Good morning, Broncos Country!
Game Day is finally here, and the Broncos have some catching up to do as all their major AFC foes got big wins on Sunday.
There has been a lot of speculation about what needs to happen in this game in order to shift the tide and get the Broncos back to a winning streak.
Trevor Siemian throwing pain-free should allow the quarterback to aim better for Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas and hit the deep pass should he need to (though let’s hope there’s no need for a Hail Mary tonight).
The offensive line is always a popular choice, and no doubt good communication on that line along with a little more prep time with all the starters practicing all week should help get back to its early season improvements.
A defense that not only holds its opponents to minimal points the rest of the game but also does so on the first few drives will help keep the offense from having to dig out of a hole.
And it’s possible the run game will get some more spark as Devontae Booker is likely to get the rock a few more times this week after Gary Kubiak mentioned trying to work the explosive running back into the game more (and hopefully, for the love of all things Orange and Blue, Andy Janovich gets the call too.
Yet the single biggest factor for a good game tonight is going to be a healthy Kubiak. Though the coach was only physically absent from the last game at San Diego, he was mentally absent from the game against the Falcons as he had been feeling bad for days before the game.
And that absence showed - from the poor play-calling to the rather uninspired play on the field.
But the coach is back, and his team is thrilled. A piece in the Denver Post this weekend included two anecdotes about Kubiak that prove what an invaluable piece he is to this Broncos team.
He is not just a coach with master plan on how to win with a team; he’s a coach with a master plan for each player and how to win with this team, this year, this week.
The first comes from Kubiak’s early days backing up John Elway.
"I watched John at the end of the week say, ‘Give me these plays and I’ll go win the game.’ I watched his confidence, I watched him sit down with the coach — whether it was (Mike) Shanahan or coach (Dan) Reeves — and relay how he wants things in a game. I learned to deal with quarterbacks that way. It doesn’t matter how much I know or how much I want to do. What matters is what they feel best about doing. You’re not the one playing. Even though you may think that’s a great play, well, if he doesn’t like it, it doesn’t matter. I learned that through John, really. Watching John prepare."
Fast-forward a couple decades when Kubiak was forced to make a tough decision about benching Peyton Manning in the middle of a meltdown game for the Hall-of-Famer last year.
Elway told the Post he believes Kubes’ decision at that moment was a defining one for the 2015 season – more than the Super Bowl, more than the game in which the coach brought Manning back to relieve a non-inspiring performance from Brock Osweiler.
It was a huge decision that could have devastating effects to the team, and Kubiak told his quarterback exactly how they would handle it.
"Hey, this is on me. I got you. I can’t send you out there and get you hurt. You understand that? I had no business putting you out here today anyway. We’ll get through it."
We all know how that story ended, but at the time, it was very uncertain for both the team, the fans and certainly for the quarterback and his backup.
But the difference-maker for all the players going through that situation was the trust they had in their coach to be straightforward with them and also to make the right call. That can’t be underestimated when the going gets tough.
And the going is getting tough right now.
But the Broncos have their coach – and very much their current leader – back at the helm. No doubt he learned a few things while he watched the last game and spent a little more time studying tape from the both of the last two losses. I'm betting we see some of what he learned tonight.
As Kubiak faces his former team, and the Broncos look at their former teammate across the field, it’s going to be another great story for Kubiak and the Broncos.
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