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Published on 11/09/2010 at Tue Nov 09 19:05.
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Broncos general manager Brian Xanders checks the board in the team's war room. (AP Photo/Denver Broncos, Eric Lars Bakke)

Broncos general manager Brian Xanders checks the board in the team's war room. (AP Photo/Denver Broncos, Eric Lars Bakke)

We’re three days into the week long column designed specifically to wet your dried up tongues for a battle against the best in the AFC West Kansas City Chiefs.

Here’s part one and part two of the Best of the West breakdown.

We’ve got some incredible fan contribution on the two posted articles, so please keep it coming and I’ll get the guys that I am recruiting to write here to respond in the comments section.

Today’s scenario as a new general manager:

On the defensive side of things the Broncos have been decimated. We’ve tried 3-4, we’ve tried 4-3 we don’t have the personnel at this point for either. Is it bend but don’t break, is it full on onslaught or at this point or let’s just do the best we can with what we’ve got?

I’ve been batting cleanup on all of these articles so I am going to send myself out to the sharks first on this one. What embarrassing thing can I say about myself here? Hmm… I once bet BroncoTalk’s Kyle Montgomery that if the Broncos traded away Jay Cutler I would name my dog Bailey (after Champ Bailey). Bailey is a great dane puppy, she’s blue, with an orange collar. Allow me to reintroduce myself, my name is Ian Henson.

The best offense is a good defense, I have said before that the best defense is a  good offense, but the Denver Broncos have made me realize this season that the best defense is a good special teams. In games when the Broncos have been able to do something prolific on special teams they’ve at least been able to hold their own. I see why Josh McDaniels has such a gigantic emphasis on this area. Special teams (well, lack there of) is what makes the San Diego Chargers capable of losing to absolutely anyone in the NFL this season.

There are more than a few times this season when Broncos fans have witnessed this exact thing; special teams, it’s the reason teams win.

Onto the defense, I am assuming that Denver will stick with the 3-4, though a 4-3 with Ronald Fields and Jamal Williams seems pretty difficult to defend to me. Blitzing, and I am not talking about five players coming at the quarterback, I am talking all out blitzkrieg 1943 Germany over London decimating type defense. That’s the only way Denver’s going to be able to operate towards anything this season. Put trust in Champ Bailey, put trust in Andre Goodman, Perrish Cox can hold his own against any third tier receiver in the league… Brian Dawkins and Ronaldo Hill will have to be held up to what is expected of them. Yes, mistakes will be made, but I’d rather have the mistakes coming 2:1 on the offensive side of the ball.

J. Kenneth K. who rides his bike from Brooklyn to Manhattan for the Denver games so that he can stay sober enough to not drain his pain in alcohol from the sorry Broncos performances this season is next up.

I attempted a paragraph of explanation to answer this question and ended with a sentence that sums it all up. The defensive line still needs major work. For how many seasons must we lament over this?

Now, Bryan Douglass who is the only person I have ever met with a narcoleptic dog… Yes, I said it, a dog that sleep walks and then passes out for no reason what-so-ever. Watch the clip you will not be sorry.

MY OPINION: At this point, it should be about evaluation and analysis. It should be about leaving this horrific experience with something in your pocket for tomorrow. It should be about experimentation, about testing the waters and about the desire to learn what works and what doesn’t and then reacting to that (now and in the off-season).

THE TRUTH: With an objective view… it kind of has to be about, “Let’s do the best we can with what we’ve got,” right?

That’s it for Tuesday, we should have a new round table for you every day through the week as the Broncos prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs. We also encourage your participation, what would you do if given the keys to the team?

San Diego Chargers
  • john616

    Couldn't agree more. Balls to the wall on defense. Although,offensively I would like to see 4 wr formations, no huddle, all game long, just do it.

  • Ian Henson

    By the way, if anyone's been keeping up with the column in part 1 I suggested Zane Beadles be moved elsewhere on the line and that Ryan Harris return and right tackle. I also suggested activating Lance Ball, both were done tonight.

  • bpdouglass

    And in the 3rd quarter we'll get Beadles back at tackle when Harris tweeks his hammy… love the fact McDaniels sat in that press conference and specifically spoke on the need to get a consistent formation on the offensive line, and then changed the damn formation again. Not that it isn't needed (pretty sure that's why Beadles was drafted… now they just want to define his most productive spot), but I'm just sayin'…

  • anthony33

    Agree that the defense needs to step. Watching Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Green Bay over the past couple of weeks was fun. Every player goes 110% on every snap. Fun to watch. NY Giants play the same way.

