Tag:Robert Ayers
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:28 pm
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Keep an Eye on: Week 14's finer points

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Broncos vs. Bears
Perhaps after this Sunday’s game, Tim Tebow can help Bears right tackle Lance Louis pray for quicker feet. After seemingly stabilizing Chicago’s nightmarish right tackle situation over the past month, Louis, a converted guard, completely fell apart in the loss to Kansas City. He was culpable for most of Kansas City’s seven sacks and also had a holding penalty just outside his own goal-line. It was a performance that would have made even Winston Justice circa 2007 cringe.


It’s not like the Chiefs did anything complex against Louis, either. They didn’t stunt defenders near him or feign blitzes in his gaps. They simply lined players up mano-a-mano and won (Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and even lowly Tyson Jackson all got through; by the fourth quarter, Romeo Crennel was putting players on waiting list for reps at left defensive end/outside linebacker).

Things won’t get much easier for Louis this week. His Bears travel to Mile High, where they’ll meet rookie Von Miller, the AFC’s answer to Clay Matthews (assuming Miller returns from the thumb injury that sidelined him against Minnesota). Miller, in fact, has an even better burst than Matthews.

If Miller is unavailable, the matchup in the trenches will be more even but still tilted in Denver’s favor. The Broncos have gotten great play out of their defensive line in recent weeks, particularly inside with active tackles Broderick Bunkley, Marcus Thomas and, on passing downs, Ryan McBean. These three cause congestion that allows the speed of Miller, D.J. Williams, Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers to flourish.

Even with adequate pass-rushing resources, the Broncos are willing to manufacture pressure through design. They blitz Brian Dawkins a few times each game and, on some occasions, have surprised offenses by bringing Miller from the inside. At times, execution and assignment identification have been problematic for the Bears O-line. The Broncos will be eager to exploit that.

Packers vs. Raiders
The Raiders traded a bounty for Carson Palmer so that they could get away from the elementary, run-only offensive gameplans they used early in the year with Jason Campbell. Aside from a putrid outing at Miami last week, where Palmer played jittery in the pocket because of a justified lack of trust in his protection, the ex-Bengal has been much better than his numbers suggest.

That said, the Raiders need to return to a ground-only approach when they travel to Green Bay this Sunday. Their only chance to win the game is to shorten it. For the last two weeks, we’ve focused on how a quality four-man pass-rush in front of good, aggressive coverage could give a defense a chance to stop Aaron Rodgers.

Well, the last two weeks, Rodgers & Co. have had no trouble against the Lions and Giants, owners of arguably the two best four-man pass-rushes in football. It’s wishful to think that the Raiders’ front line, which is remarkably powerful but deprived of genuine edge speed, can dictate the action this Sunday.

It might be wishful to think the same thing about Oakland’s offensive line. That unit, even with frequently used sixth blocker Stephon Heyer, was unable to move Miami’s three-man front last Sunday. But ground-in-pound is Oakland’s best bet against the Pack. And last week was likely an aberration. The Raiders are athletic on the left side up front with tackle Jared Veldheer capable of exploding at the second level and guard Stefan Wisniewski possessing intriguing short-area mobility.

And they have a workhorse in Michael Bush. He was methodical and effective three weeks ago against the stingy Vikings, rushing for 109 yards on 30 carries. The week before, he toted the rock 30 times for 157 yards at San Diego.

The Packers front line is hard to move; B.J. Raji is a beast, and Ryan Pickett and backup Howard Green have nose tackle size at the end positions. But if you CAN move them, you’ll also move the clock. That, along with great special teams (which the Raiders have) might – MIGHT – be enough to sorta maybe kinda have some form of an outside shot at possibly coming close to beating the seemingly unbeatable Packers offense.

Ravens vs. Colts
For many fans, filling out the offensive line section of the Pro Bowl ballot can be challenging. Often it involves just clicking on whatever linemen hail from the best teams. If the running back is good, his offensive linemen must be good as well (so the thinking goes).

This is the kind of misguided logic that sends underachievers like Bryant McKinnie to Hawaii. (McKinnie made the Pro Bowl in 2009, even though he was benched at times down the stretch.)

