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Mailbag: Extra-point proposals, reps for Osweiler, wild ideas and more

As always, you can tweet questions to me with the hashtag #AskMase, use the submission form or scroll to the bottom of this page. You should ask Elway, or Goodell if your reach extends that far, why the NFL wants to detract from the value of a TD by creating gimmicks for PAT's. The objective of football is to score TD's, and the value of a TD is diminished if you make a PAT less automatic. A TD with the automatic PAT should almost always be of greater value than two field goals (and six points), which represents two failed attempts at scoring a TD. The NFL competition committee seems to be getting all worked up over this PAT thing and forgetting what this game is all about -- scoring TD's.

This has always been a solution in search of a problem, as who cares if the PAT is boring. Sorry if the thrill of scoring a TD wasn't enough for you, but no need to destroy the value of TD's over this.
-- D'Arcy Straub

With all respect, you're wrong about this game being "all about" touchdowns. If it were, then why have field goals or safeties at all? And last I checked, the objective was to win, not necessarily to score the most touchdowns.

And how do you define "gimmick"? Is it moving the scrimmage line back to the 15-yard-line? That's not a "gimmick" as much as it is a reflection of the accuracy of kickers in the NFL of the present. With muddy bogs mostly a relic of the past, the pristine field conditions leave wind as the only peril -- and for eight teams in fixed- or retractable-roofed stadiums (to be nine when the Vikings relocate from TCF Bank Stadium), that's not an issue.

You're restoring the PAT to the type of play it was decades earlier, when there was some doubt and not just an excuse to get a jump on getting to the restroom during the post-possession stoppage. You're increasing the value of special teams -- the placekicking unit in particular. 90.8 percent of the touchdowns in the last five years were scored by the offense. What's wrong with increasing the value of special teams' contribution to scoring the typical seven points?

But if football is "all about" touchdowns and their value, let's test your premise via one of the most audacious rules proposals, made by the Indianapolis Colts.

Adding a "bonus point" via a 50-yard placekick attempt if teams successfully go for two is a "gimmick." But that doesn't decrease the value of a touchdown. If anything, it increases it. Since 2010, the two-point conversion success rate is 48.10 percent. In that same time frame, kickers have connected on 66.41 percent of their 50-yard field-goal attempts.

If those percentages held, then the possible outcomes after a touchdown if teams went for two after every touchdown under the Colts' "bonus point" proposal would be:

  • 6 points:51.90 percent
  • 8 points:16.16 percent
  • 9 points:31.94 percent

The average point total per touchdown would be 7.28 points, thereby increasing a TD's value. You object to gimmicks, but what about one that would increase the premium on touchdowns?

With all the scenarios being presented for making the point after try a more challenging and interesting football play why not eliminate the place-holder and require that any point after kick can only be a drop kick regardless of where they finally decide to place the ball? -- Michael Meiners

If you kept the two-point conversion, and eliminated place-kicked PATs, you'd see few drop kicks until kickers hit 96 percent accuracy on them. At that point, it would be worth a team's while to drop kick for one point rather than go for two every time.

In Arena Football and other forms of indoor football, a drop-kick PAT counts for two points. I'd be in favor of this, because it would increase the value of a kicker (or punter) and turn him into a valued weapon.

If I'm ever in a position to propose rules changes, the two-point PAT drop kick is on my short list of ideas.

As a very avid Broncos fan, my family is concerned that this year is a do or die year for the offense due to the age of our all-star quarterback. I tell my family it is a team of 11 that makes is great not a team of 1 and 10 others. Can you re-explain that in a way that has stats to it.
-- Mathew Peevler

It does take a team of 11 -- or 46, representative of the game-day active roster. At any one point, each of them could decide the fate of the season. Remember how then-49ers punt return Kyle Williams fumbled twice in the 2011 NFC Championship Game, costing San Francisco a chance to appear in Super Bowl XLVI?

But at the same time, you don't get to the Super Bowl without a quarterback who has an elite ceiling. Colin Kaepernick, for example, delivered elite play in driving the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII. It's been 11 years since one made it (Carolina's Jake Delhomme) and 12 years since one won it (Tampa Bay's Brad Johnson).

If you don't have a quarterback capable of consistent elite play, you might make the playoffs, but your road will likely end in the wild-card or divisional round. The game will continue to evolve, but in 2015, that's the reality.

Look at the dearth of quality quarterbacks on the market this year. When teams have that type of passer, he is their most treasured possession. When they don't, they fall all over themselves -- and often reach in the draft -- in the attempt to find one.

