Tag:Denver Broncos
Posted on: February 19, 2011 1:01 pm
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Fox makes it official, Denver switching to 4-3

Once the Denver Broncos hired John Fox to be their head coach many of us presumed he'd be bringing along his 4-3 defensive front to the AFC West.

On Friday, he made it official, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post.

"We're going to be a multiple-front defense, but I think we'll make the commitment to the 4-3. The transition from the 3-4 to 4-3 is much easier than going from the 4-3 to 3-4, I will say that. So we feel pretty confident about that switch."

The Broncos had long run the 4-3 alignment under Mike Shanahan, but switched to the 3-4 under Josh McDaniels. Under the tutelage of then-defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, the Broncos appeared to make early strides in the odd man front in 2009, but the team dropped from the No. 7 ranked overall defense two years ago to dead last this past season.

Fox is fortunate in his timing. Not only are the Broncos in prime position to add a defensive star with the No. 2 overall pick of the draft, they'll also be getting former NFL sacks champion Elvis Dumervil back this season. He missed all of last year with a torn pectoral muscle.

I currently project the Broncos to select defensive tackle Nick Fairley in the first round. My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter also has them taking the Auburn star.

Fairley, Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers each possess the size and strength to provide immediate help in Denver. The possibility also exists that the Broncos may have to consider LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson should they allow Champ Bailey to leave via free agency.

As always for the very best in NFL draft coverage, be sure to keep the page refreshed at NFLDraftScout.com


Posted on: December 27, 2010 12:24 pm
 

Carolina officially on the clock

Upset victories by the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos yesterday assured that the Carolina Panthers will finish the 2010 season with the worst record in the NFL and therefore will be awarded the first pick of the 2011 draft.

Despite the fact that the team invested in Jimmy Clausen with their first pick last April, it is a virtual certainty that the team will select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck should the redshirt sophomore elect to leave school early.

With Luck now knowing precisely where he'd begin his NFL career, his decision is made easier.

His decision could furthermore be made easier if recent speculation is correct and Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh is likely to leave The Cardinal after this season for another coaching position.
Many league insiders feel that if Harbaugh leaves, Luck will leave Stanford too.

Throughout the year there had been plenty of bold talk out of Stanford that Harbaugh would return. In fact, Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby had been quoted as saying that "Jim has indicated he plans to accept" a multi-year extension rumored to be in the neighborhood of three million dollars per season. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News asked Harbaugh if he had signed the deal (he hasn't) and what Harbaugh thought of his Bowlsby's proclamation that Harbaugh would soon sign the deal. Harbaugh's short reply only added fuel to the fire that he is looking at other options. Harbaugh, according to Wilner, said "Maybe he [Bowlsby] misspoke."

We now know Carolina has the first pick. One can read between the lines to see that Harbaugh is considering his options. There is a belief throughout the league that Harbaugh will consider an NFL position, but would rather take over for Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, Harbaugh's alma mater.

The only question now is whether Luck wants to play in Carolina.
 
Current Panthers' head coach John Fox is on his way out. Carolina general manager Marty Hurney may want to consider head coaches that would entice Luck to leave school early.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 11:19 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 11:21 am
 

Young NFL QBs Tebow, Flynn, etc impress

As you've no doubt heard or read before, the NFL is a results business. For all of the hype that Tim Tebow received coming out of college (and the little that Matt Flynn had), they were among a group of young passers forced to prove themselves Sunday.

Tim Tebow's starting debut, of course, was the player most focused on. Tebow was unable to lead the Broncos to a victory in Oakland, but played better than his statistics might lead you to believe. The Broncos protected their rookie quarterback with a run-heavy attack. Tebow completed 8 of 16 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. He would have thrown for another TD had RB Lance Ball not dropped a short pass in the endzone. Tebow also led the team with 78 rushing yards, including a 40 yard touchdown run that showcased the Heisman form that helped him overtake Herschel Walker as the SEC's career leader in touchdowns. Tebow wasn't spectacular, but considering that Denver had lost 59-14 at home to the Raiders in October and were tied at 20-20 in the 3rd quarter before Oakland was able to pull away late to win 39-20), Tebow showed plenty of upside.

