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Ultimate Fan Guide: Broncos should stick to their strengths - passing, passing and more passing!

Let's face it, says this week's Ultimate Fan ozark_orange - the Denver Broncos are not a running team and should remember that when it comes to game planning. Throw the pass to set up the run. That's how we roll.

Doug Pensinger

After last week's 21-point margin over what had been an undefeated Arizona Cardinals team, this week's matchup against a 1-4 New York Jets just seems unfair.

But ozark_orange, with her sharp wit and keen football knowledge, reminds us why it won't be unfair and could be tougher than we'd like to admit to advance to 4-1 (but still should happen if we remember what we're good at!)

First, I feel compelled to point out how spot-on mdlpoet was last week with his predictions. Take note, MHR, this is how it's done! (predictions in  bold, actual in italics)

  • Full stat line for Peyton Manning31-39, 360 yards, 4TDs (31-47, 479 yards, 4 TDs)
  • Number of yards total by the Broncos running backs? 110 yards (92 yards)
  • Which wide receiver will have the most yards? Emmanuel Sanders (Demaryius Thomas, but Sanders had ANOTHER 100+-yard game!)
  • Number of sacks on Drew Stanton by the defense? 6 (3)
  • Number of sacks on Manning? 1 (1)
  • T/DE/DB (from Broncos) with the most tackles? T.J. Ward (Danny Trevathan)
  • Final Score? 38-13 Broncos (41-20 Broncos)

And now for Geno and the Jets (hey is that an Elton John song?)...

Denver Broncos v. New York Jets

MHR - What are your three takeaways from the Cardinals game that you think will be important in the upcoming  game against the New York Jets?

ozark_orange: Against the Cardinals, we learned that it is possible and even desirable for our Broncos to use the pass to set up the run instead of the other way around.

Let's face it, the strength of our offense is in the passing game, not the running game, and our offensive line is currently much better at pass protection than run blocking.  In the Cardinals game, we came out throwing.  We didn't see the previously almost automatic pattern of running on first down early on. The run game didn't start to click until after we'd already shown the enemy our passing prowess.

A similar strategy should also be effective against the Jets since their D is better against the run than the pass.  They have a pretty decent front seven, but their defensive secondary has been less than mediocre.

We also learned that the Von Miller of 2012 is back, and I expect him to give Geno Smith a very bad day.

And we confirmed something I think we already knew:  Julius Thomas doesn't know how to block.  Using Paul Cornick as an extra blocker was a nice little wrinkle for our game that I expect we'll see again.

MHR - What improvements are you hoping to see from the Broncos in this game?

ozark_orange: Now I'm going to contradict my answer to the first question.  I'd like to see us run more effectively.  I don't necessarily want to see more running plays, just more effective running than we've had so far.

I'm not sure how much of the anemia in our run game has been due to poor run blocking and how much to lack of vision by the running backs, but I'm tired of seeing them hit in the backfield.   -OZARK

I'm not sure how much of the anemia in our run game has been due to poor run blocking, and how much  has been due to lack of vision or hesitation to hit the hole or make a cut by the running backs, but I'm tired of seeing running backs hit in the backfield.

I was pleasantly surprised by Ronnie Hillman's performance against the Cards.  He was able to squirt through the smallest of holes and even reach the second level before the backside pursuit could get to him.

I'd also like to see zero interceptions from Peyton Manning, of course.  I adore the man.  He may be the most cerebral QB who ever lived, but he occasionally makes a bad decision that makes me scratch my head and wonder why.

No illegal chop blocks by Julius or anyone else for that matter would be desirable too. I totally believe in my heart of hearts that it was the result of a miscommunication and some blocking ineptness on the part of Julius, but it was unnecessary and resulted in an injury.

MHR - The Jets sit at 1-4 and are not looking like much of a contender after getting thumped 31-0 by theChargers. But the Jets did lose by just a touchdown and some change to the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions. Despite their record, what do the Broncos need to watch out for to avoid a surprise upset by this Jets team?

ozark_orange: As always the most important priority has to be protecting Manning. As inept as the Jets have looked, it's entirely possible, even likely that we could beat them with Osweiler, but I'd rather not put it to the test.

I would, however, be quite happy if we get an insurmountable lead early so that Os and some of the other youngsters can see significant playing time in the second half.  To further that goal, I don't want to see the Broncos take the foot off the gas to the offense early (pedal to the metal, baby!) or prematurely go to a prevent D. Prevent D is often an oxymoron.

Let's not see any overconfidence with players mailing it in either.  Superior teams sometimes get beat by inferior teams when they don't give serious effort.  I don't think this is very likely with our Broncos though.  They beat the teams they're supposed to beat, but they sometimes allow those inferior teams to claw their way back into a game during "garbage time," making the game much closer than it should have been.

