I remain unconvinced that the Broncos can get past the Indianapolis Colts next week. After all, after the second quarter Indianapolis was playing a whole lot of reserves (let alone sitting quarterback Peyton Manning and their starting backfield after the first series). However, I feel that, just as Colts coach Tony Dungy didn't show his full game package in anticipation of next week, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was betting the Colts would sit starters, so HE didn't show his full package, either. If you look at the offense, almost all of the sets used were really pretty vanilla, and on defense, they didn't do a heckuva lot of stunting, etc.. So, given essentially two weeks to prepare for each other is dangerous to foes of Shanahan-coached teams (just ask Green Bay in '98).
I will say one thing - people keep talking about how it's all on the defense next week. I strongly disagree. There's no defense in the league that can stop Manning and company. What needs to click, and ERROR-FREE, is the Denver offense. If they can put, say, 35 points on the board, that will give them a good chance to win.
Started slowly, but picked up steam. Quarterback Jake Plummer wasn't flashy, but he was productive and efficient, as was the running game. Again, I think this game showed showed just how valuable including the tight ends in the game can be, as tight end Jeb Putzier made some important catches. I also think that some of the long tosses to wide receiver Ashley Lelie were made simply to warn the Colts that they're going to have a legitimate deep threat to cover this year, unlike last year. Indianapolis isn't known for defense, so the more they're stretched, the better for the Denver offense.
There were a LOT of missed tackles in the game yesterday, and that worries me (remember wide receiver Marvin Harrison getting up and running for a TD last year???). The defense will need to be more sure-tackling than they were this week. I also think our defensive backfield will match up MUCH better this year than last. Again, a plus.
Special Teams: C
Kick coverage is a REAL weakness of this team. The kicking game was pretty good, but the coverage guys gave up WAY too many yards for my taste. I would hate to have special teams waste a sterling offensive/defensive performance and let the team down next week.
As I said before, I think Shanahan & Co. put together a game plan designed to be just good enough to win against an Indy team that would sit a lot of starters. A good move, in my opinion. Now they need to put together a solid plan on both sides of the ball for next week. If I was a betting man, I would guess we won't see a tremendous number of blitzes, as Manning is a master at making blitzing teams pay (I think I heard 22 of his TD's this year came on blitzes). We need a solid pass rush from the basic DL, to allow the linebackers and defensive backs to cover Indy's scary receiver corps.
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