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View Full Version : The Crux of the Issue on the Denver Broncos: The Linebackers


Bronco Rob
06-11-2009, 04:38 PM
Will. Jack. Mike. Sam.

These four names are the titles of the linebacker positions in a 3-4 defense. The Denver Broncos are now acquainted with these titles and the defense as a whole. You see the Broncos are no longer Mike Shannahan's team, they are Josh McDaniel's team.


While many people focus on the offensive changes that are occurring on the Broncos, such as the loss of Pro-Bowl QB Jay Cutler and the addition of Kyle Orton an even more important change has occurred. That is the evolution of the Denver defense that was ranked 29th yardage wise and 30th point wise last season under Slowik.

The new coach is Mike Nolan, a man who has a proven track record in improving defenses, he did this in San Fransisco, Baltimore, New York (Jets), Washington, and New York (Giants).


As the Defensive Coordinator for the Denver Broncos, Mike Nolan will have the difficult task of turning one of the worst defenses in the league to a championship caliber defense. The first thing to do was to change the 4-3 the Broncos were previously using, and make that into a 3-4, a model familiar to Head Coach McDaniels and Mike Nolan.


Now, this article is primarily focusing on one singular part of the 3-4 defense, possibly the most important part. We're going to focus on the playmakers in this rare defense: the linebackers. Now, in the 3-4 defense, there are four linebacker positions Will, Jack, Mike, and Sam.


Will is the weakside outside linebacker or the outside linebacker that is on the opposite side of where the Tight End would line up.


Jack is the weakside inside linebacker or the inside linebacker away from the Tight End position as well.


Mike is the strongside inside linebacker that is the inside linebacker that is closer to the Tight End.


Lastly there is Sam, the strongside outside linebacker or the linebacker that lines up on the outside directly against the Tight End.


Position by position, this is how we would fill each position, based on depth charts, training camp performances, and educated guesses.



Will

So the first position to talk about is the weakside outside linebacker. Now for the most part this is the position that will get the most sacks because they will be going up against no TE so they have a clearer path to the QB.

So we are looking for a guy that can rush the QB, play athletically, have good speed, and still be able to cover the field if needed to make an open field tackle. Right now there are two real candidates for this position, which is Elvis Dumervil the front-runner and Jarvis Moss the backup right now.

Both are former defensive ends that have had to convert to become the outside linebackers for this team. Dumervil is more of a tweener, too small to play a 4-3 end and linebacker, but the right size for a 3-4 outside linebackers.

Moss was actually recognized as the fit for a 3-4 outside linebacker in the draft, before being drafted as a 4-3 defensive end. Now Dumervil had 8.5/12.5 sacks in his first two years as an undersized defensive end, using wonderful moves and his quickness. Now being able to hide under the big defensive ends in the 3-4 gives him a distinct advantage.

He also has been smooth in coverage, which has been very important in this transition. Moss is a 6'6" monster, who has been labeled a bust seeing as he has failed to produce over the past year. He has size, speed, and athleticism that weren't used well during his time as a defensive end.

Both have attacked the role with enthusiasm, but in the end I am expect Jarvis Moss to come as the starting weakside outside linebacker because his talent will be more balanced for the position.

Elvis Dumervil will still be a good pass rusher so expect him to be woven in on blitz packages, using his speed, size, and moves he should be effective on passing downs.




Jack

There is no competition at the Jack spot which is the weakside inside linebacker in the 3-4 on the Denver Broncos. It has been claimed by the Broncos most formidable linebacker in all these years, D.J Williams.

In 11 games, he recorded 93 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He also had a beastly game against the Saints recording 16 tackles. He was able to accumulate all these stats while injured a good part of those 11 games.

Now remember, when Nolan changed the 49er's defense, he made Patrick Willis the same position as D.J will play. Under Nolan's guide, Willis became a Pro-Bowler something that could very well happen to D.J seeing as both of them are comparable. D.J has already attacked his role with excitement stating in this position he can," Go to the ball and make plays."




Mike

Now Mike is the strongside inside linebacker, this is probably one of the most important positions for the 3-4 defense.

Because the strongside inside linebacker does a lot more running stopping it is very crucial to be able to start the tempo early, meaning that not only does the strongside have to stop the run, and make plays but they also have to generally face more blockers.

