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  • To Be Or Not To Be Conservative

    So, I keep hearing that a major problem that our team faces regarding our coaches approach to games is that they are too conservative.

    On offense, does that mean throw, throw and throw again? Because I hear people saying we don't run the ball enough and we need to stay balanced.

    Or does it mean not continuing to try and score when we have a lead? Or is it that we get "conservative" too soon?

    On defense I hear that we tend to shut teams down for 2-3 qtrs, then "let" the other team back in by going into soft zone or prevent defense?

    I'm just curious as to what people consider conservative play because I hear different, yet opposing views and would love to hear everyone's take because this seems to be one of the biggest points of contention between the fans and the coaching staff.
    Adopted Bronco: DeMarcus Ware

  • #2
    Our run game is not good enough to get much on expected running downs. If we open it up with passing and soften their defense then we do ok. Last week we tried just the opposite and it failed. Conservative can be a good thing if you have good ball control. 1st and second down plays need to be gaining positive yards not just run the ball gain 1 or none. So many more chances of good things happening on second and short or third and short. Playsmart...

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    • #3
      The O-Line needs to be read the riot act....if you can't both block and pass protect...don't expect to be back next year or get a contract extension......Dallas is a mediocre team but with a great O-line their running game came alive and made them a contender even with a so so defense.

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      • #4
        Here's my view. Denver tends to get ahead by two scores, whether it's two touchdowns or a touchdown and a field goal, and they put it on cruise control. It doesn't matter what quarter it's in. Irritates the hell out of me. I also can't figure out why Denver gets conservative right before the end of the first half. If another team is going to march down the field against Denver's defense with ease, you can almost guarantee it's right before the half.

        This is a passing team. No other way around it. But I liked the gameplan against both San Francisco and San Diego. I think, in an ideal world where everything is perfect, that should be the course of action each game. Yes, we'll kill you with the pass, but we can run it as well (since Ronnie has come in and given the offense a spark).

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        • #5
          Originally posted by broncoslover115 View Post
          So, I keep hearing that a major problem that our team faces regarding our coaches approach to games is that they are too conservative.

          On offense, does that mean throw, throw and throw again? Because I hear people saying we don't run the ball enough and we need to stay balanced.

          Or does it mean not continuing to try and score when we have a lead? Or is it that we get "conservative" too soon?

          On defense I hear that we tend to shut teams down for 2-3 qtrs, then "let" the other team back in by going into soft zone or prevent defense?

          I'm just curious as to what people consider conservative play because I hear different, yet opposing views and would love to hear everyone's take because this seems to be one of the biggest points of contention between the fans and the coaching staff.
          I think it depends on your perspective. For example: In my opinion conservative is playing the field position battle by running on a 3rd down & 10 instead of throwing to try and p/u the 1st. Another example IMO is playing a veteran over a rookie or someone with less experience just because they're a veteran and the coach trusts vets more. One more example IMO: During the SB Alex Gibbs was going nuts on the sideline telling Gase and anyone else that would listen that Seattle was literally giving us the run and that we needed to use it but Fox/Gase/Manning decided to stick with what got em there and it didn't work. To me that's being conservative; when what you're doing isn't working and you have someone like Alex Gibbs who has 2 SB rings telling you what you need to do and you ignore it to stick with what you're comfortable with, that's the epitome of conservative to me.

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          • #6
            We do have a tendency to dial it in when we get up by 10+ points (exception being vs. Arizona where we seemed to keep our foot on the gas).

            What we saw vs. New England was an unusually slow start. We usually go with a 4-5 receiver spread to start the game but for some reason on our first 4 drives vs. NE we were trying to pound the ball up the middle? Not our style. Not sure why we were being so conservative when Sanders and Demaryius both had huge days, we should've came out throwing.

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            • #7
              Too many first down runs early in games. They get predictable. Come out get the ball moving, get the drive going and get the D off balance. Then start running. Its what we did vs a very good Arizona defense and it worked.

              Coming out and trying to be a power run team will not work with our personnel. We have been very stubborn about this. I'm not saying we can't/shouldn't run. Im saying we need to use the passing game to open up the run. Which Fox and Gase seem very reluctant to do.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by 18To80 View Post
                We do have a tendency to dial it in when we get up by 10+ points (exception being vs. Arizona where we seemed to keep our foot on the gas).

