It has been a week in Broncos Country. In the midst of Von Miller’s trade to the LA Rams, and two different players (TE Noah Fant, G Netane Muti) landing on the COVID-19 reserve list in addition to the team’s multiple injuries, Vic Fangio’s squad has been preparing for a game.
Dallas will host the Denver Broncos at noon, and it’s going to be an interesting showdown. Given how the season has been thus far for Denver, especially stacked up against the Cowboys’ 6-1 record, we’re not the favorite to take home a victory. QB Dak Prescott is confirmed to be starting tomorrow, and he’s a threat to any defense, much less a Miller-free defense.
In all fairness, Dallas hasn’t exactly been conquering the best teams of the league. It doesn’t take the highest-paid player in the NFL to throw their weight around with the Vikings, Patriots, or even division rivals like the Eagles and Giants. But also in fairness, the Cowboys look good. Dak Prescott looks good. Two things are obvious from just watching them play: one, their skin is in the game; and two, they’re trying to head somewhere.
I’m not trying to imply that the Broncos don’t want to win, but unfortunately their drive to win isn’t translating to scores. I’m thankful my Broncos conquered the WFT last week, but victory over a team that has a losing record isn’t much of an indicator that they’d beat a team with a winning record.
In short: I’m not going to be a pessimist, but a little realism never hurt anybody.
Fangio knows the Cowboys are a threat on both sides of the ball. “Obviously, the record tells you what the challenge is, and the scores of some of their games tell you what the challenge is,” he pointed out, adding that they have a great offense.
“It’s balanced—running and passing with great players and a good scheme,” he continued, “Their defense is much improved, and they’re playing fast. They’re a fast defense and they’re playing great.”
Speaking of their own defense, Fangio mentioned that the nickel cornerback position may be handled by Nate Hairston and/or Kyle Fuller today. They are currently NOT moving around any players internally to strengthen their outside linebacking positions in Miller’s absence.
Moving on from that, Fangio had praise for WR Kendall Hinton’s punt return last Sunday. “I think there was only one,” he remembers, “They went for it on fourth down a bunch, got stopped in the red zone. They tried a bunch of field goals. He did fine.”
Does this mean Hinton could be seen returning punts again?
“Yes, possibly,” the head coach said, “Our roster is in a little bit of a flux right now with the injuries, getting the proper numbers, and having capable guys behind guys that may be nicked.”
“I couldn’t tell you right now who the inactives are going to be,” he admitted, but made a few solid confirmations. G Graham Glasgow (hip) will be playing tomorrow, OT Garret Bolles (ankle) will not. Both TE Noah Fant and G Netane Muti will remain on the COVID-19 reserve list.
For today, Fangio agreed that the key to beating Dallas will be stopping their explosive offense; but it has to be coupled with some great offensive plays on Denver’s part, too.
“...You have to be able to score points, ultimately. We have to play well,” Fangio explained, adding an emphasis on all three phases - offense, defense, special teams - in order to come out on top.
It’s my cautious but firm hope that the Broncos can ride some momentum from their win last week and carry that (as well as hard work from practice) into this game. Like I said earlier, I won’t bet against them. There’s a possibility that Teddy Bridgewater could make some extraordinary plays this week. And even without #58, their defense is still packed with a talented mix of veterans and newcomers (S Justin Simmons, LB Jonathon Cooper, Kareem Jackson, Patrick Surtain II, I could go on).
What I’m trying to say is there WILL be opportunities for all three phases to accomplish what they need. I believe the key is going to be seizing those opportunities, making the right play calls, and meshing together as a team.