By Anthony Santigate
This offseason was crazy. Remember when free agency opened and Twitter went crazy with deal after deal? Well, it’s almost time to see if all of these changes will work out. The season is only three months away. We’re going to look at which offensive players benefit from a new scheme, whether via trade or coaching change.
1. C.J. Anderson could be the highest on this list with Gary Kubiak joining Peyton, Elway and the rest of the Denver Broncos. Since the move, Anderson has publicly said how much he thinks the system suits him and how excited he is to play in it. But, a man off the street might be able to put up 1,000 yards in Kubiak’s zone-blocking, one-cut system.
From ’95 -’05, Kubiak was the Broncos’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In those 11 years, Kubiak produced 10 different 1,000 yard seasons. With not one, but five different running backs. Want something more recent? Last year, a relatively unknown running back, Justin Forsett blasted onto the scene with over 1,200 yards for the Ravens under Kubiak. Forsett finished with the 5th most rushing yards (1,266) on only 235 carries. For reference, last year Marshawn Lynch had 280 carries for 1,306 yards. Kubiak could be a match made in heaven for Anderson and the Broncos. It’s also worth noting that the Broncos will run even more than they did last year to keep Peyton on the field. Don’t be surprised to see Ball and/or Hillman to put up big numbers if Anderson gets injured or under performs.
2. Sam Bradford. This could be seen as a better situation rather than a better scheme change but Bradford’s accuracy in Chip Kelly’s pitch and catch, high-tempo offense has too much potential to overlook. The two sides of this story are well known. Bradford came out of Oklahoma as a can’t miss franchise QB because of his accuracy, mobility and IQ. Fittingly, those are probably the three attributes a QB needs the most in that Oregon style offense.
Chip wasn’t able to steal away Mariota on draft day, but Bradford is a perfect fit on paper for the offense. Much like Kubiak’s running scheme, it seems like any quarterback could put up huge fantasy numbers for Chip. The Jets tried their best to hide Mark Sanchez, but in Philadelphia he was able to look like a pro bowler. Nick Foles went from a lifetime backup to a guy who had a historic half of a season. 27 touchdowns to 2 interceptions in Chip’s system.
Bradford is a much better fit for the offense than Foles and Sanchez, IF he stays healthy. (All fantasy owners banking on grabbing Bradford late, please grab Sanchez too. It’s a great handcuff situation.)Bradford’s accuracy and decision making are the key factors here. In 2013, Bradford’s most healthy year, he finished in the top 7 in most catchable throws, per Pro Football Focus. Also, Bradford has the third best career interception ratio at 2.2, behind only Brady and Rodgers.
3. Joe Flacco is going from Gary Kubiak’s running back tailored offense, to Marc Trestman’s. Forget Trestman’s tenure as head coach in Chicago. That was a tough situation. Trestman has earned the nickname as “The Quarterback Whisperer,” for a reason. He has had incredibly successful stints as offensive coordinator and QB coach with hall of famers Steve Young and Bernie Kosar. Trestman has the credentials and experience to turn Joe Flacco into a top 5 quarterback.
We’ve seen it before in the playoffs. Flacco’s big arm, decision making and leadership have made him a great postseason signal caller, but so far in his career he hasn’t eclipsed that top tier of regular season QB’s. The only thing that might hold him back is his lack of weapons. Forsett is due for another solid year, probably a decline in rushing yards but an increase in catches and receiving yards. Forte was a PPR monster under Trestman. Flacco will need help from veteran Steve Smith and rookies, WR Breshad Perriman and TE Maxx Williams.