Daily Archives: October 1st, 2013

BRONCOS BLUE BLOUSES: Denver sportin alternate uniforms at AT&T stadium

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Photo: The Broncos wore their alternate blue uniforms in 2012 — for a 30-23 victory over the Chargers in Denver. (Joe Amon, The Denver Post)

Luckily for those who like to see their favorite NFL team mix up its wardrobe, America’s Team prefers to wear white at home.

The Broncos play at Dallas’ AT&T stadium this Sunday and with the Dallas Cowboys wearing white, the visitors from Denver will wear their alternate blue jerseys and blue pants.

It’s the only time this season the Broncos will wear something other than white jerseys on the road and orange jerseys at home.

Navy blue was the Broncos’ home jersey color from 1997 through 2011.

The Broncos switched back to orange as their predominant home color in 2012. The team had used orange home jerseys from 1962-96.

Courtesy: Mike Klis | The Denver Post

BRONCOS SCOUTING REPORT: On any given Sunday, redemption can happen

IRVING, Texas –  With one of the best quarterbacks of all-time coming to AT&T Stadium this week, football analyst (former scout) Bryan Broaddus addresses the many concerns in facing Peyton Manning and his Denver offense. Broaddus also breaks down the Broncos’ other weapons and discusses ways to win this game.

Other than Peyton Manning what Broncos player is most dangerous?

With Von Miller serving his suspension, you take him out of the mix. It would be easy to say Wes Welker for what he has done through four games since coming over from the Patriots. Trindon Holliday can take a punt or kick and score from any point on the field or Demaryius Thomas but the guy I feel like is the most dangerous, is Eric Decker.

When I sat down Monday night to begin studying the Broncos on offense, Decker was one of those players that was always getting the ball thrown in his direction and making plays. He is not the most dangerous because of his speed or quickness but where he hurts you the most is his ability to make a catch no matter where the ball is thrown.

He is one of the best bad ball catchers I have ever seen. There are times where Manning just pushes it in his direction and he makes the catch. He is a crafty route runner and will find ways to get open despite of how slow he appears to be moving. There is not one area of the field where Decker is better than the other. He has the ability to hurt you at all levels. Manning has complete confidence in all these Broncos receivers but when he needed a big play or a tough catch, the direction of the ball went toward Eric Decker and he would deliver.

How do you play Peyton Manning?

It all starts with Peyton Manning and how he manages the game. He is the ultimate chess player. His ability to read defenses and understand what they are trying to do to him, makes him rare. There are smart quarterbacks in this league, but it’s one thing to be smart but can you take advantage of being smart by making all the throws, and that is what you have in Manning.

What I have learned over the years in watching him play, you have to have two game plans for him. I learned this from Bill Belichick years ago. Belichick would never show Manning his best stuff early in the game. He would show him three and four man fronts, an extra blitzer from the weak side or a different coverage but Belichick always wanted to keep Manning guessing in what he was trying to do. The idea of the plan was not to show Manning any consistent looks, then in the fourth quarter, he would run a scheme or two with a different coverage that would throw Manning off.

Throughout his coaching career, Bill Belichick probably has had the most success of playing against Peyton Manning than any other coach in this league. There are not many schemes that Manning has not seen in his career but if you run the same scheme over and over, you make it very easy for him to function and that is a problem.

This is a winnable game

Despite the way the Broncos have started the season, I really do believe the Cowboys can win this game. I have been in this league too long and seen too many games where the situation looked bad or impossible and a team finds away played their best game. The Broncos have had plenty go right this season and they deserve to be in the position they are currently in but there is a saying in this league about any given Sunday.

There is no question that Peyton Manning is playing at a high level but so is Tony Romo. As long as he is taking snaps, this team has a chance, just take a look back to Philip Rivers and what quarterback play can do for a team that might be undermanned. There is enough talent on this team to give the Broncos problems of their own.