                What we saw vs. New England was an unusually slow start. We usually go with a 4-5 receiver spread to start the game but for some reason on our first 4 drives vs. NE we were trying to pound the ball up the middle? Not our style. Not sure why we were being so conservative when Sanders and Demaryius both had huge days, we should've came out throwing.
                Agreed. It's like Denver's whole plan gets thrown off if they have to receive the ball after the coin toss and they panic. "Oh no, we have to take the ball. But we've planned all week on having the ball after halftime. What will we do?!?" Also, there was no reason to play so scared and conservative on offense during the first quarter. I think Manning showed that he has more than adequate arm strength to play in the wind. I didn't see any evidence that the wind affected his throws at all Sunday. We wasted virtually the entire first quarter for no reason that I can fathom.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Conner13 View Post
                  Here's my view. Denver tends to get ahead by two scores, whether it's two touchdowns or a touchdown and a field goal, and they put it on cruise control. It doesn't matter what quarter it's in. Irritates the hell out of me. I also can't figure out why Denver gets conservative right before the end of the first half. If another team is going to march down the field against Denver's defense with ease, you can almost guarantee it's right before the half.

                  This is a passing team. No other way around it. But I liked the gameplan against both San Francisco and San Diego. I think, in an ideal world where everything is perfect, that should be the course of action each game. Yes, we'll kill you with the pass, but we can run it as well (since Ronnie has come in and given the offense a spark).
                  I won't address the first half thing because that often drives me crazy, but when you're up by 10 in the second half you're much better going "conservative" because you want to take time off the clock, that's the most valuable commodity in that instance. As an example last year in the playoffs New Orleans v Seattle, it was late in the game and Marshawn Lynch broke away at that point he made the most selfish decision he could make which was to score, why was that selfish? Because New Orleans were either out of time outs or had 1 left, getting the first down and letting the clock run wins the game, by scoring he gave New Orleans the ball back with minimal time off the clock, yeah they were down by 7 more points but they went from having zero shot of winning to at least a slim shot. Seattle kicked off, New Orleans scored quickly, then recovered the onside kick, they didn't end up scoring again (can't remember if it would have tied or won) but instead of winning the game, the Seahawks were then forced to defend the lead.

                  When you're up by 2+ scores in the second half time is the oppositions most valuable commodity, trying to use that time isn't "conservative" it's playing smart.

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                  • #10
                    The association of conservative play calling as a negative thing, or simply looking at it as being 'scared' is a load of nonsense IMO. It seems like it's rooted in either an obsession with an offense being pass happy, or some way of trying to say their team wins the SB as long as the coaches make the right calls.

                    Peyton Manning thrives on efficiency, which means there will be a lot of conservative play calling. He's a smart QB, a tactical type of player, who doesn't like to take big risks, and it's part of what makes him so great. He's good at knowing when it's a practical time to go for a deep shot. Deep balls are best to be incorporated as a helpful addition to an offense, but if they are the main staple of it that can make it tougher when you face good defenses. Deep balls are low percentage plays in the NFL, even when you have great vertical threats at receiver and a QB with a great arm.

                    Whether or not conservative play calling is a smart idea depends on the situation, and if your players can execute well. Limiting possessions works very well in preserving leads, especially in the second half, as it gives them less possessions to mount a comeback. If your team is good at that, it can go a long way. It doesn't even necessarily have to be with runs, short high percentage screen passes where players can use 'ball carrier skills' to get more yards in 1 on 1s after the catch can be just as effective, although it's best to mix in runs so the defense stays more honest. The main key IMO, is a focus on low risk plays with intent to drive down field methodically. It can be very effective if you limit an offense to say, 3-4 possessions in a half as it makes every stop your defense makes more significant. However, if your team doesn't have guys that are good with screens or run it well, it wouldn't be a good strategy. You won't kill much clock if your getting 3 and outs.

                    It seems some people have this idea in their head of associating conservative play calling with bad and aggressive with good(perhaps the other way around, though that IMO is less common)looking at it too much in black and white. The situation plays a roll in my view, and IMO you'd want to make decisions based on the odds in part at least. Some situations favor conservative play calling, some favor more aggressive play calling.

                    As an example, with the DEN-BAL playoff game for the 2012 season, I thought Fox's decisions near the end of the game that some criticized were good ones, that played the odds well. Risk/reward analysis as well as odds of things happening should be factored in IMO.

