The Denver Broncos coached themselves out of a few wins last year and two of those biggest screw ups were against teams on the schedule again in 2019.
It’s revenge week on SB Nation, so when that theme came to my desk I could think of exactly two non-division rival games last season that I needed to write about. Both of them needed to be losses if we were to see the Vance Joseph era come to an end in Denver, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Against the Texans last season, the Denver Broncos were clearly the better team on the football field. However, they were coached right into the defeat. It all started late in the first half when the Broncos were down 13-10. Instead of punting the ball with 22 seconds left, Joseph opted for a 62 yard field goal that Brandon McManus would miss.
Much to the glee of Texans head coach Bill O’Brien.
It appears that cameras caught Bill O'Brien yelling, “Good job Vance. You dumb f*ck” as he ran off the field.
The Texans would kick a field goal of their own to go up 16-10.
Then with the score 19-17 late in the game, Joseph once again made a questionable decision that would then cost the Broncos the game. With 13 seconds left in the game, the Broncos chose to hand the ball off to Phillip Lindsay up the gut for a one-yard loss to setup a 51-yard field goal that McManus pushed wide right.
As frustrating as that loss was, it got even worse against the Browns in Week 15.
Down by four in the fourth quarter in a game that Case Keenum wasn’t having his best day and Lindsay averaged just 1.7 yards per carry, the Joseph finally saw his offense put together an impressive drive.
On fourth and 1 from the Cleveland six yard line, the Broncos lined up for the field goal. After a delay of game penalty, the field goal was good to make the score 17-16. That’s the score the game would finish with.
It feels good to be a Denver Broncos fan again, and we should soak it up.
While we were in Rome over the last week (a wonderful city, by the way), we decided to do a dawn E-bike tour through the city. It was a great way to see as many sights as possible and I would highly recommend the experience to anyone visiting the Eternal City. It was really lovely except for the fact that one of our group fell and broke her arm. Guess we should have seen that coming...
While she was at the Italian hospital, looking pained and worried, a doctor - who apparently looked like a pirate - wrapped her arm to make a cast. Though his English was non-existent, he had good music taste and to try to help her feel better, he calmly sang, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Apparently this was met with a mix of laughter and terror but after the 10th re-telling of the story, it actually made me think of my Denver Broncos.
The Broncos in 2015 were an E-bike with turbo. They had just won a Super Bowl and though the Hall of Fame QB was retiring, they had still managed to keep together one of the best defenses the league had ever seen and retained some good pieces on offense as well. They were ready to roll with a well-oiled, though QB-less machine.
But then, through a mix of bad luck, bad decisions and a really unfortunate hire, the Denver Broncos fell off their bike and broke an arm. Train wreck, bike wreck, all around garbage is what we have had to deal with over the last two-plus seasons, and at times I know many of us did experience physical pain thanks to our disaster of a football team.
Unfortunately broken arms take some time to heal, even after being set correctly, but thank goodness, the current team feels like it has finally taken off its sweaty, stinky cast and is at the point where it is trying to add some muscle before getting back to normal strength.
Peyton Manning is saying “we” when referring to the Broncos. Chris Harris Jr. got his just due. The players seem happy, motivated and confident, and the coaching staff is respectable.
There’s some really good talent sprinkled throughout the team and some guys in their contract years are going to ball out this season. These are just a few reasons for why we should smile this offseason and think of the words of a dear, Italian Pirate Doctor:
“Don’t worry, be happy!”
The best part of this story was actually that before he finished, the doctor concluded with some more Bob Marley wisdom and looked her square in the face and said:
“No woman, no cry.”
You can get more football thoughts - and a little about Rome - in the podcast linked above!
The former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman will be hoping his versatility earns him a chance on the final 53-man roster.
Don Barclay is the epitome of a journeyman depth signing along the offensive line. He began his career as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers and earned a spot as a reserve tackle on their roster for six years.
During his stint with the Packers, he mostly played right tackle, and aside from stepping into a starting role for the 2013 season due to a swath of injuries along the O-line, he has stayed in a reserve role.
