Denver Broncos: How to Beat the Cincinnati Bengals
A loss to the Bengals will not only fuel the QB controversy it will also raise huge question marks about the front offices ability to successfully rebuild the Broncos. Unless the plan from the beginning was to "suck for Luck."
The front office had to clear goals of improvement this season. One—the ability to stop the run on defense and two—to establish a running game that defenses would have to respect. The game against the Raiders made it clear those two goals are far and away from being realized.
The Broncos have been severely hampered by injuries in their run defense, and with injuries to both Dumerville and Bailey, the defense is now also with out its two best players.
The injury to Moreno won't have the same significant impact on the offense as the injuries will have on the defense. But there will have to be some serious praying going on for Brandon Lloyds hamstring to hold up, because Lloyd will have to be the key to beating the Bengals.
The Offensive Playbook: Win Through the Air
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The Bengals game will have to be the game where Kyle Orton shows that he can win games with his arm. Its the best chance for the Broncos to win and its the only way for Orton to shut down the Tebow thing.
The Bengals D-line showed against the Browns that they are very good against the run and the Broncos showed no indication of having a respectable run game.
On the positive side the receiver group is by far the strength of the Broncos. With Brandon Lloyd commanding double coverage, the Broncos will have opportunities to spread the ball around. Most noticeably to Eric Dekker who was the Broncos best offensive player against the Raiders.
The Broncos need to spread out the Bengals defense with three and for receiver sets and make the linebackers and safeties respect the pass. Allowing the Bengals to line up with five D-linemen like the Raiders did without punishing them for it cannot happen again.
The run game will have to be set up in creative ways to keep the defenses guessing, with backs working as receivers out of the backfield. This could set up heavy McGahee running between the tackles.
The Redzone Offense: Enter Tebow
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John Fox needs to bite the bullet and get Tebow involved in the red-zone packages.
The dual threat of Tebow will keep defenses guessing and open up the running lanes for McGahee.
I know this could be seen as an acceptance of Ortons inability to get it done in the red-zone. And quite frankly I don't have high hopes for this to happen, as Fox has put himself in a situation where playing Tebow could be seen as giving into the demands of the fans.
But excluding Tebow takes away one of the Broncos best short yardage and red-zone weapons.
The Defensive Playbook: Take Chances and Confuse the Rookie QB
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Injuries have crippled the Broncos defense who against the Raiders showed that John Fox couldn't fix the run defense.
What the Broncos can take away from the Raiders game is that they could learn from the Raiders. The Raiders often lined up in a five man defensive front. A risky tactic if the offense and the QB can adjust to capitalize from it.
But without Doomervil and with a weak interior D-line, the Broncos need to be creative to put pressure on Dalton. And with an opposing rookie QB, lining up in a five man front might not be the biggest risk.
If anything it is a risk worth taking, because the Broncos will have to stop Cedric Benson. Even if it means taking chances in the secondary.
The Pass Rush: Designate Von Miller
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Lining up in a five man front it is key for the Broncos to put pressure on Andy Dalton. Von Millers speed, strength and athleticism is the best option for the Broncos to get to Dalton.
For that to happen, the Broncos need to designate Von Miller as a pass rusher, relieving him of any pass coverage or run stopping responsibilities. Just get Von Miller to the QB and make the offensive line adjust to where ever Von Miller is lining up.
The aim is to make Andy Dalton responsible for making plays on offense and test his ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly.
And if this means taking a couple penalties for some late hits on Dalton—I think that would be justifiable.
Take Charge and Take Risks
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The Broncos are standing with their backs up against the wall.
Their defense is plagued by injuries to their key players, they can't stop the run, Champ is out, they can't run the ball and their starting QB is being booed by the fans.
John Fox needs to show his players that he has an aggressive plan for the Broncos to take charge of their own destiny. They cannot win against the Bengals by trying to cover the holes and continue as if nothing has happened.
By addressing the problems by being aggressive also involves a risk of losing the game. But at least the Broncos would go down swinging.
The Broncos need to come out of the Bengals game, knowing they can stop the run. Even if it means getting burned in the passing game. That would at least give them the option of outscoring the opponents.
And looking at the Broncos schedule, stopping the run is a must at all costs. Even the easy games on the Broncos schedule are against offenses that excel in the run game: The Bengals, Titans, Chiefs and Vikings.
If The Broncos can't stop the run, they will for sure "suck for Luck." But maybe that has been the front offices plan all along, ditching the season to get the player Elway sees as the second coming of himself—Andrew Luck.
From the look of things that is not a totally unlikely scenario.