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  • Justin Simmons excited about how safeties are used in Vic Fangio’s system
    by Tim Lynch on May 24, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    The Denver Broncos secondary is certainly looking No Fly Zone ish heading into the 2019 season. Justin Simmons is excited about the possibilities under Vic Fangio. Justin Simmons had an impressive rookie seasons under then defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, which has us all looking at the young safety with high hopes heading into 2017. It never really materialized as the sugar new defensive coordinator Joe Woods sprinkled on the defense seemed to put Simmons in poor position to succeed. By the end of the Vance Joseph era it had leaked out that the coaching staff had put ‘a little too much on’ Simmons last season. He was used at multiple positions and suffered in his development for it. Under new head coach Vic Fangio, things look to be getting back on track for the young safety. Simmons is excited about the potential he has to excel in his system. “I was just super excited to hear that we picked him up and now I have a chance to put my footprint on the defense.” “I was actually doing an interview a couple of days ago,” Simmons said. “I was just talking about how excited I was to be a part of Vic’s defense. Obviously, looking at the production that he’s had on the safety side of it has been huge. I can remember last year watching some of the Bears film and seeing those guys run around—Eddie Jackson and [Adrian] Amos making plays. I had the same feeling to when I was coming out of the draft process and watching Denver play in the Super Bowl. That looks like a defense that I want to be a part of. I was just super excited to hear that we picked him up and now I have a chance to put my footprint on the defense.” Simmons, 25, has made some pretty big plays in his career. Last season, he played a little at cornerback, and both safety positions. He has a leg up on finding a role in the Fangio system. One thing he revealed was how nuanced Fangio and his staff are. It goes beyond scheme or play calls. The coaching staff wants players to have great chemistry. The focus is as much of reaching each other as it is the opposing offense. That’s the kind of communication that Fangio looks for from players in the secondary. “I think the biggest part about the defense is that it is all communication based. It’s about trusting guys and seeing plays develop.” “I think the biggest part about the defense is that it is all communication based,” Simmons said. “I think a lot of defenses are like that, but the vibe of this one is different. It’s about trusting guys and seeing plays develop. Guys not mentally being on the same page, but physically. Like reading it how each other’s bodies would read it, as weird as that sounds. It’s just being in each other’s shoes and feeling out the plays. It’s a great concept and I’ve loved every second of getting to dive into it. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet in OTAs. I’m excited to keep learning.” The secondary looks quite a bit different in 2019. The Denver Broncos signed cornerback Bryce Callahan and cornerback/safety Kareem Jackson in free agency. For Simmons, it has been Jackson who has made the biggest impact in OTAs so far. He compared him to Chris Harris Jr. as far as knowledge of the game and work ethic. When pressed on Jackson’s impact so far, Simmons noted that he brings quite a bit to the meeting rooms and on the practice field. “We haven’t even scratched the surface yet in OTAs. I’m excited to keep learning.” “A bunch of different things,” Simmons said of Jackson. “The biggest that he brings is just his knowledge of the game. I think he’s been around football so much and he sees things probably a little bit faster than most guys will being that he plays nickel and corner and closer to the line of scrimmage so that he can see route combinations develop before they even happen. Sometimes he’s jumping plays before the route even develops. On film you’re looking at it, and you’re like what the heck is he doing, but he’s at the right spot at the right time. I’m excited.” The back end of the defense was a bit of a weakness last season, which is shocking considering the No Fly Zone mantra of the last half decade. However, at safety, the Broncos are looking a bit strong again. Despite losing Darian Stewart, the addition of Kareem Jackson and the emergence of Will Parks last season and Simmons still being an guy with tons of range on the field, the safety group looks like it could be a huge strength in 2019. Pairing those three with Harris and Callahan should make the Broncos secondary elite again. It will come down to how well those three mesh on the communication side of things described by Simmons this week and how well they can read the cornerbacks in front of them on the defense. Already it feels like this is going to work out well for Denver early on. […]

