Sometimes an embarrassing loss can be the kick-in-the-pants a team needs.
Steve Atwater certainly knows that from his playing days, and the Hall-of-Fame safety definitely believes the poor performance against the Raiders a week ago influenced a motivated Broncos team on Sunday.
“Sometimes that can happen especially when you look at film and say, ‘I know I can give more effort than that. I can do better; I’m not that weak,’” Atwater told Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright on Broncos Country Tonight. “These guys know they can play better than [against the Raiders] and they came out and proved it.”
Facing the 6-3 Dolphins, the Broncos turned in a noteworthy bounce-back performance. Drew Lock, after starting 0-for-6 on completions and throwing an interception, he ended 18-for-30 and 270 yards. But more importantly, he moved the offense down the field.
“This is the Broncos team I want to see on the field every Sunday. They played with a lot of pride and a lot of grit,” Atwater said. “Listening to player comments after the Raiders game, they said, ‘hey, we’re better than this,’ and they came out and played better.”
Atwater thought the Broncos came in with a great game plan, but for him, it was all about the execution.
“We had a good ground game, Drew Lock made some good passes, the offensive line and defensive lines stepped up and did a great job,” he said, adding that the interior lines on both sides of the ball caused him some concern going into the game. “Those were the two I was worried and both those guys showed up big time.”
"I'm a fighter. I never give up and I'm just going to continue to do what I need to do to help this team win." - @gbolles72— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 24, 2020
The offensive line showing up was huge too as it gave Lock and his running backs a lot of time to let the ground game unfold. But Atwater was proud of how Lock specifically didn’t let last week’s Raiders’ game, or his opening drives keep him from playing the way a starting quarterback needs to play.
“I thought he did well,” Atwater said of the young gunslinger. “It’s going to be a bumpy road, especially for young quarterbacks who have the most difficult job on the field. They have to throw accurate passes, but also lead the team, understand every position on the offense, get guys lined up, tell guys what they have to do...it’s the most difficult job on the field and I’m proud he stuck his chest out, didn’t hid behind an injury, stepped back up to the plate and knocked it out of the park.”
As the Smilin Assassin acknowledged, there will be a lot of ups and downs with a young offense.
“That’s part of being a young quarterback starting in the NFL. Tua Tagovailoa found that out last week too,” Atwater said, adding that Broncos Country “learned a lot” about Lock last week. “We learned a lot from him the way he started off and then turned it around. Proud of all the guys. They hung in there together and that’s what great teams do, and I think we have a great young team in the making.”
Now the challenge will be doing that next week against an 8-2 Saints team with its backup quarterback coming off a mostly mistake-free win over the Falcons that saw him connect on 18 of 23 passes for 233 yards and a 108.9 passer rating.
“We know Taysom Hill can run as effectively as any running back in the league, and he’s a big strong guy. But I was surprised at how accurately he threw the ball - and he definitely looked like he understood the offense,” Atwater said of backup filling in for Drew Brees. “I’m anxious to see if he can keep that up, though. And I’m anxious to see the game plan - are we going to put pressure on him or are we going to sit back and see if he can read defenses.”
Let’s give Atwater some opinions - bring the pressure more or force Taysum Hill to read the defense?
This poll is closed
BRING THE PRESSURE!
Make him read the defense; with Fangio’s disguises, Broncos can confuse him.
C’mon...you know it’s BOTH/AND ;)