Editor’s note: Please welcome Joe Baker (aka Shake n Bake) to the 18to88 fold. He’s a personal favorite of mine. You can check out his previous work on Stampedeblue.com and the Washington Post’s The League Blog. Joe is one of the most popular Colts’ writers, and I’m thrilled to bring him on as a partner in the 18to88 fold. We’ll post a bio soon.
With Broncos starting CBs Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman yet to practice this week and availability for Sunday in serious question it looks very possible Peyton Manning and the Colts elite group of targets will be working against a group of corners with 3 rookies and a career backup among it’s top 4.
If Bailey’s foot and Goodman’s ankle keep them out the Broncos will start rookie Perish Cox and a man with more years in the league than career starts, Nate Jones. Cox was a 5th round pick known more for his return skills than his CB play, but his blazing speed and solid size led many to think he could play CB in the NFL. The knocks on Cox (besides character concerns) were technique issues and just 2 games into his rookie year those aren’t likely to be fixed. The other possible starter for Denver is Nate Jones, a 7th round pick of the Cowboys who clung onto the end of the roster for 4 years, contributed as a reserve for 2 years in Miami and arrived in Denver this offseason.
While the Colts may have to draw WR depth from their TEs, RBs and/or Practice Squad if Garçon joins Gonzalez on the sidelines, the Colts haven’t hesitated to spread it out on offense while thin at WR. Clark, Tamme and Addai are all dangerous out at WR. If the Broncos regular starters are down the Colts will be able to attack the bottom of their CB barrel. 3rd string for the Broncos are rookie 7th rounder Syd’Quan Thompson and undrafted rookie Cassius Vaughn, a fantastically named duo, but not one likely to hold up against Peyton Manning and the Colts targets.
Further pointing to the major (quite likely fatal) blow the the Broncos both starting CBs sitting would be is FO’s breakdown of Denver’s D vs receiver types. The Broncos have the 3rd best VOA in the league against #1 WRs and 9th best against #2, holding them on average to under 70 yards a game, combined. However, the Broncos rank 26th in the league against “Other WRs” giving up nearly as many yards to 3rd and lesser WRs as to their opponents starting pair. Those opponents, by the way, have been the Jags and Seahawks, neither quite possessing a murderer’s row of WRs.
In the seemingly likely event that the Broncos are down one or both starters at CB, the backups look ripe for Peyton and his targets’ plucking, and we won’t even get into what Eldridge could open up from Addai and Brown against their #28 ranked run D.