Broncos Make Significant Improvements in 31-14 Win Over Seahawks

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 19: Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 19 2010 in Denver Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Seahawks 31-14. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)


Week one killed the hopes of many Broncos fans when they travelled to Jacksonville and lost a messy game to the Jaguars, but week two was a completely different story.

Playing in their second straight week of record breaking heat, the Denver Broncos came home to a pumped up crowd and handled the Seattle Seahawks, winning their 11th straight home opener 31-14.

Seattle was not expected to be anything special this season, but they came out and dominated the San Francisco 49ers in week one with a 31-6 blowout.  Whatever they did well in week one, though, they did poorly in week two when they came to Denver.  The Broncos forced four turnovers, and played almost mistake-free football against Seattle on the way to their first victory of the 2010 campaign.

Compared to their week one performances, these two teams looked like polar opposites.

There is a lot to be excited about if you are a Broncos fan, and first and foremost, enjoy the win tonight.  Tuesday morning begins the next week of preparation, so soak it in for now, but you can bet some if not most of the team is already thinking about Indianapolis, probably even scouting them as they play their Sunday night game.

Before we start getting into Indianapolis, let's take a look at what the Broncos did well in their impressive week two performance.

 Quick Stats

  • 5 more plays of 20+ yards this weekend from the passing game
  • In his last three games, Kyle Orton leads the NFL in both passing yards (1,033) and 25-yd passes (12).
  • The Broncos' 70% success rate on 3rd dwn. vs. Seattle tied for the 4th-best mark in the NFL in the last 20 years (min. 20 att.)
  • Broncos had rookies with a fumble recovery, interception, receiving touchdown, and two who allowed no sacks in pass protection. As much is being talked about Kansas City's rookie class...
  • With a +4 turnover ratio vs. Seattle, Broncos won turnover battle for 10th time in Coach McDaniels' 18 games (T-4th most in NFL)
  • Every team in the AFC West won their game on Sunday. The NFC West was not so lucky, going 0-3 with the 49ers hosting the Saints tomorrow night.

Top Performers

Kyle Orton, QB

I think you saw the fruits of Orton's offseason labor on Sunday.  He was precise, confident, and despite a shaky offensive line once again, he was able to put together a fantastic game which inlcluded 306 yards on 25 completions and two touchdowns.  The most important stat?  No interceptions.

Orton found seven different receivers, but seemed to really enjoy his new toy, rookie receiver Demaryius Thomas.  Orton threw at Thomas nine times, and they connected on eight for 97 yards and a 21 yard score that put the Broncos ahead by 24 points.

Right now, Orton is playing lights out football.  The Broncos are going to need that heading into the Colts game next week.  Orton made a lot of good plays on Sunday, and looked much more sharp than he did against the Jaguars.  A fantastic performance by the Broncos' starting quarterback.

 

Demaryius Thomas, WR

Despite the skeptics, the foot injury, and the lack of pure experience, Thomas was able to put together a very, very impressive professional debut.  Thomas finished the game with eight catches for 97 yards and a touchdown, and definitely provided a boost to an already strong point of Denver's passing attack.

Thomas' foot injury didn't seem to have any effect on his play, but you could tell the coaching staff was cautious about playing him too much, as he probably could have had even more of an impact than he ended up having. 

Still, this peformance was extremely encouraging from Thomas, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the season holds in regards to him.  Perhaps the Broncos will also figure out a way to incorporate Eric Decker and Matthew Willis into this offense, strengthening even further a unit that seems to be one of the better ones in all of football.

 

Secondary/Coverage

After their performance in week one against the Jaguars, many of us thought this unit was way off track.  It appears as though we might have jumped on them too quickly there.  The Broncos forced no turnovers in week one, and on Sunday, they picked off Matt Hasselbeck three times.

The Seahawks' opening drive went down to the one yard line, and two penalties later, they were forced to throw.  Champ Bailey made Hasselbeck pay, picking off a pass near the goal line and giving the ball back to the Broncos.

On another promising drive from the Seahawks, Brian Dawkins stepped in front of a long pass intended for John Carlson and picked it off.

Late in the game, Perrish Cox beatifully read a short route and intercepted a Hasselbeck to cap off a fantastic day by this unit.  No Seattle receiver went over 53 yards, and Hasselbeck was held to 233 yards overall.  There was also a critical 4th and short when the Broncos led by 17, and Hasselbeck tested Champ Bailey in the back of the end zone.  Despite a massive overthrow on the play, testing Bailey in one-on-one coverage on fourth down is a terrible idea no matter what.

There were also some very fine plays in coverage by our linebackers, who kept John Carlson relatively in check.

 

Knowshon Moreno

Not a great game running from Moreno, who had his second touchdown in as many games, but another very solid output overall.  Moreno had 118 total yards of offense, and showed how valuable he can be in the passing game when he turned a broken screen play into the longest play of the day for the Broncos, showing good balance and elusiveness on the way to a 45 yard gain.

Moreno averaged a very poor 2.1 yards per carry, which in my opinion is unacceptable.  That has as much to do with our poor run blocking as it does with Moreno, but the Broncos don't really seem to have a big play threat from the RB position because they are unable to really establish anything in that regard.  Obviously, this will need to improve.

