During the offseason, we were able to ask Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders a few questions about the Denver Broncos heading into this 2015 season. Normally, I would not be dredging that old post up to rehash the interview, but Kacsmar said a few things that are seemingly prophetic about this team.
Specifically, his comments about Gary Kubiak and Peyton Manning. See his responses below (emphasis added):
I want to believe they'll work something out, but I also wouldn't be surprised if they're on prime-time in Week 2 in Kansas City (first road test) and we see Manning blowing off Rick Dennison in the second half and calling pass after pass in a no-huddle comeback attempt. Early success is going to be key this year, or things could get to a Dan Reeves-Elway feud level pretty fast.
Talk about calling it exactly as it happened. Peyton Manning switched to shotgun and ran his offense in that comeback win against the Kansas City Chiefs. The second part of Kascmar's warning about a potential Reeves-Elway like feud are so far nonexistent as the Broncos defense are covering whatever struggles the offense is having to come together for a playoff run.
Additionally, Kubiak has not show the kind of ego that often plagues a head coach when it comes to players and scheme. He seems to understand what Manning is and is trying to adjust his play calling and scheme to match the brilliant football mind he has quarterbacking the Broncos this season.
They are still a work in progress, but that defense is doing it's job so far in 2015. That's one area where I feel the Broncos and Wade Phillips have surpassed Kacsmar's expectations (emphasis added):
When you're a high-scoring team like Denver, there is a tendency to allow some garbage-time points, which was certainly the case in the past few years. However, it's a little troubling that Denver only held five teams to less than 17 points in 2013-14, tied for 23rd in the league. Teams like Seattle and Carolina led the way with 16 such games, or 50% of the time. There was an annoying pattern in Jack Del Rio's tenure where the Broncos just couldn't seem to shut the door without making things interesting. Think of the 24-3 lead against Buffalo last year turning into a 24-17 final, or the Jets crawling back from 24-7 down to a touchdown away from tying before Aqib Talib had a late pick-six. The 2013 playoff wins over San Diego and New England were also way too close in the end after the lead seemed so safe early in the fourth quarter. Too often Denver would turn a 17-21 point lead into a nail-biting finish. That's something you'd like to see Phillips solve. Find a way to put the clamps down for good instead of keeping teams in it.
The Broncos defense is sitting right at 50% when it comes to giving up 17 points or less a game. It should be 66%, but an ill-timed Manning pick six gave the Chiefs 24 points, instead of 17. Even on Sunday, the Vikings got one of their touchdowns via a short field from a very long interception return. This defense is not your Jack Del Rio defense. It's simple the best defense in the NFL through four weeks.
And if Manning can stop gifting points to the other team, it will make things a lot harder for opposing offenses. This is something I think Manning is also trying to figure out, having never had to play the role of "game manager" in his entire life. He has always been the "Michael Jordan" on the field. Give him the ball and he'll got get you some points.
It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. The key to the Broncos Super Bowl aspirations appears to be squarely on the shoulders of Manning and his ability to transition from play maker to game manager.