Perhaps the most surprising performance of the day -- at least to some -- came from Green Bay Packers' backup Matt Flynn . Flynn, a three year veteran making his first career start, out-shined MVP candidate Tom Brady for much of the night, completing 24 of 37 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw an interception. Flynn played poorly a week earlier after Packers' starter Aaron Rodgers went down with a concussion against Detroit. Flynn's improvement in this game wasn't a surprise to Packers' brass. They are very high on Flynn, as evidenced by the fact that they kept him over 2008 second round choice Brian Brohm. In fact, as I noted in this space in September of 2009, some of the reason why Packers' GM Ted Thompson forced Brett Favre to either retire or accept a trade to a team other than the Vikings was the belief in the former LSU standout, Flynn.
Flynn's performance will hardly unseat Aaron Rodgers, but it does provide the Packers with the assurance that they have a reliable backup and trade commodity.

Tebow and Flynn's efforts in losses weren't the only highlights from young quarterbacks, however.

The Carolina Panthers got their first win under rookie Jimmy Clausen . Clausen was far from spectacular in the Panthers' 19-12 victory over Arizona, but he was more efficient than fellow rookie John Skelton, completing 13 of 19 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. He did not commit a turnover - only the second time in eight starts this season that's he thrown for a TD and not had a turnover. Clausen wasn't so good that the Panthers should consider anyone other than Andrew Luck with the first overall pick, should the Stanford redshirt sophomore come out early and Carolina end the season with the worst record. He was good enough, however, to allow the team to look at another position (rather than reach for another developmental QB) should Luck remain at Stanford. 

In terms of efficiency, Cleveland's Colt McCoy (19-25 for 243 yards and two TDs) was actually the most impressive rookie quarterback of the day. The Browns struggled to maintain drives against the Bengals, however, and lost to Cincinnati, breaking Marvin Lewis' squad's 10-game losing streak. McCoy's two touchdowns came on a trick play in the first quarter and a defensive breakdown in the 4th.

The Broncos, Packers, Panthers and Browns have plenty of decisions to make before the April draft. Some of those decisions, however, may have been made easier with the performances of their young QBs yesterday.

Remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.


Posted on: December 6, 2010 7:33 pm
 

McDaniels' firing could be catastrophic for Tebow

In firing head coach Josh McDaniels Monday, Denver Broncos' owner may also be endangering the career of the Broncos' 2010 first round pick, quarterback Tim Tebow.

In aggressively trading up to select him, McDaniels was obviously a believer that the former Heisman Trophy winner could be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL. As you may recall, there were many others who did not believe that to be true, citing Tebow's elongated delivery and significant adaptation from the spread offense as primary reasons why he'd never enjoy the same kind of success in the pros as he did in college.

Kyle Orton's emergence this season had pushed Tebow's development onto the back burner in Denver. Whomever owner Pat Bowlen elects to bring in as McDaniels' replacement will almost surely want to go with the proven commodity in Orton over Tebow, pushing the former SEC star's development back further.

Quarterback development is perhaps one of the least understood aspects of the NFL for many football fans. Many fans tout the idea of drafting a young quarterback and developing them behind a veteran. They may not realize that the second and third string quarterbacks rarely receive the number of snaps in a given practice week to develop, making training camp and OTAs the best opportunity for young signal-callers to make any real headway.

With presumably a new head coach and his chosen staff coming in after the season ends, the Broncos will be busy implementing their new scheme, meaning that Orton will be getting more practice time than he would if playing under McDaniels and in the system he clearly understands well.

Tebow's passion and the work ethic he showed at Florida is one of the reasons why coaches fell in love with him in interviews. However, with limited opportunity to improve and playing under a head coach who has nothing personally invested in him, Tebow's pro career could be on the verge of floundering before it ever really had a chance to float.
Posted on: December 1, 2010 1:32 pm
 

Bradford, Pierre-Paul earn Rookies of the Week

There have been few weeks this season easier to pick out my NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Week than this past weekend's action.

St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford was spectacular in the Rams' defeat of the Denver Broncos. In completing 22 of 37 passes for 307 yards, a career high three touchdowns and zero interceptions, Bradford has passed the Rams into first place in the NFC West. St. Louis is currently tied with Seattle atop the divisional race at 5-6, but owns the tie-breaker after having beaten Seattle earlier this year.

The strong performance continues what has been a spectacular rookie campaign for Bradford. As Sports Illustrated's Peter King noted, Bradford appears well on his way towards unanimously winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award considering the spectacular performance he's put on lately while the Rams battled back into first place. Over the past six games, Bradford has completed 64.3% of his passes for 1,307 yards and a sparkling 11-1 TD to INT ratio.

This type of production is nothing new to  Bradford, of course, who used a dazzling 50-8 TD to INT ratio his sophomore season to win the Heisman Trophy and take Oklahoma to the 2009 BCS Championship game.

Unlike Bradford, who has started every game for the Rams, the Giants' first round pick, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had struggled to make a consistent impact this year.