Even so, the running game and Moreno were able to punch the ball in for six from a yard out twice, putting six points on the board rather than three, which is something we saw a lot last year.

Moreno's first two weeks are encouraging signs of promise to me, but that blocking up front needs to get better.

 

Rookies

Because they were on a national stage, the Kansas City Cheifs' rookie class got a ton of recognition for their Monday night performance a week ago.  Today's performance by Denver's rookies blew that performance out of the water.

We already touched on Demaryius Thomas, who looked great in his professional debut.

Perrish Cox had a late game interception, but he didn't look quite as explosive as a return man.  Hopefully that comes with some more experience, but to be fair, he wasn't given many opportunities on kick returns.

Cassius Vaughn had a huge fumble recovery early in the game, and displayed his fantastic speed to cover a great punt by Britton Colquitt.  Vaughn also held his own in coverage.

J.D. Walton and Zane Beadles improved greatly from their week one performance, where the offensive line allowed three sacks.  This week, Beadles and Walton both held their own, not allowing a single sack.  The one recorded sack came when Kyle Orton took a dive behind the line of scrimmage unnecessarily when he should have simply thrown the ball away.  I'm not going to peg that one on any guy on the line.  A nice improvement from both players in pass protection, but still work to be done in the running game, undoubtedly. 

Also, no penalties from either player. 

A solid performance from Denver's rookie class on Sunday.

 

Matt Prater, K

Matt Prater, simply put, is money in the bank.  He nailed an easy field goal, all of his extra point attempts, and the only kickoff return by the Seahawks went for 13 yards.  Keep it up, Matt.

 

Needs Improvement

Correll Buckhalter, RB

Buckhalter stood out to me on Sunday as a weakness on this team.  Week one, he hurt this team by fumbling.  On Sunday, he dropped three passes in a row, and was ineffective as a runner aside from his one yard touchdown score, a play which the Broncos could have driven the team bus through the hole it was so big.

Correll needs to step it up if he doesn't want to lose carries to newcomer Laurence Maroney, who is not a bad back.  Maroney was dumped by the Patriots, but it wasn't for lack of production.  He had nine touchdowns last season in a running back by committee in New England with three other guys.

One play I noticed that Buckhalter was effective was in pass protection when he prevented a sack and allowed Orton to make a nice throw.  Other than that, he was ineffective in the worst way, averaging less than two yards per carry.  It was sickening, to tell the truth, and despite our blocking not being great, he really didn't make the most of his limited opportunities.  I think by the end of the season, he might be having the same impact LaMont Jordan did last year, though I won't call him that ineffective just yet.

 

Pass Rush

This one will probably be on the list every week, I have come to realize.  We couldn't put pressure on Hasselbeck, mainly because he was throwing the ball really quickly on any and every pass play.  Still, we applied little/no pressure on the day, and our lone sack came from Jarvis Moss, so kudos to Jarvis.

I realize this unit is going to struggle without Dumervil, so Wink Martindale is going to need to get creative with his blitz packaging.  We simply cannot afford a weak pass rush week in and week out.  If guys like Peyton Manning have all day to throw, not even our top notch secondary are going to be able to stop him.

 

Run Blocking

This has been touched on, and I already know two remedies.  How about picking up two All-Pro caliber players in Chris Kuper and Ryan Harris for the right side of our line? 

That will be nice. 

We averaged less than three yards a carry, which is absolutely dreadful.  It's sad when Moreno's top run of the day went for nine yards. 

This needs to get better if we're going to be a playoff team.

 

Special Teams

the Still pretty sketchy this week.  We allowed another big return this week, this time to rookie Golden Tate who set up the first touchdown drive of the day for Seattle.  Colquitt is booming punts for us, and Prater rarely kicks anything but touchbacks when we're in Denver.  Our coverage units are over pursuing and missing tackles. 

As I said last week, losing the field position battle is deadly to your chances of winning.  Luckily this week, we made improvements, but it's still not tight enough.

 

Overall, this was a good game for the Broncos to get back on track and gain some confidence heading into a tough four game stretch here.  Next week's game against the Colts will likely be our toughest test defensively, so we will need to continue to build off of these first two performances.  If we can force turnovers next week like we did on Sunday, we should have a good chance of beating Peyton Manning next week, something we have not been able to do since I can remember.

 

Quick Look Ahead

Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the league in my opinion.  He has a good offensive line once again, and the key to beating him is going to be simply forcing him off the field.  As long as Manning is on the field, he will strike fear into your opponents, and he will always find open receivers. 

Rarely does he ever make mistakes, and when he does, he often bounces back.  The Texans were able to beat the Colts in a shootout, but we don't want to get in a shootout with the Colts, because that's not our game.

Joseph Addai and Donald Brown do not go down easily.  We are going to need to do a good job of tackling in order to stop the Colts' running game.

The Indianapolis defense is anchored by Dwight Freeney, who is a fantastic pass rusher.  They do not have huge names defensively, but they always seem to play good in their scheme.  We should have a good matchup with their defensive backs, and it will be a good game in Denver next week.

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