To Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, it’s no secret what makes the Kansas City offense successful.
But that doesn’t make it any easier to stop.
“It’s going to be just like coming to your Friday night high school game when you are seeing a ‘Wing-T’ team,” Martindale said. “They run the ball, run the ball, run the ball. And that is what is making them a good team because they are feeding off of their defense’s turnovers and takeaways and they do some good things with it.”
Running backs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones are both on pace to top the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season, leading the league’s top ground attack and taking the pressure off quarterback Matt Cassel, who has thrown 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions in his last six games.
Those stats have proved the key ingredients in the Chiefs’ unexpected rise to the top of the AFC West this season.
“They control the tempo of the game,” Head Coach Josh McDaniels said earlier this week. “They control the pace of the game and they never ever really beat themselves.”
The Broncos learned what Charles can do when the third-year running back ran for 259 yards and two touchdowns in the Chiefs’ win in last season’s finale.
Kansas City added the veteran Jones in the offseason, and he has offered a powerful change of pace to give the team the league’s best rushing duo so far this season.
The pair have combined for 1,289 rushing yards and five touchdowns in eight games.
“We know Charles, with his outside ability, but you can’t sleep on Jones, who has been one of the leaders in rushing yards for the last couple of years,” Brian Dawkins said. “They have a potent attack. The thing that we have to do defensively is tackle well.”
At times this season the Broncos run defense has flashed brilliance, such as when the unit held explosive Tennessee running back Chris Johnson under 100 yards in a Week 4 win. But in more recent losses to Oakland and Baltimore the squad allowed more than 200 yards on the ground.
Without Robert Ayers for the fourth straight game, the defense’s job becomes even tougher as they try to set the edge and avoid big runs like the 56-yard touchdown burst Charles had at INVESCO Field at Mile High last season.
With that said, the Broncos relish their opportunity to extinguish a rushing attack that has given defenses across the league trouble in 2010 as they try to halt a four-game losing streak.
“It’s a challenge and that’s what it’s all about in this business,” Justin Bannan said. “If you’re a competitor, you should welcome those challenges and see how you stack up.”
Britton Colquitt’s goal each Sunday is to help the Broncos win in the kicking game. This week the first-year punter has a little extra motivation.
When Kansas City visits INVESCO Field at Mile High, Colquitt will square off against his older brother, Dustin, for the first time.
Among the family coming to town for the occassion will be parents, Anne and Craig — a two-time Super Bowl-winning punter with the Steelers, and cousin Jimmy, who punted for the Seahawks in 1985.
“My dad — it’s his dream come true to see his sons both play against each other,” Britton said. “It’s just really cool.”
The family will arrive in town Friday night, and Britton said the group plans to get together for dinner on Saturday once Dustin arrives in Denver.
Since the specialists normally go out early to test field conditions and loosen up, Britton said he expects to have some time to talk with his brother on the field — and even trade a few pointers — before the opening kickoff.
Once the game starts, family bragging rights will be at stake — at least until the rematch in Kansas City on Dec. 5.
“It’s really exciting,” Britton said, “and hopefully for our team’s sake, I outkick Dustin and help our team win.”
The Broncos had no new additions to the injury report on Thursday.
Ayers (foot) and Andre’ Goodman (hip) did not practice and will not play this weekend. Darcel McBath (ankle), Kevin Vickerson (groin) and Wesley Woodyard (hamstring) were limited for the second straight workout.
For the Chiefs, S Kendrick Lewis (hamstring), WR Dexter McCluster (ankle), S Jon McGraw (knee) and G Brian Waters (shoulder) were limited in Thursday’s practice.
- Eric Detweiler, DenverBroncos.com
Below are some photos from Thursday’s chilly practice session: