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Published on 11/12/2008 at Wed Nov 12 21:08.
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Michael TurnerWeek 12 Denver heads to Atlanta for their first NFC away game this season. It’s no secret that the Falcons handed the Saints a notch in the L column last week. However, how did that happen? Drew Brees finished second to only Jay Cutler in passing yards Sunday with 422, but gave up three interceptions- including one on his first pass of the game and one at the end of the game which was returned by rookie Falcon Chevis Jackson 95-yards for a touchdown. That interception ultimately lost the game for the Saints.

I’ve heard the whispers about the Falcons looking past the Broncos, but really, you think so? A team in Denver that’s owned their division, stomping on both Tampa Bay and New Orleans- they notice us. Jason Elam and Domonique Foxworth would love nothing more than to say, “Tell Shanahan I said, ‘Wassup?’”

Speaking to a dear friend of mine, and one of the few people that I can actually talk to about the Broncos, I brought up the fact that last time I remember Mike Shanahan ditching a promising cornerback it was Deltha O’Neal- when he played Denver he picked off Jake Plummer and basically beasted the entire game- ending a come-back on Monday Night Football. Foxworth’s playing against his home team (he grew up in Denver), and I’m sure he’d love to beat the team that let him slip away.

Matt Ryanl

Foxworth spent a lot of time pairing up against Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and Brandon Stokley this summer. He knows Cutler’s weaknesses too, you think he hasn’t shared the fact that our young quarterback isn’t sure what a pump-fake is or that he often stares down a receiver to the point of absurdity. Actually anybody with a rewind button could figure that out, but he likely will spread word on why Cutler tends to audible and how based on his eye movement when he’s planning on handing-off? Of course he has.

There will be blood. You bet your sweet ass Atlanta’s going to come out swinging. Denver will come out swinging harder, we lose this game and we’ve lost a lot more than just our hopes for playoff positioning.

Atlanta’s plan coming into the game will be ball control-

I wasn’t at Shanahan’s press conference yesterday, but if I was, I would have asked him why Denver didn’t pursue Michael Turner in free agency this past off-season. I’m willing to bet, if he’d answer honestly, that in his reply there will be the answer to how Denver will focus on stopping him. San Diego let him go for a reason and I don’t think that money was the main factor, Darren Sproles replaced him easily and Sproles ripped Denver but good in Week Two.

Yes, most people are going to tell you shut down Turner and you’ll win. That’s not the case at all, let Turner run for four-hundred yards for all I care, just keep him out of the end-zone. That’s really the key, focus on shutting down Matt Ryan, Mike Jenkins and Roddy White. Let Turner and Jerious Norwood have a field day on our defense, just keepe them from scoring.

Let Dre Bly play bump and run-

It’s the man in his element, fans scream for Bly to be traded/demoted/castrated- but as I said Monday, the man shines brightest without Champ Bailey. That’s because when Champ’s not on the field, Denver allows him to behave as if he is Champ. Put him out on an island, not 15-yards off his man, let him jam his man at the line of scrimmage, let him help that receiver up after he knocks him down.

Look for nine men in the box-

Don’t know if you caught it last week watching any other games, but it’s trending right now in the NFL. Screw eight, let’s get nine men in the box. With Bailey back in the lineup and allowing Bly to man-up on his wide receiver we can put a man like Wesley Woodyard over a tight end and take our chances.

What this will do, is limit Ryan- he’s 149 of 250 and averaging just 7.9 yards per pass. Guess what nine men in a box will do? It’ll clog that eight-yard range that Ryan can throw in. Another thing that that 7.9 average says is that the pass calls have been very conservative and that the Falcons’ coaches are opting for safe, confidence building passes for the young quarterback. Press Bailey and Bly spread nine men through the middle and we can increase the total times Ryan’s been put on his butt this season (12). We’ve just seen Brady Quinn last week, same theory here, younger quarterback with worse receivers.

Atlanta’s defense is liberal-

At least at giving up yardage, they’re ranked 22nd in passing yards and 21st in rushing yards. However, they’re 9th in points allowed. If Cutler can keep gun slinging with laser precision Denver will run away with this game, defense or no defense. Allow Peyton Hillis to spell Cutler’s passes and we’ve got a ball game. Denver is second in the NFL for total offense by the way and yes, great defense wins championships, but a great offense will definitely get you to the playoffs.

Four receiver, one running back-

Q- Pop quiz fantasy football hotshot, you’ve got Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Tony Scheffler, Brandon Stokley and Hillis lining up as Cutler takes the shotgun formation. What do you do?

A- Hold the hell on, this is going to be interesting.

