Posted Thu Sep 4th by Ian Henson
BroncoTalk’s week-long Denver Broncos 2008 Season Preview continues… Enjoy!
“It’s hard for the quarterback to throw with tears in his eyes…” – Buddy Ryan
In 2007, I managed to watch nearly all of the New York Giants games last season, as well as nearly all of the New England Patriots games. Living in Manhattan, it’s tough to get the Denver Broncos on cable, thus I like Direct TV. What I saw while observing the Giants, especially during the later part of their season and into their successful playoff run was not a scheme necessarily, but a player set. The absence of scheme created chaos and chaos turned out to be impossible to interpret for opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks. The Giants were extremely gifted, to say the least, with their front four. Though, it’s likely that you’ll only see one in the Hall of Fame. Contrast that with the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers (four members in thee Hall of Fame, eight pro bowlers), who are arguably the greatest defense of all time.
In watching the Patriots, especially once the undefeated record became a reality, what I got to see was some of the greatest offense ever played in the NFL. This offense was required, because teams were playing the Patriots with nothing to lose, to non-playoff teams this was the Super Bowl. Anyone remember the Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens game? The Ravens (then 4-7) were two yards on a hail mary pass from beating the Patriots and squashing their undefeated season. They were able to stay close because of their scheme, but the Patriots weren’t able to control the game until very, very late in the game. All due to chaos, the Patriots weren’t able to game-plan for the Ravens because they were running schemes that hadn’t been run until that game. The reason the Patriots won? The Ravens went into prevent defense and Tom Brady picked them apart on his final drive. There never was a pass rush on that final drive. Ultimately, the Ravens lost 27-24.
If I had to offer a epitaph to the 2007 Denver Bronco defense it would contain the sentencing, “We were in prevent defense most of the season…” There’s no scape goat, you will find no mention of scheme coming from me, nor will I mention rookies, veterans or former defensive coordinators. It’s past and let it be, let us look to this season. In reality, the 2007 Broncos are very similar to the 2008 Broncos, defensively. Denver signed two high profile defensive players (Boss Bailey and Niko Koutouvides), neither is expected to have much of a roll in Monday night’s game. Though Bailey could very well surprise us all and have very active participation.
However, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Anything excite you about the Denver Broncos preseason defense? Yeah, we did well against an impressive Dallas Cowboys offensive and even our second-team did well against the starting Green Bay Packers. Yet, what has to get my greatest emphasis is two quarters- both fourth quarters, but they happened in the first game (against the Houston Texans) and in the final game (against the Phoenix Cardinals).
While playing against Mike Shanahan’s greatest protege Gary Kubiak’s Texans, perhaps as a tip of the hat to his son Kyle Shanahan (the new offensive coordinator for the Texans); the Broncos unleashed a quick punch to the gut. In the form of Christian Morton of all people, Morton was cut the following week by the Broncos. Yet, against the Texans he made his career highlight reel. The Broncos were unrelenting late in the fourth quarter, peeling off cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers to rush the quarterback. All of this with their third-team defense. I’ve said this before, but imagine what will come of it when that man ignoring the bump on his receiver and just heading full steam ahead at the opposing QB is Dre Bly or even better Champ Bailey. Who do you think wins that one? The fans of Denver of course. I’ve never broken my television screen, but this may be the year, as it is the only logical reaction to a play like that.
Now let’s look deep, deep into that game against the Cardinals. The Broncos defense had laid low, nothing spectacular, just holding well against Green Bay and Dallas. Steady as she goes through most of the Phoenix game, then, once again third-stringers and Denver Bronco fans… Meet Wesley Woodyard, he’s the guy with two sacks and six tackles on the night. He came in, in the fourth quarter or you may know him as Cardinals fourth-string quarterback Anthony Morelli knew him, as, “Please block number fifty ****ing nine!” The Broncos would also like to introduce Spencer Larsen, he’s our third-string fullback, he likes fumbles or maybe another rookie, fan favorite, cornerback Jack “Bauer Power” Williams (I know that’s not his nickname, but this is a family site).
A nice little taste of things to come for all fans, as the Broncos revealed both, their scheme and their chaos… Only for a moment in the two quarters… And it was perfect.