I've been staring at a blank page for almost a half hour. I have been trying to write the first edition of Studs and Duds but it is very hard. Normally, the words flow freely and I am able to give my honest thoughts and opinions on the Bronco games, but this has been a lot tougher then most. This is probably because only one word keeps popping in my head: "Wow".
Wow as in "Wow, did I really just witness Peyton Manning in a Bronco jersey"?
Wow as in "Wow, was Von Miller really that dominant"?
Wow as in "Wow, since when did Denver get two Champ Bailey's"?
Wow as in "Wow, I love this team".
Ladies and Gentlemen, buckle up your seat belts. If the first game is any indication then we are in for a very exciting year. For now, let's jump into the Studs and Duds of the Broncos vs Steelers game.
You know, I wasn't really sure if I should put Manning into the Studs category. I debated it for a long time. In his first game as a Bronco, he only completed 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns. All in all, it was a so-so performance.
Of course, I am just kidding. Manning was amazing. He was better then I thought he would be and I thought he would be pretty damn good. At one point, he made a pass to the far sideline that was an absolute beauty. After that throw, my father looked towards me, chuckled and said "How about that Tapenade"? Folks, if it didn't hit you after Sunday Night, it will never hit you. Peyton Manning is the quarterback of the Denver Broncos. Just sit back and think about that the rest of the day. Peyton Manning as a Denver Bronco, beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football.
In the off season, the Denver Broncos signed cornerback Tracy Porter to a 1 year deal for 4 million dollars. Based off of one game, the Denver Broncos got one hell of a bargain. Tracy Porter was absolutely fantastic against the Steelers. He had 8 tackles, 1 TFL and 5 Pass Deflections. Oh yeah, and he intercepted a pass for a touchdown that essentially iced the game. It's only one game, but the early returns are very promising on Porter.
Last year Von Miller was an absolute terror on the field as he was lightening quick as a speed rusher. In his first game of 2011, Miller showed that same speed, but with some added brute strength as well. Miller was totally dominant totaling 4 tackles, 2 sacks and 4 TFL. He hit Big Ben 3 times. This was an excellent start to Miller's sophomore season and a slump is definitely not in the cards for him.
The last time Demaryius Thomas faced the Steelers, he dominated the Steelers and caught a game winning touchdown in overtime. This time, there was no game winning touchdown in overtime, but he was still dominant. Thomas had a very promising start to his season catching 5 passes for 110 yards and 1 touchdown. There was some concern as to whether he was developing a rapport with Manning, but I think it's safe to put those concerns to rest. If Thomas continues to perform like this, he is in for a very big year.
All through the off season, all I heard was how Decker was in for a breakout year. He is supposed to be the safety valve and possession receiver for Peyton Manning. His first game wasn't on the same level as Demaryius', but Decker had a nice debut too. He caught 5 passes for 54 yards and was very close to getting in the endzone. Decker runs crisp routes and seems to be clicking with Peyton. Like Demaryius, he is in for a big year with #18 behind center.
I have been saying it for almost two years. DJ Williams is far more athletically gifted, but Wesley Woodyard can be just as effective as him. Woodyard proved me right against the Steelers on Sunday Night Football where he had 12 tackles, 2 TFL, and 1 sack. Woodyard was all over the field and had a terrific game. If he continues to play like this, I don't see any reason why DJ Williams will be brought back on the roster after his suspension is up. What a way for Woodyard to start his 12 campaign.
I want to start a campaign. Every time Derek Wolfe gets a TFL or a sack, I want the entire stadium at Sports Authority Field at Mile High to start howling. Based on the first game, there will be a lot of howling going on at home. The Broncos 2nd round pick (1st draft pick of 2012) had a great game getting 3 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 sack. He was very active and looks like he has a bright season ahead of him.
I was pretty tough on Tamme throughout the pre-season for not showing any rapport with Peyton Manning. Thankfully, he proved me wrong and was excellent in the opener catching 5 passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. Tamme looked like the security blanket that we expected him to be and that bids well for the future of the Broncos offense.
There are many players to love on this team, but Chris Harris is one of my personal favorites. I love rooting for the underdog and Harris epitomizes how hard work can elevate an underdog. It's crazy to think Harris went from an undrafted rookie to starting nickel in just over a year. Harris had a strong game getting 4 tackles along with half a sack. He would have gotten 1 and a half sacks but one of his sacks was negated by a penalty. Nevertheless, Harris looked great and is clearly going to be a big part of the defense moving forward.
Big shout out to the offensive line. They weren't perfect, but other then the occasional miscue, the protection was fantastic. Manning mostly had a clean pocket and was able to manipulate it to his advantage. There is sill some work to be done in the run game, but in terms of pass protection, I thought they had a great day.
3rd Down Defense
This is no shock to anyone who watched the game. The Broncos were atrocious on 3rd downs against the Steelers who went 11-19. I think Peyton Manning got 1 minute of playing time in the 3rd quarter. The rest was given to Big Ben who kept driving his team down the field and completed 3rd down after 3rd down. This is going to have to improve in the coming weeks.
The Broncos had too many penalties, particularly crucial ones against the Steelers. They had 6 penalties for 49 yards including some bad penalties on 3rd down. One glaring penalty was a helmet to helmet hit by Rahim Moore (which I think was a bad call) that helped a Steeler drive. If the Broncos want to make their lives easier, they should cut down on the penalties, or at least commit them on another down besides the 3rd one.
Time Of Possession
Thanks to the Steelers 3rd down excellence, they dominated the T.O.P. by a whopping 10 minutes; 35:05 to 24:55. Nothing else to add here except the Broncos can't let this become a habit.
Shoutout to Knowshon for getting the first rushing touchdown of the year, but I was disappointed in the Broncos rushing attack. McGahee had 16 carries for 64 yards, a decent 4.0 average, but he also suffered a fumble. Moreno finished with 5 carries for 13 yards and the aforementioned score. Lance Ball had 2 carries for 14 yards. There were some moments, but the Broncos need to focus on improving their running game. I hope to see Ronnie Hillman in the coming weeks.
It's only the first game, but Mays struggled against the Steelers. He finished with 2 tackles and half a sack, but he missed a few tackles again which was his big problem last year. His job isn't in danger (mostly because there is nobody threatening it), but he needs to continue to work on his tackling.
Wasn't Bubba supposed to have a great year with Peyton as his QB? It's kind of hard for him to break out when he is a gameday inactive. It makes it hard to play when you have a bad pre-season and don't play Special Teams.
Week 1 is officially in the books. The Broncos are 1-0 and all eyes shift to next week when we face the Falcons on Monday Night Football. After the Falcons tore apart KC today, this should be a great test for the Broncos. With Peyton Manning at the helm, only great things are ahead. Enjoy the Monday morning winning glow. Until next time, MHR.
P.S. Next week, I will be in Las Vegas celebrating my 21st birthday so I won't be able to post a Studs and Duds, but I'll definitely be cheering my ass off for our boys.