  • 3 & Out: Over the Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald talks Chris Harris Jr. contract details
    by Just_JoRo on May 24, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Why would the Broncos give Harris a pay raise this year instead of a long-term deal? This time a month ago, the Broncos and Chris Harris Jr. contract impasse came into the open with the words “Pay me or trade me,” and the stalemate shows no real sign of ending anytime soon. Without actual news, speculation has run pretty rampant. Some corners of Broncos Country want John Elway to play chicken - after all, the four-time Pro Bowler will be 30 in June and has $8 million-plus reasons to show up to camp when it becomes mandatory. Still, I thought it best to sit down with Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap to give you his thoughts. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity. 1st and 10:I’m sure you’ve seen the contract stalemate between the Broncos and Chris Harris Jr. I’m curious what you believe Harris’ market value is at the present moment? Fitzgerald: I think Harris would probably fall in the $12.5 to $13.5 million per year range. Talent-wise I think you can make an argument that he should bypass most of the $14 million contracts, but he will be 30 this season, and I think teams are generally a little more cautious with this position at that age because the fall-off can be pretty severe, and it often comes quickly. His value probably would have been at its peak if he held out last season and demanded a trade if the Broncos were not willing to extend him. Howards deal with the #Dolphins, adjusted for salary cap inflation, would rank behind Peterson, Norman, Rhodes, Trufant, T. Johnson, Bouye, and Jenkins. For whatever reason corners have not had any real market growth at the top after the 2014 signings— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) May 11, 2019 2nd and 7: There were reports late last week that suggested Harris and the Broncos may work out what amounts to a one-year pay bump in 2019, with Harris free to pursue unrestricted free agency in 2020. My first question about this is how the Broncos could make the cap work if that’s what happens? After the Bryce Callahan signing, things looked pretty tight. Fitzgerald: The Broncos should have enough cap space to make a pay raise work as long as its not more than $4 million. Now if it is again an incentive package, then the cap is of little concern as most incentives would not count on the cap this season. Last time around, his incentive package consisted of some very high thresholds to meet, so even on a big incentive package, I’d imagine the team would lose no more than $1 million in cap space. That said, it’s hard for me to see the benefit for either side to do such a move. Harris should be focused on a long-term deal, and since he saw so few of his incentives in his last contract, he should not compromise unless it’s a pure raise. For the Broncos why would you just pay Harris more money for one year only to allow him to become a free agent next season? I can’t see the benefit to Denver for doing that, especially since Harris has little leverage since sitting out would cause his contract to roll over to 2020. This is a situation that the Broncos should have anticipated after free agency. To sign Bryce Callahan to a $7 million contract and more so Kareem Jackson to an $11 million contract has to upset the incumbent player who has been one of the most underpaid players in the NFL the minute the ink was dry on his last contract - especially when you factor in him looking for a raise. So I have to assume they have had a plan in mind for Harris, and if they did not, it’s poor preparation by the Broncos. Fitzgerald called CHJ’s 2016 contract back then a “heist” by the Broncos: By the time Harris has signed this contract, the cornerback market had already taken a turn for the better after a two or three year pullback, yet somehow the Broncos got Harris to work from the old contract landscape rather than trying to push forward the way other players would have. Just a few weeks later when free agency began, Byron Maxwell, a lesser player, signed a massive contract for over $11 million a season. This past year Janoris Jenkins signed for over $12.5 million a year. This was a heist by Denver’s front office. 3rd and 4: My other question regarding a 1-year bump is what a 31-year-old Harris should expect in free agency in 2020. What do you think he could reasonably garner? Fitzgerald: I don’t think his value will change much from where it is now. I still think he can command a $12-$13 million contract in free agency but I would expect it to be, like Jackson’s, a three-year contract. The age factor should prevent a long term deal so while the annual value of the contract will be high the guarantee package will likely not be as impressive as the ones received by the players earning a similar salary on a five year contract. So a big part of the Houston game the #Broncos had Chris Harris follow DeAndre Hopkins around the field. The results: With @ChrisHarrisJr on him: 3 catches - 18 yardsW/O: 7 catches - 87 yards, 1 touchdown. pic.twitter.com/jTGIMzp2CX— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) May 18, 2019 […]

  • Courtland Sutton picked to have a breakout season in 2019
    by Tim Lynch on May 24, 2019 at 10:30 am