Now on the Broncos there are three players that are vying for the starting spot, that is Andra Davis, Wesley Woodyard, and Spencer Larsen.

Davis is the veteran of these three, and will most likely be the one who starts from day one but because the position is backed up by both expect that both will get significant playing time early in the year and then one will most likely steal the spot by the halfway point.

I expect this will be Wesley Woodyard, he has been a beast, making plays all over the field and at the same time being able to hold his ground and stop the runs even with more blockers.

Behind him Spencer Larsen will still get some playing time, but because he is used more as a utility for a couple different positions he won't be starting as an inside linebacker, but rotating between his positions. Davis will be the starter for the first five or so weeks but then expect it to be Woodyard.




Sam

The last position is Sam, the strongside outside linebacker. This is a position that also gets sacks, but it is also a position that deals a lot with the running game that tries to cut to the outside.

For Sam to do the job properly, the position needs to be played by someone who is a bit bigger but at the same time has athletic ability to make the plays in the backfield and to the quarterback.

There is also a large possibility that a lot of the QB's blindsides are protected by extra blockers, which means that the strongside outside linebacker must be able to get past through power and skill with speed in order to pressure the QB. Now right now there is a front runner for this position as well, it is Darrell Reid.

He used to be the former defensive tackle in a 4-3 for the Colts, so he obviously has the size. The big question has been his ability to add speed and athleticism to that frame and make the plays that are needed.

Yet he has shown the coaches so far that he is capable of that. Like the inside linebacker this is a position that is subject to change because behind him is the first-round pick for the Broncos, Robert Ayers. Ayers is the definition of Sam, he is a big guy, but he also possesses a lot of athleticism that is required to play the position.

Another big point in his favor is the fact that he is familiar with the Five-Technique that is often used to set up in a 3-4. With this experience, his youth, his frame, and talent do not expect him to be a backup for very long.

Even as a backup he will get plenty of playing time as a strongside outside linebacker, the thing is though he will have to prove himself ready for the big leagues. Reid to start, Ayers to take over eventually.

This is the most important part to a 3-4, the linebackers are the heart and soul of the 3-4, if they fail the team will fail. In the end the defensive line maybe very important but they are just there to take up space and really provide a smokescreen for the defense.

I don't know if the linebackers will succeed but the linebackers will be the ones that will have to pick up the slack and make the plays to lead this team to victory.

At the end of the day, the linebackers are the core of this team, and they must be strong so the defense and ultimately the team can build off them.



Go Broncos!



http://bleacherreport.com/articles/196160-the-crux-of-the-issue-on-the-denver-broncos-the-linebackers/show_full



:afro:

Rock Chalk
06-11-2009, 04:45 PM
It has been claimed by the Broncos most formidable linebacker in all these years, D.J Williams.

WTF does this mean? DJ is an OK LB but FAR FAR FAR from the "most formidable" LB in "all these years" in Denver.

GoBroncos84
06-11-2009, 04:46 PM
Hmm... I don't see Moss beating out Dumervil for a starting spot at all. And I think Woodyard might be too small to play Mike, he would be DJ's backup at Will. I would love to have DJ and Woodyard both on the field, they are probably our best 2 LB's. I just don't know if it will happen, McD has a premium on size and Woodyard just doesnt have it. He bulked up to about 230, which is great. But that is still small for a Mike in a 3-4

footstepsfrom#27
06-11-2009, 04:50 PM
I know for a fact my 13 year old daughter could have written something better than this.

Br0nc0Buster
06-11-2009, 05:18 PM
I highly doubt Moss ever becomes a starter

Also I dont know where the WW to SILB came from, he would be better on the weakside

Overall not bad, I expect our LBs to be Doom, Williams, Davis, Ayers with WW and Williams in at nickel

Gcver2ver3
06-11-2009, 05:18 PM
i think of a lot of terms when i think of Jarvis Moss...

the word "monster" is far from being one of them...

TexanBob
06-11-2009, 05:29 PM
I've never heard the term "jack" to describe an inside LB. I've heard of "jacked up" which is what you hope your ILB will do to backs on crossing patterns but, otherwise, this a new term for me.

And I believe this is the first time I've seen a reference to Dumervil's size as if it were an asset. Most of the time, it's cited as to why he can never be anything more than a situational player.