Now as an added bonus, what would you do if Darrell Jackson or Chad Jackson were to march onto the field instead of Hillis? Maybe you’d just crap your pants. I’m not sure…

What about you nation? What did we miss? Look forward to hearing from everyone in the comments!

  • http://broncotalk.net Joe

    I would love to see a field with no running backs at one point. Have Jay in the shotgun, put Stokley in the slot, Marshall on one side, Royal on the next, Have Sheffler and Graham on the line, and than have Chad Jackson in the other slot across from Stokley. Imagine. That would be six recievers and one hell of a Quarterback. Theres no way that they could hold down all six recievers. Royal and Chad Jackson have break-away speed, teams always have to double cover Marshall, Stokley finds his way open always for about 8-10 yards, and have both the tight ends going on seem-routs? That would do strait up work. No one could stop us. Than on a first down, take Hillis behind Jay as a lone back, and still have all the recievers out there besides Stokley? Jay would still have 5 recievers and a RB that can go in the flats and have the TE’s go up-field. This would put any team (especially Atlanta, who has a ton of young players), in a lot of trouble. Cutler would have 400 yard games out the ass, just cause there would not be enough people to cover all the recievers and “respect” the run, even if Hillis is going into the flats.

  • T-Money

    Good. I hope the over look us. So we can send eddie royal falcon hunting and let bell surprise everyone and run all over the place. I’m feeling something special is about to happen.

  • T-Money

    And I think Joe nailed it. Do it through the air baby.

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

    Joe-

    Great comment man, can’t quite do the four recievers/two tight ends though. We’d have no one left to throw the ball =) Unless went four linemen…

    However, yes, you grasped the general idea. Klis I believe brought it up in his mailbag, the idea that, ‘Hey, the two-minute offense works so effectively, why don’t we just run that the whole game?” He had a sarcastic answer, but hell- it works for the Colts and wanting a Peyton Manning is what made Shanahan jump forward in the draft and nab Jay Cutler…

    So maybe we will see it.

  • http://merlinofchaos.livejournal.com E. Halsey Miles

    You can’t have more than 5 people on the field eligible to catch the ball. That’s why you occasionally hear about tackles being declared as eligible and stuff.

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

    Earl-

    Now, you’re just being mean aren’t you? The man made a mistake =P

    Actually, Kyle and I talked about this over the summer and it’s getting very popular in High School football. a team lines up with a center and five men who are basically tight ends… Three in the middle, and the rest split out. QB goes shot gun and two men ‘zone-block”.

    With the success of the wildcat offense, it’s only a matter of time. Imagine the possibilities not knowing who will block and who will run into a passing route.

  • olen

    I like the name “Popcorn” instead of “Wildcat” because a receiver is popping up everywhere .

  • MikeY55

    haha technically there are 6 eligible players that can catch a pass( the quarterback is considered an eligible receiver!!!) and even if u did put the the extra guy out there he would only be able to block but… i really don’t think thats a good idea…expect to run 2-3 routes tops cause he will be on whatever side abraham is helping out one of the ryans… and no matter what u say about our receivers its always gonna be hard to play 1 dimensionally…cleveland was a tough win if torain was still there would have been easier. we need to set up the run WITH the pass open up passing go to some running after its softened up coverage then get to the bootlegs thats what i would like to see. don’t be surprised if cutler throws deep first pass! thats my prediction for the game

  • robtink242

    If I was Bell I’ll toke this rock all over the place. if he can average 70 -80 yards a game he’ll be a Bronco next year(bye Andre Hall).

  • Patrick

    Foxworth grew up in Denver? I didn’t think he had been here til he was drafted?

  • http://broncotalk.net Joe

    T-Money-
    I think your right, also. I feel something special is going to happen this game. I think Royal will have his way with the falcons. I still think it would be cool to have him and Chad Jackson on the field along with Marshall. Jackson and Royal have that break away speed that causes corners hell.

    Ian-
    Thanks! I think Denver will come away with this win, because of our skilled WR’s. If Bell is in good-enough shape, lets give him a few carries, and than send him into the flats with his speed and watch him break one.
    As far as our division goes, though, Do you think that San Diego will fall to the Steelers?

  • flbronc

    sd should fall to the steelers. their defense is pretty good against sd’s overhyped offense. the question is does big ben play… if he does, i think that they win in a close one.

    i totally agree with the thought process of moving to a two minute offnese similar to the colts. that will let us exploit the defense we are up against over and over… we certainly have the recievers to play like that, and i think that cutler can adapt to it. lets face it, our running game isnt a weapon anymore, and unfortunately that takes away play action- i mean if a lb or db bites on play action against us they are probably going to get benched after two or three times.