    The Denver Broncos have an emerging superstar in wide receiver Courtland Sutton. He is poised for a big season in 2019. Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports picked five second-year players most likely to have breakout seasons in 2019. At the top of his list was Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton who had himself an underrated rookie year last season. As a whole, he averaged a hefty 16.7 yards per reception with four receiving touchdowns. Sutton had 15 receptions of 20 or more yards as a rookie, the 19th-most among all pass catchers last season. Two more than Stefon Diggs. Sutton also drew four defensive pass interference calls, the 11th-most in football among receivers, per Football Outsiders. In all, Sutton had a splashy, low-volume rookie season without that legitimate breakout game. Now, without Thomas eating into his targets for half a season, a new quarterback in Joe Flacco, and 32-year-old Sanders returning from tearing his Achilles on Dec. 5, Sutton is in prime position to erupt as a sophomore in the NFL. Sutton finished his rookie year with 42 receptions for 704 yards and four touchdowns. However, a whopping 36% of his receptions went for the big play of 20 or more yards. His catch radius on those deep passes are insane, so as he refines his more short and intermediate route running he will develop into one of the leagues premier receivers. In that context, it makes the idea of bringing in Joe Flacco - known for his long ball - all that much more intriguing. Adam Malnati and Ian St. Clair on MHR Radio this week talked about Sutton and his potential as a red zone weapon. This is the refining of his game aspect that will carry him from occasional big play receiver to a dynamic offensive weapon that opposing defenses worry about. Broncos News NFL News […]

  • Broncos sign first-round pick Noah Fant to four-year deal
    by Tim Lynch on May 24, 2019 at 2:40 am

    The Denver Broncos have signed 2019 first-round draft pick, Noah Fant, to a four-year deal with a fifth year option. Under the NFL’s rookie wage scale, there is little doubt rookies will sign their contracts after being drafted. So it came as little surprise when the Denver Broncos announced they had signed first round pick, Noah Fant, to a four-year deal with a fifth-year option. The Broncos had traded back in the first round from the tenth overall pick to the 20th to draft Fant, picking up an extra second-round pick that they ultimately used to draft quarterback Drew Lock. Lock, along with second-round pick Dalton Risner and third-round pick Dre’Mont Jones have yet to sign their rookie deals. New Broncos head coach Vic Fangio this week noted that Fant has all of the tools, but still needs to learn the finer points of the NFL game. “Yeah, he can run,” Fangio said. “We all knew that. That was easy, but now he has to learn how to be a tight end in the NFL. He’s got tools, but you know I can go into Home Depot and walk out with a bunch of nice tools and I’m not a carpenter. We have to teach him how to be a tight end in the NFL, and he’s working great at it.” The analogy is a perfect description of just about every rookie that comes into the NFL, whether they are a first-round pick or an undrafted free agent. Once you are a roster in the offseason, it will be a lot of work to catch on and develop your craft into a long NFL career. […]

  • Singletary: Fangio’s scheme allows players to play at their best
    by Ian St. Clair on May 24, 2019 at 1:00 am

    The Hall of Fame middle linebacker joined 1st & 10 @ 10 to chat about the new Broncos head coach and what makes a great inside linebacker. When Mike Singletary talks about anything defense-related, you tend to pay attention. Such was the case on 1st & 10 @ 10 when the guys had the Hall of Fame middle linebacker on to chat Denver Broncos and what makes a good inside linebacker. Since Singletary has been around the NFL for so long, he knows about new Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. Given that, what does Singletary think about Fangio and the hire to be Denver’s head coach? “Time will tell about the hire itself,” Singletary said. “But what he’s been able to do as a coordinator has been extraordinary. I think he’s done a great job of putting the right guys in the right position and being able to have a scheme that allows them to play at the best of their ability.” Steve Atwater said it best about Singletary. When the Broncos legend looks at middle linebackers, Atwater said they don’t make them like Singletary anymore. That brought forth a good question from Atwater — what characteristics make up a great inside linebacker? “I think one of the best characteristics that make up a really good middle linebacker is instincts,” Singletary told the guys on 1st & 10 @ 10 on Thursday. “A guy can be fast. A guy can be tough. You can put a guy who has never really played linebacker and you see a guy start to pick up things. So to me, that’s the No. 1 characteristic of a really good middle linebacker.” What will be fun to watch for over the course of training camp and preseason is how Fangio and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell best utilize both Todd Davis, Josey Jewell and the other middle linebackers on the roster. We know Fangio has a scheme that puts players in the best situation to have success, and Jewell already loves Fangio’s coaching style and his defense. They won’t turn into Singletary, but both Davis and Jewell have the instincts he said are key. […]

 

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