With that being said, it’s going to have to be a collective effort. Poor coaching decisions, dropping the ball on 3rd down or not playing your technique in the defensive scheme cannot happen if the Dallas Cowboys are going to win this game. To be the best, you have to play your best. Are the Cowboys capable of playing their best game against the Broncos? Without a doubt they are, but them talking about it should not be the focus, them actually doing it should be, that is how they are going to win this game.   

SOPHOMORE SLUMP: Dallas Cowboys insist on patients regarding Morris Claiborne

IRVING – Citing the difficulty of playing cornerback in the NFL, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, owner Jerry Jones and others in the organization continue to preach patience when it comes to struggling second-year pro Morris Claiborne.

San Diego’s Philip Rivers picked on the sixth overall pick of the 2012 draft repeatedly in Sunday’s 30-21 win over the Cowboys. Rivers finished with 401 yards and three touchdowns on 35-of-42 accuracy, including a 31-yard strike to rookie Keenan Allen on third-and-long early in the game that victimized Claiborne and set the tone for the day.

Allen finished with five catches for 80 yards, most of which came against Claiborne, who termed his day “frustrating.”

“They hit a couple of plays all over the field,” said Claiborne, who also gave up a 28-yard catch, “but obviously they found more over there on the right side.”

Orlando Scandrick has started the last three games after Claiborne dislocated a shoulder in the opener. Team vice president Stephen Jones suggested the injury has nothing to do with Claiborne’s poor play.

“It’s time for the injury thing to leave the scene, Jones told Dallas’ KRLD-FM on Monday. “He needs to step up and make plays. I think he will.”

On Tuesday, Jerry Jones was asked about Claiborne during his weekly radio show on KRLD-FM.

“He’s just got to get his confidence up,” the owner said. “We know what kind of player he is, what kind of athlete he is.”

Like the Joneses, Garrett believes a dip in confidence plagues Claiborne, who Pro Football Focus ranks 99th out of 101 corners who have played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps.

But the coach pointed out that poor technique is also a factor in the former LSU standout’s decline.

“It’s a challenging position,” Garrett said. “You’re out there on an island and your best friend is your technique. Your best friend is the system, and oftentimes a young player like him is inconsistent in how he’s using his technique and his belief in the system.”

Garrett said young pro corners are often surprised to learn they can’t rely solely on the athleticism that served them so well in college.

“Guys at the college level don’t face the expertise or just the level of play, the level of skill that (NFL quarterbacks and receivers) have,” Garrett said.

“(In college), if you are a more talented player, you can get away with being a little late to the ball because you can (recover quickly). The ball’s not really where it’s supposed to be. But guys in this league throw the ball on time. They throw it where they want to throw it. The route running is good. So, technically, you just have to be really sound to give yourself a chance to succeed out there.”

Cornerback Brandon Carr said it’s clear on film teams are targeting Claiborne. But unlike others, Carr believes Claiborne remains confident. Still, Carr said he’s pulled Claiborne aside to offer him guidance and encouragement.

“He is going to take some bumps and bruises,” Carr said. “He hasn’t seen it all yet. I told him it took me four years to get it all out of my system and get my confidence level where it should be.

“The only thing you can tell him is keep battling, keep being positive.”

With that said, Carr supports the decision to start Scandrick.

“It’s not time for feelings or anything political,” Carr said of Claiborne’s demotion. “It’s all just business. We are trying to put the best 11 out there to win ball games.”

DOUBLE DOWN ON DEZ: Jones’ agree on Bryant’s ability to beat coverages

Dez Bryant has been targeted 36 times, more than any Dallas Cowboys player this season. But Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his son, Stephen, the team’s executive vice president, believe Bryant should get more opportunities even when he’s covered by more than one defender.

“I do think sometimes he’s going to win the battle even if he’s doubled,” Stephen Jones said Monday on KRLD-FM. “He deserves those shots.”

His father echoed thoughts on Tuesday during his KRLD-FM radio segment.

