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Broncos-Browns: Denver Goes 2-0 in Commanding Victory over Cleveland

Rich Kurtzman@@RichKurtzman Senior Analyst ISeptember 21, 2009

The Denver Broncos had their home opener Sunday, as they drew the Cleveland Browns in the second contest in a row against an Ohio football team, defeating them 27-6.

Mike Nolan’s 3-4 defense seems to be adapting quite well as they all but shut down the Bengals’ potent offense in Week One and much was the same Sunday as Denver basically shut down Cleveland’s offense as well.

But the Browns’ offense is more dilapidated than domineering, as they have been ranked 32nd in the NFL in almost every important offensive category since November of 2008.

The Broncos defense was stellar, but it could just be a house of cards built upon sorry opposition. Sure, Denver only allowed 200 total yards of offense by the Browns (after allowing only 307 to the Bengals), but that was behind an old and fat Jamal Lewis (38 yards) and holding a young and inexperienced Brady Quinn to a paltry 161 yards, picking him off once.

Easily the star of the defense was Elvis Dumervil. The converted lineman to linebacker had a career-high four sacks versus Cleveland and seems to be enjoying it so far.

"Yeah, I guess I'm a linebacker now," he said. "It's fun, though. I get to play linebacker and I still get to do what I love—rush the passer. I've found my niche. It makes me a complete player."

The fact of the matter remains that the ’09 Broncos defense is like the new Cowboys’ stadium fire escapes—untested. What will the Broncos do against some of the better offenses in New England, Pittsburgh, or Philly? What is encouraging though is that Denver's D is ranked fourth in yards per game and second overall in points given up per game as they have only allowed one touchdown.

The offense on the other hand, was anemic at best in Week One, but rather fruitful on Sunday at home. The ground game was good as Correll Buckhalter had 76 yards on nine carries, the biggest an explosive 45-yard touchdown romp in the third quarter.

Josh McDaniels’ play-calling was dynamic with 449 total yards, including 263 passing by Kyle Orton. Denver also racked up 25 first downs compared to Cleveland's 11, and went 8-15 on third downs. The young coach couldn’t really be happier, but you couldn’t tell from some post-game quotes.

“I think that our guys understand that there are a lot of things that we want to fix and a lot of things we want to improve on, which, I think, is really where most teams in the league are right now. You are never at your peak after Week One. Our players saw that on the film on Monday, and we have got to get better."

And including his great play-calling, the young coach has a deep desire to improve on a week-to-week basis, which is very promising indeed. The Broncos are (shh!) rebuilding, the word with a million negative connotations in sports. The best ideology to have with a team in the situation is to attempt to cultivate a team-first mentality, and to progress in any and all areas possible.

Really though, in the big picture of things, the Broncos are 2-0 now after winning 27-6 over Cleveland. Also, Denver is leading the AFC West heading into Oakland.

The Raiders have looked surprisingly decent so far in 2009, taking the Chargers down to the wire, and winning a grind-it-out battle against the Chiefs today. So, any writers that predicted Denver would easily sweep the Raiders this year would find himself terribly mistaken.

Well, I know there is a reason this is a rivalry, both teams play each other as hard as possible no matter what the records of either team are. The point is, the Broncos find a difficult opponent in Oakland next week and are likely already preparing for them. Denver plays the Raiders on Sunday the 27th at 2:15 p.m. MDT.

Notes

Broncos great Shannon Sharpe was inducted into the Ring of Fame at Invesco Field at Mile High during halftime of today’s game, that was after he parachuted in before kickoff. He is currently a finalist for becoming an NFL Hall-of-Famer with his own bronze bust in Canton, Ohio in 2010…McDaniels beat Eric Mangini today, another Bill Belichick disciple…Knowshon Moreno looked healthy rushing for 75 yards on 17 carries and also caught two passes for 22 yards as well.

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