Hello, Seahawks Fans!
I am Troy Hufford from the Mile High Report and let me begin by saying that I am just as excited about Saturday's matchup as you are. I haven't come to tell you about your own team. I'm sure you all know much more than I do about the Seahawks, anyways. Instead, I've come to talk about your week 3 preseason opponent, the Denver Broncos.
If you only pay attention to major sports outlets to receive your Broncos news, you’ve probably heard a lot about the quarterback controversy, but not much else. It comes as no surprise to Denver fans, however, because Tim Tebow has been our lightning rod of attention for the past year and a half. However, the quarterback controversy is insignificant in comparison to other parts of our roster.
To help explain, here are 5 things that you should know about the Broncos before watching the game on Saturday night.
1. Denver’s Pass Rush
Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil have been wreaking havoc for a month. Von Miller, of course, is the highly touted outside linebacker out of Texas A&M who was drafted 2nd overall to the Denver Broncos. He had one of the greatest first steps in college football and is showing Broncos fans that he's more than capable of scaring the life out of opposing quarterbacks in the NFL, as well.
Elvis Dumervil is a former 4th round 4-3 DE out of Louisville who was converted to a 3-4 OLB under Josh McDaniels and then converted back to his natural 4-3 DE position under John Fox. Last year, Elvis Dumervil missed the entire season due to a torn pectoral muscle, but is showing no ill effects during this preseason.
Both players are extremely quick off the ball and can get to the quarterback in the blink of an eye. Last week against the Bills, both players were able to dip their shoulder and go unimpeded to the quarterback on separate occasions. Von Miller's sack was especially impressive because he essentially met Ryan Fitzpatrick as he hit the fifth step in his drop. Even more remarkable, he did it out of a two point stance. This kid will be something special. Against the Bills, Elvis Dumervil nearly took the handoff during a draw play to CJ Spiller. When I say "nearly took the handoff", I mean that in a literal sense. He dipped his shoulder and passed the left tackle while Fitzpatrick and Spiller were standing next to each other. As Spiller took the handoff, Dumervil knocked him into Fitzpatrick, but since there was some confusion about which Bill actually had the ball, Spiller escaped to the left while Dumervil reached for Fitzpatrick. Dumervil caused so much of a disruption in the backfield that the Broncos were able to bring run support and tackle Spiller for an 8 yard loss.
Elvis Dumervil has been called a "quarterback's nightmare" and getting him back onto the gridiron is something that I've been excited about for months. Unveiling two quarterback nightmares, however, is almost unfair for opposing offenses. Due to Von Miller's blazing fast first step, he can blitz from anywhere, drop back to cover tight ends, or blanket runningbacks in the flat. This versatility makes it hard for opposing offenses to adjust their coverages, especially when Elvis Dumervil is moving all around the defensive line, at the same time. But keying on those two players, alone, is dangerous, in it’s own regard.
Last week, we saw DJ Williams blitz off the right side, untouched, delivering a devastating blow to Ryan Fitzpatrick as he threw the ball at the feet of the intended receiver. On another occasion, Rahim Moore blitzed and was untouched, but again, Fitzpatrick threw it away just as the pressure was bearing down on him. Dennis Allen, the Broncos Defensive Coordinator, will be sending blitzers from the slot corner, linebacker, and safety positions. Pass protection will be of vast importance for the Seattle Seahawks, along with staying in manageable down and distances. With the Broncos growing into a top tier pass defense, seemingly overnight, opposing offenses need to avoid 3rd and long situations, otherwise it could be a very long (and painful) night for the quarterback.
2. The Revamped Running Game
The Broncos weren't very good on the ground, last year. I think that's fairly common knowledge to most NFL football fans. They had an injured Knowshon Moreno and were forced into a rotating group of average running backs behind a young offensive line under a coach (Josh McDaniels) who's offensive scheme favored a deep passing attack coupled with wide receiver screens and running back screens. Let's just say it didn't work out...
Josh McDaniels was fired and we revamped the entire rushing attack. The Broncos hired John Fox, the former Carolina Panthers coach who specialized in a two running back ground and pound attack. He has indicated from the beginning of his tenure that the Broncos will run the ball more often and more effectively. So far, we have. Fox has utilized a heavy dose of Knowshon Moreno, who looks much improved after shedding 10 pounds in the offseason. He's stronger, quicker, and more elusive than ever before. If he stays healthy, he will have a surprisingly good season.
Another running game improvement has been Willis McGahee. The former Buffalo Bill and Baltimore Raven found his way to the Mile High City this offseason and will be our featured back in the redzone. The Broncos have had trouble for the last 4 or 5 years trying to get the ball in the endzone, so with Knowshon's elusive style and McGahee's nose for the endzone, the Broncos running game should be much improved over last season.
Not to mention the occasional Tim Tebow redzone formations that may occur.