Playing against a Jacksonville team that many thought would consider Pierre-Paul (and ultimately selected defensive lineman Tyson Alualu), the former South Florida product was spectacular, doubling his previous career highs in tackles (eight, including six solos) as well as registering the first two sacks and forced fumbles (two) of his young career.

While I was among Pierre-Paul's biggest critics heading into the draft, Pierre-Paul deserves credit for his breakout performance. The Giants, blessed with one of the league's best collections of pass rushers, have often moved Pierre-Paul inside to defensive tackle on obvious passing downs. There, Pierre-Paul's marginal hand technique and marginal strength is exposed and his best attribute -- his spectacular speed and overall athleticism -- has been more easily contained by opponents. This, of course, wasn't the case against an injury-depleted Jacksonville offensive line.

It is worth noting, however, that prior to Pierre-Paul's strong game against the Jags, he'd recorded only 11 tackles in 11 games.

Pierre-Paul's stellar play beat out New England cornerback Darius Butler, who on Thanksgiving Day against the Lions put on a show. McCourty's two interceptions in the Pats' 45-24 road victory showed off the athleticism, IQ and ball skills that made him one of the best all-around corners in the 2011 draft.


Posted on: November 30, 2010 10:22 pm
 

WVU CB Hogan earns Prospect of the Week

West Virginia cornerback Brandon Hogan had perhaps the best game of his collegiate career last weekend as his Mountaineers beat the favored Pitt Panthers and in doing so put themselves in position to win the Big East.

Hogan, matched up most of the day against Pittsburgh's 6-5, 230 pound Jonathan Baldwin, finished the game with six tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Hogan's interception came on Pittsburgh's first drive of the game and helped set the tone for this contest. Hogan, reading Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri's eyes, snagged an interception between two Panther receivers and wound his way down the top sideline for 53 yards to the Panther 2-yard line, setting up WVU's first touchdown. They'd never trail in this contest.

More impressive than his instincts, ball skills, agility and speed on the return, however, was the 5-10 190 pound Hogan's coverage of the behemoth Baldwin.

Hogan helped limit Baldwin to five catches for 76 yards. They were a very quiet 76 yards despite the fact that Baldwin was targeted often early. Baldwin was clamped down for most of this game by Hogan, catching his first four passes for a combined 28 yards before Baldwin beat him for a 48 yard reception in the 3rd quarter. At that point WVU was ahead 21-7. Hogan did not allow another reception to the Panthers' star receiver the rest of the game despite the fact that Pitt was throwing the ball in an attempt to get back into the game.

For his efforts Hogan was recognized as the Big East's Defensive Player of the Week.

Hogan, who earned First Team All-Big East accolades as a junior, has played well enough to repeat this season. His on-field exploits, however, have at times been overshadowed by his off-field mistakes.

Hogan was arrested last April for disorderly conduct and public urination. He was again arrested in September - this time for a DUI citation after being stopped for driving the wrong way down a Morgantown street.

As is annually proven, however, NFL teams are willing to invest draft picks in talented prospects who have made off-field mistakes. The Denver Broncos drafted former Oklahoma State cornerback Perrish Cox in the fifth round despite multiple off-field issues that ultimately resulted in his being suspended from the Cowboys. Cox, perhaps not surprisingly (as he was graded a top 50 talent by many clubs), has flashed this season for the Broncos. Cox has started seven of 10 games for the Broncos and has 37 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble on the season. His 10 passes broken up this year rank third among all NFL rookies. 
Posted on: October 10, 2010 10:39 pm
 

Dazzling/dreary weekend for young pass-catchers

Many of the most interesting NFL and NCAA games over the weekend featured spectacular individual efforts from some of today's best and most athletic pass-catchers.

Unfortunately, there were also some tough injuries to good young pass-catchers that ultimately could take some of the polish from their position-mates' great performances.

In the NFL, standout games from the Giants' Hakeem Nicks (12 receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns against the Texans), the Chargers' Malcolm Floyd (eight catches for 213 yards and a score against the Raiders), the Cowboys' Miles Austin (nine receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown against the Titans) and the Broncos' Brandon Lloyd (five catches for 135 yards and two scores against Baltimore) put an exclamation point to a Saturday full of big plays by some of the nation's best young receiver prospects.

Among the highligths, was South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery catching seven passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns to help the Gamecocks upset Alabama. LSU's Terrance Toliver -- who needed a strong game to save his falling stock -- responded with a six-catch, 111 yard, two touchdown (including the game-winner with six seconds left) to beat the Gators. Eighteen year-old true freshman Robert Woods was even more productive in USC's loss to Stanford, hauling in 12 passes for 224 yards and three scores.