At the beginning of 2017 after his rookie deal expired, he was brought back for a small one year deal with Green Bay in the off-season, but was let go with an injury settlement after being placed on injured reserve, then bounced around from the Lions and Saints, before being signed to a futures contract by Denver, after sitting out the 2018 season.
Barclay is a veteran who can play both right guard or right tackle, and has a year of starting tackle experience under his belt.
He has never been more than a reserve/spot starter, and that was at the peak of his career. Lately, he has struggled to stay healthy and latch onto an NFL roster.
One thing I have noticed about Barclay for those of you asking is that he carries his hands too low in pass pro. pic.twitter.com/EES8c9klMz
During OTAs with Leary out, Barclay has gotten some starting snaps. If he remains healthy, along with Mike Munchak’s development, Barclay could turn into a solid veteran depth signing, with the ability to cover both right tackle, and right guard in case of emergency.
We’ll see how it plays out in camp as the last few roster spots along the offensive line are some of the least solidified this off-season for Denver.
As of now both look likely to sign for market-setting deals in 2020. Harris and the Broncos have already tabled extension talks, and there’s been speculation he could command as much as $15 million a year on the open market. Jason Fitzgerald at OvertheCap doesn’t think that will happen, but it only takes one team to prove him wrong.
If I had to bet, I’d tell you Wolfe has a much better chance at returning to the 2020 Broncos than Sanders does. Part of that belief is rooted in the fact that Wolfe is one of three veteran linemen approaching the market after this season. He also looks harder to replace. He’s quietly been one of the better 5/4i techniques in football when healthy. The 29-year-old has gotten a lot of love from Von Miller for his role in freeing up Denver’s future Hall-of-Famer by occupying blockers.
E, on the other hand, is coming off a torn Achilles at 32. While all reports suggest he’s looking great in his return attempt so far, expectations should stay reasonable. The 10-year pro has been vocal about his desire to remain in Denver past this season, but it remains to be seen if Elway feels the same way. A lot could depend on how Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton develop in Rich Scangarello’s offense.
Any and all of these members of the 2016 draft class could wind up having a career year under Vic Fangio. Justin Simmons has flashed Pro Bowl potential for a couple of seasons now and should look better with more talent around him in the secondary. Will Parks is the No. 1 name on my (growing) list for a deeper film study a little later this summer. He had a sneaky-good 2018 season by PFF metrics and has constantly popped up on tape as I’ve been finishing the Most Valuable Broncos series. Gotsis looks a lot like his running mate in the starting lineup, Derek Wolfe. He isn’t quite the pass rusher the older lineman is, but Gotsis does a solid job impacting passing lanes and owning his gap. McGovern takes over as the starting center after filling in last year and could make a big jump forward with more consistency.
Gotsis is a guy who’s contributions often fall outside the stat sheet.
Valuable Role Players
None of these names look likely to break the bank in 2020. Kreiter and Jano play positions where their future cap value won’t come close to guys higher on this list, even if they prove themselves the best in the NFL. The Rams’ Jake McQuaide averages a $1.175 million a year on the richest long snapper deal in football, and while the 49ers’ Kyle Juszcyzk makes $5.25 million, it’s a complete outlier.
The other three names are comfortably behind other names on the depth chart. Barring injury, none of them look like they’ll have the opportunity to earn a huge contract. Stranger things have happened though, and Elijah Wilkinson is probably the first off the bench if an injury strikes four of the five offensive linemen.
This tier is made up of Broncos who look like they’ll have to fight tooth and nail to make the 2019 roster. As such, it’s impossible to predict who Denver should prioritize as of now. It wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of them emerge as key players as Billy Turner did coming out of a similar situation last year. As of now I’m high on both Jeff Holland and Dymonte Thomas, but we’ll have to see how all of these players fit the new schemes.
Get a defensive MVP-caliber season from Chris Harris Jr. but watch him leave in free agency, or see Harris play at a good-but-not-great level but then re-sign him after the year?
All 9 of Bradley Chubb's sacks through 11 weeks. I put them in order of most impressive to least. Started with his 1v1 wins, ended with his 2 1/2 sacks. Primarily winning with inside moves and power: pic.twitter.com/iV4wgxTW7p
9. Another one that I’m personally excited to ask around about after this week is Broncos rookie tight end Noah Fant. Rich Scangarello’s offense is the same one that featured Jordan Reed in Washington, and helped George Kittle transition quickly into the NFL more recently—and both those guys are athletic types who, like Fant, can play all over the formation.
