Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, Mike Ditka did it to Tom Landry, Steve Young did it to Joe Montana and Dana Holgerson did it to Mike Leach.
This is the story of a young pupil, Josh McDaniels, dismantling a seasoned master, Bill Belichick. A storyline straight from Star Wars, taking place on our planet, in the stadium closest to the stars above—Invesco Field at Mile High.
Josh McDaniels will face Bill Belichick on Oct. 11, 2009, and the game will be a turning point in both coaches' careers - Belichick will begin his course towards the chop-shop; McDaniels for a nonstop swap to the top.
Denver coming off a solid win at home against Dallas, will finally get the recognition they deserve after beating a legitimate team without the help of God himself. New England, looking solid on both sides of the ball, defeats grossly overhyped Baltimore at razor stadium, and will rise to the top of most power-ranking lists. Good news for the Broncos is several Patriot players will be battered up after a tough win against a very physical Ravens team. (These hypotheticals need not be argued because the real story lies in the week five game.)
This game will be won by the Broncos to the tune of 28-10. You have every right to read this in disbelief and have doubts. But before you write the Broncos off, at least give them a chance to be great. The media is labeling the Broncos as the worst 2-0 team ever and the worst 3-0 team ever...At this rate, perhaps they will be the worst 5-0 team ever.
The Broncos' defense has been the surprise of the season thus far in the NFL - I would wager not a single fantasy owner picked the Broncos for their defense this year.
Mike Nolan has implemented the 3-4 defensive scheme seamlessly, and Broncos have bought into it completely, allowing only 215 total yards per game (first in NFL). They have also only given up a mere 16 points in their first three games (tied for second all-time).
An explosive Elvis Dumervil with a six pack of sacks on the year will need to get to Tom Brady early to disrupt his poise. Early is the key word here as all six of Dumervils' sacks have come in the second half of games. A first quarter sack is a must. Brady has shown considerable weakness under pressure this year, and the Broncos will need to take advantage of this.
Future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey will need to shadow Randy Moss all game letting the other defensive backs roam free. Last year, Bailey held Moss to one catch for the entire first half before leaving the game with a groin injury. Like he said before the last Patriot's game, "I'm like the FAA, all flights closed to my side."
Athletic linebackers D.J. Williams and Mario Haggan need to make Wes Welker and Ben Watson non-factors over the middle. They will also have to keep their eyes peeled for the screen and delayed draw play, both of which could go for big yards if the they aren't discipline about assignments.
Brian Dawkins must fly to the ball and hit the receivers at the point of the catch—The Patriots have shown a case of the dropsies lately, which is bad news for them considering Brian Dawkins is the second all-time leader in forced fumbles.
Possibly the most underrated member of this defense will be McDaniels. No one knows the offensive schemes and concepts of the Patriots better than him, save Tom Brady himself. This could cause problems for Belichick as so many of his short passes rely on an element of surprise.
The Bronco's offense doesn't look as explosive compared to last year's with the loss of Jay Cutler and Mike Shanahan, but with the way the defense is playing, they don't need to be as explosive. That being said, red-zone scoring is crucial against the Patriots. Kyle Orton cannot drive the ball 60 yards only to settle for a Matt Prater field goal.
Running the ball effectively with rookie Knowshon Moreno (avg. four yards per carry) and Correll Buckhalter (avg. over seven yards per carry) is key. Denver is among the best in the league at rushing the ball (fourth in NFL) and they will need to pound it against a good Patriot's defensive line. The running backs will have the help of a superb offensive line anchored by left tackle Ryan Clady who has yet to give up a sack in his young career.
Avoid turnovers (only one on the season) and let Kyle Orton (0 INT) take what the defense gives him. Make good use of the tight ends Daniel Graham and Tony Scheffler biding time until Eddie Royal and Brandon Marshall get open deep.
Only a matter of time remains before Orton gets on the same page as his skillful receiving corps, and when this happens look for the Bronco's offense to get exponentially better.
One must also remember that Orton has been playing with a glove on his throwing hand since the Bears preseason game due to a finger injury. His accuracy will only get better when the glove is no longer needed.
If the Bronco's can score on the ground, not settle for field goals in the red zone, and keep third downs manageable, Tom Bradys' time on the field will be minimal. The defense will also remain fresh which is a scary thought for New England.
The Patriots have not won an October game in Denver since Oct. 4, 1964 and don't expect that to change this year. With a league-leading defense, consistent offensive play, home field advantage, and an extensive knowledge of the Patriots, à la Josh McDaniels, look for Bill Belichick to fall to his pupil.
The week following the gut-wrenching loss to the Broncos, the Patriots will lose to the Titans and this will mark the beginning of the end for Bill Belichick and his dynasty.
History is full of parallels which do not always accurately predict the future, but they are great indicators. Teams, especially the good ones, go through cycles of extreme success and extreme let-down.
Past decades have for the most part been ruled by one team per decade; Green Bay in the '60s, Pittsburgh in the '70s, San Francisco in the '80s, Dallas in the '90s, and yes, New England in our current decade.
Unfortunately for New England, this decade is coming to a close and it is time for them to pack up. A new decade is upon us, and though it may be a slow decline to mediocrity, it is a sure one for the Patriots.
A new man is in Denver, Josh McDaniels, and he will lead the team to the promised land sooner, then later too. He has proved himself thus far, and it is only a matter of time before the playoffs become a reality once again for Broncos fans.
All is good in Bronco Country for the time being, so watch your football, drink your cold coors light and live happily ever after.