McKinnie’s first season as a Raven has actually been much better than his last several seasons as a Viking. At 6’7”, 350-something pounds (give or take), the 10th-year veteran would not seem to be a great fit for Baltimore’s movement-oriented zone-blocking scheme. However, as it turns out, the zone-blocking scheme capitalizes on McKinnie’s natural size and also masks his timidity.

McKinnie’s built like a monster but plays like a milquetoast. He’s never exerted the explosive power or vicious hand-punch of an elite lineman. That’s been detrimental to his run-blocking. But in a system that has him move before making contact in the run game, McKinnie can get away with playing soft because his momentum, working with his sheer size, generates natural power. It’s physics.

Don’t vote McKinnie to this season’s Pro Bowl, though. DO, however, vote his teammate, Marshal Yanda. The 27-year-old right guard has drastically elevated his already-impressive game since signing a five-year, $32 million contract in July. In fact, lately, Yanda has been the best guard in all of football. He has great footwork and the rare ability to land multiple well-angled blocks on a single play.

As this week goes, he’s perfectly suited to dominate against a fast but undersized defense like Indy’s.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 14 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: February 18, 2011 10:02 am
 

Fox: Broncos will go back to 4-3

John Fox said he'll switch Denver's defense to the 4-3 scheme (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Broncos coach John Fox is switching things up in Denver. Namely, his team’s defense.

In an interview with the Denver Post, Fox said he’s switching the 3-4 defense played under Josh McDaniels the past two years back into the 4-3 employed by Mike Shanahan for the 14 years he coached.

The move isn’t a big surprise, considering the Broncos were last in the league in 2010 in scoring defense and total defense and because Fox ran the 4-3 in Carolina.

"We're going to be a multiple-front defense, but I think we'll make the commitment to the 4-3,” Fox told the paper. “The transition from the 3-4 to 4-3 is much easier than going from the 4-3 to 3-4, I will say that. So we feel pretty confident about that switch."

What does the move mean for players like Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers, who had established themselves as effective outside linebackers in the 3-4 scheme? Well, they both most likely would return to their original positions as defensive ends. The Broncos, who pick No. 2 in the upcoming Draft, also could select Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers to help complement Dumervil and Ayers.

The linebackers who would stay in that position – for instance, D.J. Williams, Wesley Woodyard and Mario Haggan – also would have to readjust to a scheme that doesn’t require them to rush the passer quite as much.

Said Fox: "We're working through that with our personnel people, both our pro and college.”

No word yet on what Champ Bailey thinks of this idea.

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Posted on: November 22, 2010 7:15 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 7:23 pm
 

Gates won't play tonight

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Chargers TE Antonio Gates won’t play tonight’s game as he continues to deal with plantar fasciitis. Though it’s not a surprising deactivation, it’s still disappointing for San Diego that the team won’t have one of its star players as it participaints in an important AFC West showdown vs. the Broncos.

Although San Diego is coming off its bye week, Gates said the extra time off didn’t help the pain in his feet. He also called the pain “brutal.” And since Gates is known as a tough player, the pain must be extraordinary to keep him out for the second game in a row.

Randy McMichael will take his place in the San Diego lineup as the Chargers prepare to face the Broncos.

Also, RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive for the Chargers.

For Denver, the Broncos have deactivated LB Robert Ayers, who’s dealing with a broken foot. Although he practiced this week for the first time since Oct. 10, he’s not healthy enough to be active tonight.

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Posted on: November 17, 2010 11:04 pm
 

Broncos cut former first-round pick

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Broncos finally have had enough of former-first round pick LB Jarvis Moss. As the Denver Post reported today, the organization announced it has released him.

Moss has been underwhelming since Denver chose him with the 17th pick of the 2007 Draft. In the 28 games he’s played in the past four seasons, he’s started only once (his rookie season), and he’s accumulated 3.5 sacks (none since 2008).

Moss Moss was supposed to help take over the post vacated by LB Elvis Dumervil when Dumervil tore his pectoral muscle in early August. But Moss broke his hand in training camp, and he never broke through to the starting lineup, and in the end, he only accumulated five tackles in nine games.