The mandatory minicamp will close out the Broncos’ offseason work, and thus far, Flacco has looked like the steady veteran starter the Broncos had hoped for when they traded for him this offseason. But Flacco is going to hear chatter about rookie Drew Lock, the Broncos’ offensive failings over the past three seasons and the number of birthdays he has had. Flacco, 34, has to give this team a little “I got this” swagger and run an offense that can attack all parts of the field. If he is locked in, Flacco can set the tone and give the Broncos momentum when they report for training camp in mid-July. -- Jeff Legwold
5) Los Angeles Chargers Starting five: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin, Hunter Henry, Virgil Green. I had to include the Chargers on this list after watching Williams emerge as a difference maker to complement Allen on the perimeter. Considering Allen has played a James Harden-like role as the Bolts’ go-to guy, the team needed a second scorer to loosen the coverage in the back end. Luckily for L.A., Williams emerged last season as a big-bodied pass catcher with a knack for putting the ball in the paint. With 10 touchdowns in his second season, No. 81 will have an opportunity to play an ever bigger role following the offseason departure of Tyrell Williams. Benjamin and Henry are crafty role players. Although touches are limited for the pass catchers at the bottom of the totem pole, the Chargers’ complementary options provide just enough balance to keep opponents from loading up to stop Allen on the perimeter. NBA comparison: Houston Rockets.
DT/DE/LB: Players with double digit sacks: 57% with elite #RAS 82% above average
According to Silver, LaFleur was playing a game on a Lambeau hoops court when he suffered the injury. LaFleur will coach from a cart during offseason workouts on Friday and again when the team meets in June. He is expected to have surgery on Sunday, per Silver.
“I also expect to be a starter in this league again, and I know it’s not going to be here in L.A. So I’m trying to just better myself,” Bortles said. “And if I get an opportunity to play, great. If not, then I spent a year learning from McVay, and being around a really good organization.”
Patrick Mahomes rides a bull, grabs a cold one. Can I get a hell yeah? @PatrickMahomes
Police pulled Wilkerson over at about 3:40 a.m. for running a stop sign, according to the report. Officers said they suspected Wilkerson was drunk and he told them he had a shot and two beers. A breathalyzer recorded his blood alcohol content at 0.09, which is just above the legal limit
Speaking with the First and 10 crew on Orange & Blue Radio, USA Today’s Doug Farrar named three Broncos in his top 11 cornerbacks in the NFL.
USA Today NFL writer Doug Farrar joined the First and 10 @ 10 crew today, but more important than what he said was what he had written, which was naming three Broncos in his list of the “top 11 slot defenders” in the NFL - Kareem Jackson at No. 8, Bryce Callahan at No. 3, and of course, Chris Harris Jr. at No. 1 (thank goodness John Elway figured out a way to keep him - at least for another year).
New on @TheNFLWire: Can you take a speed slot receiver up the chute? Defend a two-way go without a boundary? Shut down an option route with impeccable match coverage? Then you might be one of the NFL's 11 best slot defenders. https://t.co/nr5j3R0Ncz
“Jackson has become one of the most versatile defensive backs in the NFL, playing almost equally at slot, outside cornerback, and free safety for the Texans in 2018. ...In 2018, Jackson allowed 26 catches on 40 slot targets for 256 yards, 111 yards after the catch, no touchdowns, one interception, and an opponent passer rating of 72.5.”
“One of the most technically proficient slot guys in the league, Callahan gave Fangio freedom to deploy his outside cornerbacks more aggressively, because the coach knew things were tightened up at all times inside. He was lost late in the season to a broken foot, but should be good to go for 2019.”
“Harris is the best slot defender of his era, and given the importance of that position in his era, it’s easily arguable that he’s the best slot defender in NFL history. He’s posted shutout after shutout of his slot targets since he became a full-time starter for the Broncos in 2012, ... but it’s his unrivaled ability to shut down everything in the slot receiver’s palette—option routes, two-way goes, and all manner of route combinations—that allows him to transcend the position.”