You can have a team with outstanding players dotting the roster. Look at the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs, who had six Pro Bowlers. But they went 2-14, in large part because their quarterback play was so poor.

It takes a team. But the quarterback is the sun around which the offense orbits. Without one capable of elite performance, your chances of a Super Bowl run in 2015 are remote.

At this point, the Broncos thought free-agent pickup Reggie Walker was a better fit. He offers the same special-teams attributes, is a proven fit as a 3-4 inside linebacker reserve and is two and a half years younger.

Have the Broncos given any thought to moving Kayvon Webster to safety? He hits like a safety and has good cover skills, it's a shame to have him No. 4 on the depth chart. If he transitions well, him and T.J. Ward would be devastating.
-- Jim St. Clair

Right now, the only defensive-back position switch in play is for Bradley Roby, and even that would likely be for base-package downs, to get the Broncos' four best defensive backs on the field every down. (Last year, Roby played less than 60 percent of the snaps in three of the Broncos' last eight games.) This would be similar to how the Chargers used Marcus Gilchrist in recent years: base-package safety and sub-package cornerback. But Roby's tweaked role is only a consideration at this point; there's no assurance it comes to fruition in games.

As with punter (and potential kickoff specialist) Karl Schmitz, he's worth an offseason flyer on the strength of Paul Bunyan-like qualities. In Duncan's case, it's his prodigious production against Division II competition and a bench-press tally of 35 repetitions at the 2014 Combine that is the envy of most offensive linemen.

It would help the offense if it can change formations without substituting. That allows it to display a different look while maintaining a fast tempo. You need some versatile players to execute this: a tight end who can double as a fullback, a wide receiver who can line up near the tight end and be an effective blocker against safeties and linebackers, a running back who can split out wide.

Duncan is expected to get a look at fullback, so he could fit that first category of versatile players. His raw natural strength and pass-catching ability merits a long look.

Why not make an offer for Adrian Peterson? I'm not a big fan of the way he's treating the Vikes, but he wants to play somewhere else and if he's anywhere near his 2013 self, he's well worth a first-round pick and more. Can you imagine him running in Gary Kubiak's system with Peyton standing back there at quarterback. 8 man boxes for AP? With DT, Sanders, Latimer and Owen Daniels all in single coverage? Another record year for the offense.
-- Rich Kaye

I'm not a big fan of the way Peterson treated his 4-year-old child. Let him be someone else's problem. Besides …

You already have a Pro Bowl starter and backups who have started before. You propose surrendering a first-round pick "and more" for another running back. With all due respect, this seems like the dumbest move possible with the Broncos needing offensive-line help, perhaps another defensive lineman or an edge rusher to groom to eventually succeed DeMarcus Ware if Quanterus Smith's knee continues to be an issue.

Knowing Brock Osweiler will get some playing time this season, will the coaches open up the play book and let him do his thing? Say Denver is up a couple scores in the 4th quarter and send him in, will they put him in scenarios like: "Brock, forget the scoreboard. We want you to play like we are trailing by a touchdown. Tie this game up!"
-- Russell Gallegos

In the professional ranks, I've always believed that when you have a big lead and insert young offensive reserves that you want to develop, you should call exactly what you would expect to run if the game were close and the starters were in. It does little good to have the backup -- especially a quarterback who needs quality repetitions above all -- run a scaled-down, third-gear version of the offense. Let him do what would be required if he had the controls when it mattered.

This, of course, would yield questions about the sportsmanship of throwing with, say, a three-score lead and three minutes remaining. But what are you going to learn about Osweiler or any young backup if he goes out there and hands off the football seven times in a row? Besides, everybody out there is in the NFL. They're pros. They know sometimes you get your tail kicked, and, frankly, some are more offended by dialing it down with a big lead.

When you watch the free agents swapping teams like crazy how does it feel when players like Eddie Royal and Ryan Matthews and Dwayne Bowe (who have had some success over time) won't be in our division anymore?
-- Chris Frost

There's no feeling at all.

Last year, NFL.com researched roster turnover from 2011 through April 2014. On average, just 16 players remained on each team from its 2011 roster.

It's not crazy that players like those, and numerous others, will no longer play in the AFC West. It's the norm in the free-agent era, which is now in its 23rd year.


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The analysis, opinion and speculation in this story represents that of the author, gathered through research and reporting, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Denver Broncos organization.

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