Another week, another Super Bowl contender …
As always, feel free to tweet your questions to @MaseDenver or use our submission form if you want to ask something longer than 140 characters, or if you're not a tweeter.*
I haven't heard much about Quanterus Smith lately. Can we call him a bust at this point?
-- Jeremy Jones Not at all. In fact, the 2013 fifth-round pick playing the best football of his brief career. In last week's game against the New York Jets, he played a season-high 39.7 percent of the snaps and finished with three hurries of quarterback Geno Smith, including one that led directly to a Von Miller sack. Quanterus Smith had the first pressure, but didn't finish, and instead steered the quarterback toward Miller's grasp.
"He's definitely close. He was close last week, but I was able to jump on it," said Miller. "He's close to finding it and when he's finding it, the sacks -- they'll just start rolling in. The first one is always the hardest one."
To get there -- and build toward more sacks in the future -- Smith sits next to DeMarcus Ware in defensive line meetings. Ware extended the invitation, and the advice comes fast.
"I'm like, 'Now you want to get closer to the sack master since you've been closer to sacks.' I joke with him all the time about that," said Ware.
Added Smith: ""When he sees me doing something wrong on the film, he'll just whisper, 'Hey, Q; do this, do that."
The most crucial lesson from last week? Finish.
"Last week, he had that quarterback (Geno Smith) in his hands and I said, 'Don't let him go,'" Ware said. "Everybody's rooting for him to make big plays. He's that great athlete when he goes in there you have to put somebody on him. We're ready for that breakthrough for him."
"I definitely feel once I get the first one, it's going to be on," added Smith. "I just need to get the first one."
And when Smith proves he can convert pressure into sacks, the burden on Ware and Miller could decrease, and allow them some extended respites, knowing the Broncos can still generate a pass rush while their primary edge rushers rest.
"Good pass rushers are fresh pass rushers," said defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. "The more (Smith) can do, the better it will be for the team."
Hi Mase, with all the complaining about the poor quality of Thursday Night Football, there seems to be an obvious solution to me. If the league added a second bye week and had both Thursday night teams be on the second week of the bye, you'd have rested teams, which is a win for the players, an extra week of television revenue for the owners, and an extra week of football for the fans. It seems like a win, win, win to me. What do you think?
-- Gary Ukele
The league tried a double bye during the 1993 season, which led to complaints about a bloated season, a product stretched too thin and disrupted flow. The league had 28 teams at the time, which meant there were four weeks with just 10 games. That left eight contests for Sunday afternoon, which was too sparse an offering. That would be exacerbated in the age of Red Zone Channel, Sunday Ticket, etc.
That being said …
It wouldn't be the worst idea, although you'd be limited on the weeks that you'd have Thursday Night Football. (Unless you want to have bye weeks at all weeks, even at the end of the season. This was a necessity from 1999-2001, when the league had 31 teams. In 2001, the Broncos drew a Week 16 bye that became Week 15 after the post-9/11 schedule adjustment.) You might have to adjust television contracts to account for the extra week; although the number of games remains the same, you're adding six broadcast windows (Thursday, Sunday singleheader for one network, Sunday doubleheader for another network, Sunday night and Monday night). And you have to consider that teams get a bye after traveling to London for a regular-season game, although with a second bye, this is less of a problem.
But if a second bye helps the quality of the sport -- and, above all, helps the health of the players -- it is something the league should ponder.
Too soon. For one thing, you don't want to lock yourself into targeting a specific position early in the draft. You can have an idea what you want to get, but you must be flexible enough to pivot if the board begins falling in an unexpected way, which drops an unexpected player into your lap.
We're still two to three months away from players declaring for the draft with college eligibility remaining. And even though Manny Ramirez has had his ups and downs, including the sack permitted to Muhammad Wilkerson last week, there's still time to get the offensive line and Ramirez back to its -- and his -- 2013 level.
Further, the Broncos have a young center they like in 2014 sixth-round pick Matt Paradis, who is on the practice squad. Paradis has the intelligence and technical ability to be a starting center in time. Assuming he is not poached for someone else's 53-man roster, he could be in the Broncos' long-term plans.
There will not be a decision until at some point in the offseason, possibly around the March owners' meetings. The Competition Committee will take it up first.