Answer Man

<b> Answer Man: </b> Great, just the guy I wanted to see. What's the word on Hines Ward and Jason Gildon? Nobody can make heads or tails out of this story.<br><br> <b> JW: </b> Let's deal. I answer your question for once and you take a couple on your own team and one on a college prospect. Three sports questions for one media question. <br><br> <b> AM:</b> Real fair. Go ahead, though.

JW: Don't worry about a rift. That's the first thing you have to know. I think it was a miscommunication between Gildon and reporters, and once Gildon realized it he didn't backtrack because he didn't want to tell us something he thought we already knew. I think that's it in a nutshell. It's really silly but one of the reporters felt the need to re-visit this convolution a day later. Trust me, it's nothing.

Now, my turn. So I get one college player, and I should know better because it won't be a position you guys care about at draft time, but I always like the quarterbacks. Tell me about the guy with all the stats, Philip Rivers from N.C. State.

AM: Interesting guy. He's big enough. Obviously he's experienced and smart enough. He throws a little sidearm but it's a strong arm. He makes all the throws. I like him.



JW: He can't be a first-rounder, can he?

AM: Right now, I'd say third round.



JW: I know I'm wasting my time looking into quarterbacks. I mean, who would they cut? The guy they just drafted? It won't happen.

AM: You never know. What else you got for me?



JW: OK, here are a couple of scenarios for the offensive line. Tell me what you think. 1.) Mathias Nkwenti at LT and Oliver Ross at RT; 2.) Alan Faneca at LT and Keydrick Vincent at LG; 3.) Nkwenti at LT and Vincent at RG and Ross at RT; 4.) Nkwenti at LT and Vincent at RT; 5.) Nkwenti at LT, Chukky Okobi at center and Jeff Hartings at RG.

AM: I like Faneca at left tackle and Vincent at left guard, but I doubt it would be used unless Nkwenti were used first and then played poorly.



JW: I kind of like Okobi at center, Hartings at right guard and Simmons at right tackle, but that doesn't seem to be an option. Why?

AM: Simmons' shoulder is killing him. He wanted to get it fixed last May, and went in for an MRI, but they decided the elbow was worse and that the shoulder could wait until the end of the season. But it's killing him.



JW: Alright, what about the Denver Broncos? Where do we start?

AM: Jake Plummer's playing better, playing real well actually. He's not making the dumb mistakes he used to in Arizona. I think you have to attribute that to him realizing he's not the only playmaker now. He's got a lot of people who can help him, so he's not forcing things or doing things. He's playing within himself, which is a good thing for them. Clinton Portis is a threat to take it anytime he touches the ball. They don't use him a lot as a receiver out of the backfield. Shannon Sharpe, still dangerous. Ashley Lelie, turning into one of the big-play receivers in the league. He's not going to be inside making the tough catches in the crowd but they've got a Rod Smith and an Ed McCaffrey to do that. I'm not super-sold on their defense but their offense is very good, very explosive and able to score. It's a good combination because you have the threat of a running game and that opens up the passing game with their boots and stuff. It opens everything up.



JW: What about their offensive line?

AM: They're perfect for what they do. They're athletic and they get on you and they let the back choose where he wants to go after that. On pass plays, a lot of them are boots and misdirection, so they'll let the D-lineman pick a side and then they'll just position them and they're athletic enough to stay on the block. They're not devastating road-graders, and they won't be putting people in pancake blocks, they don't do it. They get on and sustain and let the back make the play or the defensive linemen take themselves out of the play and they'll use angles and stuff like that. They're very good at what they do.



JW: How would you stop them?

AM: Shut down Portis and try to put pressure on Plummer. Make him feel the pressure and feel he has to make this play. That's when his effectiveness goes down. When he's under pressure he'll make dumb plays. Shut down the running game and prevent the long passes to Ashley Lelie.



JW: Where should they attack their defense?

AM: Their corners and their safeties. Their corners, they've got one corner, Lenny Walls, who is better off-cover than a bump-press guy. Deltha O'Neal is a better press-cover guy than an off guy. Deltha I don't think has good ball skills. Their safeties are fast and aggressive but I don't think they're very instinctive in zone coverage. Their linebackers are very good but they're all speed guys. Their whole defense is based on speed. Their defensive line, except for Trevor Pryce - and even Trevor Pryce is undersized but he's good - but everybody else is quick and they're running games and stuff like that, so I think you've got to attack downhill with the run and vertically with the pass.



JW: So Jerome Bettis might be a better option?

AM: I think that's how you've got to attack these guys, and if you do that you control the ball, you control the time of possession, you keep those guys off the field from making big plays. That's how I'd do it.



JW: Like Merrill Hoge in the playoff game?

AM: Exactly.

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