I don't know exactly what type of 3-4 Nolan expects to trot out but I doubt it will be as sophisticated as Joe Collier's 3-4 from the Orange Crush days which made maximum use of Karl Mecklenburg to find mismatches all over the field. Those teams emphasized speed over bulk.

Most teams that run the 3-4 adapt a Steelers-style approach which emphasizes three DT-sized lineman and four tweener-sized LBs who were college DEs with a S who plays like a college LB. If we're trying to retrofit guys like Moss and Doom into the LB corps, I suspect that this is more the blueprint Nolan is using.

listopencil
06-11-2009, 05:50 PM
Good Lord, that is a horribly written article.

Popps
06-11-2009, 06:01 PM
Not the best written article, but at least gets you thinking about it a bit. I remain pretty confident in this group, but I think Ayers/Dumvervil will tell the tale. Davis will be fine. DJ is what he is. But, we'll need our OLBs to rapidly excel into these new positions.

watermock
06-11-2009, 06:09 PM
the strongside outside linebacker must be able to get past through power and skill with speed in order to pressure the QB. Now right now there is a front runner for this position as well, it is Darrell Reid.

He used to be the former defensive tackle in a 4-3 for the Colts, so he obviously has the size. The big question has been his ability to add speed and athleticism to that frame and make the plays that are needed.


WOW. Give this guy a raise, hey, at least he didn't rip McDummy, so it's all good, right?

watermock
06-11-2009, 06:13 PM
But, we'll need our OLBs to rapidly excel into these new positions

What OLB's? DJ is playing weak ILB.

You must mean our collection of undersized 4/3 DE's that have never played OLB, the insertion of Reid has to be a joke.

uplink
06-11-2009, 06:37 PM
One of the more interesting reads lately, not bad at all.

watermock
06-11-2009, 06:48 PM
http://www.orangemane.com/BB/image.php?u=2492&dateline=1244758827One of the more interesting reads lately, not bad at all.

Actually, that avatar is nice, the OP is crap. Reid at OLB? Monet I think.

Popps
06-11-2009, 07:02 PM
What OLB's? DJ is playing weak ILB.

You must mean our collection of undersized 4/3 DE's that have never played OLB, the insertion of Reid has to be a joke.

Reid played DT, DE and standing up for Indy. He's a versatile player.

As for our OLBs, yes... I was indeed talking about our OLBs.


Mock, I have a crazy idea. Just hear me out. Considering you have such a hard time even following basic conversations, maybe trying to attack people with every post isn't the best strategy. Let's just say it's not exactly working out for you.

See what I mean? When you have problems spelling, naming current players on our roster or keeping sentences organized, attacking people from some sort of self-imagined high horse is just sort of embarrassing to watch.

SoCalBronco
06-11-2009, 07:35 PM
WTF does this mean? DJ is an OK LB but FAR FAR FAR from the "most formidable" LB in "all these years" in Denver.

As you might imagine, that was my favorite line in the whole article. :)

RunSilentRunDeep
06-11-2009, 07:40 PM
Bleacher Report is a clown factory.

watermock
06-11-2009, 07:49 PM
Reid played DT, DE and standing up for Indy. He's a versatile player.

As for our OLBs, yes... I was indeed talking about our OLBs.


Mock, I have a crazy idea. Just hear me out. Considering you have such a hard time even following basic conversations, maybe trying to attack people with every post isn't the best strategy. Let's just say it's not exactly working out for you.

See what I mean? When you have problems spelling, naming current players on our roster or keeping sentences organized, attacking people from some sort of self-imagined high horse is just sort of embarrassing to watch.

Well EXCUSE ME! I'm only able to type with two fingers, FU.

The fact of the matter is you have an uttenable stance, get used to being wrong.

I'm still waiting for those articles endorsing McDummy. Got any?

I hear alot of brazen and brash, none wise or calculated.

watermock
06-11-2009, 07:56 PM
Moreover, I was PURPLE LIKE A DEAD MAN AND BRAIN DEAD FOR 3 WEEKS.

Excuse me for defying odds when left for dead at a hospice.

telluride
06-11-2009, 08:16 PM
You get an A for effort. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

watermock
06-11-2009, 08:22 PM
I didn't write the piece.