“He can make that catch with two people on him,” Jerry Jones said.

As for Bryant, he professes he doesn’t care about the number of chances he gets each week.

“It’s not about me,” said Bryant, who has made 23 catches for 282 yards and four touchdowns. “We got too much talent on this team. That’s the great thing about it. Everybody can make a play.”

Editors comment: Defenders paranoia over Dez Bryant’s playmaking ability should be tested occasionally. That type of mental pressure could lead to one or two DPI (defensive pass interference) calls … which is as good as a catch! If the flag is thrown, the only thing it risks is the RAC (run, after catch) factor. If the result is an INT, it’s generally in the range of punt/kickoff territory … which is manageable. Not suggesting that Dallas forces the issue constantly, but it should be tested at opportune or strategic moments. The advantages of a run game threat can be duplicated with a Deep to Dez threat. Keep these defenses off balance and guessing! The Jones’ are right … Dez can win those match-ups … if it’s timed properly and the ball is thrown accurately.

2013-2014 NFL GAMEDAY PRIMER: DeMarco Murray may be one key to defeating the Broncos

2013-2014 NFL GAMEDAY PRIMER - DeMarco Murray may be the key to defeating the Broncos - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos schedule

IRVING, Texas – There’s going to be a lot of focus on the two quarterbacks this week, and rightfully so.

One of them is playing at the highest of levels right now.

And that other guy … well, he’s playing pretty well too. Tony Romo isn’t turning the ball over, but yet the offense isn’t producing to the level we’ve seen in the past.

It’s hard to say … pick one or the other, when a guy like Peyton Manning is coming here this week with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions.

But, this game shouldn’t come down to Tony Romo vs. Peyton Manning for several reasons. Asking Romo to keep up or simply out-duel this guy is probably asking too much. However, the only time they did square off, albeit 2006, Romo did beat Manning and he virtually out-played him.

The bigger matchup is going to be Manning’s success vs. DeMarco Murray’s success.

Nothing wrong with the Dallas Cowboys grinding out yards and the clock to try to limit Manning’s possessions. It wouldn’t hurt if the game worked out that way.

Murray ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards with 356 yards. Not to compare him to the NFL’s best in Adrian Peterson, but the Vikings’ star has just 65 more yards and 20 more attempts.

Murray’s 4.9 yard average is really good. It needs to be pointed out that he doesn’t get many carries in short-yardage situations. If Murray got an occasional third-and-1 run for 2 yards, it might move the chains, but it would lower that average.

Of course, you’ll take the first downs all day.

And that leads me back to Sunday’s game. The Cowboys obviously need to do whatever it takes to be effective Sunday and try to keep pace with Manning and his Denver posse. But running the ball more might be the best and most effective way to start. And with Miles Austin’s hamstring injury, the passing game hasn’t been an absolute strength, despite Dez Bryant’s jaw-dropping plays.

2013-2014 NFL GAMEDAY PRIMER - DeMarco Murray may be the key to defeating the Broncos - Peyton Manning red head

This offense has passed the ball 152 times this year, to 89 rushes. Obviously that needs to change and this is the week to do it.

Easy to like how they ran it last week – averaging nearly 5 yards a carry on first down. But they only ran the ball twice on second down and not once on third. You can say Romo checks out of runs, and he’s done it quite a bit, but when the Cowboys go to a four-wide set on third-and-2, that play and personnel package is getting called from the sideline.

This team needs to run the ball – not just against Peyton Manning but against Robert Griffin III the next week and Michael Vick after that. They need to run it because the Cowboys are starting to become a good running team.

They’ve added a run-blocking center in Travis Frederick who comes from a run-oriented school at Wisconsin. They’ve added Brian Waters to the mix and Ron Leary’s biggest attribute is his strength. This interior line is completely different than last year and it’s time they start making the running game less of an afterthought and more of the focus.

And if it happens to keep Manning on the sideline a little more this Sunday … even better.

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