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oubronco
02-10-2010, 08:42 AM
SB lesson No. 2: Be strong inside

By Lindsay Jones FORT LAUDERDALE ó The Saints offensive line last week were honored as being the best unit in the leauge, winning the Madden Most Valuable Protector award here at the Super Bowl media center.

While tackles Jon Stinchcomb and Jermon Bushrod have certainly played well, it is really on the interior of that offensive line where the Saints have excelled. Right guard Jahri Evans is a Pro Bowler, and center Jonathan Goodwin and left guard Carl Nicks ó fairly anonymous outside of New Orleans ó have paved the way for the Saints underrated run game and helped create a fairly safe pocket for quarterback Drew Brees.

The lesson here for the Broncos is no surprise: the indentity of the team starts up front. As the Broncos raced to their 6-0 start last fall, the offensive line was dominant. As they faded to 8-8, the group was often pushed around, and coach Josh McDaniels repeatedly pointed to the line (and other blockers) as the reason for the teamís stagnant running game.

Guards and centers donít get much press ó and even less in Denver because they rarely talk ó so whatever moves the Broncos make there might not be the big splash type of deals that we might see elsewhere. But if the Broncos are to successfully change line schemes and implement a power running style, that starts with the middle of the line.

It seems unlikely that longtime guard Ben Hamilton wonít be back (he just played the final year of his contract) and center Casey Wiegmann could decide to retire. The Broncos must decide what to do about right guard Chris Kuper, who will likely be a restricted free agent. Kuper is among the teamís biggest and toughest linemen so it is important he remains a Bronco. Russ Hochstein, who started eight games, suffered a major knee injury in the second to last game of the season, so his status for early 2010 will be in question, too.

Bottom line: Get ready for plenty of changes.

Rohirrim
02-10-2010, 09:46 AM
Football 101, Lesson 1: Good lines make good teams.