Scouting the Broncos
This week we have Kim C. from the Broncos Blog- Predominantly Orange. The Broncos could provide some real issues fro the Ravens this week, especially after a tough win in Nashville. Enjoy as Kim tells us about the great Kyle Orton. Check out Pilson’s answers to Kim’s questions.
1. Denver QB Kyle Orton has gotten off to a tremendous start passing the ball, but the running has struggled. Are the Broncos throwing more because of the struggles on the ground, or because Orton and the passing attack is that much improved?
Kyle Orton is a much improved quarterback compared to last year. He worked hard in the off season to get stronger which has shown on the intermediate passing routes when there’s tight coverage. Orton’s passes are on time, allowing receivers to get every extra yard after the catch, and he’s accurate. There’s a very good reason why he’s leading the league in passing yards, and it’s not necessarily because of the Broncos’ struggles on the ground.
The Broncos running game is ranked 32nd in the league, but there are some reasons for the struggles. Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhlater missed all of training camp with injuries. Moreno’s first game back was against Jacksonville in week 1. The lack of reps, particularly with some rookies on the offensive line contribute to their lack of rushing attack. Additionally, Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady missed all of training camp coming off knee surgery. Right tackle Ryan Harris went 11 months between regular season games due to an ankle and toe injury. Right guard Chris Kuper missed all of preseason and the first game of the season as well. Add two rookie offensive linemen into the mix in combination with the injuries to the veterans, and it’s no wonder the Broncos haven’t been able to run the ball. In time, it will get better. The question is how much time is needed and how much will they improve?
The Broncos did abandon their running game with about nine minutes left in last week’s win over Tennessee. Until then, they were sticking with a nice ratio of pass-to-run plays. When the game is on the line however, Josh McDaniels went with what was working.
2. Speaking of Orton, it seems like he and Titans CB Courtland Finnegan are continuing a war of words, after last weeks game in Tennessee. What is that all about and any concern it will be a distraction for Orton?
Orton said in Wednesday’s press conference that he stands by his words, but the situation is over with and he’s moving on. He’s obviously got much more to worry about in terms of the Ravens’ top-ranked pass defense.
Guys talk all the time. This time, the banter was brought to the media rather than leaving it on the field. It won’t have any lingering effect on Orton’s game. I think Orton was just speaking his heart after an emotional road win. Don’t read too much into the situation.
3. Denver has allowed 11 sacks already this year, is this an area of concern against the Ravens?
The Ravens do so many things well on the defensive front. They’ve got arguably the toughest front seven in the league. Again, the issue with sacks this year boils down to an injury-plagued offensive line and the number of passes Orton has thrown. Orton leads the league in pass attempts. With the ball in his hands much more, there’s obviously going to be more opportunities for sacks.
Sacks are definitely a concern for against the Ravens. Terrell Suggs is a monster in his own right that eats QBs for breakfast. Only Michael Vick and Jay Cutler have been sacked more times than Orton, and they’re both injured right now. Keeping Orton healthy is one of the Broncos’ main priorities.
4. What will the Broncos be able to do on offense, defense, or special teams that will give the Ravens trouble?
Offensively, I think the Broncos will be able to move the ball down a long field with ease. It may take them a while since the Ravens don’t give up many big plays, but I think movement won’t be the issue. The issue is whether or not they can convert down in the red zone when the field is shorter. The Broncos’ offense has struggled in the red zone this year because the running game isn’t working right now and passing in a shorter field is tougher. If the Ravens defense holds true to form, kicker Matt Prater could be a very busy man.
Defensively, Denver’s corners could limit Joe Flacco’s passing options. The run defense is 12th in the league which is much improved over last year. While the defense has struggled to gather sacks and interceptions, and force fumbles, they do come up with a lot of pass deflections and three and outs, particularly in the fourth quarter.
5. Last year, the Broncos came to Baltimore riding high at 6-0. The Ravens proceeded to take it to them, winning 30-7. What are you expectations this year? Closer game or more of the same?
This year will be a much closer game. In Josh McDaniels’ second year in the league, he’s learned to avoid the “peaks” and “valleys.” Win or lose, there are lessons to be learned from each game. At 2-2, the Broncos have seen both sides of the coin. I think it hurt last year playing such a difficult game on the road after a bye week. The Ravens also had their bye week the same week, so it gave coach Harbaugh the opportunity to really sit down and figure out what worked and what didn’t work against the Broncos at that time.
Each team has new players and new schemes, so last year’s tale is simply one for the books.
We know Josh McDaniels takes after his former boss in his propensity to trade moody wide receivers, but have you noticed any correlation between the Broncos success and McDaniels’ wardrobe selection? Do they have a higher winning percentage with or without the hoodie?
I’m not sure about last season, but this year, he’s worn the hoodie once (last week) and they won.