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Ultimate Fan: It's time to Brock-and-Roll, baby!

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It has been a whirlwind few days since the debacle in Denver last Sunday. Our Hall-of-Fame QB is sitting on the bench to let his body heal while Brock Osweiler finally gets to test his wings after waiting three-and-a-half seasons on the sideline. We always knew this was going to be an interesting season.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Holy Quarterback Change, Batman!

This week's Ultimate Fan has quite a task - previewing a game that will feature a quarterback who has barely seen the field during a regular season game but will be going on the road to face two of his former coaches.

But before we get to that, let's give T.Kothe his chance to review last week's debacle? implosion? dare I say, embarrassment?

Denver v. Kansas City recap

Ouch. OK, so most of what I had hoped would happen in this game just flat-out didn't. Unfortunately, Manning looked less like the Sheriff and more like the wizened old deputy with a limp who sits out on the porch of the jail. Brock didn't look bad in relief, though. And even though he may never be the Sheriff, a gunslinger might be just what this team needs to finish out this season.

So props to Brock for showing his chops against some pretty stiff pass rush and props to the defense for keeping the game from getting ridiculously out of hand even though the offense was spotting the Chiefs 30 yards of field position.

And to all our fellow fans: Regardless of who we each think should be the starting QB a week or a month from now, let's all get fired up and support the guy who's in that spot right now. Let the controversy happen if or when it happens. For now, the starter is clear for at least one week, so let's get behind him 100% and hope and pray Brock proves he's going to be our next franchise QB. - T.Kothe

So let's get to this week's contest.

Just like Brock Osweiler, H-bizzle is totally up for the challenge and has some great stuff for us to talk about (and hopefully move away from the Manning v. Brock conversation because, after all, ... we are "On to Chicago!")

Also, H-bizzle's choice for favorite all-time Bronco is a new one and well worth the read to find out!

Denver v. Chicago

MHR - Wow, talk about a turn of events for this weekend's matchup! Give me three keys for Gary Kubiak's game plan to help Brock Osweiler have a successful first NFL start:
H-bizzle: I think some of us had a feeling that this was just around the corner, and while it was painful to see Peyton play the worst game of his career, I am very excited to see what Brock is capable of. Three keys for the offensive game plan would be:

  • Create and explore mismatches. The Bears have been playing above their talent level, and we have the offensive firepower to challenge them.  Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter, Adrian Amos, and Antrel Rolle can all be beaten by our receivers and tight ends.
  • Create a good mix of plays. We've seen Kubiak's schemes usually focus on the run-and-gun sort of offense, but our O-line really needs to be on point to run that kind of scheme.  It will be important to pepper in quick passes and short drops to give the line (and Brock) some time to get in rhythm.  I also think some disguises in the run game will be possible (counters, zone reads, etc.), which should help.
  • Don't give the ball up. We haven't had a game without a turnover this year and that's a big reason teams have been able to play us close.

MHR - This promise of doing better running the ball is getting old and why only one game with any real running attack? Was it Manning as QB? Was it the offensive line? Was it the defenses? 
H-bizzle: I think it's a mix of the first two.  We've faced some terrible run defenses and have been unable to get anything going.  Manning needing to work out of the shotgun or pistol does not help the backs at all, and our O-line is patchwork at best. A zone blocking scheme is predicated on the entire unit blocking a zone to create natural gaps in the defense. Running out of the pistol with an immobile quarterback is usually more successful with gap blocking and not as well suited to zone blocking. Zone blocking is better suited for mobile quarterbacks who are capable of running zone read concepts.

The offensive linemen haven't been given the opportunity to do what they were hired to do. Running out of I and single-back formations will be huge to redevelop the running game.   -H-bizzle

So while I think it's both on the O-line and Manning, I think the offensive linemen haven't been given the opportunity to do what they were hired to. I think running out of the I and single-back formations will be huge to redevelop the running game and I'm very curious to see how we look against the Bears this week.

