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Published on 06/09/2010 at Wed Jun 09 14:51.
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This fall, as football gets underway, there is one contest I will be watching very closely. No, I’m not talking about Kyle vs Brady vs Tim (although I’ve now publicly admitted my man-crush on Tebow). No, I’m not talking about WR or Safety or TE. I’m talking about the virtual race between McDaniels and Shanahan over the implementation of their respective O-line schemes.

As we all know, Mike Shanahan has made his career perfecting the Zone Blocking scheme. That scheme has produced a series of +1000 yard rushers unmatched in the NFL. Now, he’s in Washington where he’s trying to improve a very weak unit (Jason Campbell was sacked 43 times last season – third most in the league). In addition to adding a rookie first round pick (Trent Williams) at Left Tackle, Shanahan will be shuffling the team’s veterans in an attempt to transition the O-line into a Zone Blocking scheme. This is his first year with the unit and players, but he’s got decades of experience to relay on.

In Denver, Josh McDaniels took over a Zone Blocking powerhouse that allowed only 11 sacks in 2008 (second fewest in the league). Half way through the year, we now know that he began transitioning our O-line from a Zone to Power scheme. In 2009, Orton was sacked 29 times (and our total yards per game dropped by 14%). Now, McDaniels will need to replace veteran Center Casey Weigmann with Dustin Fry or rookie J.D. Walton (who has been taking first team reps recently). This is a part of his move toward players that fit his Power system more than the smaller more mobile players needed for Zone.

Given we have two coaches that will be linked for some time, I’m totally jazzed to see which one comes out on top. By that I mean, which coach can get their players and system into place and efficiently running before the other.

In fairness, McDaniels has a pro-bowl Left Tackle in Ryan Clady, while Shanahan only has an unproven first round draft pick at his LT position. McDaniels is in his second year in Denver, while Shanahan is just entering his first season with the Redskins. Josh also has a better statistical unit than Shanahan has in DC (thanks mostly to Shanahan drafting and training Clady, Kuper and Harris before he left).

However… I think I’ll spot McDaniels those advantages. Shanahan has experience and a proven track record with ZBS, so we’ll let the young guy get away with the head start and see what happens from here. :)

Maybe this is very football-geek thing to be watching, but I’ve always been fascinated by the inner-workings of the O-line and this parallel is just too interesting not to watch.

Feel free to chime in and give your predictions. I’m very interested in which O-line you think will do better this season and then also in 2011 (the final test). Also, I’m interested in whether or not you’ve followed our ZBS in the past and what you think about McD’s move away from it. Let me know what you think!

  • broncosman24


  • Marnash456

    Forget the Oline contest, lets just see which team does better. I have a feeling we're going to be real sad we let shanny go.

  • kerry

    shit Shanny smokes McD in this one. this isnt even a fair contest. Shanny can take nobodies and make them somebodies on an O-line. Mcd had Clady, Weigmann and Harris and couldnt bust a grape.

  • Broncos4ever

    To further analyzed our O-Line transformation, bringing in rookie free agents like Marinelli and Duncan clearly shows McD's move to a power game. Looks like Marinelli is about 10lbs lighter than Duncan and I think Duncan played at 325 last year at ND. We'll need Duncan's extra bulk when Ryan Harris needs a rest.

  • chris7

    Agreed. Def wanna see what happens over the wknd with the big dogs. the back-ups at the start of camp wind up being the starters towards the end of the season

  • StevieH

    Let's just hope that Ryan Harris can stay healthy and nobody steps on his toe…and that Clady rehabs quickly.

  • Sunil_singh

    I think moving Zane Beadles to the inside is a good move. Those two rookie free agent tackles can really play, but the Stanford kid seems too light. We need him to eat some more Colorado beef and cornbread if he's going to be effective….

  • Jonathan Douglas

    So, none of you are very worried that we've left the ZBS behind and are moving toward Power Blocking?

  • Aerobroncos

    not sure i would say very worried but more interested to see how this works. i mean we feel so safe with our ZBS because it worked for us for so long but we now have a new coach and things need be the way he wants it. i think power blocking can work if we can find the right pieces to put our O-line together.