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Published on 09/17/2008 at Wed Sep 17 21:29.
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Reggie Bush vs. Washington Redskins

Reggie Bush vs. Washington Redskins

Quick facts: Mike Shanahan is 2-1 versus the New Orleans SaintsDrew Brees has been hurt twice against Denver in his career (one of which ushered in the Philip Rivers‘ era). Former Denver WR Keary Colbert posted his best game last season against New Orleans (4 for 74 yards, including one 49 yard reception). RB Michael Pittman was born in New Orleans, LA, and has posted one of his ten 100 yard games against the Saints.

***

The New Orleans Saints were a sexy pick to make the playoffs… Last season, but this season, they have had their moments of brilliance and they’ve had their middle-tier-team moments. In week one against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers they were able to pick apart a very strong defense. It is of note that the Buccaneers sat starting quarterback Jeff Garcia, mysteriously, following this game. Garcia claimed that he was healthy enough to play in week two, yet backup Brian Griese got the starting job in week two for the Bucs. All of this amidst rumors that Tampa had offered Garcia to the San Francisco 49ers.

The only reason that I mention all of this, is because the Saints were able to beat the Buccaneers, but was it because of the lack of power from the Buccaneers offense? Who is to say, but Garcia’s listed as the third-string quarterback going into week three for the Bucs.

The Saints owned the game most of last week versus the Washington Redskins, but like the Broncos, allowed the opposing team to get back in the game in the second half. However, unlike the Broncos, the Saints ultimately lost.

How were the Redskins able to defeat the Saints? Well, by neutralizing running back Reggie Bush. Bush wasn’t much of a rushing threat, nor was he much of a force on offense at all, he ran a punt return back 55-yards for a touchdown.

Quarterback Drew Brees was 22 of 33 passes for 216 yards with a touchdown pass and two interceptions. Bush led the Saints with 146 all purpose yards. Washington out gained New Orleans in yardage 455-250 and held the ball for 33:43 of the contest compared to 26:46 for the Skins. Bush led the Saints in both rushing (28 yards) and receiving (seven catches for 63 yards).

Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell completed 22 of 33 passes for 321 yards with one touchdown pass. Washington wide receiver Santana Moss recorded seven catches for 164 yards with one touchdown. Redskins running back Clinton Portis rushed 21 times for 96 yards, including eight and nine yard touchdown scampers.

The Saints had three rookies in the starting lineup (LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, DT Sedrick Ellis and CB Tracy Porter).

Where the Broncos will run into major problems

Reggie Bush on special teams: Think Darren Sproles was a problem? Well, think Devin Hester on this one, Sproles was a misprint compared to what Bush is capable of doing with the ball on a return.

Redzone Defense: The Broncos have played the, ‘Bend, but don’t break,’ defense to near perfection when inside the redzone this season. However, the Saints in 2007 were the number one offense in scoring when inside the redzone. In 50 trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, the Saints scored 36 touchdowns for a 72.0 percent effectiveness rate. Drew Brees had an NFL-best 116.8 passer rating in in the red zone, completing 60-of-84 passes (71.4 percent) for 314 yards, 23 TD passes, zero sacks taken and zero interceptions.

This season, the Saints are ranked for eighth in the NFL and third in the NFC in red zone touchdown percentage (66.7) through two games.

Leading going into the fourth quarter: If Denver’s not winning going in the the fourth quarter, then it is of note that Saints’ head coach Sean Payton is 17-3 in his career and would most likely pull through with the victory.

Deuce McAllister: He’s back and barring any major setback in practice this week, he’s looking to be back in the starting lineup. He can hurt in a number of ways, not just in the way that he can run the ball, but on passing downs. He’s one of the best blocking backs in the league in pass protection, this will slow down the first tier of Broncos lineman who are able to get penetration. He is the man in the short yardage game as well, a spot where, had he been more of a presence, the Saints may be marching into Denver 2-0, instead of 1-1.

How does Denver win?

