The wait is almost over.
The return of the Denver Broncos regular season is few days away. And with that is the first MHR staff preview. Each week of the season, members of the staff will give their key to the week’s game.
How serious the keys are depends on how good the Broncos are and where they sit in the standings. Up first for Denver is the New York Giants on Sunday at Metlife Stadium.
Can the Teddy Bridgewater era start off with a win?
This is where the team statistics will go, but since this is the first game of the season, there’s nothing to include. So onward and upward ... or downward.
Here are the MHR staff’s keys to Sunday’s game.
Fast start for the Broncos
Whether on offense or defense, Denver needs to set the tone for the game and the regular season. This isn’t the Broncos of the last five seasons. If Denver gets the ball first, whether a huge scoring play or a methodical 10-play drive that eats the clock, the offense needs a touchdown. If the Broncos start on defense, at the very least force a three-and-out and Bridgewater proceeds to lead the offense to a touchdown. — Ian St. Clair
If 2021 is going to be different than 2020 and 2019 and 2018 and 2017 and 2016, the offense is going to have to start carrying its own weight. That means they need to produce points for a change. In Teddy Bridgewater, fans may have moments of frustration with the checkdowns but overall I think he’ll end up producing more points and fewer turnovers than Drew Lock. That should equate to more wins, but in order for them to achieve that it has to start fast. The first few weeks are theoretically against weaker opponents, so a fast start could help this young team build up confidence and momentum heading into the meat of their schedule. That will all start with the offense producing drives and points. — Tim Lynch
Pat Shurmur’s play calling
Thanks to Daniel Jones’ propensity to meltdown vs. pressure and the questions about New York’s supporting cast, we know the Broncos defense should have a good day. The bigger question and a critical part of the matchup will be how Shurmur attacks Patrick Graham’s defense. New York ran a ton of Cover 3 and Cover 2 last year and look like they’ll have a banged up Adoree’ Jackson starting for them. The Broncos will need to take advantage because Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence will almost surely clog up the middle. — Joe Rowles
Put pressure on Daniel Jones
By that I do mean the obvious pass rush pressure, but also more than that. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb should be able to eat the Giants’ offensive tackles alive, but the secondary needs to back that up with coverage tighter than John Elway’s grip on the purse strings when he was negotiating a player’s 2nd contract. Lockdown coverage + pass rush pressure will force Jones into making critical mistakes.How can we know that? Daniel Jones is plagued by ball-security issues, with 22 INTs and 29 fumbles (both lost & recovered) in just 26 starts. That 51 combined turnovers/turnover opportunities leads the league over the last 2 seasons, which makes this a great opportunity for the Broncos defense to build momentum early in the season by forcing turnovers. — Taylor Kothe
Broncos defense sets the tone
While the offense will continue to be the focus, Vic Fangio has put together one of the best defenses in all of football. They will need to set the tone against the Giants. Whether Saquon Barkley plays or not, stopping the run, and keeping Daniel Jones fleeing for his life will be the best way for the Broncos to get a win in their season opener. — Adam Malnati