Undoubtedly some key elements that were missing in Cincy suddenly found their way to Invesco Field at Mile High for the Broncos and their fans on Sunday.
While it’s still very early to say if the Broncos 2-0 start is going to propel them on to bigger and better things, it is encouraging nonetheless. With the offseason drama behind, this team needs solid footing to move forward and so far they are gaining traction.
It’s okay if you start shaking your head or wind up pinching yourself, just don’t jump off a cliff. The Broncos are in the top ten on offense and defense after two games on this young season.
Don’t discount the Broncos first game against the Cincinnati Bengals either despite the miracle finish. The orange and black tigers went into Green Bay and promptly feasted on the Packers; not exactly an easy task.
Moreover the Bengals are probably better than most people think; this week they play division rival and Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh so keep that game on the radar.
Currently on offense the Denver Broncos rank eighth overall in the NFL.
Now think about that for a minute.
Number eight after an afternoon in Cincinnati where the offense did not reach the red zone until Brandon Stokley’s miracle catch and run. No. 8 averaging 19.5 points a game.
That’s a full 2.5 points better than the New England Patriots, one win better, and one spot higher on the league stat leaders. Keep in mind the Broncos host New England in three weekends after going to Oakland and then hosting the Dallas Cowboys.
Sure for the Broncos to be in the top ten after two games is a bit premature to venture, precariously enough it comes with interesting angles and takes as well.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rank fourth in total offense. They fired their offensive coordinator just prior to the start of the season, and they are 0-2 in the most important stat of wins and losses.
Dallas is No. 2 on offense and they lost at home on Sunday Night Football to the Giants as they opened their billion dollar plus new stadium. The San Diego Chargers are 1-1 after falling to the Baltimore Ravens at home.
The Tennessee Titans lost to the Houston Texans and are 1-1 as the number seven team. The Broncos are eight, the 1-1 Patriots nine, and the 1-1 Philadelphia Eagles were decimated by the number one offensive team New Orleans.
So what’s the point exactly?
Currently the Denver Broncos have to be happy at being 2-0 and being able to average 375.5 yards on offense given all their challenges to get to where they currently are at. Consider only four teams are averaging over four hundred yards per game, and the Broncos aren’t that far off the pace.
Wins are wins, and they seem to cover over a number of ills.
The Broncos face the Oakland Raiders next and their 29th
rated offense. The Raiders are averaging 16.5 points per game, a full three behind Denver. Statistically speaking while prognosticating at a glimpse, this makes the game between the Raiders and the Broncos a toss-up.
Defense! Defense! Defense!
A large part of why Mike Shanahan was eventually let go had nothing to do with the offensive side of the ball. It really had to do with the apathetic attitude on defense and the lackluster special teams.
Give credit where credit is due. Josh McDaniels and staff pulled the right strings in getting their defensive coaching staff together. In taking a bit of a gamble by moving to a 3-4 defense, the Broncos tried to better facilitate their lack of size and superior speed on the defensive side of the ball.
So far it’s paying off big dividends as the defense is allowing only 6.5 points through two games. The score is the most important stat, and to protect leads is what this defense appears primed and ready to do.
Surprisingly enough, the Broncos are ranked third in the league in sacks with seven. Elvis Dumervil has led the way with four against the Cleveland Browns. This is a plus since the Broncos traditionally are not among league leaders in the sack department.
Against the rush the Broncos are currently ranked 10th in the league allowing 140 yards per game. Certainly there is room for improvement here; however to already be in the top ten in this statistic is a positive to build upon considering the fallout and implosion along the defensive line last season.
In playing the pass game, the Broncos again rank tenth in the league allowing 183.5 yards per game. Good enough to be ranked number ten on defense again. Considering this is a whole new defensive backfield with some live talent that is gelling week to week, look for this group to get better over time.
Possibly the most telling stat aside from the score is turnovers and the Broncos are winning the turnover battle by intercepting three passes and recovering two fumbles. This is good enough for a +4 on the young season in the turnover department.
The Current Outlook
The formula for winning is simple and the implementation is catching up on the field.
Don’t be deceived. The Broncos still have a very long way to go, however they need to be a top ten team on both sides of the ball to give themselves a chance. So far they have done that.
They need to score while keeping the other teams off the board. The defense has carried the team into being able to say they are undefeated at 2-0, but it’s still all about team.
Offensively, the Broncos are using surgical strikes to beat their opponents into submission by spreading the ball around. On the cordial side, they have left the door wide-open for Brandon Marshall to step in and fill the void, but they are sending the message that this is all about having a real team.
On the special teams side, Matt Prater showed he still has maturing to do as a kicker by letting the wind send two of his kicks wide against Cleveland, he is 4-6 on the year while still ranking sixth in the league with seven other teams.
The outlook is getting brighter, the next few games should tell us what this Broncos team is really made of, so stay tuned.