“He’s been a great kid for us, done everything we asked him to do. It just hasn’t been a perfect fit,” coach Josh McDaniels said. “Hopefully he can find a place that will be a better fit and suits what can do.”

LB Robert Ayers, another Broncos first-round pick, is close to returning from a broken foot, but let this be known: he hasn’t been stellar in his career so far either. In 20 games as a pro, he’s produced 1.5 sacks and 38 tackles. Still, he’s got better numbers than Moss and, since he was drafted in 2009, there’s still time to help him turn around his career.

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Posted on: October 30, 2010 1:21 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2010 1:25 pm
 

Week 8 injury report analysis Part I

Posted by Andy Benoit

Broncos @ 49ers

The Broncos kept LB Wesley Woodyard, LB Robert Ayers, CB Perrish Cox, S Darcel McBath and DE Kevin Vickerson back home in The States for this one. The absence of these five players is a serious blow to Denver’s defensive depth. At least S Brian Dawkins (knee) and CB Andre Goodman (quad) are probable. Both sat out last week’s debacle against Oakland.

Considering both of these teams have a bye next week, is it even worth it for the Broncos to play Dawkins and Goodman this week against a 49ers passing attack that is without starting QB Alex Smith (shoulder) and relying on a somewhat hobbled Vernon Davis (questionable; ankle)?

Because the Broncos love to sling the ball, it’s worth noting that Niners CB Tarell Brown (back) is doubtful and CB Nate Clements (ankle) is probable.

Jaguars @ Cowboys

The Cowboys are likely without Tony Romo for the season, given that the team will almost certainly be eliminated from playoff contention once his shoulder heals. The Jags are getting THEIR quarterback, David Garrard, back after a 1 ½-game absence (concussion). How’s this for freaky: every quarterback that has replaced Garrard at some point this season has goL. Hall (US Presswire)tten injured. Luke McCown blew out his knee working relief duty in Week 1. Trent Edwards dinged his right thumb after Garrard suffered his concussion against the Titans. And now, last week’s starter, Todd Bouman, is questionable with a right finger injury.

Also questionable is Jaguars DE Jeremy Mincey (hand), who was just given the starting job ahead of disappointing former first-round pick Derrick Harvey (who should be listed as questionable each week with an iffy skill set).

Jacksonville’s interior defensive line should step up in this game. The Cowboys are still without left guard Kyle Kosier (ankle) and his backup Montrae Holland (groin). Phil Costa will start for them. Cornerback Terence Newman is expected to play despite sore ribs. Knowing Newman, though, he’ll come out of the game with a false injury scare at least twice.

Dolphins @ Bengals

Not a single player of consequence is listed on Miami’s injury report. For the Bengals, it’s the other way around. Essentially Cincy’s entire secondary is listed as questionable, with the exception of S Roy Williams, who is doubtful (knee), and CB Leon Hall, who is probable (hamstring). Hall missed Wednesday and Thursday’s workout. His counterpart, Johnathan Joseph (ankle), missed Wednesday and most of Thursday. Backup CB Morgan Trent also sat both days. And, oh yeah, nickelback Adam Jones was just placed on IR (neck). Considering the Bengals have next to no pass rush, the injuries in the defensive backfield are an extra major concern.

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Posted on: October 12, 2010 11:30 am
 

Ayers out six weeks; Dawkins 2-3 weeks

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

According to the Denver Post, Broncos LB Robert Ayers will be out six weeks, and he could return for the final month of the season. Ayers broke his foot in Denver’s loss to the Ravens on Sunday.

It’s another blow to the Broncos LB corps, which is still trying to recover from the loss of Elvis Dumervil. While Denver finished 10th in the NFL with 39 sacks last season, the Broncos currently rank 31st with only five sacks on the year.

Also, S Brian Dawkins will miss at least the next two games with a strained right knee ligament. But the Broncos also might choose to keep him out of the Oct. 31 game vs. the 49ers in London, because Denver has a bye the next week. That obviously would give Dawkins another week to heal.

Either way, Denver's defense will suffer.

