Denver Broncos | News

Mason's Mailbag: Cohesion on the line, next year's draft (whoa!) and a uniform question

You can tweet questions to me with the hashtag #AskMase or use the submission form to your right (if you're viewing on a standard browser) or at the bottom of the page if you're on the mobile site.

It doesn't help, but at the same time the most important steps toward building cohesion happen in live game situations. Further, you want to have your best five offensive linemen out there when it matters most; clearly, that includes Matt Paradis, whose role is crucial before the snap. (For example, on the 31-yard Trevor Siemian-to-Virgil Green pass last week, Paradis turns to Siemian to convey something pre-snap; Siemian in turn turns back toward Devontae Booker. This sort of pre-snap communication is essential; Paradis excels in this area).

The biggest reason is that he's caught in a numbers game that goes with having three tight ends active instead of two. He was eligible to play against Houston in Week 7, even though he was coming off a concussion, he had been cleared through the league-mandated protocol. But with the lack of full practice preparation, the decision was made to activate a third tight end in his place.

Since that worked out and allowed the Broncos to use some more three-tight end formations, he was inactive again against the Chargers, with Jeff Heuerman up as the No. 3 tight end. The arrival of A.J. Derby could cause the Broncos to continue activating three tight ends, which could lead Latimer inactive unless the Broncos choose to deactivate one of their other wide receivers. Jordan Norwood and Bennie Fowler both have extensive special-teams roles, and Jordan Taylor is explosive on offense, as he showed with his long early gain last week.

When you have outstanding depth at wide receiver, you're left with game-day roster conundrums like the one that exists with Latimer.

I read the unwritten rules of the NFL on NFL.com recently and it made me think about strategies that teams use at the of the game when they are behind by say 10 points with under 2 minutes to go. Teams seem to kick the field goal then try an onside kick when they need to score a touchdown. Wouldn't it be "easier" to go for the touchdown first and if you get the onside kick it would be a shorter field to get in field-goal range?

-- Tony Hoffman

You'd have a shorter field, but you wouldn't necessarily have time -- and in the cases of the Broncos in two October situations when they took the field goal with 19 and 32 seconds remaining, they were out of timeouts. So that limits your options.

If you continue to drive and try to score a touchdown, you lose time, running the risk of scoring the touchdown, but not having enough time to execute the on-side kickoff, then get into field-goal range.

Say you have the football at the opponent's 27-yard line with 19 seconds remaining as the Broncos did against Atlanta. Your chances of success are much better if you kick the field goal right then and there, and then go for the touchdown on the next series, when you might draw a pass-interference call on a "Hail Mary" pass -- and also can maximize the clock (as long as you snap the ball before 0:00, you can take all the time you want on the last play).

If you try to continue driving for a touchdown, you might reach the point where by the time you recover the on-side kickoff, you only have time for one play. This effectively removes the field-goal attempt from the equation; if you recover the on-side kickoff at your 45-yard line, 10-yards from the kickoff spot, your kicker is trying to hit from a distance nine yards beyond the NFL's 64-yard record, because you do not have enough time for a play to get into plausible range. Your chances are slim to none.

So much can happen on a "Hail Mary" pass, and your chances are better of success via a tip, a bounce or a flag to move your offense to the 1-yard line than hitting a 73-yard field goal. Taking the field goal first is the smart play once the clock drains to around 30 seconds.

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Watching the last few games, it seems that opposing teams have figured out that the Broncos are stuck on the run game, by stacking the box with defenders. We also saw last week that the offense, even after throwing a pick-6, was able to make 30- and 40-yard plays. What's the chance that Coach Kubiak lets the offense start going deep in order to open up the running game?**

-- Jonathan Erickson

One hundred percent, because it's already been done. You pointed it out in your question -- he's already given the offense the green light to go deep to exploit heavy formations in the box, because Siemian hit Green down the seem and Demaryius Thomas up the left sideline on consecutive plays for 31 and 40 yards.

