Bronco kickoff is about five hours away, so I have started my game preparation. I have acquired enough Tums and Pepto Bismol to get me through the stressful, exciting, and downright on-the-edge-of-your -seat football that has become the norm when watching the Denver Broncos the last month. I have also found my sleeping eye mask that I can put on when it is just impossible to watch – probably when there is 5 minutes or less left in the game!
In all seriousness, I fully expect this game to be very similar to the last 5 games the Broncos have played. The Broncos will take some time to settle in and figure out how the opposition is going to defend them. Then, for the duration of the game, the Broncos will chip away, sometimes finding things that work and other times hitting a brick wall, causing Bronco fans to scratch their head and/or feel like pulling their hair out. Then, when you least expect it, the Broncos offense, defense, and special teams will click, and good things will happen. Will it happen exactly like that, and will enough good things happen to allow the Broncos to win? If I could answer “yes” to those questions, I would already be retired, because I would be a multi-millionaire.
One thing I know for sure is that the Broncos must be smart and play strategically when it comes to the Bears’ Devin Hester. I am no football coach, but I will have no problem if the Broncos choose not to kick it to Hester – whether punting or kicking off. Four years ago, the Broncos played in Chicago, and Devin Hester single-handedly brought the Bears back into the game when the Broncos held a seven point lead; thereby, changing the momentum of the game. Hester returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter when the Broncos were ahead 13-6 and then to top that, he returned a kickoff 88 yards for his second touchdown immediately after the Broncos took a 20-13 lead. The game went to overtime, and the Bears eventually won 37-34 when Robbie Gould successfully kicked a 39 yard field goal. Obviously, Hester’s productivity that day directly contributed to the Bears’ victory.
So, Devin Hester is a wildcard the Broncos must defend. Similar to the philosophy of defending a star quarterback…. sometimes the best defense against them is to keep them off the field. That rationale is fine with me if it allows the Broncos to manage and control the game in a way that will allow them to earn their sixth straight victory. If Devin Hester doesn’t touch the ball on punts and kickoffs, there is no way he can return them for touchdowns. Today, I would be content with this approach. When I compare the feelings I had four years ago watching Devin Hester make the Broncos’ special team units look like the Keystone Cops to the feelings I have had watching the Broncos win this last month, I definitely prefer the latter.
Good luck Broncos!