As I thought, San Diego faltered and Denver completed my “o-fer” on this week’s NFL picks, but in all honesty, it wasn’t much San Diego’s fault, as it was Denver’s doings. I was only half way on the Bronco bandwagon until tonight, now I’m fully boarded and trying to pick up more passengers! I was extremely excited to get a glimpse of this Broncos team live, and against a formidable foe (sorry Oakland) … to see what the “hoopla” was about … or if it was valid. I, for one, am tired of myself jumping on bandwagons as quick as Jimmy Rollins jumped on that Broxton fast ball in the bottom of the 9th with two on and two outs! But that’s another story …
First the offense, in reality they only scored 20 points, not to take anything away from the brilliance of Eddie Royal and the Bronco special teams tonight, but you can’t expect to see that every week, nor count on it. Anyway, the offense still delivered. Is this the same Kyle Orton who couldn’t win the starting job over the up & down play of Rex Grossman? It goes to show you, put the right guy on the right team — in the right situation, and you can begin to expect the unexpected! Orton, is just another example of that. Credit coach Josh McDaniels for his work, top to bottom with this team, which was in total disarray during the off-season. I won’t re-visit the problems McDaniels faced, but let’s just say Cutler, Marshall.
But now Marshall’s in line, as well as the entire offense. Orton played mistake free football in San Diego tonight, but also made timely clutch throws when needed. With defenses keying in on Brandon Marshall, rightfully so, he is a physical freak of nature with suction cup hands at the wide-out position, Kyle Orton hit several key passes to tight end Tony Scheffler, including a touch down reception which displayed his athletic ability down the sideline. Scheffler also had a nice reception for a long gain late in the fourth, which ultimately setup the touchdown to Stokley that put the game on ice. I hope Scheffler’s still available in my fantasy league, but what Denver showed us tonight, is great balance on offense. Orton looks like he’s in full control of this offense, and understands the game plan to a tee. I also like what McDaniels does with the Denver running game, and he has a nice one-two punch with Correll Buckhalter and rookie Knowshon Moreno, who both run hard, and for positive yards.
Apparently, the Broncos special teams coaches were none to pleased with their special teams performance last week, and so the coaches let the team have it. Apparently, it stuck with them. Outside of letting Darren Sproles return a punt for a touchdown late in the first half, they had a great outing! Specifically Eddie Royal. I’ll trade 2 for 1 kickoffs/punt returns for touchdowns any day! But how about the response by the Broncos special teams? They were issued a challenge, and they stood tall and delivered!
Now, on to the stars of the show! That incredibly stingy Bronco D! Who would have known that picking up 64-year-old pro-bowl veteran Brian Dawkins would have the same impact on this Bronco D, as Brett Favre has had with the Vikings? Perhaps even a bigger impact, remember, the Broncos D was near last in the league last season, now arguably they’re the best. What a single season turn around! Now I’m not saying it’s all his doing, but you must admit, he brings an intensity that would even fire me up to go out there and hit someone. It probably wouldn’t hurt much, but what I’m getting at is, this talented D has a figure to rally around when need be, and he’s one of their own. Even when Dawkins was injured, and spent a majority of the first half on the Broncos sideline, you could see his emotion flare up when the Broncos D made plays. Watching this defense is pretty damn exciting though, they fly to the ball and hit hard. They blitz a ton, but have such a great secondary, that it’s tough for quarterbacks to exploit any match-ups that favor them … if there are any … and if they have the time. The Chargers, who are supremely talented on offense, and play their best when their backs are against the wall, and tonight, their backs were firmly pressed against that wall, scored 23 points tonight. Subtract 7 of those points due to Sproles special teams play, and the Broncos D gave up 16 points. Now the scary part … 13 of those 16 points were given up in the first half. That means 3 points were given up in the second half. Damn that’s good. What’s more impressive is … this has become routine for Denver. They shut you down in the second half. If championships are won with defenses, hand this team the Lombardi trophy now!
JK – there’s way too much more football to be played, but Denver is definitely a legitimate contender.