I'm still waiting for the Mcdummy is a genius for his offseason moves.


http://www.orangemane.com/BB/image.php?u=944&dateline=1242437581

Pictures worth a thousand words.

Popps
06-11-2009, 09:20 PM
Well EXCUSE ME! I'm only able to type with two fingers, FU.

The fact of the matter is you have an uttenable stance, get used to being wrong.

I'm still waiting for those articles endorsing McDummy. Got any?

I hear alot of brazen and brash, none wise or calculated.

Again, dude... this just reads like nonsense.

Feel free to be "dude who attacks everyone," but its just embarrassing to watch when you fall on your face with every post.

watermock
06-11-2009, 09:46 PM
I'm just a voice on internet board.

The pieces of offense were established before McDummy arrived. Yet, he spent 6 picks on offense, and traded our #1.

BroncoMan4ever
06-11-2009, 09:53 PM
Hmm... I don't see Moss beating out Dumervil for a starting spot at all. And I think Woodyard might be too small to play Mike, he would be DJ's backup at Will. I would love to have DJ and Woodyard both on the field, they are probably our best 2 LB's. I just don't know if it will happen, McD has a premium on size and Woodyard just doesnt have it. He bulked up to about 230, which is great. But that is still small for a Mike in a 3-4

Zach Thomas was and is still considered small for a MLB and he was one of the best for awhile.

Woodyard doesn't have the size, but he has the ability, tenacity, toughness and desire that will allow him to succeed as a MIKE in a 3-4 even if he is technically undersized.

also, i agree. that WILL is Doom's spot. no chance in hell will Moss be able to take it from him.

kappys
06-11-2009, 11:55 PM
1) The only thing monstrous about Jarvis Moss is how monstrously bad his performances have been. So far nothin to suggest he has miraculously learned to play and I expect Elvis to be the WOLB.

2) The idea of WW at Mike seems eminently reasonable on likely passing downs. If he can take on blockers decently and isn't too much of a liability to give up big rushing plays then I wouldn't be supruised to see him in on 2nd and 10 or 3rd and > 5 type of downs. With his speed it would almost be reminiscent of the big nickle package using Sam Brandon. That said I expect him to be DJ's backup and a role player at Mike for certain situations.

Hulamau
06-11-2009, 11:59 PM
Despite the simple language, the article does spell out the issue fairly clearly and has a reasonable take on these players and their importance for this D.

Yes the three D lineman are very important too, particularly a serviceable NT. But their roles are a good deal different than last year in the 4-3 when the down guys had to generate most all of the penetration and pass rush.

With Thomas, Fields and Baker vying for, and likely rotating at, NT I think we'll be okay if not decent. Not ALL Pro perhaps, but not an embarrassment either. When Fields or Baker is at NT, Thomas takes another end spot and the remaining End(s) rotation will likely come from Peterson, Powell, McBean, Clemons, with Rulon and/or Pedescleaux likely pushing for significant playing time as well by mid season. six will not make the team and one will likely land on the PS for more development.

Reid and Ayers will likely line up along the line as well at times when we resemble more of a 4-3 package on certain downs.

In any event, while you obviously can't have a total fail at any of the three major positions ... the D-line, LBs or DBs ... the LB corp playing well is the single most important group on D this year.

The secondary will be a solid unit as it is. Possibly one of the most talented across the board in the NFL, top five talent-wise at least.

Thomas I feel should thrive in this system and in his third year now. And while Fields wasn't Vince Wilfork at SF he held his own and wasn't run rough shod over either.

Even if the starting three is Thomas, Fields and Peterson to start the season that should be a serviceable group with rotation from Baker, Powell and McBean ( I expect McD/Nolan will dress 7 Dlineman early on in the season until the top 6 sort out so either Rulon or Pedescleaux is likely to dress at least some this season). And Thomas with his versatility in having the size and quickness to play either DE or NT will start ever game, and with solid LB play we will be a much better Defensive team than last year by mid way through the year.

Furthermore, Nolan is smart enough to adjust coverages and schemes to get the most from the players he has and not try to squeeze too much blood from a turnip.

The key is getting the transition down pat from Doom, Ayers, Moss, Reid into backpedaling and playing coverage in space. I do expect some learning curve here, but if at least two of these guys click before long we'll be alright.

