Many previews have all ready been done on the Denver Broncos game with the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, and there are many keys for both sides headed into a key AFC West contest. The game for the Broncos, however, can be simplified down to two primary keys, one on offense and one on defense.
The Broncos have really struggled coming out of the gate in the first three games of the season, and that has to change. They got away with it in the first game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers but the slow starts have cost them dearly in their two straight defeats. It’s easy to say that the Broncos need to start faster; the question is how do they do it?
The goal in the first three games has been to establish the run early and that’s understandable, but it’s not working. The Broncos need to come out in the no huddle, put the pressure on the Raiders and get a lead. It is obvious that Peyton Manning has struggled to get into a rhythm early in games but the minute the Broncos go to the no huddle; Manning seems to get it going. Therefore it makes sense for the Broncos to come out fast, let Manning dictate to the defense what they are going to do and go from there.
Just because the Broncos come out playing fast, doesn’t mean they should not run the ball. On the contrary, a fast start and a defense that is reeling is the perfect time to hit them with Willis McGahee on draws and delays. If the Raiders have been burned in the passing game through the first quarter, then running lanes are going to be wide open. In short, the Broncos need to jump on the Raiders and keep dictating the pace.
Defensively, it is the same thing we’ve talked about since training camp. No one would believe it based on the first three games, but the strength of the defense is the pass rush. There are no excuses but it is tough to rush the quarterback when the opposing team is up by 20 points, simply because the opposing offense has their entire playbook open to them. Assuming the offense is able to do what we talked about above, that’s when the pass rush must kick in.
If for example, the offense gets 7 right away, that’s when Von Miller, Derek Wolfe and Elvis Dumervil must have an impact. Once Manning gets that momentum going, Miller must build on it with a big sack on third down. That’s what complimentary football is all about and that’s how the Broncos are built, but no one has seen it yet. It all starts with the Broncos playing with a lead and being able to dictate the pace of play on both sides of the ball.
Once the Denver Broncos do get it going, it is my belief that they will be very difficult to stop. They have issues like every other team but they have not played the way they are built to play, yet. They have another opportunity to get it going on Sunday, and the Raiders might be the perfect opponent.
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