                    First, you had the run on 3rd and 7-the risk was, if the pass is incomplete-BAL gets another 40 seconds to score a TD..If we run it, they get 1:15 on the clock needing to score a TD with no timeouts. That situation favors the defense, and is likely only going to end up in a TD if there is a defensive breakdown. If the pass falls incomplete, BAL has it a lot easier in terms of time on the clock to score a TD. DEN's defense did break down, but Fox didn't know that it would, and the odds didn't favor that happening. You have to rely on players executing well for your team to play well, and if your defense melts in situations that strongly favor it, that likely will come back to cost you games.

                    In some situations, the odds more favor an aggressive play call. An example for that would be the 3rd and 6 in the DEN-SD playoff game for the 2013 season. In that situation, there wasn't much benefit to trying to kill the clock, because the play was run near the 2 minute warning. It wouldn't have made much of a difference, so you may as well go for it, as the risk of an incompletion in terms of the clock is only giving SD another 6,7,8ish seconds.

                    Some fans seem to have this mindset of conservative play calling being 'scared' coaching, saying things like it being 'playing not to lose'...but, not losing is part of winning lol. Sometimes, playing not to lose is smart, play to stay in the game. Some people seem to forget that football has strategy involved, and sometimes there's good reason to be afraid of risks, sometimes taking those risks isn't a practical idea in terms of helping your chances of winning, sometimes a 'scared' approach is better. There is a such thing as 'healthy fear' IMO.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by fallforward3y+ View Post
                      The association of conservative play calling as a negative thing, or simply looking at it as being 'scared' is a load of nonsense IMO. It seems like it's rooted in either an obsession with an offense being pass happy, or some way of trying to say their team wins the SB as long as the coaches make the right calls.

                      Peyton Manning thrives on efficiency, which means there will be a lot of conservative play calling. He's a smart QB, a tactical type of player, who doesn't like to take big risks, and it's part of what makes him so great. He's good at knowing when it's a practical time to go for a deep shot. Deep balls are best to be incorporated as a helpful addition to an offense, but if they are the main staple of it that can make it tougher when you face good defenses. Deep balls are low percentage plays in the NFL, even when you have great vertical threats at receiver and a QB with a great arm.

                      Whether or not conservative play calling is a smart idea depends on the situation, and if your players can execute well. Limiting possessions works very well in preserving leads, especially in the second half, as it gives them less possessions to mount a comeback. If your team is good at that, it can go a long way. It doesn't even necessarily have to be with runs, short high percentage screen passes where players can use 'ball carrier skills' to get more yards in 1 on 1s after the catch can be just as effective, although it's best to mix in runs so the defense stays more honest. The main key IMO, is a focus on low risk plays with intent to drive down field methodically. It can be very effective if you limit an offense to say, 3-4 possessions in a half as it makes every stop your defense makes more significant. However, if your team doesn't have guys that are good with screens or run it well, it wouldn't be a good strategy. You won't kill much clock if your getting 3 and outs.

                      It seems some people have this idea in their head of associating conservative play calling with bad and aggressive with good(perhaps the other way around, though that IMO is less common)looking at it too much in black and white. The situation plays a roll in my view, and IMO you'd want to make decisions based on the odds in part at least. Some situations favor conservative play calling, some favor more aggressive play calling.

                      As an example, with the DEN-BAL playoff game for the 2012 season, I thought Fox's decisions near the end of the game that some criticized were good ones, that played the odds well. Risk/reward analysis as well as odds of things happening should be factored in IMO.

                      First, you had the run on 3rd and 7-the risk was, if the pass is incomplete-BAL gets another 40 seconds to score a TD..If we run it, they get 1:15 on the clock needing to score a TD with no timeouts. That situation favors the defense, and is likely only going to end up in a TD if there is a defensive breakdown. If the pass falls incomplete, BAL has it a lot easier in terms of time on the clock to score a TD. DEN's defense did break down, but Fox didn't know that it would, and the odds didn't favor that happening. You have to rely on players executing well for your team to play well, and if your defense melts in situations that strongly favor it, that likely will come back to cost you games.

                      In some situations, the odds more favor an aggressive play call. An example for that would be the 3rd and 6 in the DEN-SD playoff game for the 2013 season. In that situation, there wasn't much benefit to trying to kill the clock, because the play was run near the 2 minute warning. It wouldn't have made much of a difference, so you may as well go for it, as the risk of an incompletion in terms of the clock is only giving SD another 6,7,8ish seconds.

