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Bronco Rob
02-16-2010, 04:38 AM
Four Downs: AFC West : Denver: What went wrong in the second half?


15 Feb 2010

Four Downs: AFC West by Bill Barnwell


Denver: What went wrong in the second half?

The Broncos' 2-8 collapse after a 6-0 start cost them what appeared to be a guaranteed playoff spot; teams that start 6-0 have historically made the playoffs more than 96 percent of the time. The 2003 Vikings were the only team since 1990 to also start 6-0 and proceed to miss the playoffs. So what changed, and what do the Broncos need to do in 2010 to play more like the first half version?

You can start with something Denver can't control: Injuries. Denver starters missed only three games from Weeks 1-9, an absurdly low total. From Week 10 on, they missed 10; that's still way below league average, but not a historically-low total like the first half figure was. Unfortunately, injury levels almost always regress to the mean on a year-to-year basis, and the Broncos are all but guaranteed to see more injuries, not fewer, in 2010.

On the field, the biggest difference for Denver across the two halves was their rush defense. Through Week 9, Football Outsiders' advanced DVOA metric (explained here) rated the Denver run defense with -18.2% DVOA against the run, the second-best figure in football. After Week 9, though, the Broncos were miserable: their 11.3% DVOA was the second-worst in football over the final eight weeks. Teams were able to get into manageable situations by running the ball on first down, averaging 4.95 yards per first-down carry during Weeks 10-17. That's way up from 4.13 yards per first-down carry in the first two months.

So, how to fix it? Denver's already made one move, allowing defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to leave for Miami. (That's not necessarily a good move.) If you're in the camp that chalks up the second-half decline to a worn-down defensive line, the Broncos would be wise to add more big bodies up front that fit their 3-4 scheme. One spot in particular would be at nose tackle, where Ronald Fields is a situational player stretched as a starter. If the Broncos target one player in free agency, it should be 49ers nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, who would be the perfect fit for their needs and scheme.


Who Might Leave?

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall seems poised to depart; although he's a restricted free agent, Marshall is likely to be traded before the draft for picks, although it's hard to find a team that hasn't outwardly rejected the possibility of acquiring Marshall. Chicago needs a wide receiver, but doesn't have a first- or second-round pick, while mooted targets like San Francisco and Seattle don't make sense.

Elvis Dumervil and Kyle Orton are also restricted free agents, but the likelihood of either departing is roughly nil. On the unrestricted front, guards Ben Hamilton and Russ Hochstein are both free to leave, as is center Casey Wiegmann. The three combined for 34 starts this year up front.


Who Could They Add?

The aforementioned Franklin would be the perfect addition, but if he's not franchised by the 49ers, he might follow Nolan to Miami. If Franklin isn't available, assuming that Vince Wilfork remains off the market, the team could splurge for Steelers NT Casey Hampton or the Packers' Ryan Pickett. The unrestricted market for guards is thin, so unless Denver finds a palatable option in restricted free agency, there's not much to be done there. With Tony Scheffler an RFA, McDaniels could make a move for his former tight end in New England, Benjamin Watson, who's unrestricted.



http://www.footballoutsiders.com/four-downs/2010/four-downs-afc-west

HILife
02-16-2010, 08:22 AM
@NT parts. Make it so.



P.S. First

Broncomutt
02-16-2010, 08:24 AM
Dear Josh,

Good luck in free agency.

Sincerely,

Jeff

Rabb
02-16-2010, 08:31 AM
God can you imagine getting Hampton's big ass in here?

No way Pitt lets him walk, is there?

Man-Goblin
02-16-2010, 08:33 AM
Franklin is getting the tag.

bowtown
02-16-2010, 08:41 AM
I'd like to see us re-sign Hochstein as a backup. Weigmann and Hamilton are free to go or retire.

Bronco Boy
02-16-2010, 09:28 AM
Pickett would be a nice move IMO.

WolfpackGuy
02-16-2010, 09:42 AM
A blocker eating NT would be great.

Beantown Bronco
02-16-2010, 09:55 AM
On the unrestricted front, guards Ben Hamilton and Russ Hochstein are both free to leave, as is center Casey Wiegmann. The three combined for 34 starts this year up front.


Author needs to fact-check. Wiegmann is NOT an unrestricted FA.

azbroncfan
02-16-2010, 10:02 AM
It's been discussed over and over. The scheme advantages after week 6 weren't there anymore and it is talent on talent and that is where Denver was behind the 8 ball.

jhat01
02-16-2010, 10:06 AM
I saw an interesting tidbit on the NFLN about Tomlin and the Steelers during his first year. They started out strong and faded at the end losing 3 of 4 before their 1st round loss to the Jags. Ben and Troy were saying that they were completely worn out by the end of the year. Physically beat up and tired. Tomlin said he learned from that and adjusted the TC schedule and the practice schedule from then on.

I think the Broncos did wear down last year, but their slide obviously started much earlier. Hopefully the staff has identified issues with TC/practice, if there were any, and will adjust accordingly.

strafen
02-16-2010, 10:07 AM
This is so stupid to be talking about now.
This is what Mcdaniels should have addressed in last year's draft.
People don't seem to understand we are no better off right now than we were last year at the same time.
We still need help big time up front.

Doggcow
02-16-2010, 10:13 AM
I saw an interesting tidbit on the NFLN about Tomlin and the Steelers during his first year. They started out strong and faded at the end losing 3 of 4 before their 1st round loss to the Jags. Ben and Troy were saying that they were completely worn out by the end of the year. Physically beat up and tired. Tomlin said he learned from that and adjusted the TC schedule and the practice schedule from then on.

