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Denver Broncos June Scouting Report
Charles Rives
6/4/2021

Culture survives injuries to players, transitions to players, and transition of staff. GM George Paton has worked hard to provide a positive and aggressive culture in the Bronco locker room. Now, he, the players and the coaches have to avoid anything distracting while preparing for the 2021 season.

Offense

Pat Shurmur runs a west coast style offense that has to be executed right. His passing scheme maximizes spacing for receivers and asks the quarterback to read the field and go through his progressions quickly with the focal point being the 8-14 yard range.

QB Terry Bridgewater is seen as being ahead of Drew Lock in areas the Broncos were weak at last year (good decisions; turnovers). But Bridgewater wasn't as careful with the ball as it appears and he isn't a clear upgrade over Lock. Bridgewater had 11 interceptions but had seven potential picks that were dropped or broken up, and none came in a late-game situation. Lock had five potential interceptions that defenders dropped, but they came in late-game situations.

Lock is seen as having the edge in talent and ceiling and the first quarter of the season is good for Drew Lock. But if Lock doesn't exploit the relatively soft match ups in the first three weeks (Giants, Jaguars, and Jets), he will likely be replaced by Bridgewater. Reps will be split 50-50 between Lock and Bridgewater which favors Bridgewater and further retards Lock's development because Lock needs all the reps he can get. Shurmur isn't run-heavy, but he still manages to run the ball 45% of the time. Historically, he has run the ball 60% on first and ten. If he throws an incomplete pass on first and ten, he tends to run the ball on second down. He needs the run game to work to set up play-action passes (29% of drop backs).

Defense

Fangio's defense is versatile. Players have to be smart to know how to play their spot, play their zone, and play their position. Fangio has a lot of different looks he can bring. The defense uses relatively little blitzing with considerable zone coverage. You have to have play makers in this complicated defense. The defensive linemen play "take on blockers" which is the soundest way to defend a running game. Fangio's defense is cornerback friendly as the defensive backs play more zone with vision than pressing man to man. This is a coverage principle that is designed to help create turnovers. Fangio is known for changing his defensive game plan from week to week to counter the opposing team's strengths. And there are a lot of moving parts after the ball is snapped. A key component of Fangio's defense is giving the quarterback one look pre-snap, and then having players adjust after the snap (complicated part). He tries to take away what you do best and make you beat yourself. Fangio is not going to beat himself. And, his defense is always stingy in the red zone, because he usually keeps two inside linebackers on the field in sub, or passing situations. He believes that having two inside linebackers, plus two outside linebackers (four linebackers) provides greater defensive flexibility and soundness.

He can mix and match his pressures and coverages more with four linebackers and there is better tackling. CB Patrick Surtain II, S Justin Simmons, S Kareem Jackson, CB Kyle Fuller, CB Ronald Darby, CB Bryce Callahan and CB Michael Ojemudia comprise the deepest collection of secondary talent in football.

Keys to success in 2021 1 An elite pass rush. 2 Good O-Line play. 3 Elite linebackers. 4 Don't beat yourself. {Experience, discipline, preparation, and playbook complexity all contribute to penalty rates and teams with more offensive penalties generally lose more games, but there is no correlation between defensive penalties and losses. 5 Score TDs. You can't kick too many field goals and expect to win. (Denver had the sixth most field goals inside the 33-yd line (88.2%). 6 Maintain possession of the ball at all costs. Every possession is extremely important (roughly 11 per game) as each possession has something close to the league average 35%-40% success rate. 7 Dominate inferior opponents. 8 Build the team with depth. 9 Have above-average coverage skills at all of the seven linebacker/defensive back positions. 10 A pass rush that doesn't need more than five players to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. 11 DEFENSE WINS SUPER BOWLS if you have a high-scoring team that includes a solid running game when you need it.

Transactions

Signed free-agent TE Eric Saubert (y TE/inline blocker). Released QB Jeff Driskell. Released RT Ja'Wuan James (NFI list). Signed free agent OT Bobby Massie (injury history, but quality replacement for James). Signed 7th-round draft pick CB Kary Vincent Jr.. Signed 5th-round draft pick S Caden Sterns.

Waived OT Ryan Pope and LB David Curry. Waived WR DaeSean Hamilton (NFI list/likely to get an injury settlement). Signed sleeper WR Seth Williams. Signed free-agent OT Cam Fleming (developmental insurance at RT). Signed 7th-round draft pick DE Marquiss Spencer. Signed first-round draft pick CB Patrick Surtain II. Signed free-agent WR Damion Willis (Last Chance U). Signed OT Cody Conway and LB Pita Taumoepenu. Signed their free-agent tenders: WR Tim Patrick, Alexander Johnson and S Trey Marshall. Rookie LB Jonathon Cooper will miss mini-camp to have a minimally invasive heart procedure (irregular heart beat).

Front Office Hired Kelly Kleine as GM George Paton's Executive Director of Football Operations & Special Assistant to GM. She brings serious NFL front-office experience to the position and worked with Paton for nine years in Minnesota.. Named Darren Mougey Director of Player Personnel. Hired Roman Phifer to be senior personnel executive. Named Sae Woon Jo as Western National Scout. Hired Frantzy Jourdain as southeast area scout. Shifted Eugene Armstrong to cover the southwest region. Hired Eddie Simpkins as a scouting assistant. Promoted Rob Paton and Deon Randall to College/Pro Scouts.

Orangeman's Take:

The 2021 NFL off season is in full swing, with players on the field getting work in. Over the next three months, the coaches will be able to watch battles unfold on the field (not Zoom meetings) in OTAs, training camp, and three preseason games. The Denver quarterback battle bottom line is Drew Lock, an unknown youth VS Teddy Bridgewater, a patch, who raises the quarterback room floor. The wide receiver room is bolstered by good depth fighting for the 5th and 6th roster spots. The depth at the tight end position is a little shaky with Albert "O" Okwuegbunam still recovering from injury. Someone needs to step up to be the #3 tight end. Denver have some really nice depth in its trouble spot: right tackle. Lloyd Cushenberry III should be improved at center. LG Dalton Risner should be over his sophomore struggles and RG Graham Glasgow is healthy. The defense should work with quality depth at defensive back and the return of LB Von Miller. NT Mike Purcell and DEs Shelby Harris and Dre'Mont Jones all return on the defensive line. The Broncos could get off to a good start while not seeing K. C. until December.

Fantasy Outlook

Draft: RB Melvin Gordon (RB 3); RB Javonte Williams (RB3 w/low floor if MG III keeps his job); WR Courtland Sutton (WR3 w/upside); WR Jerry Jeudy (WR4 w/upside); TE Noah Fant (top10 w/top5 upside); Defense (top10 w/top5 upside).

 

More to come next month!

 

End.

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