The Denver Broncos were embarrassed last year by probably their most hated division foe, not just once, but twice. However, the Broncos are not the same team they were last year and there will be some definite improvements come Monday night.
Now that cut day has come and gone (does not mean the rosters are truly finalized) Broncos fans, the front office, and the players can now dial in for their first game of the long awaited season. Even though this is not the same team as last year and their is a lot of personnel changes, do not think for a second that all 53 players and coaches do not know what they did to them in their own home.
Darren McFadden's performance against the Broncos single-handedly moved him into the top 10 of the fantasy football rankings. Broncos fans can expect to have the best gem plan possible with a new and improved team against rookie head coach Hue Jackson and the Raiders.
The Broncos faithful can bet that the rushing attack on Monday night will be much improved from last year, even if they have to run the ball 40 times to do it. Knowshon Moreno has had great camp and preseason, which should make for a very productive regular season.
The addition of Willis McGahee to get the tough yards provides a nice one-two punch that head coach John Fox loves to work with. Fox will make sure that the Broncos move the ball on the ground and have a much more balanced attack than what we saw from the squad last year.
With an improved rushing attack, fans can also expect better play from the offensive line, getting a big push up front.
We have seen a lot of use out of the tight ends in camp and in the preseason, bringing back a position back from the dead. The Broncos the past couple years have had little to no production out of the tight end position, but with the free agent acquisition of Daniel Fells and the drafting of Julius Thomas an Virgil Green, the Broncos intend to put them to use.
Being able to have three pass catching tight ends who can also block, makes for dangerous plays and packages for opposing teams. Using the tight end is just using another facet of the offense in a productive way.
Expect all three tight ends to get in on the action one way or another against the Raiders.
The Raiders have had a stigma of one of the toughest, nastiest teams to play in the league. The Broncos have been embarrassed where the nastiness stems from—the trenches.
With the drafting of Orlando Franklin, the Broncos are adopting a mean streak and a nastier attitude on the offensive line. The nastiness is what is needed to play a tough team like the Raiders, and with that comes a better rushing attack.
The Broncos line is a young group that has a lot of potential to be a great offensive line, but they are going to have to make the push consistently. Expect the line to be much more fired up and improved against the Raiders.
The Broncos will not, I repeat, will not allow Darren McFadden to have the type of rushing day that he had against them last year. You can guarantee that they would rather see Jason Campbell pass for 300 yards, than McFadden get 200 on the ground.
The Broncos run defense has looked stout early on and should be getting back from injury Marcus Thomas and Brodrick Bunkley. Those two will help tremendously up the middle, where last year the Broncos were porous.
You can expect the run defense to be much more improved and bet that McFadden will be leaving Denver very frustrated.
Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller, a.k.a. Batman and Robin, have shown how much of a terror they can and will be on the edges. The Broncos can most assuredly expect a 10,000-times improved pass rush in 2011 and most notably in Week 1 against the Raiders.
Jason Campbell is a mobile quarterback, but do not expect him to be able to break containment from the "Legion of Doom." Dumervil looks in midseason form and Miller looks like a season veteran the way he uses his hands and different techniques to get to the quarterback.
This aspect of the game is the one I am most excited to watch. High expectations are had for both players and an emergence of a former first-round pick in Robert Ayers would not be so bad either.
New man John Fox already knows what the Oakland Raiders like to do and that is run the football. The Broncos fans can expect better game planning by the Broncos coaches this year. Last year there was a terrible mix of run and pass, mostly because we couldn't run and did not care about running the ball.
The Broncos will not let that happen this year, even though they may lean on the pass some days more than others, but regardless the Broncos will have a nice dose of each. The first series of every play is usually run on a 15-play script made by the coaches. I have a feeling that the Broncos scripts will be very productive and an effective mix of run and pass.
Fox is a seasoned savvy coach who knows what it takes to call plays and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has done a pretty good job of taking heed to the philosophy of Fox with the running and play-action fakes.
Expect better play-calling and all around better coaching, less on emotion and more on logic.