                      Some fans seem to have this mindset of conservative play calling being 'scared' coaching, saying things like it being 'playing not to lose'...but, not losing is part of winning lol. Sometimes, playing not to lose is smart, play to stay in the game. Some people seem to forget that football has strategy involved, and sometimes there's good reason to be afraid of risks, sometimes taking those risks isn't a practical idea in terms of helping your chances of winning, sometimes a 'scared' approach is better. There is a such thing as 'healthy fear' IMO.
                      Wow, what a terrific, informative, well-reasoned post. Thank you! Really put a lot of things in perspective. CP to you when I get to a computer!
                      Adopted Bronco: DeMarcus Ware

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Butler By'Note View Post
                        I won't address the first half thing because that often drives me crazy, but when you're up by 10 in the second half you're much better going "conservative" because you want to take time off the clock, that's the most valuable commodity in that instance. As an example last year in the playoffs New Orleans v Seattle, it was late in the game and Marshawn Lynch broke away at that point he made the most selfish decision he could make which was to score, why was that selfish? Because New Orleans were either out of time outs or had 1 left, getting the first down and letting the clock run wins the game, by scoring he gave New Orleans the ball back with minimal time off the clock, yeah they were down by 7 more points but they went from having zero shot of winning to at least a slim shot. Seattle kicked off, New Orleans scored quickly, then recovered the onside kick, they didn't end up scoring again (can't remember if it would have tied or won) but instead of winning the game, the Seahawks were then forced to defend the lead.

                        When you're up by 2+ scores in the second half time is the oppositions most valuable commodity, trying to use that time isn't "conservative" it's playing smart.
                        Good post, it's baffling how some people don't see the benefit of killing clock when you have a lead. If your up by 2 scores and you hold a team to 3-4 possessions in the second half, that makes it pretty hard to come back. The fewer possessions a team has, the less of a chance they have to come back.

                        The argument is often that you can't sleep on offenses, play like the score is 0-0 and etc. but the irony is that the ability of offenses to come back is a great reason to try and limit the possessions they have to come back. I've seen teams win or stay in games that they likely lose soundly if they don't control the clock and limit possessions. Continually staying aggressive and not winding down much clock while doing so will give them more possessions to come back with. If they start to make adjustments and your team doesn't score at as much of a pace, it could put you at risk of giving up the lead easier if your not winding down very much clock. Plus, it could risk giving them momentum changing turnovers, that help them narrow the gap. I remember seeing Detroit score 2 defensive TDs off of Romo INTs in a game at Dallas when they were once down 27-3, which helped them narrow the game to 27-17, and they ended up winning 34-30.

                        It also seems they may use 'play like it's 0-0' in a way that isn't too wise IMO. It's a good philosophy IMO in the sense of giving it your best on every play and not thinking the game is over until it's actually over, but trying to wind down the clock doesn't mean you think the game is already over and you only are trying to get out of the game, it is likely used as a strategy to help preserve your lead, while still trying to execute well, IMO it's a good offensive strategy.

                        It's good to give it your best until the end of the game and not think you clinched the win until you have, but actually calling plays as if the score is 0-0 when it's not IMO is very foolish if you want to win. You can play to advantages when you have a solid lead that are very practical in terms of keeping it, and getting out of the game with a win, missing out on them may help a team come back and win.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by broncoslover115 View Post
                          Wow, what a terrific, informative, well-reasoned post. Thank you! Really put a lot of things in perspective. CP to you when I get to a computer!
                          Thanks. The anti-conservative play calling mindsets are a bit of a bug-a-boo of mine, so I'll often have a lot to say about it lol.

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                          • #14
                            For the life of me, can someone please explain the stubbornness to run on first down? This immediately puts us behind the down and distance from the start. You cannot say it opens the PAP, because no one really fears our running game. To me, this is where CONSERVATIVE play hurts us. I do not have statistical proof, but I would be willing to bet we have more success passing on first down than running.
                            Last edited by qbronco; 11-06-2014, 07:33 PM.
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                            • #15
                              Now that Knowshon is gone, our running game is fair IMO so Throw Throw Throw!! Manning broke records last year so let it rip. HOWEVER....without some sort of running game, all defenses will adjust.

                              Our offensive production is lower and it shows in stats and on the scoreboard. Winning each game is the key but doing it needs to be mainly on Peyton's throws with the receiving corp we have.

                              Defensive wise? We have a strong presence that needs to start stepping up. The Patriot game was ridiculous defensive wise.
                              :usa: *** God Bless Our Military Men And Women*** :usa:

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