Do a Google search for”Denver Broncos Blog” and right at or near the top of that list is going to be The Mile High Report. John Bena from TMHR was kind enough to answer a few questions for us prior to this Sunday’s game between the Patriots and the unbeaten, Josh McDaniels-led Broncos.
When Josh McDaniels traded away Jay Cutler and was feuding with Brandon Marshall, we heard a lot of unhappiness among Broncos fans, saying that this guy was in over his head. Were you one of those fans? What do you think of the job he’s done thus far now?
ANSWER – Personally, I was supportive of the way McDaniels handled both situations. Perhaps because I have my own opinion of how both situations came to pass. Both players were obviously drafted by Mike Shanahan, who held total control in Denver. Both players had outplayed their current contracts and are in line for a significant pay-raise. Had Shanahan stayed on, I’d imagine both would have reworked deals by now. When Shanahan was fired, and McDaniels/Xanders came on board the purse strings were closed. I think both players reacted the way they did with money as the impetus.
For Cutler, it was also a situation where he was going to be held accountable. Mike Shanahan always deflected blame away from Cutler. As you know so well, McDaniels will hold his more talented players even MORE accountable than everyone else, if for no other reason than to prove to the team that everyone is on a level playing field. That didn’t sit well with Cutler either.
In the end, moving Cutler was the right move, and suspending Marshall, but keeping him, was the right move. McDaniels has pulled all the right strings right now.
Make sure you say hello to Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Gorin, Le Kevin Smith, LaMont Jordan, Russ Hochstein, Daniel Graham, and Lonie Paxton for us. Given as how the Broncos have gotten the better of the Patriots so many times over the years, how does it feel now to be Patriots West?
ANSWER – I think that title goes to Kansas City. With Pioli in town they are really trying to copy the crew in Foxboro. Hell, the reason the Broncos had to trade for players the Pats were likely to cut anyway was because Kansas City would have likely claimed both on Waivers.
That said, the NFL is the ultimate copy-cat League and the Patriots are consistent winners. I think McDaniels is drawing his time in New England to be sure, but also drawing from all his experiences as the son of a coach. He not only brought in former Patriots, but he has brought in guys that are helping this team – Hochstein has already started 2 games at two different positions.
The Broncos not only grabbed Patriots, but players from other teams McDaniels had knowledge of. Andre Goodman and Renaldo Hill played for the Dolphins. Who better than Josh McDaniels to know what those two guys could do having to game plan against them twice a year. All of these guys have helped the Broncos get to 4-0 to be sure.
The Broncos defense is at the top of all the league rankings…are they really this good, or are the first four games a little misleading?
ANSWER – Four games is a quarter of the season, so misleading? No way. That said, the Broncos are just like most teams in the NFL – they are not good enough to show up and not have all 3 phases of the team playing at a high level and expect to win. The defense has played well, but the offense has done a great job of keeping them out of bad situations. 4 games, and the Broncos have only turned the ball over twice. That is the best friend of the defense. Should the Broncos turn the ball over 4 or 5 times on Sunday, then I’m sure the defense won’t look very good.
As long as the Broncos keep playing complimentary football, this defense will keep them in games. 26 points in 4 games is no fluke, no matter who you play.
Is Champ Bailey still at the top of his game? I couldn’t believe that Romo threw his way so many times last week. Is Champ still capable of holding down Randy Moss by himself?
ANSWER – YES!! Bailey is a prime example of how a cornerback can be affected by the 10 other guys around him. The past couple of years, with the Broncos defense really struggling, Bailey appeared to struggle as well. The line couldn’t generate any pressure, and the front-7 did a lousy job tackling. That forced Bailey to ‘cheat’ a lot. he had to take chances because he didn’t trust his teammates.
That all changed this year. Bring in Brian Dawkins, Andre Goodman and Renaldo Hill and the Broncos instantly improved their defensive backfield 10-fold. Then, the move to the 3-4, with the pressure schemes Mike Nolan has brought in, and opposing quarterbacks no longer have all day to find an open receiver. The result? Champ can do what he does best and the results so far have proven Bailey is still at the top of his game.
It hasn’t been done yet this season, but if you were putting together a game plan to beat the Broncos, where would you attack?
ANSWER — I think the Pats will try it this weekend. From an offensive standpoint, on way to neutralize the Broncos defense would be to stretch them out. I see the Patriots coming out, shot gun/5-wide. That would force Denver to take Andra Davis and Mario Haggan off the field. Now the Broncos are a weaker defense, especially against the run. Now the draw/short passing game comes to life. Kevin Faulk could have a big day.
Conversely, the Broncos can defeat that by getting big-time pressure in Tom Brady’s face, similar to what the Jets did. Of course, watching Brady play against the Ravens last week, he looked a lot better in the pocket – sliding to his left and right – than he did against the Jets. Brady does a great job of floating in the pocket to find throwing lanes. The Broncos need to try and keep him from feeling comfortable.
On offense, the Broncos need to do what they have done all year – protect the football. If the Broncos win the turnover battle this week they will likely win the game. If not, well, say hello to 4-1.