I’ve got seven things about the Broncos upcoming game for you to ponder. If you have to ask "Why seven?" maybe its best you just move along. The rest of you, get to pondering!
- Who is really in charge of the offense?
That’s a disingenuous inflammatory header, but an interesting question. Much ink was spilled over the Broncos success in the no-huddle compared to the huddling offense, and it was justified spillage, but I’m more interested in a different comparison. Mike McCoy and John Fox have advocated 2 tight ends sets and using fullbacks. The Colts worked almost exclusively out of a 3 WR, 1 RB set in Peyton’s prime and the no-huddle offense often locked the Broncos into that personnel, especially on the drive for Tamme’s go-ahead touchdown. The Falcons game will double our sample size and give us a better idea of what the 2012 offense is going to look like.
- How good is Chris Harris?
This week, Champ Bailey may draw his toughest assignment of the season and that is guarding 2nd year wideout Julio Jones. Seeing the two SEC studs go at it will be awesome, but I’ll also have my eye on Broncos nickelback Chris Harris. More than anyone else on defense, Harris was helping defensive linemen and linebackers get aligned before snaps against Pittsburgh. The undrafted free agent is showing leadership abilities in his 2nd season. While Tracy Porter got the big interception, that was a function of Ben Roethlisberger picking on him. The only times Roethlisberger chose to challenge Harris in the slot were on the broken pocket plays where he bought 6-7 seconds for Emmanuel Sanders to get open. The Falcons 3rd WR, Harry Douglas is not an intimidating threat, but Harris is too good to keep on the bench in passing situations. So what will he be doing on Monday night? That leads me to my next question.
- Can anyone cover a TE?
If the question is "Can MLB Joe Mays cover Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller?" then the answer was clearly "no." Things won’t get any easier with Tony Gonzalez in Week 2. D.J. Williams may make horrible choices off the field, but before his suspension, he was out best coverage linebacker. Without him, the Broncos are very vulnerable over the middle in both zone and man coverage. In the Super Bowl, the Giants used three safeties to counter the Patriots TEs, but the Broncos don’t have as much talent at the safety position. He’d be giving up a lot of size, but I’d like to see Chris Harris cover Gonzalez.
- Where’s the pass rush?
Big Ben makes it hard to tell if your pass rush is any good. The Broncos penetrated with consistency, but didn’t disrupt Ben’s timing. In fact, they may have improved it. The last two years under Mike Nolan and Dennis Allen, the Broncos deployed more exotic blitz packages than ever before. Jack Del Rio’s debut looked vanilla by comparison. The Broncos defensive ends lined up far outside the tackles in a style reminiscent of the Wide-9 formations that the Eagles disastrously experimented with last year. While Pittsburgh wasn’t able to exploit that positioning in the run game, the Falcons can, as their interior blockers (especially Justin Blalock) excel at straight-ahead downhill blocking. Here’s hoping Del Rio gets a little fancier and maintains the aggression that led to the final two sacks.
- Will Von Miller have a different dance for every sack?
On his first sack, Von gave us the "Wobbly Leg Dance" followed by the "Big Dog Eats First" (aka. "Big Dog’s Gotta Eat"). On his second sack, he "Tebowed." Personally, I was a huge fan of the "Wobbly Leg Dance" and would like to see that 20+ times this season. Will Von choose a signature move, or will his signature be having a new move every time? Feel free to tweet him @MillerLite40 to let him know your preference.
- How should fantasy wankers approach the Broncos "skill position" players?
It pains me to type such an ugly media cliché as "skill position," but it’s a topic of interest. Though Demaryius Thomas came away with more yards and a touchdown, he and Eric Decker had the same amount of targets. I think Decker will have the bigger week 2, as the Falcons play a lot of zone and with Asante Samuel filling in for the injured Brent Grimes, will be giving the Broncos receivers big cushions to work with.
Jacob Tamme distanced himself from Joel Dreesen in Week 1, but it’s hard to tell if that was Peyton’s preference, or if Tamme got lucky in being the tight end who was trapped on the field by the no-huddle attack.
- Do the Broncos want Dan Koppen in the starting lineup?
The Broncos signed former Patriots center Dan Koppen on Monday. Koppen has never played a snap at guard, but my immediate thought was that the Broncos would use him to replace Chris Kuper instead of Manny Ramirez. Ramirez had a solid, if unremarkable game in Week 1, so it’s possible that Koppen’s been brought in to challenge J.D. Walton at center.