October 5, 2016
This week, Kubiak noted how the Broncos think of the season in quarters, looking at the season in 4 game chunks. Since we sit squarely between the first two quarters of the season, let's look back at the first, and anticipate what's to come in the second:
1st Quarter Review:
Not sure you could find much to complain about how the first quarter of the season went. Not only do the Broncos look stronger than they did at this time a year ago, they seem to have carried over all their momentum from the peak in the playoffs.
After a narrow win in the first week carried by a strong defensive performance, the Broncos look more and more balanced, with both offense and defense contributing. The offense is not dominant enough carry the team the way the defense can, but they are finding a rhythm and doing a better job of capitalizing on the opportunities the defense hands them. This team could win a game even when the offense has an off week.
2nd Quarter Preview:
Of course every Broncos game is worth watching, but each game of the second quarter notches that up with a certain intrigue:
Week 5: Falcons at Broncos — Matt Ryan is the 1st quarter MVP as Kyle Shanahan returns to Denver coordinating a soaring Falcons' offense. This will be as good of a test as the Broncos have faced, and I can't wait to watch.
Week 6: Broncos at Chargers — A Thursday night game anticipated for throwback helmets (almost) and color rush uniforms. Much like the Broncos find ways to win, the Chargers seem to find ways to lose. But, a divisional game on the road is never a sure thing.
Week 7: Texans at Broncos — From Thursday night to Monday night and Brock is coming to town without JJ Watt. I don't see this one going well for the Texans.
Week 8: Chargers at Broncos — Playing a division opponent twice in a three week span is a rare challenge. The Broncos have the leadership to overcome the 'trap game' scenario. Even so, I'm glad this one is in Denver and not the other way around.
A few notes:
- Any team can win any given week in the NFL, so 7-1 would be a fine way to finish the second quarter. But 8-0 looks like a possibility.
- The most interesting storyline will be the QB position, especially if Siemien's injured shoulder bothers him the next few weeks. Kubiak remains committed to Siemien (as do I), but if Lynch gets more reps and progresses, he will get harder to keep off the field.
October 4, 2016
The best thing about the Broncos right now is their unwavering confidence. When quarterback Brock Osweiler bolted to Houston in free agency, Siemian emerged as a viable replacement after winning a three-man quarterback competition throughout the offseason. When key defensive players like defensive tackle Malik Jackson and linebacker Danny Trevathan also signed with other teams, the Broncos simply plugged in new players and kept plugging away. Then Siemian goes down on Sunday and Lynch does just enough to help them win, including throwing the first touchdown pass of his NFL career.This is what great teams do. They don’t worry about the circumstances. They focus on solutions. The Broncos might have been perilously close to not even making the playoffs last season — which is easy to forget in the wake of their Super Bowl win — but they’ve been on fire ever since January. At this point, it’s hard to not wonder what or who actually is going to slow them down.
After all the doubters in the offseason, the national media is starting to recognize that the loss of some key contributors isn’t as big of a factor as expected. As one who follows the team closely, it is the culture that this team has built that has them still contending. Yes, some key contributors were lost, but the team culture is stronger than ever, perhaps buoyed by the storyline that players still didn’t think they got enough respect in the offseason.
October 3, 2016
Well, if we couldn’t say the Falcons offense was for real after three games, we can say it now. They thrashed the Panthers 48–33 on Sunday, as Matt Ryan threw for 503 yards and four touchdowns, Julio Jones reeled in 12 catches for 300 yards, and the offense put up 571 yards of offense against the previously sixth-ranked Carolina defense.
Before the season, I wouldn’t have guessed that the Falcons would be the most potent test in the first six games. This weekend is going to be a fun one.
- Aqib Talib: His first interception set the tone for the game. His second one clinched it.
- Derek Wolfe: Two and a half sacks and lots of applause from the national press today.
- The Third Quarter: Bucs held to -14 yards of offense.
- Demaryius Thomas: Offense finally breaks in here. It looked like he could make something happen every time he touched the ball. And for the first time in a while, no blatant drops.
- Von Miller: When is “holding calls against” going to be a statistic? I count at least three in the last two weeks.
