For Kyle Orton, the difference between the preseason and the regular season boils down to putting away the football mirror.
“We were still working so much on ourselves,” Orton said of the exhibition slate. “I think when you get to this point in the season, most teams are pretty much off of yourselves and moving right on to focusing totally on their opponent, and we are no different.”
With the growing pains of July and August in the rear-view mirror, the Broncos are moving towards a Bengals defense that stands as a worthy first test for the regular season. Cincinnati recorded 9.5 sacks in its four exhibition contests, and its unit has an established reputation for forcing turnovers.
“For the last three or four years, they have just created so many turnovers, and that is the way they win,” Orton said. “Offensively, we have got to, certainly, take care of the football. They have got good players that can create a lot of havoc and like to create a lot of pressure, so we have got to be smart with the football and make plays.”
BELIEVING IN THE SYSTEM
Those latter two points are aided by an offensive system that confuses defenses. In the eyes of two veterans of Head Coach Josh McDaniels’ system, that is exactly what the Broncos have.
With another training camp and preseason in spread formation mode under his belt, Daniel Graham once again sees the potential for this offense to accomplish anything it needs at any given time.
“I think we can, as long as we execute our game plan and we go out and do what we have to do,” Graham said. “We can come out and move the ball on anybody.”
Much of that forward progress thinking comes from templates in the past. LaMont Jordan recalled several instances in New England where difficult situations forced the offense to change its gameplan.
More times than not, Jordan remembered the system prevailing, regardless of the 40 rushes or 40 passes in the play distribution.
“I do know this — that in this system, if you have to line up and win a game running four wide the entire game, you’re going to win it,” Jordan said. “Last year, the last four games, last three games actually, weather was bad. We had to line up at two tight (ends) and pound the ball. So whatever the circumstances, whatever the situation calls for, then our system has something to handle it.”
DEFENSE DIVING IN
Through four preseason games, Andre’ Goodman saw great strides made by his defense in learning its new 3-4 system.
Goodman said jitters are no longer an issue. The ultimate goal for week one is establishing greater chemistry on the field.
“I think we’re comfortable,” Goodman said. “But in terms of the personnel we have on the field, I think what we need to do is mesh well together. I don’t think we have shown that yet, but I don’t think we’re panicking at all either.”
The Broncos have little reason to panic considering the performance they put together to close out the preseason. The Cardinals were victimized by a defense that yielded 244 total yards in 60 minutes of play, while forcing four turnovers.
That film has Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis on guard, readying his high-powered offense for a “very aggressive” defense.
“They aren’t having breakdowns,” Lewis said. “Back to the first week, they’ve really kind of settled in over the last couple weeks and are really doing a nice job and playing well. They’re athletic, they’re chasing the ball hard and they are getting there and making plays at the football.”
–Chris Gentilviso, DenverBroncos.com