La Canfora’s Latest: Peyton, Bowe, Lovie

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports published a number of stories that are worth a read this morning, so let’s dive right in:

  • The Broncos are off to a 2-0 start, but it has been a frustrating and heart-stopping couple of games, and things are not as rosy as the team’s record would indicate. Denver’s front office and coaching staff have been intent on establishing the running game in an effort to keep Peyton Manning upright and healthy and to prevent him from wearing down over the course of the season, as he did in 2014. Manning, meanwhile, would prefer to be in the shotgun and throwing as much as possible. As team and player search for some middle ground, there are differing opinions as to how the Broncos should handle their offense moving forward. Some scouts believe Manning is putting himself in danger as he tries to think and feel his way through Gary Kubiak‘s offense, and that it may be better to simply allow the future Hall-of-Famer to do what he does best. Others say that Manning himself is the problem, as his declining velocity, accuracy, and susceptibility to “phantom pressure” allow opposing teams to rush five players and deploy a single high safety in the defensive backfield. The problem has been worsened by the team’s poor offensive line play, and Denver’s next opponent, the Lions, is also likely to dial up a great deal of pressure on the quarterback. How the Broncos respond will go a long way in predicting their success for the remainder of the Manning era.
  • Browns wide receiver Dwayne Bowe played and practiced very sparingly in the preseason, and when he finally did get an extended look in the team’s fourth preseason game against reserve defensive backs, he was unable to make much of a statement. Per La Canfora, there are some members of the Browns coaching staff that would like to move on from Bowe immediately, even though he has yet to play a regular season snap for his new club. However, as Bowe is owed $9MM in guaranteed salary over the next two seasons, Cleveland has little choice but to hang onto Bowe and see what he can do. As Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets, Bowe did have a good week of practice this week and is active for today’s matchup against Tennessee.
  • Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith took over defensive play-calling duties this season after Tampa Bay’s defense floundered in 2014. However, his unit’s performance against the Titans last week was even worse than virtually anything he saw last season, and now Smith is under mounting pressure to at least deliver some reason for optimism moving forward. In 2014, the makeup of Smith’s coaching staff raised the eyebrows of other front offices in the league, as many believed that the group–which essentially operated without an offensive coordinator all season–lacked adequate NFL experience. Although the team has installed seasoned NFL coach Dirk Koetter as its offensive coordinator, skepticism regarding Smith’s staff remains. Smith, after all, took over play-calling duties from Leslie Frazier, a former head coach with a ton of coordinating experience, and as La Canfora writes, “it did not go unnoticed in coaching circles when esteemed defensive coach Rod Marinelli, one of Smith’s closest friends, opted to stay in Dallas as coordinator rather than join Smith’s staff in Tampa.” Although the team’s loss to Tennessee last week was just one game, it is fair to say that Smith’s club must start to make some strides if he wants to remain at the Tampa Bay helm in 2016 and beyond.
  • League commissioner Roger Goodell recently said that he is open to altering the way the league handles the discipline and appeals process for off-field matters, and the NFLPA has submitted a proposal that sets forth such an alteration. The proposal, which was submitted when the union filed a grievance with the CBA arbitrator early this year in response to the league’s new domestic violence conduct policy, calls for the creation of a new appeal position, and it would also prevent the commissioner from handling an appeal himself or from choosing someone else to handle it for him. There is no timetable for when the grievance might be resolved, and there will, as always, be extensive negotiating involved in these proposed changes to the appellate process. However, as La Canfora writes, “the growing groundswell among owners to redirect Goodell from being so intimately involved in the process is almost certain to result in changes at some point.”
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