Joining Ryan Edwards, Andrew Mason and Steve Atwater, Farrar noted that it’s key to have so many slot defenders who are versatile because in the modern NFL, it is no longer a fact that the slot defender is an average player.
“With three and four receiver sets, it’s mandatory that you have at least one good slot corner,” Farrar said. “You can’t put a championship defense on the field without at least one really high quality slot defender, and now with Kareem Jackson, Bryce Callahan and Chris Harris Jr. the Broncos have three guys they can move around.”
“You can’t put a championship defense on the field without at least one really high quality slot defender, and now with Kareem Jackson, Bryce Callahan and Chris Harris Jr. the Broncos have three guys they can move around.” - Doug Farrar, USA Today
And although there is talk of moving Bryce Callahan to playing outside cornerback, Farrar sees him more as a slot corner but noted he is “one of the more technically proficient cornerbacks” in the league and has the “the flexibility, the hip turn and speed downfield to stay with guys” to play slot.
“When you’re the slot guy, if you’re not used to having defend either side, you can really run into trouble,” Farrar said. “The slot has made some outside guys look silly, and Callahan does have the skillset to [play slot].”
If Farrar were the one placing the defensive backs, he would make Harris Jr. the outside guy, Callahan as the slot guy and Jackson “as the moving chess piece,” but he joked that he has no intention of second-guessing Vic Fangio.
“He knows a little more about defense than I do,” Farrar added.
The crew also talked about versatility along the defensive line, particularly Fangio’s point early on that he basically expects all the guys to play every position along the line.
“In the modern NFL, it’s very rare that you see a static front where everyone lines up at same position,” Farrar agreed, noting that it’s less about the position and more about the gap where a player lines up. “You may be three-tech or nose, one shade or between guard and center or between the tackle and guard. Fangio is right on with that. As far as watching trends and seeing how defensive lines look down to down...that’s a very astute statement by him.”
However Fangio makes the defense work, Farrar is convinced that it will be the defense to get the Broncos back to prominence - especially within the “contentious” AFC West.
“Elway set the tone - ‘I’m going to hire Vic Fangio, one of greatest defensive coordinators of his era, we’re going to bring in these cornerbacks, get Mike Munchak to redefine the offensive line, which is a must, and that brings Phillip Lindsay more into play...’” Farrar said. “The Broncos returning to prominence, I think it has to be on defense, and there are few people better to run that ship than Fangio.”
Offensive line depth is an issue for the 2019 Broncos, however, so there is a chance Green could grow enough under Munchak’s tutelage to push for one of those final roster spots on the offensive line. Experience matters in the NFL.
Look past the 2019 Denver Broncos at your own risk. The defense has had all the talent it needs and now it finally has the scheme to match.
What better way to kick off the month of June than with a little optimism.
The Denver Broncos finished their OTA program last week and will head into their mandatory minicamp this week. After that, we’ll have a long six weeks of nothing until they start training camp on July 17, 2019.
OTA’s have been our first real look at the 2019 Broncos with their new head coach, their new quarterback, their new free agents and draft picks, all together for the first time. However, the voices that really matter right now are the ones we’ve all known and covered for the last half decade.
Guys like Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, and Chris Harris Jr. All three made it clear that head coach Vic Fangio and his staff know how to get a defense ready to compete.
“He was really explaining to me about the defensive scheme and everything that we’re doing,” Harris said of his conversations with Von. “How this is everything that I’ve been kind of crying about doing. I like it. I love it so far. I think it’s going to fit us well.”
“I feel like the things we do on defense are going to be hard for the offense to try and figure out or really get a key on what we do. We change up a lot, so we have a lot to throw at people.” - Todd Davis
A day later, both inside linebacker Todd Davis and Wolfe added their praise to what Fangio is doing. Davis, especially, is relishing his role in the middle of this new scheme.
“I like it a lot,” Davis said of Fangio’s defense. “I feel like it’s a great defense for linebackers. It allows them to roam a little bit, allows them to make every tackle on the field. I really get to play sideline to sideline, so I’m really excited about the defense. Not only that, I feel like the things we do on defense are going to be hard for the offense to try and figure out or really get a key on what we do. We change up a lot, so we have a lot to throw at people.”