Pressure all day on Drew Brees: Brees is an incredible quarterback, but as I mentioned in the Quick Facts portion, Brees has been hurt twice against the Broncos (both as a Charger). So the Broncos, at least at one point knew how to get at him and get to him. Speaking of sacking a quarterback, what happened to blitzing packages that we saw in training camp? Put Jarvis Moss back on the active roster, bookend him opposite Elvis Dumervil, stick Ebenezer Ekuban and Dewayne Robertson or Marcus Thomas in the middle and let’s see what happens. Let’s see what happens with Jack Williams in the nickel spot instead of Karl Paymah and let Dre Bly or Champ Bailey peel off the corner and steam roll a quarterback. Conservative defense is what got us into that god damned gun-slinging match-up against the Chargers.

Champ Bailey’s reemergence as a shut-down corner: Is it me or are quarterbacks going extra hard at Champ over the last three seasons? Bailey’s a future Hall of Famer and these aren’t his twilight years, this is the man’s prime, let’s see the tenacity and audacity of the old Champ. We saw a bit of it on the second play against Philip Rivers and the Chargers. However, that’s not enough, the Saints are without their best receiver and have relegated his looks to their running back.

Passing: The Buccaneers didn’t and the Redskins did, the running back by committee is a concern for fantasy players. It’s working perfectly in Denver, fresh legs, 5.4 yard averages per-carry. It really doesn’t matter who is running the ball. Denver needs to supplement Brandon Marshall for their running game once again and Jay Cutler needs to connect with Brandon Stokley whenever possible. With Eddie Royal available on deep routes, Darrell Jackson will also be a factor, if in fact he is active/healthy. This is all not mentioning Tony Scheffler, who is still Cutler’s favorite target, no matter what Marshall’s 18 catches said last week.

Don’t let Jeremy Shockey become a factor: Boss Bailey got very, very lucky on a couple of over-throws to Antonio Gates or it could have gotten really ugly early. Let’s not take our chances two-weeks in a row. When facing a top 10 tight end, like Jeremy Shockey, the Broncos must blanket them, speed wise, Boss owns Shockey. Get at Shockey’s ego early and neutralize him.

UPDATE: According to ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson, Jarvis Moss is set to make his debut Sunday. [ESPN]

Nation, what are your keys to your favorite team winning this weekend? Predictions on where Cutler and co. fair following Sunday, are they still number one or will the Broncos have to rush a little bit more? And the defense… Where do they stand after this weekend, do you agree with me on the blitz packages? Want to see Dre Bly and Marlon McCree in the backfield more often?

  • http://broncotalk.net Joe

    Denver is going to come away with this as a win. To me, this is like playing the Raiders, exception with a more experienced QB. But as you said, Ian, he will be without their top reciever. I have yet to hear anything good about their defense. And is everyone forgetting how Denver is AVERGING 40 points a game?! The Saints defense is no better than the Raiders. To me, Deuce’s days are over. His injurys are holding him from doin anything. And plus, they were thinking about getting rid of him this season, so they even think is he not the player he once was. So, with that said, if we hold out Bush like we did to LT, game over. The only other offensive wepon they have is Shockey, whom with Boss, should not be a problem. And back to our offense, Cutler is on fire. He has played amazing ball, and the Saints dont even have ONE good corner. With that said, how are they supposed to stop B-Marsh, who just broke the reception record for Denver and tied for second in the NFL, Eddie Royal, Stokley, and Sheffler? We have to find a team that can stop them, and the Chargers defense is way better than the Saints. And lets not forget our backs. We pass a lot now, so when they get the carry, its fresh legs. A little screen pass to Young, and you got yards. A stretch or blast with Hall, you got yards. And Pittman goes straight up the ass of the competition in the middle, so we got touchdowns. I predict a 38 to 14 victory the Saints. At least.

  • http://broncotalk.net Joe

    And our offensive yards are averaging 464.4 a game. Saints are in for a looong game. Especially since its here at INVESCO!!

  • http://broncos-denver-broncos.blogspot.com/ Ian Henson

    Good points Joe, to me though, their offense is still very good. You can never count Drew Brees out, he’s been one of the best quarterbacks in the league for awhile now. Targets or not…

    Their defense isn’t much, but they killed Tampa, who has a very good defense, through the air. Tampa’s defense is very good in my opinion, one of the best in the NFC…

  • http://birty.blogspot.com mikebirty

    all i want to see is some pressure on the qb and a few turnovers – or even just opportunities of turn overs, i don’t care at this point if they drop the interceptions or fail to recover the fumbles – lets just make something happen. Hell in fact i’d settle for a nice solid performance by the d. Let’s hope the fire the lit under jarvis moss works.

