Behind Enemy Lines: Denver Broncos

JagNation editor Charlie Bernstein asks Broncos team expert Michael Schon some specific questions about this weeks matchup between Jacksonville and Denver. Some of the subjects covered are the Broncos run defense, the success of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, the injury report, and Champ Bailey.

Denver has a somewhat undersized defensive line that has struggled against the run this season. With the success that the Jaguars had a year ago running the football in Denver, would you expect the Broncos to load up the box like most teams have done against Jacksonville?

The Broncos can load it all they want, but unless their tackling and position play improves, Jacksonville could have a field day on the ground. Mike Shanahan and about 70,000 of the Bronco faithful are praying the adjustments they made against Tampa Bay are going to hold up, so I imagine it's going to get a little crowded up front. But then again that could change quickly if Garrard gets hot – there's just not a whole lot of faith in Denver's defense being able to stop anybody on a consistent basis right now. It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Jay Cutler has all the tools to be not just a very good quarterback, but a great quarterback. How much of his improvement has been the doctor's diagnosing his diabetes and getting him the proper care, and how much of it has been him progressing as a quarterback and having very good weapons?

It's probably a 70-30 split in favor of the doctor. Once the diagnosis came down it answered a lot of the questions from last season, the weight loss, the lack of energy etc. Now that he's being monitored and his blood sugar levels are back to normal, it's allowed him to concentrate solely on his work on the field and it's become much easier to gauge his progress, which by the way is even impressing me these days. I haven't mentioned his haircut in weeks now.

Brandon Marshall reminds me of T.O., as he is a physical receiver who can seemingly do everything. How good is Brandon Marshall? Is he the best wide receiver in the game?

Marshall is awesome and I would honestly put him in with the top two or three receivers in the game right now, especially after the catch. The guy's made some moves this year that I'm not sure T.O could even pull off. Three years into the league and he's being ranked as one of the best playing – kind of scary thinking about what he could accomplish in the next few years with Cutler's arm.

Can you update the health of Eddie Royal and Tony Scheffler? How much of a blow would it be to the Broncos if they weren't able to go Sunday?

Scheffler's definatly out for Sunday, as is RB Selvin Young, both with groin injuries. As far as Royal, he advanced to the probable stage on Thursday's Injury Report and my guess is he'll see some time, but it more than likely will be monitored. Scheffler's loss may sting a bit, but fortunately the Broncos have some depth at receiver and Nate Jackson should do a pretty good job in his absence.

The Broncos showed last week that they can slug it out in a defensive battle against the Tampa Bay Bucs. What was the difference in the Denver defense on Sunday from the unit that has been giving up points all year long?

The Broncos finally figured out they could change up the scheme a bit, and brought Boss Bailey up to the line when they went to a 3-4 package. Why no one had the sense to try this earlier is still a mystery, but it seemed to work. Then again, almost anything would have been an improvement over the way they were playing the past several weeks. Kudos for making the adjustment. I went a whole week without being embarrassed.

One of the questions about the Broncos entering this season was their offensive line, being that they have so many inexperienced guys there. Those questions have been answered, as the line has been very good. Do the Jaguars have any chance of manufacturing a pass rush against these guys?

It's going to be tough – these guys have been the biggest surprise all year. Rookie tackle Ryan Clady has gone way above expectations in his first year and when you consider the fact they've only given up two sacks through the first five games, one of which wasn't really even a sack, it was a fumble during the infamous Ed Hochuli blown call debacle, you gotta wonder if this isn't the best line in the NFL right now.

Champ Bailey is widely regarded as the best cornerback in football. How has he played this season and are teams challenging him at all?

Bailey's still keeping it strong in his 10th season, but a few teams have actually tried to challenge him this year, none to any real success. Dre Bly seems like the guy everyone is targeting this year, and he has been caught on more than one occasion. A lot of that is on his shoulders but a lot can be blamed on the inept systems the Broncos have used so far. Last Sunday was the first time they actually got it together enough to stop anyone – even though it was only Brian Griese, and it was Bailey's blitz that sent him to the bench in the third quarter. Nice guy, great player and sells a boatload of jerseys. What more could you ask for?


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