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

    Joe-

    San Diego is reaping the rewards of their great season last year and have a very tough schedule ahead of them. I think they lose to Pittsburgh, they probably win against Indianapolis. However, the Indianapolis game is a must win for Indy- they won’t make the playoffs losing any games this month. They also have Atlanta, Tampa and Denver left on the schedule.

  • http://broncotalk.net Joe

    Ian-

    Thats what I am thinking to. But I think that they will lose to the Steelers, The Colts, Tampa, and Denver. So I really believe that Denver will be on top of the division this year. Now it just comes down to where we’re going to be seated in the playoffs.

  • Mark in Carolina

    ” just 7.9 yards per pass”>
    Ryan is actually averaging 7.6 YPA (per nfl.com), which is 8th in the league ahead of guys like Aaron Rogers, McNabb, Romo, and both Mannings. In fact, in terms of YPA Ryan is virtually tied with Cutler.

    In terms of YPC, he is averaging 12.8, which is 4th in the league, behind only Romo, Rivers, and O’Sullivan. Additionally, Ryan has 25 completions over 20 yards (7th in the league) and 6 over 40 (6th in the league).

    Ryan is simply not throwing only short to intermediate routes, he is throwing deep as well – and successfully at that. Sticking 9 in the box could be disastrous.

    This D has made QB’s look better than they are all season. Ryan has looked pretty good so far, it’s likely that we will make him look fantastic.

  • Broncoholic

    Win/Loss record of teams ATL has beat: 16-38, .296. Falcons record vs teams above .500: 1-3. Their playing well, but they have been beating weak teams and losing to legit teams. While people could make the same argument against us, most of the games we have lost it was because we beat ourselves. I like our chances this Sunday. Our D is suspect, but mainly because of injuries. Their D is suspect as well (especially their secondary) and not because they are banged up. I think a shoot-out is in store and I think our offense is more potent. I predict another Cutler 4th qtr comeback.

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

    Mark in Carolina- That was considered, while I respectfully disagree, his YPA puts him far further down than than 8th. For instance, guys like Troy Smith, Antwon Randel El and Ronnie Brown are all killing him in YPA- it wasn’t really my point.

    I guess allow me to clarify, yes, Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler are the same at 7.6 Y/A- Cutler throws for around 300-yards per game, Ryan’s at around 200-yards per game. Ryan’s also been sacked 12 times this season, he’s struggled against: Tampa, Carolina and Philadelphia. Tampa and Carolina have similar schemes to Denver’s D, however it was Philadelphia’s nine men in the box that led to Ryan’s 68.1 QB Rating, two interception, two sack day… Why get your feet dirty when you can walk in the footprints another man has made?

    You’re absolutely correct about Denver making QB’s look great, but we’ve also beat two that the NFL had to offer (Drew Brees and Philip Rivers [hurts me to even say that]). Ryan will have a good day, I think that we can get in his face and I think that we’ve got a lot of new legs that have a half of a season under their belt.

    Broncoholic- Another great point, really don’t know if my adrenal glands can do another 4th Quarter comeback… But the fan in me kind of wants it, last week was the first time all season that I was able to say, “We’ve got them exactly where we want them,” after that bomb to Eddie Royal.

  • olen

    NO—TURN—OVERS and a whole bunch of take aways for Denvers would be nice.

  • Mark in Carolina

    Ian,

    the YPA stat per nfl.com is for guys averaging with >14 attempts/game – that rules out the gadget guys like ARE and Brown.

    Regardless, I don’t think we have the personnel to be able to do what top D’s like Philly can do – we simply can’t. NFL.com lists philly @ 6th in pass D, where Denver is 28th. On average so far, we’ve given up 50 more yards per game than Philly has – it’s a significant difference. Philly D has a reputation for being tough on QB’s with exotic blitz schemes – Denver has a reputation for allowing the easy 8 yard completion. Philly opposing QB’s have averaged a QB rating of 76.2, Denver opponent QB’s have averaged 103.2. Tampa and Carolina are even better than Philly. While I applaud the sentiment that we should be more like them, I have significant doubts that is feasible, especially given our injury status.

    I think the defensive strategy needs to be contain – bend, don’t break. FG’s, not TD’s. On offense, outscore, but manage time of possession and most importantly, no turnovers. That’s how we beat Rivers/Brees – Brees, in particular, passed for >400 yards but only one TD. Rivers – well, we outscored them, pure an simple.

    I, personally, have come to accept that this is the worst D I have ever seen line up in a (predominantly) orange uniform. My expectations are therefore tempered, so take my lack of optimism for what it’s worth.