Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Is the D Back in Denver?

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 21, 2009

Watch highlights of the Broncos-Browns game here.  (Content courtesy nfl.com)

20090921_010323_bronx I’ll preface the following remarks by saying that I am not booking a trip to Miami for the Super Bowl just yet.  I realize that fast starts don’t always mean season success.  The Broncos are 2-0 for the third straight year, which of course is much better than starting 0-2.  The caveat here is that the previous two seasons resulted in 7-9 and 8-8 finishes respectively with no sniff at the playoffs.  Last year’s collapse out of the division lead is still a very vivid memory, so everything is still being taken with a grain of salt.  Never mind the fact that the two victories so far have come against the two dreadful Ohio teams, the Bengals and the Browns (although I will point out the Bengals dropped 31 points on the Packers at Lambeau after the Broncos held them to just seven).  The Broncos may in any case be benefiting from their early schedule, but they are nevertheless 2-0.

Now good competition or not, the Broncos defense has been nothing short of outstanding the first two games.  They have allowed just 13 points in the two contests.  One of the biggest reasons is they are doing something they didn’t do last year: force turnovers.  Last year the Broncos were dead last in the NFL with a minus 17 turnover ratio.  Considering that stat it’s amazing they were even as good as 8-8.  This year through two games the Broncos rank second in the NFL at plus four.  Yesterday the Broncos cashed in two big fumble recoveries for an easy 10 points with a short field to work with.  The defense is being aggressive, actually getting pressure on the quarterback.  In game one they got Carson Palmer completely off his rhythm.   Yesterday the Broncos kept teeing off on Brady Quinn, getting four sacks alone from Elvis Dumervil, tying a franchise record dating back to 1990.  It’s too early yet to anoint this defense the second coming of the orange crush, but it seems very clear that this unit is much improved under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.  The secondary in particular looks like night and day from last year.  Only Champ Bailey remains back there from last year, and the additions of Brian Dawkins, Andre Goodman, and the crop of rookies is making a huge difference.  The bottom line is if the defense keeps playing like they have the first two games, the offense may not need to score much to win.

Speaking of the offense, it sounds strange to say after a 21 point victory, but they left a lot on the table yesterday.  Start with two short field goals in the red zone on drives that could have been cashed in for touchdowns.  Add in two missed field goals, and there is a lot of room for this offense to score a lot more points.  Kyle Orton had another efficient day, even if his numbers were not spectacular.   If he keeps doing that the Broncos will be just fine, for they don’t need him to be flashy.  He did hook up with Brandon Stokley and Jabar Gaffney for two huge passing plays, so the potential for the big play is there even if his arm strength isn’t that of some other quarterbacks.  In the long run though the Broncos will need more from Brandon Marshall, who was very quiet for the second straight week (and on the sideline for much of the game), and Eddie Royal, who in the first two games has yet to put numbers resembling his outstanding rookie season.  The running game looked much better with Correll Buckhalter leading the way, and Knowshon Moreno looked better, even if he’s not quite 100 percent yet after suffering a preseason injury.

The rough stretch of the schedule is yet to come for the Broncos, but so far they can be pleased to be 2-0.  Some other quick thoughts:

– Congratulations to Shannon Sharpe, who was named to the Broncos Ring of Fame yesterday (I still can’t believe he parachuted into the stadium!!).  This honor is an obvious no brainer, as should his induction to the Hall of Fame in Canton.  I still think it’s ridiculous that he wasn’t inducted to the Hall in his first year of eligibility.

– It was good to see some actual crowd noise from the fans yesterday.   Invesco Field has resembled a library the past couple seasons at times, and it has still yet to resemble the old Mile High in any way.

– You can say what you will about the way Josh McDaniels handled the offseason, but right now he is 2-0 as a head coach, and that in the end is the only stat that counts for anything.

– I think the Browns might want to think about starting at Derek Anderson at quarterback soon if they want to salvage their season.  Brady Quinn looks lost and confused way more often than he should.

– The performance of the Broncos’ special teams is not to be overlooked in this game.  They completely shut down Josh Cribbs, arguably the best kick returner in football.

– I think the Broncos have another winnable game this week, as they are at the Oakland Raiders.  The Raiders look improved from last year as well, having won in Kansas City yesterday, but if the Broncos defense continues to play well they will have a good chance to win.  A 3-0 start would be impressive heading into the rigorous stretch of their schedule (Dallas, New England, at San Diego, at Baltimore, Pittsburgh).

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2 Responses to “Is the D Back in Denver?”

  1. Richie said

    Excellent article. I was thinking the same regarding Derek Anderson. Brady Quinn doesn’t seem to fit too well into the Browns line up.

    I have a quick question when you get a chance, can you send me an e-mail at rdenis@mvn.com .
    Thanks!

  2. Doug Baker said

    The Pats Denver game will be an interesting match-up. I hope we have our team straightened out by then.

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