The Broncos looked sluggish…both on offense and defense. Peyton Manning threw two interceptions (one can be accredited to the D-Lineman for making a very athletic play), dropped passes by receivers and are fielding a half decent running game. While the running game was half decent on offense, the defense was atrocious against the run. The D gave up 228 yards on the ground, letting the Seahawks average better than five yards per touch.
They also let rookie and preseason darling QB Russell Wilson go 10-of-17 for 155 yards and 2 TD’s, good for a 128.3 QB rating.
The Broncos were picked by many to win the AFC West and contend possibly in their first year with Manning for the AFC Championship. The Broncos have shown glimpses of being a force to reckon with, they have shown the ability to get after the quarterback and cause problems behind the line.
But coming into the game against NFC powerhouse, the San Francisco 49′ers, the Broncos are going to get a real look at this team. The Niner’s now boast a revamped passing game that features TE Vernon Davis and WR Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss. The also now have a 1-2 punch in Frank Gore and Brandon Jacobs, this is a very explosive offense, Speaking of explosive, the Niner’s were ranked second in rush yards and points allowed per game. In short, for the dress rehearsal, Denver has their work cut out for them, and fans are probably worried about their team.
Looking at the offense, yes Manning hasn’t looked like the Manning of old, having thrown three interceptions. No interception looks good, but you can make the argument that two of the three weren’t bad plays and also good plays by the opposing defense. The running game has looked good with Willis McGehee, he still seems to show the ability at 30+ years old to get through the line, get tough yards and score on at the goal line. The running game won’t see what their full potential will be like until they get speedster Ronnie Hillman back. The passing game will improve, of course with the new CBA; this limits how much practice the team can have during the season and offseason. In this case, this does not work in the Broncos favor in terms of getting everyone on the same page, QB, WR and RB’s.
On defense, we have seen the defense show some glimpses of making some plays. The pass rush seems to be the pride and joy at the moment. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil now welcome DL Derek Wolfe who has proven now to this point that he can get push ANYWHERE on the line. The secondary has shown the ability to play in coverage and causing pass break ups. But the secondary has also had tendencies to let the wideouts get on top of the secondary, allowing the big play down the field. Another problem has been the run defense. Denver, as mentioned earlier, was torched by the running game. This has been a problem for the team ever since the departure of Larry Coyer after the 2006 season. They have been able to slow the opposition on the ground, but the one thing the D lacks is technique and fundamentals. Once the lineman and linebackers learn how to wrap up and tackle properly instead of trying to make a knockout play, the run D should improve.
The Broncos have several things to work on going into their date with the Niners, and they need to figure it out fast, four of Denver’s first six opponents are 2011 playoff teams. The old cliché’ can describe the first half of the season and possibly the entire year….BOON OR BUST!
-Joshua Ryan Reising