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Broncos vs Cowboys: The No Bull Review

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The Denver Broncos bucked the Dallas Cowboys all over the Mile High city on Sunday afternoon. Here are my thoughts, opinions, and analysis on what we saw and can take away from this sweet, sweet victory.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Uhm...allas? allas? You okay? I think may have lost your D.

It has been quite some time since I’ve seen the Denver Broncos lay the wood down on an opponent like they did in this game. 42 - 17 is a beating of epic proportions. Add to it that it was against the media darling Dallas Cowboys, and you have what I call a statement game.

Not that this means the world, mind you. Denver is no shoe in for the post-season, let alone anything past that...this was only one game in week 2 of the NFL season after all. But what this game says to the NFL at large is that you better stand up and take notice. The Broncos just took one of the most historically prolific rushing attacks in recent history and absolutely shut them down. The best runner in the NFL was held to 8 yards on 9 attempts. Conversely, the Broncos offense was marching up and down the field almost at will against what was one of the poorest showings of NFL defense I’ve witnessed in the past year.

Talk about Denver being an AFC West basement dweller in 2017 is so much hot air being blown about by division rivals and people who don’t care what happens west of the Mississippi.

Defense

Welcome to the NFL, Joe Woods. As a Bronco fan, I must say that I really, really want you to just stay here and run our defense for a few years. But if you keep this up, you’ll be a head coach candidate in short order.

It wasn’t just that our defense is stocked with talent (which it is), but our coordinator called a simply exquisite game plan against an opponent that didn’t know what to do with themselves from an offensive standpoint for most of the first half of the game. We had exotic personnel packages. We stacked the box. We blitzed creatively from nickel personnel.

Joe Woods isn’t just some dude that was lucky enough to inherit a defense from Wade Phillips and just tell them to keep playing the scheme. He looks to me like a true student of the game who is a creative game planner and shot caller on the sidelines.

Front 7

There’s a lot of hype going on with Von Miller...and there definitely should be. It took until the 2nd half for him to really get cooking, but he had what was a simply amazing game as a defender. 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 5 QH, and 1 PD. He’s such a well rounded player at this point in his career.

Shaquil Barrett is a guy that really should get more notice though as the Robin to Von Miller’s Batman. He was a stud being in on 7 tackles with a QH and lots and lots of pressures that never will see the stat sheet. If Shane Ray gets healthy and gets put in as a starter ahead of Barrett, it will be solely because of where he was drafted. At this point, Shaquil deserves to stay the starter with how well he is holding down his edge and being a disruptive force as a pass rusher.

I do love to talk about the guys who don’t get the flashy stats, but handle the dirty work up front. Domata Peko is such a huge upgrade in the middle of the line from what we saw last year. He’s chewing up blockers and holding ground at the point of attack consistently. When a team completely nullifies a potent rushing offense, it almost always can be attributed to guys like Peko and Adam Gotsis doing the dirty work on the interior.

Secondary

Chris Harris Jr. put on a clinic. It is that simple. He played safety. He played corner on either side. He also covered the slot on the inside at times. I’m going to go ahead and say this: Chris Harris Jr is THE most talented secondary defender the NFL has to offer bar none and it isn’t even close. His versatility, smarts, and athletic skill are simply extraordinary. Any of you with NFL Rewind that want a real treat, just pull up the coach’s film and follow 25. CLINIC

Not to be outdone was Aqib Talib who also showed his prowess in taking on one of the most physically gifted WRs the game has to offer and making him look like a guy running routes in molasses. He dropped what were two easy interceptions, but kept at it and put the cherry on top of the poop sundae for Cowboys by taking a pick in the end zone the distance.

One of the few spots of criticism I have this week is Justin Simmons who got absolutely smoked on TD pass late in the game. His coverage looked shaky at times and it looked to me like he isn’t doing well at read / react time. Hopefully a game like this will serve to provide him with some much needed experience and film that he can use to hone his craft.

Offense

Mike McCoy has this offense absolutely humming early in the season. A good offense in the NFL takes a banged up defense like what the Cowboys put on the field this weekend and puts them through the ringer from start to finish.

This offense didn’t punt until the 4th quarter. They converted 60% of their 3rd down attempts (with 7many of the failures coming in garbage time). The Bronco offense got 26 first downs in this game. That is simply disgusting.

