The Denver Broncos are a juggernaut. GM John Elway has worked tirelessly to cultivate a remarkably talented and balanced roster. Sunday's 27-7 road win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers showcased once again just how deep the Broncos are.
Opposing teams can knock Denver's starting quarterback out of the game, as the Bucs did in Week 4, and the next man up is still good enough to come in and beat them. From the linebackers to the wide receivers, the 2016 Broncos are replete with talent
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1713370-future-is-now-time-to-sta... Were it not for an anemic rushing attack (89 yards), maybe the Broncos would have come close to 400 total yards of offense. As it was, they managed 307. 14 of their 27 points came off turnovers.
The Broncos offense struggled between the 20's on Sunday, but giving credit where it's due, when Denver's defense took the ball away in Tampa territory, the offense was able to capitalize and convert them into touchdowns.
There's a lot to take away from this game. Regarding the change at quarterback and their respective performances, I shared my thoughts here. Let's get to my other takeaways.
Sylvester Williams Is A Very Strong Man
Nose tackle Sylvester Williams is one motivated dude. Drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Broncos chose not to exercise the fifth-year option on Williams' rookie deal. That means he's in a contract year.
We saw what guys like Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan were able to accomplish in the final year of their respective contracts. Heading into Week 4, I was beginning to doubt whether Williams would follow suit.
In Tampa, however, Williams exploded, showcasing the skill-set that made him such an attractive option for the Broncos to take in the first round. He's ridiculously strong and possesses a quick-twitch athletic explosion that defies his 6-foot-2, 313-pound size.
It was an impressive display. Williams finished the day with two tackles (both solo), one sack and a QB hit. Good numbers for a 3-4 nose tackle.
Williams was only on the field for 46 percent of Denver's defensive snaps. In those opportunities, he impacted the game.
I only wish we could see this type of performance out of Williams more consistently. That's always been his biggest hurdle. He can make the huge splash plays of an elite defensive tackle, but consistency has held him back from becoming one.
Perhaps as the season marches on, we'll see a motivated Williams continue to turn the corner.
Short-Yardage Situations Still Haunting
The Broncos were only able to convert 3-of-13 third down opportunities. All of them, ironically, came with the backup Paxton Lynch at the helm.
The Broncos have been middle of the pack in third down efficiency, most literally. They're currently ranked No. 16 in the NFL. The biggest thing that's held them back in that department, however, is their inability to convert third downs on the ground in short-yardage situations.
It was no different in Tampa. The Broncos faced a 3rd-&-1 from their own 46-yard line, and couldn't convert. They relinquished good field position and momentum due to their in ability to grind it out in short-yardage. Once again, it was a blitzing LB (Kwon Alexander) through the A-gap that destroyed the play.
Perhaps it was poor play design. Maybe it was a communication breakdown on who was supposed to block the middle linebacker, or just a simple lack of execution.
The Broncos were able pick up short yardage on the goal line when they really needed it, on the ensuing position following Aqib Talib's second interception. But that was a second-down conversion.
Later on in the game, the Broncos picked up a 3rd-&-short through the air, with Paxton Lynch connecting with C.J. Anderson on a short throw. These are the type of snafus that will haunt the Broncos down the stretch, if they're unable to turn the ship around.
Fortunately, we're only a quarter of the way through the season. The Broncos have plenty of time
Shaq Barrett Steps Up
Heading into Week 4, outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett had been relatively quiet. He'd managed to notch just four combined tackles and zero sacks through three games.
However, against the Bucs, Barrett was close to dominant. He was tied for second on the team with six total tackles (four solo), 1.5 tackles for a loss and a sack.
Barrett made his presence felt in both the run game and in rushing the passer, especially late in the game. Shane Ray led Denver's OLBs with 50 defensive snaps, Von Miller was second with 46 and Barrett third with 37.
Barrett's greatest impact came in defending the run. On a first down play in the second quarter, Barrett absolutely blew up a Tampa rushing play.
The Bucs tossed right to RB Jacquizz Rodgers, hoping he can get around the edge. WR Vincent Jackson motioned from the top of the screen and attempt a crack block on Barrett, trying to seal off the edge.
Unfortunately for Tampa, Barrett shucked Jackson easily, and knifed through the traffic to wrap up the ball-carrier for no gain. It was Von MIller-esque.
Edge players often produce in bunches, building up momentum until they're able to break through. We saw it with Shane Ray in Week 3 and hopefully, Barrett's impressive performance in Tampa can be parlayed into another high-impact game vs. the NFL's No. 1 offense this coming Sunday.
The Atlanta Falcons are hot, averaging 38 points per game right now. The Broncos will need strong outings from all of their formidable edge rushers, considering that DeMarcus Ware is likely to miss the game.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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