The Broncos were determined not to let LeRoy Butler stop them and they succeeded
by Paul Zimmerman
Posted: Wed January 28, 1998
"We saw films of games in which a play would be well blocked," said Broncos center Tom Nalen, "but Butler would come in scot-free and make tackles for no gain or minus yardage. We knew we had to get a hat on him every play. He might have been surprised. That hasn't happened to him all year."
Denver used a variety of schemes. Sometimes one of the tackles, Tony Jones or Gary Zimmerman, would turn the defensive end over to the tight end and go after Butler. "You have to get on him quickly," Jones said, "or he'll olé you, and you'll be blocking air."
On strongside runs, fullback Howard Griffith would sometimes seek out Butler, passing his normal assignment, the outside linebacker, along to a wide receiver. When the Broncos ran weakside, a wideout would sometimes crack down on Butler. "We pride ourselves on our blocking," said flanker Ed McCaffrey, who at 215 pounds had 15 pounds on Butler.
When Butler was stacked, or hidden behind a defensive lineman, it was up to one of the middle threeNalen and guards Brian Habib and Mark Schlerethto find him quickly. "You're in the flow of a play, and Terrell watches for an alley and then makes his cut," Schlereth said. "That's our running game. Butler is very good at finding those alleys and filling them, so one of us had to get there first. Whoever had that alley in front of him had to go after him."
Sounds simple, but the keys were speed, precision and quick thinking on the move, which Gibbs says are the hallmarks of his unit and the reasons he wouldn't trade it for any in the game. A front five of 330-pounders could never make it work.
"Speed, conditioning, strength and a great runner," Gibbs said. "I'll take that formula any time."
Issue date: February 2, 1998
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