    McCartney should forget about coaching the Buffs. What Bowlen should do is convince him to be the Broncos GM or at least have complete control over personnel decisions. Why? McCartney knows how to build a football team. He knows it starts with the O-line and Front 7 on D. He knows that you cannot dominate unless you win both lines of scrimmage. He knows talent.

    When the Buffs were in there hayday I swear they had better and bigger offensive and defensive front lines than some pro teams.

    The Broncos want to be phyical??? Go get somebody that actually knows what that means.

  • areferee

    I like your reasoning Anthony, but McDaniels would never allow the introduction of anyone who knows more about head coaching than he does. Mike Nolan is just one example. McCartney is another. Josh evidently wields that much power, as well, thanks to a weakening owner who is surrounded by “Yes Men”.

    McDaniels only wants coaches and players to be subservient to his system, but I fear he didn't learn enough from Billy Boy before he became the man in charge. You only have to look at the list of players and coaches that JM has dished, to see his intent.

    Even the fans looking through the brightest of Orange colored glasses will ultimately come to that realization. The question is, how many weeks, months or years will we lose before Bowlen recognizes it? Substantive correction begins here!

  • El Pana

    since McDaniels phylosophy, no one is indispensable and every person has to earn his position…

    oh, Does that mean we should change him??

  • Ian Henson

    You hate the offensive line!

    I am not talking Stanley Daniels here, I am talking the Broncos second round draft pick and Ryan Harris, who in tandem with Ryan Clady were the two best offensive tackles in the NFL last season.

  • Josh McDaniels

    Is it just me or does Brian Xanders look like he is borderline retarded?

  • Ian Henson

    I agree, I feel as if he is living via the Belichick rules, but he needs to forge his own.

  • AKfan

    Kind of scary the situation surrounding Bowlen with his admissions of memory problems and letting Joe Ellis take more and more responsibility. Hopefully we are not descending into a situation similar to Oakland has with Al Davis. If the season continues on a similar trajectory as it is currently changes need to be demanded by Bowlen. Hopefully the season begins to right itself starting Sunday, but I am wondering if Bowlen is still the hard charging capable owner he once was.

  • kerry

    no he is full on retarded. there is no borderline about it. him and MCD are Beavis and Butthead of the new millenium.

    Huh huh huh hey Beavis, maybe we should draft that um, running back who is like all small and stuff.

    heh heh heh yeah that would be awesome butthead, umm whats a Running back?

  • 5280

    D is the key and i agree. wow that just rhymed. i think for the remainder of the season they need to blitz, blitz, blitz. who cares if the other team expects it. lets see if they can handle it. the tow primary blitzers should be DJ williams and briwn dawking. two of the hardest hitter we have who are also fast. but disguise is everything. overload one side. hit the A gap hard. blitz dawkins from the blind side. show DJ falling back then blitz him late. do all four of these on the same play. but at least quit letting the qb prop up a lazy boy and chill till he finds an open man. we have one of the best secondaries in the league as long as some ones creating havoc in the offensive back field and its not like we have Osi Uyminuora and Justin Tuck on each end so the blitz is important.

  • 12508

    Xanders looking at a draft board. This is what he looks like before he drafts another bust. Is it me or would Bill Parcells look alot better in this picture? Get rid of Xanders!!!

  • LevonZevon

    Way to go 5280 and Ian (re: real overloaded blitzes). I've been preaching that for years (primarily when I blogged at a broncos-discuss site that was at until this season when Bowlen's minions canceled it).

    Plus, remember that one of the main advantages of the 3-4 is how it facilitates better disguising of Dick LeBeau's 6 permutations of zone-blitzes (where, every once in awhile, you drop a guy like Ryan McBean into the vacated A-gap where the QB is looking for his hot read if DJ comes charging in… as you both wisely suggested).

    And Ian: although you are right about the pressure on Champ, Perrish, Cassius and Andre to cover without getting any double-teams from presumably-blitzing Safeties like McBath and B-Dawk….

    ….Well, remember playing five-on-five in junior high-school where the end-zone was the leaf-covered back-bumper of a 1989 Volvo on some suburban street?

    When you knew that the guy who normally counts to 5 or 7 Mississippi is slated to come charging in to the QB on a blitz, the coverage of said receiver becomes attacking rather than retreating (since you know the ball has to come out quicker and you can afford to jump a route… like the now-unshackled Alpohonso Smith behind Detroit's front four).

