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A Once Great Passing Defense Lost…

November 1, 2008

Ah… I remember the days when we had the best passing defense in the league. Pro Bowl players, young stars, old stars, and induced so much ground running we missed the Playoffs because of it. D’oh!!! Though we never had to complain about that great passing defense. Remember Champ Bailey, and Dre’ Bly at the pinnacle of their careers. John Lynch still hitting hard and Hamza Abdullah showing so much promise.

And now… Wait what happened?! Just last year we were scary good. Nobody on earth could get past our passing defense. We once hit a bump or two but we were still great overall! But now there is nothing left of what we once had. Dre’ Bly seems old and can not cover as well as he used to. Champ Bailey is injured. Everything seems to be falling apart at the seams.

And yet, there is hope. Jack Williams showed great promise in the Pre-Season with two Interceptions. While Champ Bailey is gone he will be playing number 2 receiver. But that does not mean things are good. Or at least they are not yet. We have at this point the worst Safety team in the NFL. Anybody have John Lynch’s phone number?

But that is a good question. Maybe it is time to bring him back. I don’t care how you feel about betrayal and how it just would be awkward. Do you want to know what is really awkward? Having the best offense in the league and missing the playoffs because your Safeties aren’t good enough. Maybe I am being selfish though. I am a huge John Lynch fan. Before he came to Denver he was my favorite non-Broncos player.

We are in desperate need of a better passing defense. But what do we do about it? First off we know our problems. Age and a lack of speed at Cornerbacks now that Champ Bailey is injured, and no real Safety situation. I was a big supporter of Calvin Lowry when we decided to make the change and start him. I was wrong. We all are sometimes.

So I have a plan. It will take some time and will not be easy. But it will work. Nah, just kidding you. It is quite simple. First, fire Ronnie Bradford. He is our Defensive Back coach and he is not doing a good job right now. I expect more from our Safeties. The Broncos have a tradition of talented Safeties and he is not following by it. We need something more there.

Then, if Jack Williams performs well we need to promote him to our number 2 Cornerback and shop Dre’ Bly. Bly is not doing very well and I like Jack Williams. He could do a great job this year and soon could be our new number 2 Cornerback. It will happen eventually so why not now?

Finally this one is a long time down the road. At the NFL draft we need to draft a powerhouse Safety in the first round. Here are our two options if they are available: William Moore, SS, Mizzou and Taylor Mays, FS, USC. Both could do great jobs and while it would probably be a drop for us to get Moore it is possible. It is more likely though that we draft Taylor Mays. 

But since this is a big issue you need to hear more than one opinion. So I have got Jon Krause our Saturday columnist to share his expertise at Defensive Back with you all. Here is his opinion on the state of the passing defense:

To put it simply, our secondary just needs one thing, it’s called a:  Safety! Two would be even better for that matter. Though at the time we did not realize, the Broncos used to have a perfect safety combination. In 2006, Broncos former safety John Lynch was a hitting machine, he had 83 tackles, all of which “left a mark”. To even out our safety com-bow, we also had Nick Ferguson, who had in ’05 -his shortened ’06 season 6 INT’s.

So we were set, a hitting guy who could majorly help the run ‘D’, and a cover safety who was a ball hawk. While Champ and Co. did a very nice job with man coverage. But at the beginning of the season we lost John Lynch, we have also recently lost Nick, and Foxy. And currently we have 4 safety’s: SS M. Manuel, SS V. Fox, FS C. Lowry, and FS M. McCree. All of whom are pretty well at coverage, but not all to well at hitting.

Calvin Lowry, who was a short while ago named starter, is the best hitter – in my opinion. The Broncos are having trouble finding good tow players for a nice safety combination. Like the one they had a short while ago. Vernon Fox has not started, and is not expected too, he has 1 tackle on the year. Marquand Manuel is Denver’s only safety to start all 7 games played so far, and with 43 tackles, he’s not doing to bad of a job of being our “box” guy. (Meaning being able to help with the run).

Marlon McCree was our starting for the first 6 games, expected to be our “coverage” guy, McCree did not quite “pan out”. In his past three years in the NFL McCree snatched 7 INT’s so we thought he could be our “ball hawk” guy.

But this year he’s only had 2 deflected passes, and 25 tackles. So Calvin Lowry won the FS job, he’s got 13 tackels (7 in his first start against the Patriots), he also almost had a pic against the Pats in week 7. So it looks as if we got a little better now, if Lowry can be our “ball hawk” guy, then our safety position may not be so poor. But just as we have kinda figured out the safety spot, the Broncos secondary took another blow – losing Champ Bailey for November, and maybe longer.

That leaves the Broncos with Rookie Jack Williams, Karl Paymah, Dre’ Bly, and that’s it! As if our Corners were not doing bad enough, the loss of Champ is horrible. Bly will take over for Champ, and that’s not encouraging at all. Though he is a All-Pro and familiar with the Pro Bowl, Dre’ is known for being beat long more often than not, and some expected Foxworth to beat him for the 2 string job. (Before Foxy was traded).

Bly has 28 tackles this year, and not one pic so far. Starting across from him, will probably be Jack Williams, who had two INT’s in pre-season – one almost returned for a TD, and another returned 82 yards for a TD. So that would make it likely that he’d get a fare shot. His competition would come from Karl Paymah, neither Corners have started yet this year, KP has 9 tackles, compared to Jack’s 4.

With the Broncos often using a lot of man coverage, we need Dre’ to not get beat. Champ was the guy who always had man. Dre’ often too, but not as much. I think with Champ out we should go with Cover 3. It’s easier for young corners to play zone, and it can help them get into a rhythm.

The thing with that is we will rely a lot on our linebackers for coverage in the flats. D.J. is a guy that I’d trust in zone but our other healthy LB’s, I’m not sure they could get the job done. Niko is also good at coverage, but he’s an MB, and Nate Webster is not gonna be benched by the Broncos any time soon.

And D.J. WIlliams is Pro Bowl worthy. So Niko won’t be playing any time soon. The way cover three works is, the corners get everything behind them, the safety’s get their normal zones, out-side backers get flates, middle backers get the middle simple, right? Not really, if the WR does a quick slant the corner is tempted to (by his instinct) follow them, and if they do it opens things up for an out by the TE.

And if he does his job and stays in his zone, the linebacker has to pick it up, or things could be deadly – especially near the end zone. Down inside the Red Zone man-on-man is usually used. To be successful without Champ and two great safety’s the Broncos need, to get the line Elvis and the rest to pressure on QB’s, while playing Zone and get some INT’s to get things flowing.

Then we can start doing some Blitzing and while the young corners have some confidences built up will be able to play well in man coverage. November is my favorite month, but without Champ it could be a long one for our secondary if they don’t get things together. If they can work some things out, it shouldn’t be bad. They can work on it during the bye.

So that is about it. We know that we have problems and while it may take some time I think that we will have a better one by next year. Tomorrow is the Dolphins game and we are all excited. So get some sleep tonight and get pumped up for tomorrows game. 

One Comment
  1. Smarter Than The Avg Cat permalink
    December 31, 2008 10:44 AM

    So I have a plan. It will take some time and will not be easy. But it will work. Nah, just kidding you. It is quite simple. First, fire Ronnie Bradford. He is our Defensive Back coach and he is not doing a good job right now. I expect more from our Safeties. The Broncos have a tradition of talented Safeties and he is not following by it. We need something more there.

    Whoever wrote that …. is so out of touch with how that really works. Very sad. But hey.. you think you know it all ..

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