Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has an elite quarterback in Jay Cutler, a deep group of receivers including tight end Tony Scheffler, and no clear workhorse at tailback. He has always been flexible and played to his strengths, and this year that appears to be spreading the field and letting Cutler throw as often as he can.
Through two games, the Broncos lead the NFL in yards and points, which should mean more of the same the rest of the season, starting this Sunday against New Orleans.
"Tight ends, offensive line, quarterback, from top to bottom we've got what it takes to keep this up and have a great offensive year," receiver Brandon Stokley said.
The Broncos knew coming into the year that the passing game would be a strength. The organization had a lot of confidence in Cutler, who had a 3,500-yard, 20-touchdown season well under the radar last year. He was entering his third year and ready to make a leap.
The targets around Cutler came together well. Brandon Marshall's suspension was reduced from three games to one. Stokley came back healthy. Darrell Jackson had something left in the tank and rookie Eddie Royal surprised everyone by grabbing a starting position before his first preseason game.
"I think, from top to bottom, receiving corps-wise, we're better than when I was with Indy," Stokley said. "We've got a lot of depth at receiver, a lot of good players. I wouldn't trade Eddie and 'B-Marsh' for anybody else right now in the league."
Those are bold words, but Denver has a lot to boast about after two games. Against San Diego, Cutler tied a franchise record with 50 passing attempts and Marshall caught 18 passes, tied for second most in a game in NFL history.
Royal, coming off a shocking 146-yard debut, caught a touchdown and two-point conversion in the final seconds to beat the Chargers. Scheffler had two touchdowns against the Chargers.
The Broncos, knowing they could be explosive in the passing game this season, spent the offseason studying some of the best offenses in the NFL, including the Patriots.
"We really liked what the Patriots were doing with some of their empty sets," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "We've got similar weapons with our guys, with our tight ends and our backs are able to get out.
"Offensively, we kind of matched up with what they were doing and we thought we might put it in, and it's working so far."
--Defensive end Jarvis Moss said coaches told him he will be active for this week's game against New Orleans. He was inactive the first two games but the Saints like to pass the ball, and Moss is a pass-rushing specialist.
"I've got to get myself ready," Moss said.
--Former Denver safety John Lynch, who asked for his release from the Broncos during training camp, hasn't been on a roster for either of the first two regular-season games. Lynch was cut by New England before the season.
Lynch said he doesn't regret asking to leave Denver. He wasn't thrilled about his role and thought the team was prepared to move on without him.
"I'm proud of those guys and the way they're playing now, and wish them the best," Lynch said.
Lynch said he isn't retired but knows that the longer he is out, the less the chance is of him playing again.
"I'm moving on with life. I'm not sitting there waiting by the phone," Lynch said.
--Receiver Brandon Marshall was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week after catching 18 balls against San Diego. Marshall played almost the entire game after missing a week because of a NFL suspension.
"Having the type of game that he had is really a credit to him staying in shape," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.
BY THE NUMBERS: 55 -- Catches for Brandon Marshall in his last five games, which is a record for any five-game stretch in NFL history.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The way they are playing right now, they are making me look good." -- Quarterback Jay Cutler, on his offensive line.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Receiver Keary Colbert was expendable, so he was dealt to Seattle for a conditional draft pick. Colbert was Denver's fifth option at receiver, a disappointment considering he was their first free-agent signee this year. Colbert, who signed a three-year, $7.2 million contract, kept moving down the depth chart and might have needed a strong preseason finale to make the team.
Denver signed receiver Clifford Russell to take his place. Russell had a good training camp and preseason for Denver.
--RB Michael Pittman will continue to have a role in the offense. What coaches like best about him is his experience. They know that no matter the situation, they can count on the longtime vet. The two tailbacks ahead of him, Selvin Young and Andre Hall, are in only their second seasons.
--TE Nate Jackson appears to have fallen behind Tony Scheffler on the depth chart, but he should still get some playing time in the offense. Jackson is a good receiver who is also a competent blocker.
--DE Tim Crowder has been active on game days but through two games he has only one assisted tackle. Crowder, a second-round pick last year, has struggled to make strides in his second season.
Broncos Update Community Forums