MHR - Oz's performance against Kansas City was very positive, but before we get carried away, what two things stood out to you about Brock's game on Sunday that he must do - or not do - against the Bears this weekend?
H-bizzle: Vic Fangio is quite the defensive mind and will undoubtedly throw a lot of different looks to confuse Brock - this game should be a good test to see what we have in him. Things that stood out about Brock:

  • He looked comfortable in the pocket and making reads against KC.  I loved how he scrambled for yards, and also that he figured out that he needs to slide instead of running head-first into Eric Berry.
  • Granted, KC knew we were passing and were playing pass defense the whole time, but Brock needs to make some smarter decisions. The throw to DT in the end zone needed to have a couple extra feet on it and should have been thrown a little earlier.  The pass to Fowler that was almost picked by Berry was dangerous. There was another near-pick. The same could be said about his sacks - he had his eyes downfield and as he felt himself going down, he should have thrown away the ball. We know he has the arm strength to do so.  No need to take negative yardage.That said, he needs some more live snaps to really get the feel for the offense, and I think he will be able to work out some of the quirks.

MHR - The Bears defense shut down Rams' red hot running back and blew away St. Louis. How do Brock and this offense keep the Bears D from shutting them down?
St. Louis has been a run-first team all year, and they go to throwing the ball as a secondary technique. Todd Gurley is a great back, but he has been carrying the team. Nick Foles and Case Keenum aren't exactly world-beater quarterbacks, and the Bears dared them to throw by focusing on the run game.  It goes back to the first question - we have to keep the defense honest.  We have to beat them with a variety of looks - runs, pitches, quick crossers, deep outs, hitches, etc., so they can't key in on one aspect of our game.  Success in a variety of looks will keep the defense guessing.

MHR - What offensive stat would you like to see be awesome for the Broncos?
ZERO turnovers. We cannot keep beating ourselves.

MHR - Which player do you expect to stand out from the Broncos offense this Sunday?
Honestly, I am expecting big things from Brock.  The Bears defense has been doing very well the last few games but they have weaknesses that can be exploited.  Now that he's had a couple of quarters to get his feet wet, I expect Brock to come out guns blazing.

MHR - Jay Cutler. It certainly appears that since coming back from injury, he has this Bears' team rallying its way back into contention. What does our defense need to do to contain him and his ability to make big plays?
Jay Cutler reminds me a lot of Aaron Rodgers in terms of being able to extend plays, get out of sacks, etc.  We have to have a similar game plan - keep Cutler in the pocket, don't let him break off any big runs, and stick to his receivers as long as possible.

Eddie Royal and Alshon Jeffery are both capable of running great routes and breaking free, so having Aqib Talib back will certainly help.  I think Royal is faster than Chris Harris Jr., so they will need to make sure to help both Talib and Harris out against any seams, and the safeties will have to keep their heads on a swivel.  Bennett is a huge target as well and we'll need to make sure David Bruton Jr. is out there often as his coverage has been far above and beyond T.J. Ward this season.

MHR - The past two weeks the Broncos' D has looked less stellar. How do they turn that back to their favor against big receiving targets such as Jeffery and Martellus Bennett but also Jeremy Langford and Zach Miller?
I think it comes back, once again, to discipline.  Langford has filled in very admirably for Matt Forte, and was a huge part of the passing game against the Rams; Miller is also a weapon that often goes unnoticed.  Our linebackers and safeties will have to make sure to keep them contained. In addition, I think we need to get some of our aggression on defense back. The line has looked lackluster the last few weeks.  Some of it has to do with our ends being held relentlessly, but there is also the issue with Sylvester Williams. Against the Packers, Colts and Chiefs he ranked out negatively according to PFF.  We need that push up the middle, and he hasn't really been generating it very well. I'm hoping we activate Darius Kilgo and create some more rotation for that position.

MHR - How much does it help John Fox and Vic Fangio that Osweiler is playing his former coaches?
Fox and Adam Gase know a lot about this team, not just Brock. I think it is helpful because Fox and Gase have seen Osweiler play week in and week out and know some of his tendencies. The way to beat that is by focusing on execution.  This is what New England has done all year long - they have some wrinkles in their game but they have a grouping of plays that are their bread-and-butter, and until someone can figure out how to stop them, they will keep coming back to those plays. This will also help build Brock's confidence in his first NFL start.