Meanwhile, Wolfe is feeling more nostalgia for this defense. He noted he was falling in love with this scheme saying it was the first time he’s felt that way since he was first introduced to Wade Phillips’ defense.
It was his detailed comments on how the defense will enable him to create more plays for the defense’s playmakers.
“It’s just, alignment-wise it’s like it’s like it’s old school defense where you line up and you beat the guy in front of you,” Wolfe said. “We’re going to be moving. You beat him, beat him, beat him, and then next thing you know we’re slanting somewhere and moving around and misdirecting.”
“We’re going to be moving. You beat him, beat him, beat him, and then next thing you know we’re slanting somewhere and moving around and misdirecting.” - Derek Wolfe
Wolfe’s chemistry with Miller is one of the most underrated characteristics of this unit since the two began playing together in 2012. He dug into how that chemistry fits perfectly with the changes Fangio has brought with him this season.
As far as the pass-rush game goes, we have some really fun pass-rush games that are just different,” Wolfe explained. “Things that aren’t just me setting things up for everybody else. It’s actually a little bit of the opposite. I can actually get to get back there and make some plays and vise versa. Taking guys like me and Von [Miller]—how many guys in the league have been working for eight years, working right beside each other for eight years? The kind of chemistry that him and I have, they could just mix and match so many different things because a lot of the times we just use hand signals and just looks. He looks at me a certain way and I know he’s like, Hey, go. I’m like, Alright, I’m going to hit this B-gap. There’s no way for an offensive lineman to be preparing for that. Then when we have all this other extra stuff that we have its going to really switch things up.”
That is something coaches can’t really coach into units. Chemistry is built more between the players than anything and the way Von and Wolfe work together is an incredible asset for the defensive line.
Fangio’s biggest contribution so far could be how attentive he is to the details and how everyone - players and coaches - are being held to that standard.
“He knows everybody’s job no matter what the play is and what the route is or a route concept,” Davis said. “He knows what you’re supposed to be doing. The thing I love about him is in meetings he’s not afraid to call anybody out no matter who you are—Pro Bowl or not, All-Pro, it doesn’t matter. If you’re not doing something or not doing your job, he’ll call you out in front of everybody, and I love it. I think everybody is held to a higher accountability level and keeps us all where we need to be.”
The accountability part goes beyond just the practice field. Nose tackle Shelby Harris noted on Friday that one of the biggest changes in defensive meetings is that the whole unit meets first and goes over every detail.
“Last year, I felt like accountability was a word that was thrown out a lot and a lot of people felt like a lot of people weren’t being held accountable. This year, there is none of that. “ - Shelby Harris
There is no finger pointing or confusion. The entire unit sees the big picture before breaking out into individual position group meetings.
“This year we’re doing things a little differently,” Shelby Harris said. “We’re meeting as a defense at first and then going over the plays. It kind of keeps everyone on the same page because, Alright, I thought someone else was supposed to have this hole. Then Vic can be like, no, this is actually your hole. You’re supposed to be here, you’re supposed to be here. It works out because then there is no finger pointing. ‘This is your fault.’ ‘This is your fault.’ No, everyone is on the same page and everyone is working to the same common goal. It really just helps us stay accountable to each other the way this is all going on. Last year, I felt like accountability was a word that was thrown out a lot and a lot of people felt like a lot of people weren’t being held accountable. This year, there is none of that. I feel like this is going to be really good for our defense to be in those meetings, meet together and work together.”
The way Harris explained it summed everything up nicely. It’s about accountability, but also responsibility. Players are not being blamed, they are expected to go back out there and improve.
It took Fangio four years to build the Chicago Bears defense into a contender, but he started with one of the worst defenses in the NFL. In Denver, he is starting with a defense that has been coached into poor positions. The talent is still largely there and the difference between a middling rank and a top five rank could just be how well the unit is coached in 2019.
So far, it is looking like they’ll be coached well and teams expecting to come in a roll the Broncos defense like its 2018 are going to find themselves having to fight for every inch of ground instead.
