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It's time for our weekly segment where I sit down with a blogger who covers the Raiders' next opponent and pick his brain on that team. This week the Raiders face the Broncos so I speak with Kaptain Kirk (yes, that's his name) from the SB Nation blog, Mile High Report to get some answers.
1. John Fox said that questions about Peyton Manning's arm strength are "comical". Do you agree with this that there is no reason for concern? What has he done to cause and/or alleviate concerns?
Since I was able to attend all of Training Camp this year, I believe I can make a good statement about this. This was one of the major things everyone would be looking at this season, so of course I have kept an eye on it. I have seen improvement since Training Camp for sure, but I don't think that he is at 100%. He may never be. Age certainly has to factor into any evaluation.
I DO believe he has recovered from the neck surgery and that it won't get injured again as some believe. The fusion surgery did it's job. The problem with Peyton was always a nerve issue. That is where the other surgeries came from. Lost feeling and arm weakness. He has regained much of it and I think he will be fine.
It's true that he threw a couple of wounded ducks in Week 2, but those weren't due to arm strength. Manning hasn't lost that much velocity and people who have watched his entire career are saying he never threw a tight spiral. I don't know how much credence that has, but I think there are timing, route running and drops that have to be fixed. The only thing that can fix that is time.
2. How much of an impact do you think the suspension of Joe Mays will have on the defense? Do you think there is a sizable step down to Keith Brooking?
Yes I do. Brooking may have experience on his side, but that side is the other side of the hill, as in "Over the Hill." The Broncos have Brooking 7 years away from the Pro Bowler he was. We have already seen missed tackles out of him. He plays with heart and has valuable experience to pass on to the younger players, but at this point he's a stop gap. Joe Mays is a thumper and while he has improved each season, he is still really a 2 Down player. His liability is in pass coverage. To cover for that, the Broncos run a lot of Zone.
3. What is the main difference you've noticed with the defense between the way Dennis Allen ran it and the way Jack Del Rio runs it? Or has there been a big difference?
I think Dennis used more blitzes personally. We haven't seen enough to really measure the difference between the two yet though. I think the biggest difference so far is the personnel they had to work with. Our Defense has changed quite a bit since last season.
4. What are the three biggest strengths of the Bronco team?
Special teams, run blocking and wide receivers-- that is, if they can hold on to the ball.
5. What are the three biggest weaknesses of this Broncos team?
Linebacker, safety and running back. At linebacker we are extremely thin, more so because of the loss of D.J. Williams, and Joe Mays' suspension for this contest doesn't help matters. Rookie Danny Trevathan looks like a good draft pick that will pay off sooner rather than later. The book is still out on Nate Irving and we wonder if he will break into the lineup.
Safety because we are young there. Mike Adams was brought in as a veteran presence to let the two young 2nd year guys Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter develop. I believe the two young guys will succeed in the league, but they have been sporadic. Overall, our weakness is through the middle of the Defense, something I have been pining about for many moons.
At running back, we have the aging but still studly Willis McGahee. I don't know how much mileage there is remaining on those tires, but he made it past the 1,000-yard mark last season and came into camp ripped again.
Knowshon Moreno has been an enigma that many Bronco fans have given up on. Between the injury issues and a case of Fumblitis at the worst moments, no one can say what's coming next with him. To be sure, he should be a great fit in the Manning offense, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see if it pans out.
Lance Ball is a journeyman type role player that can be a spot starter or adapt wherever you need him. He isn't the prototypical guy you'd draft to be your starter, but he has a heart and work ethic along with the knowledge to claim a spot on most teams.
Rookie draft pick, Ronnie Hillman, has yet to see much action because he needs to improve his pass blocking. The coaches are bringing him along slowly. He has good outside running ability and should be a pretty good player for us when he learns his assignments enough to gain everyone's trust. A Running Back in the Manning offense better be able to pass block, catch AND run, otherwise they are a liability and Peyton cannot audible out of the run. Since they don't teach pass blocking to running backs in college, this isn't something new. A few years back, Clinton Portis couldn't crack the starting lineup until Week 5 because of his lack of blocking skills.
To see my answers to his questions, Click Here.