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Posted on: September 5, 2010 11:12 am
 

A dead money debate

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Mark Kizla of the Denver Post analyzes the moves (mistakes) Broncos coach Josh McDaniels has made in the past year.

First, he traded up to draft Alphonso Smith in the first round, meaning the Broncos gave him a $2.15 million signing bonus. Then, Denver gave Jarvis Green $3.25 million guaranteed. Then, the Broncos drafted Tim Tebow after trading for QB Brady Quinn to back up Kyle Orton.

So, where do the Broncos stand after Saturday?

Smith was traded to the Lions. Green was cut. Quinn has looked horrendous this preseason.

And Kizla is not impressed:

We salute McDaniels for not letting his ego get in the way of ushering Smith and Green to the exit.

But McDaniels had better be right on first-round draft picks Knowshon Moreno, Robert Ayers, Demaryius Thomas and Tim Tebow. If the Broncos fail to develop anything less than two Pro Bowl players from that quartet in the coming years, then the 34-year-old McDaniels will be long gone from Denver before his hair turns gray.

All of this raised the ire of the Mile High Report, a Broncos blog, on Twitter.

With Smith, Green and the $600,000 in bonuses paid to Brandon Stokley – placed on the IR list until he’s healthy enough to be cut – that’s about $6 million of dead money for the Broncos this season. But as the blog points out, that’s less than what Seattle will pay for T.J. Houshmandzadeh (cut Saturday and owed $7 million guaranteed) and Cincinnati has paid Antonio Bryant (released and paid $8 million).

The MHR makes a good point, but Kizla’s point is well taken also. McDaniels has made some high-profile moves in his short tenure, and some of those moves have not turned out well. If his decisions continue to haunt him and his squad, he won’t be around for the long-term.

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Posted on: July 23, 2010 10:25 am
 

Dumervil's extension includes record guarantee

E. Dumervil got a huge contract extension Thursday night (Getty). The numbers have come in on Denver LB Elvis Dumervil’s new contract extension, and considering he was slated to make about $3.1 million this season, it’s quite a jump.

The Denver Post writes that on top of the $3.168 million salary Dumervil will earn this year, the team added a five-year, $58.332 million extension. That equals six years and $61.5 for last year’s sack leader.

According to two Post sources, $43.168 million of that extension is guaranteed against injury, an NFL record.

"Money is not everything, and that's the way I was brought up," Dumervil told the newspaper. "It's nice when you get it, don't get me wrong, but I was always taught that you get what you put into it. And as long as you conduct yourself as such, good things will happen for you."

It’s actually a pretty extraordinary move by the Broncos. Considering all the turmoil that could occur next year with a potential lockout looming, Denver didn’t have to give him so much money. The Broncos could have stuck him with a franchise tag – which, while still costly, means it would only have to pay him that much money in the short-term, keeping them from having to make such a big-money, long-term commitment to him now.

But, as the Post points out, perhaps the team needed to make a statement, especially after it’s jettisoned off so many players since coach Josh McDaniels – who coincidentally is our subject of “Five questions or more” today on the blog – took over the team.

How will this new contract affect him on the field?

From the Post’s story:

Now that Dumervil has received his new contract, don't be surprised if his sack totals go down while his value soars. Dumervil figures to become a marked man by opposing offenses this season with teams making sure a second blocker — whether a tight end, pulling guard or running back — is on him.

As Dumervil draws double teams on passing downs, it will be imperative for other Broncos such as Robert Ayers to develop as rushers.

"It's going to be tough but a lot of teams passed on me before the Broncos selected me with the 126th pick," Dumervil said. "I'm wanting to show these other teams what they missed out on. I'm obsessed with that. I feel bitter about those decisions. Now I want to prove to other teams that the Broncos were right in wanting to reward me by extending me.”


It’ll be tough – real tough – for Dumervil to reach his 17-sack quota from last year. And not just because of the money he’s making. New contract or no new contract, he would have faced more double teams and chipping blockers anyway this season.

But Dumervil also said he can get his sack total back to double digits. For the Broncos sake, he’d better.
 

--Josh Katzowitz

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com