The Denver Broncos went to Nashville Sunday and beat the Tennessee Titans 26-20 in what most experts would consider to be an upset. Some questions surrounding this team going into Week 4 were answered and new questions were formed after Sunday’s win. Let us take a deeper look into Sunday’s action.
Things that I liked
Demaryius Thomas as a kick-returner? Absolutely! The decision to use Thomas as a kick-returner was genius! When a man of his size, speed, and athleticism gets going at top speed, it is going to be hard to bring him down. He showed the ability to make tacklers miss in the open field and his acceleration is ridiculous.
I think that the Broncos may have found a new kick-returner. His returns gave the Broncos very favorable field position at some key points in the game. When Thomas answered with a long return following the Titans touchdown on a kick-return, I felt like the Broncos recaptured momentum in the game.
Robert Ayers and the run defense held CJ2K to just over 50 yards. The Broncos went into the game with a focus on stopping Johnson and they more than accomplished that. The tackles were crisp and convincing and defenders were flying to the ball.
As the season progresses, I become more and more impressed with the contributions that Robert Ayers makes in stopping the run. He was in the backfield constantly causing Johnson to dance in the backfield, where all the help was. The first true test of the rush defense was passed. I am excited to see what happens against Ray Rice and Baltimore.
Matt Prater and Britton Colquitt were phenomenal against the Titans. Prater hit all four field goals that he attempted. I believe that only one of them was not dead center.
Colquitt hit some monster punts and pinned the Titans deep in their own zone on a couple of occasions. These two guys played a huge part in the Broncos success.
KYLE ORTON! I was not a fan of Orton when he came over from Chicago but I am a believer now. The Titans were putting hits on him all day and he never got flustered. He made some clutch throws with the game on the line and had success in the red zone. He showed that he has great awareness in the pocket and the chemistry that he has with his receivers is outstanding.
Orton is throwing the ball into some very tight spaces and is having tremendous success. He has the entire team on his shoulders right now with the disappearance on the running game and is playing at a Pro-Bowl level.
Can he succeed against a Baltimore defense that destroyed him last year? These next two weeks will show us just how good Kyle Orton and this passing attack is. I like our chances.
Things that are concerning
Denver’s special teams coverage has been awful thus far in 2010. Nothing has changed after Sunday. Denver allowed the Titans to return a kick-off 98 yards for a touchdown. The worst part about it was that he was not touched on the return, with few people to dodge. Part of that credit should go to the Titan’s return blocking, but this issue need to be fixed ASAP. Good teams do not allow their special teams to hurt them.
Maroney and the Denver rushing attack. Are you kidding me? 20 carries for 20 yards and your quarterback is the leading rusher! This has to be the biggest concern for this Denver team going forward.
The offensive line is not opening holes and the running backs are not showing that they have the ability to make the first tackler miss. Maroney has not shown me anything since his trade from New England. He dances in the backfield and does not hit the hole when the holes are there. I am thinking that he would go down if he was hit with a stiff breeze.
Maroney was clearly not ready to play against the Titans. He dropped passes, missed blocks in pass protection and his rushing ability is less than inspiring. Moreno has had his chance and got hurt. He will get another chance when he returns but I don’t think that Maroney needs to take carries away for Buckhalter at this point.
What Did We Learn in the Victory Over the Titans?
The Denver Broncos have an extremely physical defense. The defense is much improved against the run and the pass. They were winning the line if scrimmage and did not allow Johnson and Young to beat them with their legs. Dawkins was flying all around the field, launching himself at the ball carrier.
Orton has some serious weapons at his disposal. Gaffney, Royal, Lloyd, and Thomas provide Orton with the best receiving core in the NFL. There is not a superstar in the bunch, but collectively they are the best in the league. Opposing defenses have no hope in covering this group of receivers because there is no go-to-guy.
All four can make plays and can beat you. In Week 1, it was Royal and Lloyd that had big games. In Week 2, it was Thomas. In Week 3, it was Gaffney and Lloyd. In Week 4, it was Royal and Lloyd again. This shows the versatility of this group and that together with Orton, they will show the NFL the most potent passing attack in the league.
By the way, who needs Brandon Marshall? Maybe Josh McDaniels does know what he is doing.
I challenge you to name one player in the NFL that means as much to his team as Kyle Orton. Peyton Manning could be the only viable option. Indy is a 4-12 football team without Manning. Orton is by far the MVP of the Broncos and I would be shocked if he is not in the conversation for NFL MVP if he continues to play at a high-level and the Broncos continue to win games.
With no running game, the defense will keep the Broncos in games but it is up to Orton to win those games. He will continue to produce in the clutch as he did Sunday (that one is for you Omar)! Orton is the real deal in Josh’s offense.
What Does This Win Mean for the Broncos?
This one is simple; Denver showed that they have moxie. They showed that they are capable of going into a hostile environment and beating a physical football team on the road. They beat a team in the Titans that many consider to be a playoff contender.
We could look back at this game at the end of the season as a pivotal game in sending Denver to the post season. They now hold the tie-breaker with Tennessee if it came to that point.
Most importantly, this win gives Denver a 2-2 record and some much-needed momentum going into a monumental test next week in Baltimore. Great win for Denver but there is plenty of room for improvement. Let us see what Week 5 brings.