Poking people in the eye. Punching someone's helmet...that's Bush League stuff. If the defense wants to be the best in the league, they won't get there being dirty.  -H-bizzle

MHR - What defensive stat would you like to see be awesome for the Broncos in this game - and why is that one the most important this week?
I think there are two important ones - low third-down conversion rates, and no dumb penalties. The last two games we've let teams convert on third down successfully.  We have to make sure that we put them in third-and-long as often as possible and don't let them buy time to convert. An offsides or a hold may happen because we play aggressive, but personal fouls have to go. Our defense is better than that.

MHR - Which player do you expect to stand out from the Broncos defense this Sunday?
I expect Talib to come back with a chip on his shoulder and to shut down Jeffery.

MHR - Overall, penalties were better this week on both sides, but another personal foul call did not helping the Broncos' case for being clean players. How do you feel about the aggressive - but unsportsmanlike behavior - from several players the past few weeks?
I think it's completely uncalled for. Poking people in the eye, punching someone's helmet ... that's Bush League stuff.  If they want to be the best defense in the league, they aren't going to get there by being dirty.

MHR - Without sounding too dramatic (but I will) - how important is the outcome of this game for Brock? For the Broncos? For Peyton Manning?
I think it's a very important game for the Broncos. We have had a two-week slide where we've lost to teams that have no business beating us, let alone humiliate us. We have to get our mojo back. I don't think it's as important of a game for Brock. It's his first NFL start, and I anticipate he will make mistakes.  That said, I believe the coaches are looking for quick progress.  He has to also make a lot of good decisions with those mistakes.  One way or another, he has at least this week, and maybe the New England game, to show what he's capable of.  It was nice to see him spread the ball out last week, getting Fowler, Bubba, Latimer,and Davis more involved in the passing game.

Predictions

Stats for Osweiler? 27/34 for 270 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT.

Rushing yards for running backs? Anderson - 105, 1 TD; Hillman - 45; Thompson - 5

Receiver with most yards? DT - 8 catches, 140 yards, 1 TD

Number of sacks to Osweiler? 3

Number of sacks to Jay Cutler? 5

Broncos player with the most sacks? Shane Ray with 2

Broncos player with the most tackles? Brandon Marshall with 7

Number of penalties on the Broncos? Offense:  4/20 yards; Defense:  6/40 yards

Number of field goals/longest by McManus? 3, longest 52

Final Score? Broncos 30, Bears 21


The Favorites

  • Favorite position group to watch during the game?I love watching the D-line. That first step that Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray get is just insane, and I love all the intricacies of the battle in the trenches.
  • Team you love to beat the most? P*triots
  • Team you hate to lose to the most?Currently, the Colts and the Chiefs.
  • Game most looking forward to this season? New England, and it will be interesting to see who plays QB that game.
  • Game most worried about this season? All of them. We have an unknown in Brock, and our defense has been slipping. It will take some good work over the next few weeks to build that confidence back up.
  • Favorite Broncos coach? I loved Shanny as a coach. I just wish he didn't have to be the GM too.
  • Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? I have to go with Malik Jackson. He's quietly having a very solid season, and even when the rest of the defense looks lackluster, he's putting stuff together.
  • Favorite Broncos player of all time? There are so many, from Atwater to Elway to Wilson...but I have to go withDarrent Williams. He had such a short tenure with us but he was well on his way to being one of the greats. He never got a chance to be the next Champ, as I'm confident he would have become.
  • Superstitions on game day? I always stand! I cannot sit down and watch the game.
  • Favorite nickname for Oz? There are just so many! Brock and Roll, Brocket Launcher, Brockpocalypse.

How did you become a Broncos fan?

I moved to Colorado in 1995, and to Greeley, of all places.  I'd always watch them have training camp up at UNC and got to meet quite a few players - and the fandom was born!