Behind Enemy Lines With Michael John Schon

Get the insider's perspective on this week's opponent from BroncosUpdate.com's Michael John Schon. What's going to be the biggest surprise for Colts fans on Sunday? Who are they likely to notice that they didn't know about going into the game? Get the scoop on those questions and more in this feature.

Ed Thompson: For Colts fans who haven't seen the Denver defense since the last time these teams met in the playoffs, what's going to be the biggest surprise?

Michael John Schon: After getting spanked in the divisional playoffs in back to back seasons, the Broncos made some pretty significant changes. Of the eleven starters that played in the 2005 matchup, only four are still with the first team unit -- safety John Lynch, cornerback Champ Bailey, and linebackers D. J. Williams and Al Wilson.

Remember the 2004 Cleveland Browns? They've relocated – the Broncos entire starting defensive line are former members.

In the backfield, Darrent Williams and Domonique Foxworth have added tremendous strength at cornerback. And the addition of Sam Brandon as an extra defensive back has been instrumental in limiting Denver's opponents to a record low 7.3 points per game.

ET: Are the Broncos using the blitz extensively or relying on their linemen primarily? And if they're blitzing, who does Manning have to be most concerned about?

MJS:Due to the Broncos' success with their revamped defensive line, the blitz has been scaled back tremendously from past seasons, but it's certainly not out of the picture. When it comes, look for Pro Bowler John Lynch to lead the attack.

ET: Who's the player that Colts fans are least likely to know, but will know about by the time this game is over?

MJS: In a word – ELVIS – as in rookie Elvis Dumervil (pictured, right). The first-year defensive end out of Louisville has recorded a team-high five sacks in the three games he's played and was nominated for AFC Rookie of the Week honors after a three-sack performance against the Browns last week. No longer under the radar, I expect the Colts to try and double-team him during pass protection.

ET: Can the Denver offense keep pace with Indy if the Colts find a way to put up 20+ points against the Denver defense?

MJS:Based on the accomplishments through their first six games, I would have to say no. That's not to say that they don't have the talent to put up 20+ on Indy – its more that they haven't all reached the same page yet. There has been improvement, but it's hard to argue the fact that after six games they sit in thirty-first place in the NFL in total offensive points. But hey, they're still ahead of the Raiders – and in Denver that means a lot.

ET: With the loss of LT Matt Lepsis, can the Broncos keep Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis off of Jake Plummer?

MJS: That's the $1 million dollar question. Erik Pears is the most likely candidate to replace Lepsis, but the rookie has been sporadic at times and is really no match for the likes of Freeney or Mathis. With that in mind, Shanahan will rework the playbook to try and protect Jake's blind side, keeping the tight ends back and bringing in either FB Cecil Sapp or Kyle Johnson as insurance.


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