In all honesty, the Broncos faced a Divsion II college defense (with a few exceptions) and made them look that bad. Oh yeah, and they did it with a 7th round draft pick at QB.

Quarterbacks

Trevor Siemian early is really impressing me with his grasp of the offense. He’s smart with the ball, audibling into good plays fairly consistently, and throwing some very impressive passes. Against the soft zone looks that Rod Marinelli drew up, Siemian absolutely carved it up until nothing was left other than hopes, dreams, and fairy tales of what could have been.

Yes, there was the token bad interception, but let’s be fair: that was very likely on DT running the wrong route from what I saw.

A very big key to the Broncos 2017 season is going to be protecting Trevor Siemian. He’s starting to look like a young treasure at QB and if the team can keep him healthy, the sky's the limit with what this offense can do.

Line

Menelik Watson did not take the steps forward in this game that I was looking for. He’s a guy that looks a step behind most of the time on the field and it just isn’t going to get any easier as the season wears on. He’s going to have to block the Justin Houston and Khalil Mack’s of the NFL and from what I’m seeing so far, he’s going to make them all look like All-Pros.

Also, Garett Bolles needs to stop freaking me out. I thought the dude’s foot was ripped off and swallowed by a rabid wombat by the way he got carted off the field. Thank the stars and God above that it was just a high ankle sprain and bone bruise. The Broncos can’t afford to lose the rookie when the tackle across the way is playing as poorly as we’ve seen.

Did you notice that Andre Barbre came in at left tackle instead of Donald Stephenson? I did...because I noticed right away the left side of the line was still holding up fairly well and knew that something smelled fishy. I’d be curious to see if we see Barbre at RT when Bolles returns.

The whole line honestly were ballers. They got such good push consistently all game long. The Broncos averaged 4.6 yards per carry on the day (which got fairly dragged down by 5 rushes by Siemian). They put up 178 yards of rushing offense on allas in the most impressive work I’ve seen by a Bronco line since the 2015 playoffs.

Running Backs

C.J. Anderson looked like a legit NFL work horse stud. He looked like what you would expect from Ezekiel Elliott, honestly. I really liked what I saw from him in open space as he was really showing off some nifty running angles. He rushed for a TD and caught one as well on a superb play design that got him in space underneath clearing routes.

Jamaal Charles has yet to show that he’s still got “it”, but what he has shown in both games is a guy who can step in and be a very solid #2 back. He averaged 5.1 yards on 9 attempts with a long of 14 which is a very consistent statline for a guy not getting a lot of the carries.

Receivers

Demaryius Thomas is a guy who looks to me like he’s getting back to playing more like his size. He’s using his God-given gifts to be an easy target for Siemian that just keeps moving the chains and getting chunks of yards in the passing game.

Emmanuel Sanders was really showing off some nice hands in this game. He saw just as many targets as DT did, but was the guy who got the end zone looks with 2 TD grabs. He had a catch along the sideline in the 2nd half that was a thing of beauty that he caught with his fingers while falling to the ground.

There’s still no one guy stepping up at tight end to be “The Man”, but we still saw excellent production from the unit with a lot of nice catches in the middle of the field from both Virgil Green and Jeff Heuerman.

Special Teams

Isaiah McKenzie is going to take one the distance this season. I was very impressed with the change of direction he showed on his long return in the 1st half. Almost as impressive was the blocking from the rest of the special teams unit as none of them got a penalty for a block in the back.

Final Thoughts

That was a gratifying win, but I would advise all of Broncos Country to not let this game mean too much. I’m not just talking trash when I say the Broncos didn’t really face a defense this week. They just weren’t a real test of NFL football and as the season wears on teams are getting more and more film of the Broncos offense. I find it unlikely that we’ll see many more blowouts like this outside of maybe the Bills and the Jets this year.

The good part about this game is that it gives the team a lot of building blocks to work with and a blueprint to work towards. If they can keep jumping out to leads on teams and maintain it into the 2nd half, this defense will absolutely steamroll some poor fools.

One thing I do find legit from this game is the play of our defense. The Cowboys have no excuses for our defense being that successful. Offense is what they do well and we completely shut everything they wanted to do completely down. The only reason they scored anything of significance was because of short fields off turnovers. Denver’s defense has returned to the level of excellent play we saw in 2015.

With play like that we can absolutely beat anybody. Who’s next?