    If Perrish or Champ can jump an out-route and run it back for a pick-six, the opposition's QB is going to be concerned about more than just hits, pressures, fumbles and hurried incompletions. In fact, he may just begin looping high-sailing passes down-field more often, in the hope that his WR's can out-jump our islanded defensive-backs if the Broncos reverse decades of passive, keep-everything-in-front-of-you Cover 2 and actually give an athlete like DJ Williams the chance to use his speed while going forward (more than 5-6 times an entire season).

    What exactly do we have to lose by trying (except, perhaps, for setting a record for the worst home-field advantage and concurrently sapping team-morale)? And, at least, there's a chance for good things to happen and for intimidation to again become part of a Denver defense.

    Plus, a guy like Jason Hunter– who was a defensive-end previously like the useless Jarvis Moss– can apply those old skills occasionally instead of constantly being forced into unfamiliar coverage responsibilities.

    But none of this will happen under McDaniels unless Bowlen/Ellis orders it (since you know that Brian Xanders and Wink Martindale certainly lack the job security to insist upon this). For a control-freak head-coach is more afraid of winning under these circumstances than losing and muddling through in the old familiar way (when opponents have to score in 6-8 plays… unless we get a lucky unforced error from a professional NFL QB under no duress).

    This is what happened three or four seasons ago when we beat Pittsburgh at Invesco behind the kind of double-blitzes Ian suggested (which means more than just 4 rushers out of a 3-4). That game, we beat up Roethlisberger and upset the Steelers behind 7 to 9 of these 5-6 rusher blitzes.

    But Shanahan instantly reverted to form and only blitzed when it was a desperate and obvious situation where we needed the ball back and were trailing by 14-or-more with less than a quarter to play. And, even then, he only used the aging John Lynch instead of the more-explosive DJ Williams (whose Al Wilson-like, 25-yard down-field drops were too tantalizing for Shanahan's Def. Coordinator puppets to stop deploying).

    McDaniels, I fear, is the same stiff-necked personality-type (and was actually being a bit deceitful when he implied that Nolan and he only disagreed with the run-blitzes that were of no use against Kansas City last season). As I can see in 2010, it was blitzing in general that they parted ways on (and that is especially odd considering the great success that Nolan had with once-or-twice-a-game CB blitzes during the 6-0 start). And the K.C. travesty wasn't directly attributable to the run-blitzes anyway (even if the loss at Indy in '09 could be linked with Nolan's mistaken departure from the complex d-back zones that throttled Peyton “blitz-proof” Manning during the 2nd, 3rd and most of the 4th quarter). Then, three ill-considered blitzes on Indy's game-clinching final-drive were beaten by 25-yard gains to Dallas Clark.

    But Josh's self-destructive treatment of Peyton Hillis reminds me of how Shanahan lost the Lions game by benching Donovan McNabb when trailing 30-25.

    Supposedly, McNabb lacked the 100% recall of all the 2-minute formations that Shanahan's equally-complex playbook demanded.

    So what was the result when Rex Grossman came in? He fumbled on the first snap and the Lions prevailed 37-25.

    If the similarities are as great as I feared and Pat “emulating Oakland A's ex-owner Charlie Finley” Bowlen doesn't demand another thrice-a-decade blitz-fest, we'll probably only see blitzes when Kansas City is already up and anticipating a desperation move (which, of course, is like an onside kick when there's a minute left and you're trailing by a touchdown).

    Blitzing, like throwing 20+ yards over-the-middle– which Matt Ryan did to Roddy White under heavy Tampa pressure and before his WR even came open– is something that works best when its less predictable (i.e when the game is close).

    Although is doesn't always work, it can light a fire under a team by reminding them that football is usually won by the team that forces their opponent to throw in less time than their own QB has. Or, as LeMarr Woodley, James Harrison and Bill Romanowski could explain:

    “You want to be the team that punches the 98-pound weakling in the mouth…. not the always-retreating 98-pound weakling” (whose only consolation is that they manged to cover more spaces on the field).

    When that happens, opposing QB's will let the pre-snap play-clock go down to 0:01 as they gesticulate and point out potential blitzers (as Orton did in anticipation of Jets blitzes on the final two plays).

    When a QB's mind and body-memory are more concerned with those factors– and whether they can mange to still step up into a throw without being pulverized when their chest is wide-open– they lack the time to be reminding themselves when the instantaneous window of opportunity to hit their second-read will come open (and they certainly won't have time to locate a slower-developing crossing route).

