Bucs-Broncos Behind Enemy Lines, Part I

Our Scout.com experts, Michael John Schon of Broncos Update and Matthew Postins of BucsBlitz.com, go Behind Enemy Lines to take a closer look at Sunday's Week 5 matchup between the Buccaneers and Broncos at Invesco Field. Today, Schon talks about the Broncos' defense, Brian Griese's return and the running game in Denver.

MP: So the Broncos look great for three weeks and then they go out and lay an egg against Kansas City. What sticks out to me is how well Larry Johnson ran the football. Is this just another typical Broncos defense that can't stop the run, and we're only noticing it now?

MJS: Basically the Broncos have two major weaknesses in their defense – they can't stop the run and they apparently can't stop the pass either. Other than that they're shaping up pretty well. If you look back over the past few years you could see the problem building, and despite changing coordinators in the offseason, the song remains the same. Right now there's two teams in the NFL that rank below Denver in total defense – Detroit and St. Louis, and they've got a combined record of 0-7. That pretty much sums it up.

MP: Brian Griese will start for the Bucs this Sunday. Talk about how you expect his return to Denver to be received?

MJS: Between his DUI, getting punched out by a teammate and overall poor performance, his time in Denver is like that crazy ex-girlfriend you keep trying to forget. There's not really any animosity, ie. Javon Walker, but then again I doubt anybody's going to be busting out his old jersey this Sunday.

MP: What's the deal with Brandon Marshall? He comes off his suspension and starts playing lights out. Were we wrong to think that his time on the suspension list might sour his season, and what factors are helping him become Jay Cutler's favorite target?

MJS: Cutler and Marshall clicked from Day One and if anything, the suspension gave him the motivation to come back and prove himself. Right now he's on pace to be one of the top receivers in the league, and as long as Cutler stays healthy that shouldn't be much of a problem. He's got great speed and great hands, but his biggest asset is yardage after the catch -- three games, 31-receptions for 398 yards – and it's not a bad way to start the season.

MP: What are the Broncos doing at running back? Selvin Young has all the yards, but former Buc Michael Pittman has all the touchdowns. Plus, I'm hearing Ryan Torian could be back soon. Is Mike Shanahan just nuts, or is there a method to all of this?

MJS: I'll give you the fact that Shanahan's crazy, but primarily his running back by committee approach has been pretty effective. Don't expect anything to change this season, even if Torain comes back. The kid looked great in camp and they've got some high expectations down the road, but keep in mind he's a rookie and until push comes to shove they'll break him in pretty gradual.

MP: Are the Broncos a soft 3-1 or are they for real? It's hard to tell given the highly offensive games they've played so far. Defense wins games late in the season. Can this team be a player in the AFC, perhaps even surprising San Diego to win the West? Or can they be exposed as a pretender?

MJS: They may not be the softest 3-1 team in the league, but they certainly are the luckiest. If you look at the stats they lead the league in total offense but the defense is absolutely horrible (30th out of 32 teams), so they're pretty one-dimensional at this point. Somehow Shanahan has to find a scheme that fits his defensive personnel or it's going to be another early exit. It'll be interesting to see what he comes up with against Griese. Not that this a must win game, but pretty much this is a must win game. At least as far as Broncos fans are concerned.


Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of bucsblitz.com

Michael Schon John is a contributor to Broncosupdate.com


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