
Luckily the Broncos now have a starting quarterback who also understands this.
“I always thought that it was my job to get the ball out of my hands, get it into the fast guys’ hands and let them do something with it,” Keenum said after Tuesday’s minicamp. ”If I’m stuck with a ball, usually it’s not a good result. I try to get it out of my hands and to those guys who can do something with it, and we have a lot of those guys.”
So basically Musgrave just assessed the most egregious parts of last season’s offense - passing way short of the sticks, holding on to the ball too long, making poor decisions when the play “is not there” - which makes me far more confident going into this season that there is hope.
And then this excerpt from Andrew Mason’s recap of Wednesday’s work only increased it:
Move-the-ball periods were a staple of OTA and minicamp work for the Broncos this spring. But this scenario -- with the offense in hurry-up mode in an end-game simulation -- was the most urgent.
”We just want to try to work situations so the first time we encounter them [is not] in the fall,” Musgrave said after practice. “That way the players can anticipate what’s going to be called, and they can have some dress rehearsals.”
Wednesday’s “dress rehearsal” belonged to the offense, as Case Keenum and Paxton Lynch each led the No. 1 and No. 2 offenses, respectively, into range of a game-winning field goal.
Keenum used consecutive completions to Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton and Jeff Heuerman to guide the offense into field-goal range. The completions to Sutton and Heuerman moved the chains, with Keenum using a bit of misdirection to find Heuerman for the pass that moved the offense to the defense’s 34-yard line.
“We’re together, we’re in concert — the run game, the pass game, getting the ball out of our hand and the stoutness of the o-line,” Musgrave said on the offense’s rhythm. ”We’ve just got to do our part and play complementary football.”
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