I was having a hard time coming up with a title for this post. It was either what you see now, or “Over-Raided.” I decided to focus on what the Broncos did right rather than the Raiders poor performance.
The Broncos put on one helluva performance last night. Everyone from the offense to the defense to the coaching staff brought their “A” game into Oakland and they now stand atop the AFC West after week 1. They even surprised me by beating Oakland by 27 points. I predicted a 28-13 win.
I’m kicking myself for not keeping Jay Cutler on my fantasy roster. I had him at first, but I did not have enough confidence in him to let him start my season. I did keep rookie Eddie Royal on my roster and as we know, he came up big (9 catches for 146yds, 1 TD) in his debut. He even showed more poise at QB than JaMarcus Russell, throwing the ball away rather than getting tackled or running out of bounds seven yards behind the line of scrimmage.
I was also impressed by the Broncos offensive line. On some plays, Cutler was sitting in the pocket so long that he could have baked a cake in there. Even more exciting was when he had to scramble a bit to find the open man way down field. He’s at his best when he scrambles.
Brandon Marshall will return to action next week against the San Diego Chargers. As far as the offense is concerned, I hope that the coaching staff uses Marshall and Royal in the most effective way. It would be a shame to see Royal take a back seat just because Marshall is back. I’m sure they could make the duo work like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne or Jerry Rice and T.O. back in the day. As evident from last night, Royal has got so much talent, not to mention speed, that he could cause great defenses a lot of problems if he lines up with Marshall. Factor in the three tight ends, and the Cutler has got more options than a $3.99 Las Vegas buffet.
Every good story inevitabilty has some drama, and unfortunately it came in the tune of the death of Andre Hall’s mother. Hall lead the Broncos running attack with 10 carries for 61 yards after learning about the death of his chronically ill mother just hours before the game. Best wishes to Hall and his family.
Moving on to defense, the Broncos have improved in this area. They held the Raiders scoreless through three quarters and allowed them to convert on third down just two out of twelve times. It was a little hard to tell if the Raiders offense was just that bad or if it was the Broncos defense that was stifling their drives down field. JaMarcus Russell had the game from hell so all the Broncos had to do was stop Darren McFadden on the run. With Javon Walker out, that took away a deep threat on offense, so the Broncos could cheat towards the run.
The Broncos’ special teams is still a question mark in my book. Yes, Matt Prater went 2 for 2 on field goal attempts, but there really wasn’t any pressure on him during the game. That’s okay though. I’d rather see a blowout than have to see Prater step in Jason Elam’s shadow to win an important game for the team. Also of concern on special teams is the kickoff coverage. They gave up a 58 yard run on the first kickoff. Everyone has slip-ups, but I hope that this doesn’t become a trend.
Next week is the true test. San Diego may have lost their first game, but don’t take them lightly. We’ll get to see if Cutler can out-throw Philip Rivers and rookie Ryan Clady take on an injured Shawn Merriman.
I can’t wait!
Tags: Andre Hall Brandon Marshall Darren Mcfadden Denver Broncos Eddie Royal Jamarcus Russell Javon Walker Jay Cutler Jerry Rice Marvin Harrison Matt Prater Oakland Raiders Philip Rivers Reggie Wayne Ryan Clady San Diego Chargers Shawn Merriman T.o.