After having a successful college career at Pittsburg State, De’Vante Bausby decided to enter himself into the 2015 NFL Draft. He created some buzz for himself after measuring at 6’2”, running a 40-time 4.35 seconds and jumping 37.5 inch vertical. Impressive numbers from a small school guy, however, he still went undrafted during the 2015 NFL Draft. He eventually signed as an undrafted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs.
His stint with the Chiefs was a quick one as he broke his collarbone during the spring and was released by the team. One he was healed up, he would later sign with the Chicago Bears who had Vic Fangio as their Defensive Coordinator and would bounce between being on their active roster during the 2016 season. He was then waived by the Bears during the 2017 offseason before spending the next two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He nearly finished out the year with the Eagles but was waived by the team on Christmas Eve. This allowed him to sign with the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF. This is where Bausby found some big-time success before the league abruptly shut down,
He was tied for the league lead in interceptions during his short stint with the San Antonio Commanders. This performance in a league full of players looking for a second chance helped him earn that second chance in the NFL. He reunited with Vic Fangio after he quickly signed with the Denver Broncos after the AAF closed shop. Now he will compete for a roster spot on the Broncos this summer.
He has a history with Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio in Chicago, so he knows him and his system and Fangio knows Bausby. So this should help him early on in the process as he should have a leg up on his competition because of his knowledge of Fangio’s system.
Another thing that bodes well for Bausby is that he has a clear ride for that fourth or fifth cornerback job if he just does his job this summer. The best competition he has is from some UDFA corners(who very easily could surpass him, but that is for another day) so he appears to be the odds on favorite to be the fourth cornerback listed on the depth chart.
Head Coach Vic Fangio said he that Bausby has a “chance” to make the Broncos roster earlier this spring.
“Yeah, he’s got talent,” Fangio said Tuesday as the team opened its voluntary veteran minicamp. “He can run. He’s got movement abilities. He played a little bit for us a couple years ago, played a little bit for the Eagles I believe this past season, and obviously played in the spring league that just was going on. He’s got a chance.”
Now, I am personally not putting much stock into his AAF performance, but he did play very well during his short stint in that short-lived league. He was tied for the league lead in interceptions with four through 8 games. This doesn’t include the interception he had during a two-point conversion play as well. How much does this ultimately matter towards his eventual NFL success with the Broncos? Likely not much, but it also cannot be ignored, and hopefully he figured something out during his stint there where he earned valuable playing time.
Finally, anytime you are 6’2” cornerback who has good speed, you will get chances in the NFL. That is what Bausby has and he is currently the tallest cornerback on the Broncos roster.
Well, it is never good when the Head Coach publicly questions your play in the spring, but that is exactly what Vic Fangio did to De’Vante Bausby just a few weeks back.
“I think there’s been a time or two in Phase 2 where he’s let the back-to-back season, albeit shortened, give him a reason to think he’s tired, too, where he shouldn’t do that. He’s got to overcome that. He’s got to overcome being his own worst enemy and show the player that he can be.”
As I have said, Bausby is fighting for a roster spot and to be one of the final corners on the roster, so a slow start is never good for him. It will be interesting to see if Bausby bounces back from this and performs well during the remainder of the OTA’s and Minicamp.
My other concern here is how Bausby has bounced around a bit since entering the league. He had had two stints with the Kansas City Chiefs, spent two seasons in the Bears organization, and two seasons in the Philadelphia Eagles organization. He ultimately was waived by every team listed at least once. So it is hard to count on Bausby being a reliable player or even making the 53-man roster. You only get so many chances in the NFL and he may be getting his final one in Denver.
De’Vante Bausby Highlights
De'Vante Bausby || "Welcome to Denver" || Career Highlights - YouTube
De’Vante Bausby’s roster status with the Broncos
I think has a really good shot at the fourth cornerback spot.
Newly signed defensive back Kareem Jackson appears to be a safety who can play corner in a pinch, but likely will be listed as a safety on the depth chart. That leaves Chris Harris Jr., Bryce Callahan, and Isaac Yiadom as your likely starting three heading into Training Camp. However, behind them, it appears to be an open competition.
Bausby who has experience with Fangio, as well as some NFL experience, has a clear shot at earning this reserve role. His best current competition is some UDFA players(who very well could challenge him for a spot) but right now, he has the best odds in my opinion.
