Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gameday: Denver Broncos

8:00 pm
Invesco Field at Mile High

What to Watch For:

1. Offensive Line. Speculation has been flying this week that center Justin Hartwig isn't going to make the final roster cut. Why? Because first round pick Maurkice Pouncey has been an absolute monster. The Steelers O-line still has a long way to go to become one of the elite lines in the league, but they have looked better with each game. The starting 5 seem to be more or less figured out at this point: Starks, Kemoeatu, Pouncey, Essex, Adams. However, guys like Jonathan Scott, Tony Hills, and Kraig Urbik are battling for roster spots. The young guys have looked good so far this year, but that has been against 2nd and 3rd team defenses. It would be nice to see some of them thrown in there against first team competition to see how they fare.

2. Wide Receivers. Conventional wisdom is that the Steelers will keep 6 wide receivers. We've been ecstatic over what we've seen from Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown so far in the preseason. We're looking for even more from them tonight as they continue to grow into their roles in the offense.

3. Playing time with the first team. The third preseason game is usually the one where the starters see extended playing time, sometimes into the second half. Given the Steelers current situation at quarterback and the position battles elsewhere, it will be interesting to see how many reps certain players get with the first team. Tomlin has already said that Dennis Dixon will get to take some reps with the first team offense.

4. Safeties. With Ryan Clark out, this will be an excellent opportunity to see what Will Allen and Ryan Mundy can bring to the table. As we saw last year, the safety position is one of the most important on the defense. Knowing that we have capable backups in the secondary will go a long way to helping this defense.

5. Outside linebacker. Jason Worlids played a decent first game, but no one has separated themselves from the competition for the #3 OLB position yet. The Steelers will definitely keep Worlids on the roster, as he was their #2 draft pick this year. However, between Thaddeus Gibson and Patrick Bailey, the competition is still on for who will become the top backup at OLB.

Like the first two preseason games, they were basically exhibitions. The young guys showed some good stuff and the coaches got to see a lot of the take a lot of reps. But now it's big game time. The Steelers will have to make their first roster cut after this week's game. This might be the final audition for some players. Also, the starters generally play at least half of the game in the third preseason game, giving it the feel of a regular season game. Along the same lines, our Behind Enemy Lines guest this week brought his regular season form, not shying away from bashing the Steelers in his answers. Solid. But don't expect us not to bash back.

This week's guest is Ian from Bronco Talk. Don't like their responses? Job them on Twitter: @BroncoTalk

1. Both teams have two games under their belt. The Steelers are 2-0 and the Broncos are 0-2. However, as we all know, preseason records don't really mean much. Detroit went 4-0 before their 0-16 season. Obviously, winning isn't nearly as important as seeing the young players develop and not having any key injuries. That being said, what are you looking for out of the Broncos for this game to be considered a "success"?

Getting to see the number one Denver Broncos' offense matched up against the number one Pittsburgh Steelers' defense. The Broncos top offense has been incendiary against the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals defense in the last two weeks. Kyle Orton looks prolific, as does Jabar Gaffney, Eddie Royal, Marquez Branson and anyone the Broncos decide to stick at running back. It will be very interesting to see this Denver offense matched up for three quarters against a stellar Pittsburgh defense.

Our first string defense is something to look at, but with all of the injuries and the Steelers debating between Dennis Dixon and Bryron Chamberlin it's the same-old, same-old. The Broncos defense, due to injuries and the preseason schedule has yet to be tested, truly in this preseason. They still don't look like they're going to get a true test until week three in the regular season.

2. Denver's defense took a big hit when Elvis Dumervil went down for the season. Has anyone shown the potential to step up and replace him so far in the preseason? How do you feel about the state of Denver's defense heading into the season?

No one can replace Elvis Dumervil except Dumervil. Yes, he was a monster last season, however, Josh McDaniels runs a system. As did the Broncos in every season Dumervil was successful. So take that for what it is; was it Denver's blindside success because of the system or did Denver have a blindside rush because its defense?

You want the low down on Dumervil? The man is a freak, he's expected to be replaced by a first round draft pick in Robert Ayers (who was the definition of disappointment last season) and a player (who was another first round draft pick) Jarvis Moss who has been a disappointment his entire career and even contemplated retirement last preseason. That's how much the Broncos care who is rushing in as the ROLB. Dumervil won't be missed, he will remain on the 53 man roster, play sometime in November/December and contribute nothing ultimately to the Broncos overall.

Denver's defense however, they're in good shape, you've got too many super fly brothers on that side of the ball to count out. Jamal Williams and you're screwed, put D.J. Williams behind him and follow that up with a secondary that includes Champ Bailey, Brian Dawkins and Andre Goodman-- that spells good night my friend. Someone's going to get to the quarterback, I don't care who it is.  

3. Denver traded away a lot to draft Tim Tebow. Is it true that, like Superman being closer to the sun, he'll play better in Denver because it's closer to heaven?

Tim Tebow is a non factor for the Broncos this season (at worst). I hope, from the depths of my heart, that there are actual packages in place for Tebow, because the man will not be denied a touchdown... However, in Denver, the guy's a third string quarterback. A prolific one at that, but he's still a third-stringer. Prolific or not he knows his role and will fill it.

4. Any under-the-radar players that you think will be big surprises this year?

Jabar Gaffney. Seriously, get laughed at in the 7th round in your Fantasy Football drafts when you draft him, who cares. Knowshon Moreno is pretty much on everyone's radar now, but the guy's set to kill and if you want to laugh at Kyle Orton, just look at his preseason stats. Going into Pittsburgh, the kid has had like seven possessions and scored on at least five of them...

All scary picks I know, but the value is there. Make the Broncos your sleepers and I'm serious.

On top of that there's always Eddie Royal, who I don't have a ton of faith in, but he's ultimately the most talented out of everyone I just pointed out earlier. 

5. Any other final thoughts?

Pittsburgh, they're the worst fans to see in a bar, because they're the most ignorant. They know the Steelers and don't know much else. They cheer and are basically ignorant to anything else.

That being said, I respect that.

I'll be watching the game at home in Manhattan for that exact reason. I don't have the muscle to punch a Steeler's fan's nose in.

That's all.

You've got a choice Byron Leftwhich or Dennis Dixon, there ain't a damn one of you who would draft either in Fantasy Football. Pray to the football Gods that your defense can overachieve until Ben Roethlisberger gets out of his suspension, because once Big Ben is out you won't have a worry in the world. 

He's got a point here. We wouldn't draft Lord Byron or DTM in a fantasy league. But last time we checked, fantasy football was exactly that, fantasy. We don't need a Top 5 fantasy quarterback. All we need is a quarterback that wins games. Last time we checked, a 7-6 win counted just as much as a 42-10 win. It doesn't matter how you do it, just as long as you win the game.

Also, we're not quite sure what he means by hoping that our defense can overachieve. The Steelers were 5th in Total Defense last season, and we've added depth to that unit. Plus, getting Polamalu and Aaron Smith back will be a huge improvement to a defense that was already a Top 5 unit. Interesting that he goes on a rant about how Steelers fans are ignorant about other teams, then shows an utter misunderstanding of the Steelers defense.

Go Steelers!

1 comment:

Ian said...

Thanks for posting the question and answer.

I think I should clear it up a bit given your editorial at the end. I'm not ignorant to much when it comes to the NFL. I am aware of the Steelers and their defense. I think the defense will need to overachieve in order to make up for the fact that the team is playing without a quarterback.

Best of luck to you guys this year!