Kubiak mentioned it this week -- sometimes your play-calling is a reaction to what the defense gives you. If the Broncos continue exploiting heavy personnel in the box by going over the top, it will transform the offense and open up lanes underneath. And if the deep threat shown last week causes the Raiders and other foes to lay back a bit more, the Broncos will work the ground game and short routes.

Is C.J. Anderson out for the rest of the season or does Denver get him back in a few more weeks?

-- Ryan Gearhart

It all depends on the pace of his recovery. He is eligible to return to game action in Week 17. Whether he can depends on how far he has come in his rehabilitation.

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With the trade deadline over do you see John Elway signing a free agent? If so what player would like to see come to Denver?**

-- Nick Nick

Injuries in the next few weeks could force a signing, but the likelihood of finding a transformative, impact player on the street-free-agent market at this point in the season is slim; there's a reason why veteran players who are on the market aren't currently with a team at this point. You might find a Shiloh Keo late in the season, as the Broncos did last year; he made a key interception in the regular-season finale and then recovered the Patriots' on-side kickoff to seal the Broncos' AFC title. But there's a reason why former Broncos coach John Fox told Carolina media, "No one's coming to rescue us," after a middling start in 2009 exacerbated by injuries. The reality is that there just isn't much quality out there.

With Denver's first round pick in the 2017 draft, do you think that they'll add to the offense or defense?

-- Craig Byers

Best player available. My Magic 8-ball doesn't tell me which side of the line of scrimmage that player is on. (I know that's not the answer you want to hear, but I'm sticking with it.)

If the Broncos pick where they want to pick -- at or near the end of the first round -- they cannot get caught in the trap of picking a player or a specific position no matter what; they have to react to how the board falls. That's how they got Bradley Roby in 2014 and Shane Ray in 2015; neither were expected to fall as far as they did, and they weren't at the Broncos' biggest "need" positions, but can you really argue with those selections? They wouldn't be 6-2 without their play.

Andrew, Can you please explain to me why the NFL will not allow the tv channels to broadcast both games on Sundays? And why did FOX get to broadcast three games today? It really sucks not getting to watch the Broncos here in Kansas. Especially when they have the late game and the Chiefs have the early game.

-- Rod Huffman

Fox got three games because Week 8 was one of its doubleheader weeks for the afternoon, and it was also its turn to broadcast the game from London. It was just a quirk of the calendar. Don't expect the tradition of having only one network show two afternoon games to change, because both Fox and CBS crave the opportunities to run a game unopposed in the late-afternoon broadcast window. Those games typically have the highest ratings of any afternoon broadcasts, and I doubt either network would want their contract changed to forbid that.

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After this year's success/general love for the mixture of the old and new in the color rush D helmets in our current colours, do you think there is any chance of a uniform/logo revamp next year/in the next few years?**

I grew up on the "D" of Denver and despite loving the Bronco head of current times, I'd love to see a combination and our jerseys get an update with the team logos on the shoulders or just below the neck like other teams.

-- Luke Butler

I suppose there's always a chance in the next few years, but no changes to the basic uniform are imminent or in the works. That doesn't mean you might not see something down the line, but for at least the next couple of years, do not expect any changes to the base, non-Color Rush uniform.

The current Color Rush plan also calls for the those special uniforms to be worn over multiple years; for example, Tampa Bay's Color Rush uniforms worn against Atlanta on Thursday matched the ones they wore in the infamous ketchup-vs.-mustard game against the yellow-clad then-St. Louis Rams last year.

The Broncos' Color Rush uniform definitely has some intriguing elements that can be used in other ways. While I don't like monochromatic uniforms in general, I think the orange pants would work with a white or blue jersey, and the orange jersey could work with white pants (not so much blue, because I think it looks odd when a player has a lighter/brighter color jersey than pants).

Submit a question for the next Mailbag!

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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