- Okung and Sambrailo: Both get good scores from Pro Football Focus. Okung gets a gameball from Kubiak and Samrailo looking settled after so much time away.
- Trevor Siemien: Looked good before the injury. Gets the ranking for cheering on Lynch like a confident starter expecting to return to the field next week.
- Paxton Lynch: Some great reps against a live opponent to build his confidence and experience. I still would like to see him under center more.
- Shaq Barrett: He only played about half the snaps but seemed to be making a play on all of them.
- Emmanuel Sanders: Lynch clearly has a lot of comfort with him. Like Thomas, looks like he can make something happen every time he touches the ball.
Worth mentions: Andy Janovich, CJ Anderson, Devontae Booker, Chris Harris, Brandon Marshall, TJ Ward, sheesh…everybody, Demarcus Ware as a judge on Chopped Jr., only undefeated team in the AFC, no turnovers, The First Quarter, The Second Quarter, The Fourth Quarter
Not even: lightning delays, CBS 4th string camera crew, Mark Sanchez, Winston’s knee on the ground TD not getting overturned
February 13, 2016
What might tip the scales to this Denver defense are the teams it beat in the postseason to win it all. The Broncos beat the Steelers, Patriots and Panthers. They were the first-, third- and fourth-best scoring teams in the league.
I’ve read thousands of words in the last week to soak in post championship revelry. This is the most common topic, and it’s hard to bypass this argument. Sure, the stats might support other teams of years past, but maybe for these three games, this was the best defensive playoff run if only because of who they did it against.
December 8, 2015
Shane Ray wrote this piece for the Player’s Tribune about the benefits of learning from Von and DeMarcus:
I wasn’t supposed to be in Denver. I wasn’t supposed to fall to 23rd in the draft. But I made a mistake before the draft and paid the price. Now, all I can do is work my ass off to be the best player I can be on the field and the best teammate and person off it. Everything happens for a reason, and at the end of the day, I don’t think there’s a better place I could have landed than right here with the Broncos. I get Von and DeMarcus and the other guys to learn from and support me, and as a rookie, I get a chance to compete for the playoffs and for a Super Bowl.
He’s gotten healthy and he’s getting reps while DeMarcus is out. After a great game against the Chargers, I’m expecting to see him start to come in to his own in the last quarter of the season and playoffs.
November 30, 2015
Osweiler got to the line, under center, and surveyed the New England front. He was going to run C.J. Anderson to the weak side (that was his first call in the huddle) but saw something he didn’t like there—maybe an unblocked Rob Ninkovich hovering on the quarterback’s right. Whatever, he switched to a strong-side sweep to the left. “KILL! KILL! KILL!” he called, arms stretched out parallel to the ground. To the left, tight end Vernon Davis and a strong blocking wide receiver, Bennie Fowler, got ready to seal the left side for Anderson.
I still lean in the direction that a healthy Peyton Manning gives the Broncos the best chance of winning. But I have to wonder if this audible to switch the run the other direction would be an option with a QB in pistol or shotgun rather than under center. Maybe a healthy Peyton is still a better QB, but maybe this offense overall is “healthier” with Brock under center.
November 3, 2015
The updated depth chart shows Owen Daniels still as the #1 TE, with Vernon Davis sliding in at #2 ahead of Virgil Green. (Something I find a little surprising.) Virgil Green is still listed as #1 at FB, for whatever that might be worth in terms of playing time.
I imagine this is fluid since Vernon just showed up in Denver today, but I’m hoping we get to see a lot of two TE sets that have Virgil lining up on the other side from Vernon. He has never been a bad pass catcher and has continued to develop in that role. I think he still has a lot of upside, and hope we can see him continue to develop as a long term TE for Denver as a good receiver with great blocking skills.
September 15, 2015
Can you imagine if, after throwing 125 touchdown passes his first three seasons in Denver, Manning becomes a complementary player and not the dominant one on his team? He just might be, as long as DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller hit the quarterback eight times, as they did against Flacco on Sunday.
Yes, it’s a story that no one is sure what we can expect out of Peyton at this point. But King here seems to be one of a scattered few who see the dominance and promise of the defense as something great than an afterthought.