  • flbronc

    if duce is back we have to watch their running game. i’m not sold on our run d at all. if they contain duce and bush, i’ll feel so much better about it. hopefully we can force brees to have to pass, then in turn we can get an inkling of pressure on him, unlike phyllis last week. i’m hoping we dont give up points on st either.

    imo their defnese is decent, but not as good as sd(even w/o merriman). if we can carve them up, we shouldnt have much of a problem scoring.

  • http://broncos-denver-broncos.blogspot.com/ Ian Henson

    Top 4 Broncos Defensive stats:

    Category – Stat – NFL Rank
    Points: 26.0 (26th). Yards against: 381.5 (27th). Passing Yards: 266.5 (29th)
    Rushing Yards: 115.0 (21st).

  • LorDog

    Ian, those Defensive stats speak volumes! Like everyone is saying, we need to see something from our D! Pressure on the quarterback is huge but I fear we’re not rushing our corners in becuase we don’t trust the linebacking crew. Am I wrong?

  • Bronco Fan in AL

    Great article. But didn’t the Broncos trade Keary Colbert to Seattle? Also, I think you meant to say the Broncos are getting 5.4 yd/carry, not 5.4 per game.

    I’m not sure I agree that these are Champ Bailey’s prime years. He’s already 30 and I think he’s lost a step. I can’t remember when in the previous years I saw Bailey get beaten deep by a receiver like he did by Chris Chambers last Sunday.

    Champ also doesn’t seem to be in the right positions on short plays, plays that in the past he read and either knocked down or intercepted. In the past, teams didn’t dare go after him, but in the Chargers game it felt like open season. I think, again, this is due to the fact he’s lost a step. He has to play off the receivers so they don’t get past him deep where he knows he 1) can’t catch up and 2) he has little or no support from the safeties.

    And that “interception” on Sunday was no interception. It was Champ scrapping for the ball after the receiver caught it in an attempt to make an early game changing play (maybe because he knows no one else on the team will do it). It was a wily veteran play that you might see from someone past their prime.

    All in all, though, Champ is still a solid corner. He’s the team’s best tackler for sure (not sure if that’s a good thing for the team, though). I’d say he’s like Ray Crockett during the Super Bowl years. Solid, reliable, but not a shut-down corner.

  • http://www.broncotalk.net Josh Temple

    We just can’t let Bush go all Darren Sproles on us.

  • http://broncos-denver-broncos.blogspot.com/ Ian Henson

    LorDog- It is alarming, I just don’t know how alarming yet. New Orleans has all of the means to dislocate our defense. I think the fact that Jarvis Moss is going to be back on the active lineup speaks to the fact that the Broncos understand that they need to get pressure on the quarterback. Where as before we were playing very tough rushing offenses and had to use our resources accordingly.

    All of this is shaping up to be eerily similar to a game we had in week three last season, against the Indianapolis Colts. Remember starting four defensive ends on the line and just an all out blitzkrieg at Peyton Manning. We had them until the end of the second-quarter. They were able to get their game plan back together during half-time and it was all downhill on our season from there.

    Then again, as long as I’m talking about Indianapolis, remember when they killed everyone offensively and had the 31st rank rush defense? Defense wins championships, it doesn’t necessarily win every game on the way to the championship.

  • http://broncos-denver-broncos.blogspot.com/ Ian Henson

    BF in AL- Thank you very much. Yes, i knew about the Keary Colbert thing, I started this post last Monday when he was still a Bronco, so I added the “former” in there.

    As for Champ – As John Lynch liked to point out often, corners can literally shut down their receiver 99.9% of the time, it’s the .1% that everyone notices. Champ’s been beat by everyone, I think it was two years ago when Terrell Owens juked him and Champ feel to the ground with a pulled hamstring or calf (can’t remember). There were a few plays last season, I remember one in the end zone against Chicago… But I digress.

    Where Champ has been incredible is on those Kick off return saves. Both last season and this season…

  • Big City Wolf

    I wanna put down $100 on Brees & my Saints, but will Shanahan & Cutler be bending over for the refs this time, since they can’t win on their own?

  • james red

    big city that comment is stupid they can and the broncos will dismantle your team your the raiders with a better qb that is probably shelled shocked when he plays us since we hurt him twice