MHR - Jets coach Rex Ryan said earlier this week that "(Denver) can't wait to get on the bus to come here. We have to make some major improvements and we have to do it in a hurry." What improvements do you expect from the Jets and what could be tough matchups for the Broncos?

ozark_orange: That's a tough question because the Jets appear to be getting worse instead of improving as the season progresses, and the last injury report I saw indicates they're pretty dinged up as well.

Their greatest strength is their front seven on defense.  They've got a big nose tackle who isn't much of a pass rushing threat, but he can just about occupy both A gaps at the same time.  And they can bring the pass rush from either side, or both at the same time.

Our O-line better bring their A-game when it comes to protecting Manning along with some assistance from Virgil Green.  I am expecting to see a good bit of the dink and dunk short to intermediate passing game from Manning due to pressure coming before there has been enough time for longer routes to develop.  Since Julius isn't much of a blocker, he could be a very important outlet receiver in the kind of game I'm talking about.

MHR - Geno Smith has 4 touchdowns and 6 interceptions (and one very public missed team meeting!) in his first four games this season plus a 7.6% passer rating last weekend. Who will be the key defensive players in your opinion to keep the Jets QB from having the super unlikely breakout game Ryan and Jets fans keep thinking he is capable of?

ozark_orangeVon Miller will feast on Jets QBs.  The 2012 Von is back, the Jets O-line is dinged up, and Geno makes a lot of mistakes, including bad decisions and fumbles.  He has some mobility but less than we've seen from opposing quarterbacks so far this season, with the possible exception of the Cardinal's QBs.

With DeMarcus Ware coming at him from the other side, and Pot Roast collapsing the pocket from the middle, Smith will have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.  He doesn't have a lot of good weapons to throw the ball to either.  Eric Deckeris the closest thing they have to a No.1 wide receiver, and he's nursing a sore hammy and shouldn't be a major problem for Aqib Talib.

Jace Amaro at tight end has some talent, but he's a relatively inexperienced rookie, doesn't have blazing speed, and Ward is a proven TE killer.

MHR - What will be the keys for our defense containing and even intimidating a so-far unproductive Jets offense?

ozark_orange: In addition to what I've already said about the passing game, we need to contain the Jets' running game.  I think they'll try very hard to get the running game going to take some pressure off Geno. Chris Ivory is a pretty solid all-around back, and while Chris Johnson may have lost a step, he still has some quickness and is a good outlet receiver.

I think Ward is just as happy to be a slayer of running backs as he is tight ends if they head his way.   -OZARK

So far this season the Broncos have had a good defense against the run, especially when they're not dealing with the added dimension of a truly mobile QB.  I think Ward is just as happy to be a slayer of running backs as tight ends if they head his way.

Nate Irving at MLB can put some hurt on the running backs too, either before or after they reach the line of scrimmage. Brandon Marshall likes to hit them hard and wrap them up.  Danny Trevathan is back and can do it all: rush the passer, stop the run, or drop into coverage.

And Talib and Bradley Roby don't seem to have any aversion to tackling any backs or receivers who make it to their level of the field.

MHR - What do you anticipate being our most effective offensive approach this coming weekend and who will be the key weapons?

ozark_orange: Let's not try to establish the run early.  Let's pass early and often.  It is our strength, and it plays against the Jets' weaknesses.

Julius Thomas is a key offensive weapon.  Let's use him like one.  He's quicker, taller and can jump higher than most linebackers, and he's tough for a defensive back to bring down.  I expect the Jets to rush with the defensive ends and outside linebackers a lot in order to try to disrupt Manning's timing, and I expect they won't be easy to run against early on.

Protect Manning well, and use the short and intermediate passing game to move the chains.  Welker is an excellent weapon in that kind of game.  He knows how to find the gaps in coverage (they shouldn't be that difficult to find against the Jets' secondary), and he always knows where the first down marker is.

We can get the pass rushers gassed, even if we're playing at sea level, and that will open up the deeper passing game for our speedsters, namely Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.  After we do that and build up a substantial lead, it will be time to see if we can run the ball and eat some clock.

I hope I'm not coming across as too anti-run game.  I just don't see the current Broncos as being a run-first team, especially with Ball being absent for a while and Juwan Thompson - the latest great preseason star college free agent lots of Broncos fans want to believe is the second coming of Terrell Davis - dinged up, and questions about why C.J. Anderson - last year's preseason star college free agent  who lots of Broncos fans wanted to believe was the second coming of Terrell Davis - was a game-day inactive last week.