However, it is far from a lock. He has bounced around the league some and has already been called out by Fangio. A veteran addition via free agency or trade is always in play if he struggles or a UDFA like Alijah Holder could challenge for his roster spot.
RIght now, if Bausby does his job this summer, he should open the season on the Broncos 53-man roster. However, he cannot afford to struggle and/or suffer an injury.
Bless his heart. Brandon Marshall of the Oakland Raiders hopes to see his new team take down his old team in the Denver Broncos in Week 1.
“I daydream about it every day,” Marshall said on NFL Network this week. ”Every day, man. I can’t wait. It’s not going to take me long to see my old teammates, see my old organization, you know, I can’t wait. I think it’s going to be a helluva game. I see us winning. I went back to Denver not too long ago and I told some of those guys that we were going to beat them.”
After winning Super Bowl 50 as contributor to one of the most dominant defenses the NFL has ever seen, it has to be rough to realize that he’s no longer a part of it. Sure, he’s talked to former teammates and to SOME of them he’s foretasted a Raiders win, but that, of course, leaves the question why he didn’t tell ALL of them. We know why. He knows that as a Raider winning any games in 2019 is going to be a tall order, especially against Vic Fangio’s reinvented and reinvigorated Broncos.
Why focus on Denver?
Let’s be honest, when Marshall looks around that locker room, I’m sure he’s all smiles, but deep down he’s seeing the tire-fire waiting to happen like the rest of us. Let’s start at the top. Mike Mayock, a television personality with zero front office experience and three years of pro ball experience, one with the Toronto Argonauts, turned in what many experts claimed a “Raiders-like draft,” exchanging their bevy of picks for lackluster reaches in the early rounds.
Jon Gruden will enter his second year (of his second term) as Raiders coach. Or you could call it his first year of not giving up on his city, players, and team like he did in 2018. When the going got tough, Gruden called it a season in week 3. It’s much more comfortable to lose a ton of games when he could claim he was doing it on purpose. Getting the team going again after intentionally taking the gas out of it last year isn’t going to be easy or fun to watch for Raider fans.
Marshall has to be got to be excited to see Vontaze Burfict in his new team’s colors. A notoriously dirty player and repeat offender, Burfict’s rap sheet was visually broken down in this article by the USA Today subsidiary website FTW.
Burfict was fined or suspended by the league 13 times during his Bengals career, which spanned from 2012 to 2018. In total, the infractions cost him 10 games and roughly $4.12 million. That’s about $687,169 lost per season.
That’s not even including the $200,000+ he’s paid out in play-specific fines for the various infractions detailed in the article above.
Wait! The Raiders traded for Antonio Brown and all they had to give up was a 3rd and 5th round pick in the 2019 draft! There’s a couple reasons the Steelers let Brown go so easily and one of them is the fact that the Raiders were essentially the only team that could absorb Brown’s contract demands. The other reason is the pain in the butt Brown had become to teammates and coaches, especially in the face of adversity. If the season starts out poorly for the Raiders, David Carr doesn’t get Brown his touches, or if Gruden decides that coaching is again too difficult and decides to pull up stakes on 2019, Brown is going to publicly lose his mind.
Speaking of losing his mind, I have to mention the Raiders latest signing that, I’m sure, excites Marshall the most. According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle article, here:
According to a copy of the arrest report, Employees of Messingers Pinnacle Peak Mortuary told Scottsdale police that the former Pro Bowler said he wanted his father’s head cut off for research purposes and that he walked through the funeral home punching caskets and throwing things.
An employee at the mortuary said in a 911 call obtained by USA TODAY Sports that workers at the business were “very afraid” of Incognito.
”He made a gesture and said he was going to kill somebody here and said he had guns in his truck,” the employee who alerted police to the disturbance told the dispatcher. “We are just very afraid right now.”
