It was only one game. But it was certainly a thing of beauty.
The Broncos’ 37-6 rout of the Raiders last weekend showed what this team is capable of and showed the progress it has made. The Broncos went out and dominated a team they need to beat at home. In the process, the Broncos made it clear they have more than enough talent to win the AFC West.
This is a good, solid football team that, in my opinion, will continue to get better as the season goes along.
We are a quarter of the way through the season and the Broncos have already shown me several key things.
1 – THIS TEAM CAN SCORE POINTS. They’re averaging 28.5 points per game. That’s seventh in the NFL. The most impressive part is they are doing that as their quarterback is still working his way back into rhythm. I have to believe that Peyton Manning will continue to get stronger as the season goes on. Yet, he has played pretty well to this point.
In the past several years, when the Broncos fell behind like they did this year against both the Falcons and Texans, there was little realistic hope they would come back. And before fans bring up last year’s comebacks, let’s all remember how incredibly well the defense played in most of those games.
This year, the Broncos trailed the Falcons by 20 points and then fell behind the Texans by 16. Yet in both of the those games, the offense found a way to get some things together and rally to the point that Denver was one defensive stop away from getting the ball back to the offense for what could have been a last-minute scoring drive.
Peyton Manning gives the Broncos hope even if they are way behind. The offense has not had that at the quarterback position since John Elway was in uniform.
2 – THERE ARE WEAPONS ON OFFENSE. It starts with Manning but definitely doesn’t end there. I know the receivers have had a few more drops than they would like but I have seen nothing to suggest there is not ample talent in the Broncos’ receiving corps. We saw it come to the fore against the Raiders.
I also like the multiple options Manning has at the tight end position. Joel Dreessen has a touchdown catch in each of his last two games and Jacob Tamme had one in the opener against the Steelers.
Four different players already have 13 or more receptions. Manning’s eight touchdown passes have gone to six different receivers.
I also like what I have seen out of Willis McGahee and the running game. Keep in mind, the Broncos could not run as much as they normally do against the Falcons and Texans because they fell behind.
Nonetheless, McGahee has 325 yards and three touchdowns in four games and is averaging 4.7 yards per rush.
The offense is settling in under Manning and it should be very interesting to see how much better it gets in the coming weeks.
3 – THE DEFENSE HAS SHOWN SIGNS OF IMPROVEMENT. Even thought the offense put the defense in tough spots against the Falcons, the Broncos D hung in there enough to keep the Falcons from running away with the game.
Against Houston, despite giving up some big plays early, the Broncos’ defense regrouped and played better as the game went along. The defense certainly did a good job against the Steelers and completely stifled the Raiders.
Let’s remember the Broncos are on their seventh defensive coordinator in the past seven years. I know it ends up sounding like an excuse but it does take some time for everyone to get on the same page. There is no doubt the Broncos made some major strides in this area in last week’s blowout win.
I would expect the Broncos’ defense to continue to show improvement as the year goes along. Why? Because the players will be more familiar with Jack Del Rio’s system. I believe as they continue to settle in, they’ll be able to just react more on the field instead of thinking about what they need to be doing.
In addition, I look at this defensive unit and I see more than one playmaker. I see guys capable of making big plays at big times that can change the complexion of a game. They made some of those big plays last Sunday.
The Broncos are fine. They’re 2-2. Even when they haven’t played well, they have had a realistic shot at winning.
This week’s game at New England should be fun. If the Broncos continue to improve, don’t be surprised if they come home 3-2.
What did you like most in the big win over the Raiders and what do the Broncos have to do to defeat the Patriots?
Thanks for reading and posting.