Denver Broncos | News

Mason's Mailbag: Defending the run, tiebreakers, Trevor Siemian and more

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.

If you can pass from out of a six-O-lineman formation, it can be helpful. You need the threat of the pass to prevent the linebackers from simply attacking the gaps with impunity. Last week, Oakland had that; they used a sixth offensive lineman lining up as eligible on 19 plays. They ran 14 times and passed five others.

The 14 runs accumulated 130 yards, including Oakland's two longest plays of the night. But the threat of the pass was viable and effective; Derek Carr went 3-of-4 for 35 yards, and Oakland picked up another 23 yards on a pass-interference penalty, effectively giving Oakland an average of 11.6 yards per pass play out of a six-lineman formation. That's more than enough to keep the defense honest. If you can pass from the six-lineman package as well as Oakland did, it works.

**

I realize that this is basically impossible but I've always wondered what tiebreakers follow wins and losses. For example, if all AFC West teams went undefeated against non-divisional opponents and each won one game and lost one game to each divisional opponents, who would win the division?**

-- Kaden Smith

In that unlikely scenario in which every AFC West team finished 13-3, those teams would be tied on the first four divisional tiebreakers: head-to-head, division games, common opponents and conference games.

That would then lead to strength of victory -- compiled by averaging the winning percentages of the teams each club beat. So the tie would be broken by the winning percentages of two opponents for each club. In this year's schedule, that would mean the tie is broken by the winning percentages of the AFC North and AFC East teams against which each of the AFC West clubs are paired, because the rest of the opponents would be the exact same.

Thus, if all AFC West teams had gone 13-3 this year, the Broncos' fate in a tiebreaker would be determined by how well the Patriots and Bengals did.

No, because you're not going to change the entire structure and positional alignment of the defense for one opponent, especially when your defense has enjoyed plenty of success working out of the 3-4. For the Broncos, that would be like taking a new hybrid to the junkyard because it has a bad spark plug.

Teams that run a base 3-4 this year have allowed 4.2 yards per carry; teams with a base 4-3 allow 4.1 yards per carry. 3-4 base teams have allowed 6.7 more rushing yards per game, but given up 9.8 fewer passing yards per game. It's not a scheme thing; it's an execution thing.

Considering the elite level of the Broncos DBs and the recent struggles defending the run, wouldn't it be wise to sacrifice one safety in order to load the box a bit more?

-- Drew Smith

Maybe in some situations, especially when you get Aqib Talib back, but in the short term, with Talib out Sunday and the Saints' expected use of bunch formations and short crosses, drags and outs to try and cause split-second hesitation among the cornerbacks, it's probably not the best move to make; doing so could turn some short gains into long ones.

**

I wasn't thrilled will some of the fans' backlash against Trevor Siemian. While he definitely needs to improve with consistency, I thought he had another good outing. What are your thoughts?**

-- Eddie Blob

There's no doubt it wasn't his best game, and there were some plays -- including the first third-down attempt of the game -- where he went short rather than get to the next read and find a target further downfield. But at the same time, he remains under duress, and still only has nine starts to his name. Two early drops didn't help matters, nor did pressure pouring in from Oakland's front.

As the cliche' goes, the quarterback generally gets too much blame or too much credit. I think all of us who cover football are guilty of falling into that trap at the extremes, one way or another. But that being said, Siemian has accounted for four giveaways in the last two games: two lost fumbles and a pair of interceptions. Yes, one of the pickoffs was basically out of desperation on fourth down last week, and with the fumble against San Diego, he had no chance to react and avoid the sack and strip.

But when you add the Chargers' near interceptions in Week 8 to the equation, you've got too many giveaways -- or potential giveaways -- for this offense to work. The Broncos' equation for success involves limiting turnovers, so this is an area that must improve, or the season will be in peril.

Thanksgiving would be on November 24, and Christmas would be on December 25 of this year. What are you planning to do during these holidays. Please answer. Thank you.

-- Mitha Choudhury

I'm planning to work. There's practice on Thanksgiving and a game on Christmas.

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.

mailbag_1280.jpg

**

Related Content

Advertising