3. Defensive Attitude
For the past week, the Broncos have gotten national coverage for two things, the quarterbacks and Rahim Moore. Last week against the Bills, on 3rd and 19, Rahim Moore delivered a devastating hit to Donald Jones along the Bills' sideline, leaving Jones motionless on the ground and numerous near brawls on the field. Players were separated, Jones was taken to the locker room and order was restored. Aside from the unnecessary roughness penalty and $20,000 fine served up to Rahim Moore, Broncos fans are more than pleased with that play. It's not because we condone violence or dirty play, but because the Broncos defense hasn’t garnered much respect from around the league for quite some time. That was a statement play for the Denver defense. A Denver Broncos safety hasn't instilled the fear of God into opposing wide receivers since Steve Atwater, but here we have this rookie who is already earning himself an Atwater-esque reputation during the preseason. I hate to see players get hurt, but I love to see defensive attitude that the Broncos are showing.
For the first time in a long time, Broncos fans are excited about the defense, largely because of this new Broncos attitude. The whole first team defense has been playing like a team who is hungry. Comparing the 2010 defense and this year’s defense is like comparing day and night. The Broncos defense played much better than the Buffalo Bills offense, last week, but their over exuberance got them in a bit of trouble with penalties. No touchdowns have been scored against our first team defense, as of yet, but they've given up their share of big penalties, namely the Rahim Moore unnecessary roughness penalty on 3rd and long, as well as a questionable roughing the passer call on Elvis Dumervil. There's no question that this team is more talented and fast on defense than we were a year ago, but we need to rely more on the overall talent of the defense than on pure aggression.
4. Brandon Lloyd and Kyle Orton
These two have been solid since the beginning of last year. Brandon Lloyd is, by far, Kyle Orton's favorite target. The Broncos don't try to disguise it or run any gimmick formations to get Brandon Lloyd the ball. He just beats people. This guy is hardly ever blanketed by a defender, probably a result of practicing across from Champ Bailey every day for the past few years. Even when you think that Lloyd is covered, Orton will throw a back shoulder fade and Lloyd will come up with it. Despite all the talk about Orton not being able to throw the ball accurately, the back shoulder fade to Lloyd is a pass that he hardly ever misses on. Their chemistry is unbelievable.
Receivers Eric Decker and Eddie Royal are also starting to establish themselves as reliable targets for Orton, but Orton seems to be far more comfortable just throwing to Brandon Lloyd. As a Broncos fan, I'd love to see the Broncos throw the ball around a bit more, especially during preseason, but I expect to see a lot of Orton to Lloyd when the Broncos are in passing situations.
What kind of Broncos post would this be without mentioning the quarterback situation? To put it bluntly, the Broncos are set at quarterback. Kyle Orton is the starter, Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn are 2a and 2b (don't make me determine which is a and which is b) and Adam Weber is 4th. That should be the end of it. Unfortunately, that's not how the city of Denver operates. The backup quarterback is always more popular than the starting quarterback. When Elway was the starter, there were people who clamored for Tommy Maddox to replace him. When Jake Plummer was the starter, people wanted Jay Cutler to replace him. Two years ago, there was a group of Broncos fans who wanted Chris Simms to replace Kyle Orton as the starter. It';s a never ending cycle of frustration with the starting quarterback and it is no different this year.
From my own personal perspective, I don’t understand what the big rush is with Tim Tebow. If he's not ready, which he clearly isn't, then there shouldn't be a huge uproar. Just let him sit until he is good enough to play. But you've got these extremely divided groups of people, those who are for Tebow and those who are against Tebow. The college hype adds to this debate, along with the religious debate and actual analytical football debate. There is more at work with this quarterback controversy than simply who is better". There are debates about Tebow's arm strength, accuracy, will to win, "intangibles", and lots of other things that cannot be fully covered in the scope of one article. Heck, I'm not sure that the vastness of the internet will be able to fully explain all the variables at work with this situation.
What you should know about the quarterback controversy is this... you will be tired of hearing about it by the end of the first quarter. Since this game takes place in Denver, it means that the Broncos broadcasters will be covering it. So, don't expect much commentary during the game about the Seahawks defense. Expect to know more than you ever want to know about Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn. If you aren't keen on learning about the meaningless quarterback debates, Boomer Esiason's lambasting of Tebow, Merril Hoge's hatred of Tebow, Joe Montana and Lebron James backing Tebow, or any of the other major Tebow opinions, I suggest muting your television and listening to the broadcast on your favorite Seahawks radio station. That's just a friendly suggestion from a Broncos fan who is tired of hearing about the debate, himself.
If you have any further questions, I’d be more than glad to answer them in the comment section below. And your very own, Jacson, has written a Seattle Seahawks article on Mile High Report. To check that out and add to the discussion, click the link. Once again, has been a pleasure talking with you fine folks at Field Gulls and I wish you all the best during the regular season.