That was the good news. The bad -- and we won't know just how bad we're talking until Monday's MRIs -- could prove just as newsworthy.

For all of the spectacular plays made by pass-catchers over the weekend, there were troubling injuries to some of the NFL's most intriguing breakout stars and college football's best senior prospects.

St. Louis' Mark Bradley, who had developed a quick rapport with rookie Sam Bradley, was carted off the field in Detroit after sustaining a knee injury that is expected to knock him out for the season. Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley, an emerging superstar, went down with what the Packers' official site is characterizing as a "hamstring ligament" injury, but certainly looked bad.  Denver first round pick Demaryius Thomas was sidelined with head and neck injuries after a big hit against Baltimore. Peyton Mannings' newest toy, undrafted free agent Blair White, also suffered neck injuries in the Colts' win over the Chiefs. In each case, the young breakout players never returned to the game after sustaining their injury.

The injury front could prove equally bad if the early reports across the college landscape are correct. Oregon State's James Rodgers and Cecil Shorts III of Mount Union each went down Saturday with injuries. Rodgers, rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a potential 3rd round pick prior to injury, suffered an ugly injury to his left knee as he scored a touchdown against Arizona. Even worse for Beaver fans, Rodgers' score was called back due to a penalty.

Few fans have heard of Shorts III, but scouts certainly know of him. He was viewed by some as the elite "small school" prospect entering the year and caught 100 passes for 1,736 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. Shorts III was held out of the second half of undefeated OAC power Mount Union's 28-14 victory over Marietta after sustaining an injury on  punt return in the second quarter.



 
Posted on: October 10, 2010 10:39 pm
 

Dazzling/dreary weekend for young pass-catchers

Many of the most interesting NFL and NCAA games over the weekend featured spectacular individual efforts from some of today's best and most athletic pass-catchers.

Unfortunately, there were also some tough injuries to good young pass-catchers that ultimately could take some of the polish from their position-mates' great performances.

In the NFL, standout games from the Giants' Hakeem Nicks (12 receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns against the Texans), the Chargers' Malcolm Floyd (eight catches for 213 yards and a score against the Raiders), the Cowboys' Miles Austin (nine receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown against the Titans) and the Broncos' Brandon Lloyd (five catches for 135 yards and two scores against Baltimore) put an exclamation point to a Saturday full of big plays by some of the nation's best young receiver prospects.

Among the highligths, was South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery catching seven passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns to help the Gamecocks upset Alabama. LSU's Terrance Toliver -- who needed a strong game to save his falling stock -- responded with a six-catch, 111 yard, two touchdown (including the game-winner with six seconds left) to beat the Gators. Eighteen year-old true freshman Robert Woods was even more productive in USC's loss to Stanford, hauling in 12 passes for 224 yards and three scores.

That was the good news. The bad -- and we won't know just how bad we're talking until Monday's MRIs -- could prove just as newsworthy.

For all of the spectacular plays made by pass-catchers over the weekend, there were troubling injuries to some of the NFL's most intriguing breakout stars and college football's best senior prospects.

St. Louis' Mark Bradley, who had developed a quick rapport with rookie Sam Bradley, was carted off the field in Detroit after sustaining a knee injury that is expected to knock him out for the season. Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley, an emerging superstar, went down with what the Packers' official site is characterizing as a "hamstring ligament" injury, but certainly looked bad.  Denver first round pick Demaryius Thomas was sidelined with head and neck injuries after a big hit against Baltimore. Peyton Mannings' newest toy, undrafted free agent Blair White, also suffered neck injuries in the Colts' win over the Chiefs. In each case, the young breakout players never returned to the game after sustaining their injury.

The injury front could prove equally bad if the early reports across the college landscape are correct. Oregon State's James Rodgers and Cecil Shorts III of Mount Union each went down Saturday with injuries. Rodgers, rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a potential 3rd round pick prior to injury, suffered an ugly injury to his left knee as he scored a touchdown against Arizona. Even worse for Beaver fans, Rodgers' score was called back due to a penalty.

Few fans have heard of Shorts III, but scouts certainly know of him. He was viewed by some as the elite "small school" prospect entering the year and caught 100 passes for 1,736 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. Shorts III was held out of the second half of undefeated OAC power Mount Union's 28-14 victory over Marietta after sustaining an injury on  punt return in the second quarter.



 
 
 
 
 
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