The victory on Monday Night Football was a great way to start the season, but now the Broncos face an even bigger test — the San Diego Chargers.
Besides being the division champs the last two years, they also beat the Broncos in both contests a year ago, outscoring them 64-6. That has fueled the Broncos’ desire to come out firing against the Chargers and move to 2-0, getting a jump on the division in the process.
Dre’ Bly talked about the motivation he and the rest of his teammates have before he took to the practice fields Thursday.
Photo: Eric Lars Bakke
“It’s very motivating,” Bly said. “Those guys basically came out and dominated last year. I think we scored a total of 6 points and gave up, it seemed like, 100.”
If the Chargers plan on marching into Denver for a repeat performance however, they had better think again, says Bly. That was 2007, and now it’s an entirely new year.
“We’re a different team now,” the 10th-year veteran cornerback said. “Ever since Coach Slowik took over the defense and we made a few moves in the offseason, the chemistry and everything has been flowing again.”
And that’s just the defense.
On the other side of the ball, the offense looks markedly improved as well. Putting up 41 points while racking up 441 total offensive yards definitely shows that something has clicked on offense, regardless of who the opponent is.
But the Chargers have a few offensive weapons themselves in Pro Bowlers LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates. This is not lost on Bly and his teammates, and they look forward to the challenge. Facing off against the some of the best players in the league adds even more motivation and makes it all the more fun.
“That’s what we look forward to,” Bly said. “Gates is arguably one of the best receiving tight ends in this game right now. LT is one of the best backs. Philip, he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. We look forward to going against the best, competing against the top guys. Competing against the best guys brings out the best in us. We’re not backing down.”
“We know we’re going to have our work cut out for us, but we look forward to the challenge. We look forward to getting back to the top of this division, but it goes through the Chargers.”
MORE TO IMPROVE UPON
Though Jay Cutler was not sacked in the season opener at Oakland, that doesn’t mean the offensive line played a perfect game. There are always things that can be done to get better, and the offensive line looks to take care of those things.
“He got hit a couple of times late,” Wiegmann said. “Those are the things we can’t have happen. He is a valuable player for us and the less hits he takes every game the better.”
Photo: Eric Lars Bakke
One hit Cutler took came as he tried to run for a first down and could not have been prevented by o-line play, and thankfully Cutler quickly jumped up off the turf, no harm done. But Wiegmann was right there to see it occur.
“He jumped up in the air so it kind of took a lot of the blow off. If he would have had his knee and leg planted it might have been different.”
The original stat line for Cutler against the Raiders said that he completed 16-of-24 pass attempts for 299 yards and a touchdown. Turns out that wasn’t completely accurate.
The NFL has now announced that Cutler actually threw for 300 yards.
THE TOUGHEST MONDAY NIGHT
One player at McAfee Coliseum on Monday night was carrying so much more on his shoulders than just his pads.
Andre Hall’s mother passed away shortly before the game, but he went out there and played anyway, leading the Broncos running backs with 10 carries for 61 yards.
“She was a wonderful woman,” Hall said of his mother. “She raised all of us good. There’s 11 of us, and she made sure she stayed around long enough to make sure that we got old enough to take care of ourselves.”
After practice Thursday, he answered a few questions about his tough weekend.
“It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Hall said. “But once I stepped on the field, it was all about football. When I got off the field, I got back to that and talked to my family back home.”
And he has had no shortage of support from his teammates.
“Hundreds of texts, everyday from the offense and defense. Shanahan is really supportive of me.”
And though the funeral is on Monday, he will be on the field Sunday with his teammates to take on the Chargers.
– Adam Zinser, DenverBroncos.com