This Raiders signing has to make Marshall almost as comfortable as Richie Incognito made those funeral home workers when he demanded, under the threat of violence, his deceased father’s severed head. Like the rest of us, I’m sure Brandon sees this as totally normal and as a signal that Mayock and Gruden have the team’s best interests at heart by bringing a psychologically disturbed and violent lunatic into the locker room. Remember, this isn’t where the crazy ends with Incognito. There’s so much that this is the highlight. It could be and has been it’s own article multiple times is recent years. On what level was signing this guy ever thought to be a good idea? Brandon, I ask you, what could possibly go wrong?
There are plenty of other acquisitions that surely make Marshall nervous, but these are the big ones. As Brandon makes his way through his day and he catches his thoughts drifting to the Monday Night Football opener at Mile High, as Broncos fans, we can’t fault him. If the Raiders don’t win and begin to slide, they’ll have a first time general manager trying to motivate a coach looking for any reason to cash in his chips in week 2, with their star wide receiver throwing everyone under the bus, especially the linebacker who managed to already get himself suspended and fined into oblivion, only to have Incognito mumbling to himself with nobody wanting to find out what’s wrong lest it’s their head he demands “for research”. Frankly, it’s all downhill for Brandon after the Broncos game. When reality is this bleak, why not let him daydream? Bless.
Vic Beasley will attend Falcons minicamp – ProFootballTalk Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley is one of several key players from the team who has been absent from the team's voluntary offseason workouts, but he confirmed that his absence won't stretch into the mandatory portion of the schedule.
Could “the Juggerneck” threaten Andy Janovich for a roster spot with the Denver Broncos in 2019?
In 2014 George Aston was just another Steelers fan trying to walk-on as a linebacker. One redshirt and a position switch later, he got his chance to make an impact. Instead of growing into the next Jack Lambert, he looks more like Larry Csonka coming out of Pitt. He played in 25 games from 2015-2016, scoring 19 touchdowns as a short yardage monster and devastating blocker before his junior year was derailed by ankle injuries.
“We ask [Aston] to do a lot more things than we asked those other guys to do,” Powell said. “George wears a lot of hats in this offense and we put him in harm’s way a lot. You can motion him and get him involved in the passing game, you can motion him and put him in position to block.
Aston enters his first training camp with the Broncos with a bit of a reputation for his workout prowess. He still holds his high school’s record for highest bench press (425 lbs) and squad (655). The 6’ 240 lb Aston did not receive an invitation to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis but did bench press 30 times at Pitt’s Pro Day. In 2018 the Kyle Shanahan 49ers used 22 personnel (2 backs, 1 tight end and 2 receivers) more than any team in the NFL. It’s not a given the 2019 Broncos will follow suit, but the fullback looks likely to get a lot more work than recent years.
Experience as an outlet receiver who caught 45 passes during his collegiate career.
Comes into the league with experience at both fullback and H-back
Aston looks like a sleeper as the next great Broncos fullback. He profiles as an exceptional scheme fit in the new offense and brings underrated athleticism to the position. Looking over some Pitt tape and the Panthers’ coaching staff used Aston in all of the same ways you’d expect him to contribute in the Rich Scangarello system.
Broncos may need to tailor special jersey’s for his neck.
May moonlight as up and coming boxer.
The big issue with Aston is his ankle injuries. He suffered a fractured ankle in August, 2017 and returned two months later only to sustain another injury in his second game back in action. It can’t be a huge issue if the Broncos have taken him into camp, but it bears monitoring.
He’ll compete with 4th year pro Andy Janovich for a spot on the 2019 roster. The two are similar players who offer a versatile skillset necessary for Rich Scangarello’s new offense. It remains to be seen if the new Broncos system will ask as much of the fullback as Kyle Shanahan’s, but a player who is equally capable of lead blocking, motioning into space, or aligning outside of the tackles as an H-back was so necessary to the Shanny system 49ers GM John Lynch made Kyle Juszczyk the highest paid fullback in league history by a considerable margin.
With Janovich’s playing out the last year of his contract and carrying a $761 K cap hit in 2019 the competition could be tilted in the younger, cheaper Aston’s favor. To make the roster he’ll need to prove he’s a reliable special teams contributor as well as make fill Janovich’s shoes on offense. It currently looks like an uphill battle, but a new coaching staff may favor fresh blood at the fullback position. I’d currently project the battle at 35-65 favoring the veteran this far out of camp.