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During the 2019 season, the offices of Broncos outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley and defensive backs coach Renaldo Hill were side by side on the second floor of the team facility.
Head coach Vic Fangio brought Staley in from Chicago and Hill was hired after serving as the Miami Dolphins’ assistant defensive backs coach. The two coaches would often talk strategy, putting themselves in Fangio’s shoes as a defensive play-caller.
“I think we probably spent more time in the other person’s office just talking game plans than actually our own (office),” Hill said.
Staley left after one year to become the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator. Recently he was hired as the Chargers’ new head coach, and he soon after hired Hill as his defensive coordinator.
Staley will call the defensive plays, but it is a huge opportunity for the 42-year old Hill. During his news conference with the Los Angeles media on Wednesday, Hill recalled those days talking shop with Staley.
“That offseason, when we got (to Denver), it immediately went to, ‘Let’s figure out some puzzles. Let’s figure out what the top teams in the NFL are doing. Let’s find the new things that people are doing and then let’s attack them,’” Hill said.
Hill is back with Staley and also back with former Broncos cornerback Chris Harris.
“Actually my third (stint with Harris),” Hill said. “My last year at the Broncos playing safety, Chris was a rookie coming in. He saw my exit. Excited about Chris. He’s a smart, savvy guy and really a student of the game.”
Harris was a rookie in 2011 when the Broncos released Hill early in training camp.
As a Broncos assistant, Hill was essentially the safeties coach because coordinator Ed Donatell took such a big role coaching the cornerbacks. But when Donatell missed significant time this past season due to COVID-19, Hill led the entire position group. Under his watch, safety Justin Simmons developed into a second-team All-Pro player in 2019 and a Pro Bowl selection in ’20.
Around the Broncos
Long-time quarterback issue. The Broncos have a Quarterback Issue more than they have a Drew Lock Issue.
Since 2016, the Broncos’ quarterbacks rank 31st in touchdowns (95), passer rating (79.0) and completion percentage (59.9) and have the fifth-most interceptions (81), the fifth-fewest yards (17,279) and 24th-most wins (32).
If they stick with Lock, the Broncos are hoping for a Year 3 bump like Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield had.
Allen — Year 2 (20 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 58.8 completion rate and 85.3 rating) to Year 3 (37 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 69.2 completion rate and 107.2 rating).
Mayfield — Year 2 (22 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, 59.4 completion rate and 78.8 rating) to Year 3 (26 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 62.8 completion rate and 95.9 rating).
Stafford situation. A league executive told me Thursday that Detroit mishandled how to deal quarterback Matthew Stafford.
“Once teams know you’ve agreed to trade a player, you lose (leverage),” the executive said. “They should have said, ‘No, we love Matthew Stafford,’ and then decide to trade him a month or two later.”
Around the NFL
Coaching cycle over. The Texans made the final head-coaching hire, selecting David Culley on Wednesday. Culley, 65, is the oldest first-time NFL coach in league history and arrives with 27 years of pro experience. Good for Culley, who was a long-time Andy Reid assistant (18 years with Eagles and Chiefs).
All seven jobs have been filled and Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy will have to wait another year. But remember, other current coaches didn’t instantly get the big whistle. Fangio (Broncos 2019) and Bruce Arians (Arizona 2013) were both 60, Mike Zimmer (Minnesota 2014) was 57, Frank Reich (Indianapolis 2018) was 56 and Ron Rivera (Carolina 2011) was 49. Bieniemy is 51.
Clock mismanagement. Semi-overlooked because of Green Bay’s awful defensive play at the end of the first half against Tampa Bay (allowing a 39-yard touchdown catch by receiver Scotty Miller with one second remaining) was coach Matt LaFleur’s clock mismanagement that preceded the score.
Trailing 14-10, the Packers took over at their 13-yard line with 2:10 remaining and had two timeouts. The two-minute warning arrived after the first play. But then chaos. Play over at 1:54, next play at 1:14. Play over at 1:05, next play at :38. Play over at :34 and finally a timeout. Aaron Rodgers was intercepted on the next play. What the heck? The Packers were still in their territory. Brutal.
Prop Bet Central. The folks at SportsBetting.ag emailed a list of more than 200 Super Bowl prop bets. Our five favorites: Total times the chains will be brought out for measurement (over-under 1.5), jersey number of player who scores first touchdown (odd -275/even +215), more accepted penalties or Liverpool/Manchester City corner kicks (penalties -140/corner kicks +100), player to pour Gatorade on winning coach (defensive -150/offensive +150/both +200) and will President Biden mispronounce “Mahomes” (yes +550/no -1,000).