After a dizzy loss on the season opener against the Raiders, and a thrilling win over the Bengals, here we are getting ready for the week 3 against the Tennesse Titans. At this point, we have some key injuries that are hurting the Denver Broncos a lot, but the team is playing with passion and endeavor to win. This is what we expect... that everyone who wears a Broncos jersey really understands that he has to bleed orange & blue just like us fans. And they are doing it.
Follow me after the jump and let's think together on what are the offense and defense key match-ups for us to beat the Titans and have a 2-1 season record so far. This could provide us a little more peace in Denver.
Offense key match-up: HB Willis McGahee vs LDT Shaun Smith
This week we are going to game plan for an improved defense. For example, the Tennesse Titans jumped from the 26th best defense defending passes (it means the 7th worst) to the 3rd this year in 2 weeks. If we consider that they faced a great roster (the Ravens) last week, their numbers are very impressive. Their secondary looks much better and they have 2 safeties whom don't miss much tackles: Chris Hope and Michael Griffin.
With that in mind, we can't expect to march all over the field just passing the ball. We really need to establish a rushing game to give some fresh air to Kyle on the passing downs. If their defense is prepared only for the passes, we won't smile too much on sunday.
Willis McGahee played a very stud game against the Bengals with 28 carries for 101yds and 1 TD. So with or without Moreno being ready to get back, he will play an important role on this offense. He vs Shaun Smith is supposed to be our key match-up to beat the Titans. Shaun Smith is a veteran DT (this is his 8th season) who made 30-26 tackles and 1.0 sacks in 2010. His best season was in Cleveland, in 2007, where he amassed 48-14 tackles and 2.0 sacks, with 1 forced fumble, starting 11 out of 15 games played. This is his first year in Tennesse and we do need to get through him to get the 2nd level when rushing the ball.
If we can reach the second level, we can get some advantage of their mike. Barrett Ruud was brought to their roster to replace their leader in tackles last season, MLB Stephen Tulloch, who is now a Lion. Althought the stellar game the Titans played against the Ravens, Ruud wasn't that good losing a few tackles and showing quite a slowness in some plays. This is a point we can explore a lot if we can establish the runs with McGahee.
My conclusion: If we can establish our rushing game, we will be able to abuse passing the ball. This way Kyle Orton would suffer less pressure and have enough time to find our WRs. Eddie Royal is unlike to return, but Brandon Lloyd might be back. With Willis playing the slot (and being covered by their best CB, Finnegan), Decker and Lloyd could hurt them a lot receiving some deep balls. And this way we would be a step forward to get another win...
The Tennesse Titans are not anymore an one dimensional offense now they have Matt Hasselbeck receiving the hikes. Also, Chris Johnson is impressively not playing at a Pro Bowl level this year so far. Thus, with a good and accurate passer, plus an elite RB not doing his magic how expected, the Titans are abusing on WR Kenny Britt, who is leading the AFC in received yds and TDs. If Chris Johnson and the Titans can establish a rushing game, then we could have a long afternoon and we would need to load the box with Brian Dawkins to stop it, and hope that Joe Mays has a great sunday again closing his gaps and don't missing tackles.
The problem is that besides their offensive line is one of the bests of the league, Hasselbeck proved to make great throws if he has enough time to do it (I'm looking at you, Baltimore). On their week 2 game, the very physical defense of the Ravens struggled against their passes and were not effective pressuring the QB. They didn't get one single sack (while his offense gave 3) in the whole game. I think this was the key for the Titans to have made a real running over the Ravens.
Said that, we really need to pressure Hasselbeck and rush him with our best weapons. Dumervil is probably going to return, and face Michael Roos, who is a top-tier LT. On the opposite side, and where I think it's our defense key match-up, Robert Ayers will face a good and talented RT: David Stewart. Stewart is in his 7th season and if Ayers can occupy him properly, Von Miller will have a great leverage to rush the passer off the edge, facing a blocking TE or RB... His first step is elite, he is very quick, he can make power and stunt moves, and so he can be able to play with an amazing easiness over their very strong offensive line.
My conclusion: If Chris Johnson is not again playing at his normal Pro Bowl level, and can't establish a good rushing game, then we have good chances to nullify their offense by pressuring the passer with Von Miller rushing off the edge against weaker blockers.
With all this pointed, I think we'll have a very balanced game. This is nice in terms of providing a good game show for eveybody to watch... and so both teams have a chance to win. And you folks, what do you think are the offense and defense key match-ups for us to beat the Titans?