And I, for one, think Woodyard is special player. Not ideal size, but he played like he was 240 tackling machine with a mean streak and a non-stop motor last year at 218. Now at 230 and no real loss of speed according to him should be interesting.

Taking Wesley and Larsen out and putting back DJ and Webster at the end of the year while both were still hurt I feel cost us at least one of those games that would have saved Shanny's neck for another year at least.

Maybe that was a blessing in disguise ...

watermock
06-12-2009, 12:30 AM
Accurate

FireFly
06-12-2009, 01:30 AM
Personally, I'd like to see:

LBers:

Doom, Moss
Williams, WW
Larsen, Davis
Ayers, Reid

DLine:
DE: Thomas
NT: Fields
DE: Peterson

Re: the article

I didn't think that it was THAT badly written, I'm mean we've all read worse this offseason. I mean it wasn't Earth moving stuff, but it wasn't THAT bad; probably better suited to a post on an internet forum than an actual article that someone might ever pay money for though!

FireFly
06-12-2009, 01:34 AM
But if Nolan can make ANYthing out of Moss, I'll be over the moon! :)

Let alone make him a monster, in which case I'd have to consider naming my first child after the genius that he would clearly have proven himself to be!

cutthemdown
06-12-2009, 01:50 AM
Moss/Doom Williams/Woodyard Johnson/Larsen Reid/Bailey

baja
06-12-2009, 06:00 AM
I know for a fact my 13 year old daughter could have written something better than this.

It was much better than one of the rambling, redundant, self serving, presumptuous efforts you have inflicted on us in the past.

kamakazi_kal
06-12-2009, 07:08 AM
Moreover, I was PURPLE LIKE A DEAD MAN AND BRAIN DEAD FOR 3 WEEKS.

Excuse me for defying odds when left for dead at a hospice.

And you wake up to this offseason....... bummer dude.

elsid13
06-12-2009, 07:22 AM
Moreover, I was PURPLE LIKE A DEAD MAN AND BRAIN DEAD FOR 3 WEEKS.

Excuse me for defying odds when left for dead at a hospice.

We really don't want to hear about your Krank

JJG
06-12-2009, 07:27 AM
http://www.orangemane.com/BB/image.php?u=2492&dateline=1244758827

Actually, that avatar is nice, the OP is crap. Reid at OLB? Monet I think.

Georges Seurat.

worm
06-12-2009, 07:31 AM
Georges Seurat.

Would be obvious if you were standing in front of it. Hard to see the pointillism from this pic.

JJG
06-12-2009, 08:09 AM
Would be obvious if you were standing in front of it. Hard to see the pointillism from this pic.

true, but it probably is his most famous painting.

Kaylore
06-12-2009, 09:00 AM
There should be a rule that you have to mention a bleacher report article when it is posted.

Also Bronco Rob, you need to stop posting entire articles on here and follow the posting guidelines Taco has set out.

Tombstone RJ
06-12-2009, 09:10 AM
I think I found the reason this article stinks:

http://bleacherreport.com/users/121513-Prajit-Ramaprasad

I'll give him a pat on the back for trying but I've got to question the web site that puts such a poorly written article out on the net for all the world to see.

Hulamau
06-12-2009, 09:16 AM
And you wake up to this offseason....... bummer dude.

A shot of Orton after 'Hands of Stone Hester' dropped another sure TB between the numbers ... Have fun Jay! :kiss:

Hulamau
06-12-2009, 09:27 AM
Georges Seurat.

.... At the Thyssen Bornemizsa in Madrid

JJG
06-12-2009, 10:19 AM
.... At the Thyssen Bornemizsa in Madrid

did they buy it from the art institute of chicago?

I havent seen this one, but I saw The Bathers at Asnieres at the National gallery in London

Gcver2ver3
06-12-2009, 11:35 AM
And you wake up to this offseason....... bummer dude.

let's play...

http://www.colts.hoosierlogic.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/071104_peytonmanning2_vmed_8pwidec-222x300.jpg

http://www.everyjoe.com/squibkick/files/2006/11/tom-brady-hats-off.jpg

http://images.townnews.com/svherald.com/content/articles/2009/03/18/sports/cardinals/doc49c17ba8e76c8912623525.jpg

http://broncotalk.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/jaycutler5.jpg