Hillman should absolutely be our starting running back against the Jets.  His quickness to and through the hole against the Cards was a very pleasant surprise. I'd like to see him used as an outlet receiver in the dink-and-dunk passing game too.  In spite of his small hands, he's been a pretty reliable receiver in his limited opportunities, and I think he's quick enough that he can make some defenders miss if we get him out in space.  He did a nice job last week (with direction from Peyton) picking up the blitz too.

MHR - The New York Daily News this week called for Tim Tebow to come back to the Jets. For the sake of argument, how much fun would it be for the Broncos to face Tim Tebow as the Jets QB?

ozark_orange: Not happening, at least not for the 2014 Broncos vs. Jets game.  Wish the young man well whether it's in football or some other line of work.  Enjoyed the "Tebow Time" that was the crazy and fu- while-it-lasted 2011 Broncos season.  Continue to enjoy that 2011 was the year that we got Elway back as the man directing football operations and purged the Broncos of the scum that was Josh McJedi. As a major bonus, it led to Manning in orange and blue.


  • Broncos win 38-13.
  • Manning throws for 4 TDs and nearly 400 yards.
  • Hillman gets the fifth touchdown running the ball. Overall, Broncos' running game still looks "meh" at less than 100 yards.
  • Os plays the fourth quarter.
  • Broncos get five sacks.
  • Talib and CHJ each get an interception.

The Favorites:

Favorite matchup? The team we beat in Super Bowl 49.

Team you most hate to lose to? Hate to lose to anybody.

Hate losing to divisional foes the most since we automatically go to the playoffs if we win our division.
Hated losing to the Colts a lot last year since I wanted Peyton to kick A$$ against the team that released him.
Hate to lose to the Patriots due to Belicheat, McJedi, and the continuous Brady vs. Manning for GOAT inane arguments.
Hate to lose to the Ravens due to a certain divisional game, and also due to the Ray Lewis-is-such-a-great-guy-and-not-really-a-murderer-or accessory-to-murder-hypocritical spiel, plus I thought it sucked for the long-suffering fans of Cleveland to lose their team the way they did.
If I can only choose one though, I'd hate to lose to Kansas City this season because the invasion of MHR by KC trolls would be hard to stomach.  Fortunately, that won't happen.

Favorite current Broncos player? PFM of course. I wasn't lucky enough to be born a Broncos fan. I grew up in Indiana before cable TV and the Internet.  I started out as a Bears fan once I developed an interest in NFL football.  I got to see some Bears games on my local TV.

After the Colts moved to Indianapolis, I wanted to support the local team and eventually became a Colts fan, even though they really stunk it up for quite a few years. And then they got Manning. Colts had some very good years with Manning.  But when Manning got released along with a lot of the other players I rooted for, and Manning ended up in Denver, I made a deliberate decision to become a Denver fan. I'd moved to Arkansas 10 years earlier, so didn't have a local team to support any more anyway.   I have not regretted that decision, and I do not consider myself to be a bandwagon fan for making it.

Favorite all-time Broncos player?  Toss-up between John Elway and Manning.  Wasn't a huge Elway fan early on, mostly because I really resented the fact that he wasn't a Colt (they certainly could have used his talent back then). But in hindsight, I can't blame him a bit for refusing to play for Bob Irsay as the owner and Frank Kush as the coach.  Elway could not have had the same kind of success in that kind of dysfunctional setting.  Even back then with the attitude I had, I could recognize and appreciate Elway's talent.

Best Broncos game ever?  Super Bowl 32. John Elway finally getting the Lombardi he so clearly deserved late in his career when I wasn't sure it would ever happen was very special.  The fact that it was the first time in a long, long time (13 years) that an AFC team won was an added perk, especially since that winning AFC team wasn't the Raiders.

How did you feel after the Seahawks game in Week 3?  Mixed feelings.  Obviously I wanted to win.  I was happy and proud that we came back from adversity and fought them to a draw late in the game.  It was also the best we had played up to that point in 2014.  There was disappointment that we didn't get our game on track earlier and that we were too gassed to stop the Squawks in OT.

Favorite thing to eat during the game? I'm not taking time away from the game or even from the pre-game excitement to get serious about cooking.  Pizza is the most common game-day meal with my preferred list of toppings including sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions.  A paper plate, no silverware required, and no dishes to wash is also a major positive.

Hall of Fame team? Wrong person to ask since I already admitted I wasn't born a Broncos fan.  IMO though, Gradishar is the most deserving retired Broncos player whose absence in the NFL Hall of Fame is the biggest travesty. After that, probably Steve Atwater and Terrell Davis.