Good morning, Broncos Country!
Despite the tendency to make the Denver-Baltimore game about Gary Kubiak beating his former team, the Broncos head coach and his staff are approaching this Aretha Franklin-style: with a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
From Baltimore's special teams (a strength of head coach John Harbaugh) to its stout defensive front to its solid offensive line and "elite" quarterback, the Ravens are going to be a formidable opponent come Sunday - and Kubiak and Co. know it.
"They're big and physical. Their fronts on both sides of the ball - it's the way they're built," Kubiak said, noting that he always liked that the Ravens playing philosophy was to be tough and physical. "I think in football if you're physical every week, you're going to have a chance to be consistently successful. We've got our hands full from that stand point, but we understand we're going to have to play very physical."
Broncos' special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis understands this will be quite a challenge for his group in particular since special teams is Harbaugh's specialty.
"It's a big challenge coming into this game. They're a well-coached team," DeCamillis said. "We don't know who the returner is going to be. We're going to have to play our rules and make sure we play the fastest."
Like Kubiak, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison knows personally how good the Ravens defense is since he and Kubiak faced the Ravens D every week last season.
"Having practiced with them, we know that they're a very good and talented defense," said Dennison, the former Ravens quarterbacks' coach before following Kubiak to Denver. "I have a great deal of respect, obviously, [for Baltimore] and being in the building, you know how well they're coached too."
The weakest spot on the team is likely considered Flacco, but his Super Bowl MVP-resume would indicate otherwise. Either way, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips says his defense will not take Flacco and the Ravens' offensive line for granted.
"We really respect their offense. They've got a big-time offense," Phillips said. "They've got a great quarterback and a great running game."
Sheesh, is there any way this Broncos team can win the game?
Well, yes. It's called Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.
Or Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall.
And on the offense, there's a guy named Peyton Manning who is supposedly pretty good, along with some pretty top-notch receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, not to mention one of the more productive running backs in the league last year, C.J. Anderson.
Perhaps the biggest question going into the game is how Broncos' special teams will step up. But with Emmanuel "Hands" Sanders catching punts and strong backup linebackers ready to make tackles, it should make for a good game.
"We need quality plays out of them," DeCamillis said, adding that good coverage from those linebackers is key. "If you have good quality linebackers, you've got a chance to be good every year. I think all those guys are going to do that for us."
Quality plays from the Broncos offense will also be key, and Dennison said the expectation is a lot of first downs to keep the ball moving.
"We have a lot of really good players and now we're starting to play together," said Dennison. "It's move the ball, make plays and win games. That's what we're expecting us to do."
Ravens DC Dean Pees had a good line about the challenge in facing Peyton Manning: "With Peyton, just assume that he's going to know."— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) September 10, 2015
Rookie offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo knows he has a heck of a first regular season test this weekend, but he's looking forward to being part of a line that does its part to help the Broncos win on Sunday.
"Yeah, we're ready to go. They have a good defense, a good front seven," he acknowledged. "We've just got to do what we do and play good fundamentals, good assignments and we'll be alright."
Although the defense will be without starting strong safety T.J. Ward and defensive end Derek Wolfe, the players coming in are well-versed in the scheme and prepared for the plays, Phillips said.
"Whatever a player can do, we try to analyze that and fit it into our defense," said the defensive coordinator. "It's how you play the techniques as really involved is the way we individualize every player."
Miller is not worried. In fact, just get that guy in a game already.
"We're pretty excited. That first game of the season, it's going to take care of itself. We've got a good Ravens team coming in here - a very, very solid offensive line and a very solid offense. I think they're even better on defense," Miller said.
The edge rusher who is vying for the NFL single season sack record added he doesn't get tired of hearing how good the Ravens defense is because he respects it.
"You can't get tired hearing about great defense. I like hearing about great defenses. I like hearing about the Seahawks, the Ravens and all those guys because I feel like we're a great defense, too. When you see all of these guys balling, it just pushes us more. They're a great defense, and I feel like we can be a great defense, too."
Sunday sounds like a good day for the Broncos to apply the rest of Franklin's song to the Ravens: "sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me..."
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