Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Broncos have had to adjust plan plenty
By Jeff Legwold
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- There are always plans. Draft plans. Free agency plans. What-if plans.
And the Denver Broncos have certainly made their share of plans over the last year in an attempt to fill out a roster good enough to, as executive vice president of football operations John Elway routinely puts it, "win a world championship."
But sometimes things don't go according to plan. Somebody gets hurt, somebody gets suspended -- or in the case of linebacker Von Miller, both -- or somebody simply doesn't play as well as expected.
So that takes a course change here and there. With the Broncos set to open their postseason play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, here's a look at how some of their just-break-glass signings have gone so far and where those players figure to fit in the postseason.
DE Shaun Phillips: In the wake of the fax fiasco that resulted in Elvis Dumervil's release by the Broncos last March, the team felt Dwight Freeney and John Abraham had priced themselves out of the team's budget. So during the draft weekend the Broncos signed Phillips to a 1-year, $1 million deal, with incentives for sack totals that start at eight. Phillips played 770 snaps in the regular season (68.2 percent overall) and led the team in sacks with 10 but has had just one over last six games.
CB Quentin Jammer: Jammer was originally signed May 30 and the Broncos intended to move him to safety to play him in some of their coverage packages. But that didn't go well and Jammer looked far more comfortable at cornerback, so the Broncos left him there. He's been a situational player, with 217 snaps (19.2 percent of the defensive plays). His playing time in the postseason could depend on how much the Broncos play Kayvon Webster with a cast on his surgically-repaired right thumb. If Webster is put back in the rotation, Jammer's potential playing time gets reduced.
LB Paris Lenon: The Broncos signed him Aug.20 when Stewart Bradley went to injured reserve. After bringing him in for a workout, the Broncos quickly saw the 36-year-old had kept himself in condition and they signed him with the hope that he could provide depth. But over the course of the season and as the Broncos have searched for answers on defense, he has been moved into the base defense at middle linebacker -- replacing a team captain in that role in Wesley Woodyard -- and has played at least 23 plays in each of the last four games. The Broncos need a big postseason from him because offenses figure to pound away at times against the Broncos to keep the ball out of the Peyton Manning's hands.
S Michael Huff: The Broncos signed the former first-round pick Nov. 19 to a 1-year, $840,000 deal ($49,412 each week on roster in regular season). He's played 40 snaps on defense, all in the last two games as defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has begun to use him in some of the specialty packages, often lining him up at what is essentially a weak-side linebacker spot or using Huff along the line of scrimmage in the pass rush. With the number of open formations with three and four wide receivers the Broncos would figure to see in a multi-game postseason run, he figures to see more of those kinds of snaps.
DT Sione Fua: Signed a two-year deal with the Broncos after he had cleared waivers in November -- no signing bonus with $555,000 base salary this year, $645,000 in 2014 so it is essentially a one-year deal if the Broncos want to move on after the season. The Broncos like Fua's potential and he's played sparingly thus far -- 12 snaps overall with 10 of those coming against the Titans. Figures to have a difficult time getting in the rotation in the postseason unless there is an injury or the Broncos face a run-heavy offense.
DE Jeremy Mincey: The Broncos signed him Dec. 17 to help bolster things at end with the uncertainty around Derek Wolfe's return to the lineup -- Wolfe has practiced just twice since suffering what the team has called "seizure-like symptoms" on Nov. 29. Mincey, who played for Del Rio in Jacksonville, was moved into the lineup quickly, having played 60 snaps combined in the two games since he was signed. He figures to be in the mix in the postseason and will play in the base defense as well as some situational work.