    Yes….. on the chalkboard at mid-week practice or at halftime, calmly locating the hot-read is as simple as pie for…. well, for a head-coach, his brother or, ahem, his offensive-coordinator

    But in the heat of battle with footsteps bearing down on you and a distinct desire to stand upright for the penultimate drives that will decide the game, throwing the ball away or off a QB's back-foot– which we've repeatedly seen from our own Broncos signal-callers as the protection breaks down– seems to happen a lot more commonly than the former scenario.

    And as long as the entirely-theoretical Broncos blitzers are coached to retain gap integrity without losing much acceleration, this should also work against Matt Cassel (who will still have to locate Dwayne Bowe against Champ Bailey's coverage.. but in much less time than normal!!!).

    Then, it comes down to whether we can take away their middle-screens to Jamaal Charles or Thomas Jones and maybe a quick-out bubble-screen to Dexter McClusker. Which is where a zone-dropping Ryan McBean or Kevin Vickerson must able to to disrupt the Chiefs peeling-out RB's before they've gone 5 yards (and all that's left is Mario Haggan between them and a long-gain).

    But I'd rather have a stout LB like Mario Haggan having to cover a screen for 2 seconds than trying to track down Jamaal Charles after the Chiefs have had 5 seconds to throw the ball and set up their blockers.

    And remember too that fake blitzes where we bluff and drop the linebackers– when Denver anticipates a RB screen or draw-play– are only effective when a team actually gambles and deploys the real-thing more than once a game.

    In that, its not so different from throwing long to Brandon Lloyd. Or not too different from running play-action fakes after you maange to gain over 5-yards on the last running-play.

    To wit, its all linked. And you can't beat other teams without reminding them that every play is on the table. Even passes that go 20-yards or more and are positioned between the hash-marks.

    When Eric Mangini finally loosened up the reins and coached to win– rather than to limit the opponent's theoretical infliction of damage– the Browns started winning behind inventive and unforeseen formations and play-calling.

    And that's because morale– which still matters even on the professional level– is directly proportional to having fun and getting an opportunity to make a highlight-reel-type play. Any player is more jacked-up for those opportunities than they are for the umpteenth usage of a cover-2 or cover-3, going-through-the-motions banality. Just ask them (off-the-record or without attribution).

  • jdkchem

    Didn't the Germans LOSE the Battle of Britain in 1940?

  • jdkchem

    The defense is lacking an “Al Wilson” type of player.

  • jdkchem

    Where do you come up with this? 2-8 in your final 10 games because the defense massively collapsed is not an indicator that you know more about head coaching than the head coach. The fish are 4-4 and have one win against a team with a winning record.
    McCartney knows the college game that does not translate to doing well in the NFL.

  • LevonZevon

    Funny reply, jdkchem. However, at the risk of purporting to sound like a smarty-pants: the real reason wasn't the attacking of Goering's blitzkrieg.

    In actuality, the Germans failed to realize that the power-lines they failed to bomb were more than what they appeared. They were early-stage radar installations that allowed the British to track the Luftwaffe's fighter planes.

    If Field Marshall Goering had realized this– instead of assuming they were innocuous power-lines or radio transmission towers– he could have probably kept his promise to defeat Britain within one month (as the R.A.F. wouldn't have had any insight about where the Germans were attacking and in what numbers).

    The early gains of the Luftwaffe were able to be withstood to a virtual standoff (which, as George Washington could tell you, always goes to the home-team).

    But don't ask me. Ask Gunther Cunninggam and Marty Schottenheimer.

  • anthony33

    He knows you build teams with the offensive line and defensive front 7. How does that not translate to the pro game??? I'm not implying he coaches the team, but come as president or whatever you want to call it, just let him rebuild this mess.

    The FOUR simple reasons McD must go:

    1. 4-14 record

    2. 59-14… yeah, at home

    3. Cleveland has the #12 rusher in the NFL, we have a QB that's been active for one game.

    4. Detroit has the #2 interception leader in NFL, we have a tight end with something like one catch.

    Can anyone come up with 4 compelling reasons as to why he should stay???

  • anthony33

    The FOUR simple reasons McD must go:

    1. 4-14 record

    2. 59-14… yeah, at home

    3. Cleveland has the #12 rusher in the NFL, we have a QB that's been active for one game.

    4. Detroit has the #2 interception leader in NFL, we have a tight end with something like one catch.

    Can anyone come up with 4 compelling reasons as to why he should stay???

  • kerry

    they lack that AND about ten others with talent. having an Al Wilson wouldnt suddenly make the defense a good one.

  • courtneybrown98

    Mcdaniels is an offensive co at best!