I think the Broncos did wear down last year, but their slide obviously started much earlier. Hopefully the staff has identified issues with TC/practice, if there were any, and will adjust accordingly.

If that's true... I don't know how much I would want to change. Honestly, we were firing on all cylinders in the first 6 weeks, and looked nearly invincible. I'd rather maintain a high level like that, and I know teams can do it.

I think our fading was more due to the lines than being exhausted though.

Doggcow
02-16-2010, 10:14 AM
This is so stupid to be talking about now.
This is what Mcdaniels should have addressed in last year's draft.
People don't seem to understand we are no better off right now than we were last year at the same time.
We still need help big time up front.

Did anyone honestly think we had a MASSIVE PROBLEM with our Interior Oline?

Taco John
02-16-2010, 10:31 AM
Whoever wrote that article clearly doesn't follow the Denver Broncos very closely.

WolfpackGuy
02-16-2010, 10:31 AM
This is so stupid to be talking about now.
This is what Mcdaniels should have addressed in last year's draft.
People don't seem to understand we are no better off right now than we were last year at the same time.
We still need help big time up front.

The defensive line was totally ignored in the draft.

As for why, who knows?

BroncoMan4ever
02-16-2010, 01:31 PM
God can you imagine getting Hampton's big ass in here?

No way Pitt lets him walk, is there?

i seem to remember talk about Pitt thinking about trading him last summer, because they had a younger guy they wanted in there, but nothing ever materialized. it wouldn't surprise me if they let him walk.

BroncoMan4ever
02-16-2010, 01:37 PM
I saw an interesting tidbit on the NFLN about Tomlin and the Steelers during his first year. They started out strong and faded at the end losing 3 of 4 before their 1st round loss to the Jags. Ben and Troy were saying that they were completely worn out by the end of the year. Physically beat up and tired. Tomlin said he learned from that and adjusted the TC schedule and the practice schedule from then on.

I think the Broncos did wear down last year, but their slide obviously started much earlier. Hopefully the staff has identified issues with TC/practice, if there were any, and will adjust accordingly.

i don't think conditioning was the reason for the fade this season.

we started fast because McDaniels and his staff outschemed our opponents the 1st 6 weeks of the season. he schemed to hide our weaknesses, but after those 6 weeks teams began to see what we were doing and the scheme advantages went away, and then it became about talent, and outside of a decent foundation of players, this wasn't a particularly talented team. a lot of stop gap guys and rotation players.

our interior line needs to be replaced, the DL needs to be upgraded, and outside of Doom(who isn't great at dropping into coverage or in run support) the rest of our LBs can be upgraded.

Broncos_OTM
02-16-2010, 04:20 PM
This is so stupid to be talking about now.
This is what Mcdaniels should have addressed in last year's draft.
People don't seem to understand we are no better off right now than we were last year at the same time.
We still need help big time up front.

Last year we had the best Oline in the leauge argueably. How were we supposed to know the wheels were gonna come off. What is your suggestion for the line last year. You havfe to give mcd credit as the defense improved significantly. So we did see improvement last year and i expect more.

watermock
02-16-2010, 05:23 PM
The coaching vastly improved on D.
Nolan quit.

The offense regressed, and will more next season with BM and Scheff gone.
Beavis is still here.

I can't wait to see this years draft, 'cause we aren't gonna get much help on DL in FA.

strafen
02-16-2010, 06:05 PM
Did anyone honestly think we had a MASSIVE PROBLEM with our Interior Oline?Not really. I meant to say the defensive line.
I think aside from the center position we were good coming into last year.
I still think we're not as bad as people may think.
We need a solid center that will be able to anchor the OL and make the job of the interior linemen much better

We're still behind the 8-ball in building the d-line...

DBroncos4life
02-16-2010, 06:13 PM
Last year we had the best Oline in the leauge argueably. How were we supposed to know the wheels were gonna come off. What is your suggestion for the line last year. You havfe to give mcd credit as the defense improved significantly. So we did see improvement last year and i expect more.

Tinkering with the system was the downfall of the O-Line. People want to say that ZBS is dead but just watch in a couple of years it will be working fine again. To me it's like the 3-4. The more teams run it the harder it was to find talent.

strafen
02-16-2010, 06:17 PM
Last year we had the best Oline in the leauge argueably. How were we supposed to know the wheels were gonna come off. What is your suggestion for the line last year. You havfe to give mcd credit as the defense improved significantly. So we did see improvement last year and i expect more.I meant to say the DL not the OL.
That being said, the center positon as of last year was in need of an upgrade. Wiegmann is a solid center no doubt, but he's got not much left in the tank.
The OL was good. I think we still have some good talent in there. The problem I saw was more about adjusting to a new system and the time needed to gel to become a cohesive unit, more than any drop in talent.
For that reason I don't see the OL having its wheels come off.
We've had a tale of two running backs, CBuck seemed to do well running the ball last season. Moreno had his issues often blamed on the OL. I just don't think that was the case.

As far as the DL...
Do I give McDaniels credit for the defense improvement?
Of course. You can't argue the vast improvement from 29th? in 2008 to 7th in the NFL last year was unexpected. I do. Still the lack of depth and impact players came back to haunt us at the end.
We need some young blood in there. We could've used an extra guy on defense from last year's draft with the picks we've got from Chicago.

The defense got good via addition by substraction. I give McDaniels credit for the moves he made, but I also think Nolan's defensive scheme played an important role in such improvement given what he had to work with.