Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) runs with the ball against Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) and outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) during the second half in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
If Manny Ramirez doesn’t snap the ball out of Century Link Field on the first play from scrimmage, the Denver Broncos will have won.
That is one-step ahead of the Super Bowl debacle. That also would mean the Broncos aren’t surprised or caught off guard by the crowd noise in Seattle.
One way to counter that is to have a strong start, just as Denver did on the first play against the Kansas City Chiefs. Do that again, but don’t stop after that one time. Keep attacking. Don’t let up. A strong start is paramount against Seattle, in Seattle.
The word of the day for the Broncos on Sunday is: “Prepared.” They weren’t for the Seahawks last February. Regardless of how and why that was the case is moot. Preparations began Wednesday (Sept. 17) at Dove Valley when the players started the installation of the game plan. And, hopefully, they continued the rest of the week when Denver pushed a little bit harder.
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You know Peyton Manning demands his fellow players and coaches to go even further in practice. Not just because the team’s facing Seattle, but because despite a 2-0 record, there are still areas for this team to improve.
Those areas have to get corrected for the team to stand a chance.
The mistakes, namely the penalties and not getting off the field on third down, have to end. When the Denver defense gets Russell Wilson in third-and-long, it needs to make plays and head to the bench.
The Broncos have to remain consistent in the second half. Denver must maintain its strong start after halftime. No plays off. No lapses.
That’s where leaders come in the fold and drive their teammates to get better during practice. That’s where the improvement comes.
The first two games of the season should serve as more than enough motivation in that regard. Add to it that the Broncos are playing their first road game of the season in a place dang near no one wins or plays well. And they must do so against the defending Super Bowl champs who embarrassed them in the Super Bowl.
Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Ryan Harris (68) pass protects on Denver Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Yeah, there’s tons of ammunition for Manning and DeMarcus Ware to fire at their teammates this week.
The good news is Denver is 2-0. That’s not by accident.
Manning is still No. 1 in the NFL in touchdown passes. Against the Chiefs, the offense scored on 4-of-7 possessions. That’s 57.1 percent of the time. Last year’s record-setting offense scored on 96-of-202 possessions for 47.5 percent. When you take into account the Broncos had just two offensive possessions in the second half (and a touchdown that got called back because of a penalty), that’s impressive.
Two weeks in a row the defense won the game. When Denver neededa play, someone on defense stepped up and made it. Against Kansas City, the Broncos held them to seven points in the second half despite the fact they were on the field the whole half.
At no point did you get the sense what was unfolding was because of the Chiefs and their high-powered offense. It was happening because of stupid penalties and not getting off the field on third down.
Broncos Country hopes Denver got it out of its system because if you give Wilson and the Seahawks those chances, you’re in for a long day.
People mention what Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers did in their 30-27 win over Seattle. They will mention that Manning has to attack cornerback Richard Sherman, which he should. Wes Welker’s return helps in a major way. Having Welker and Emmanuel Sanders on the field for the first time, and at the same time, is huge for this offense. It’s fun to think about what a healthy unit will look like and do.
The aspect Manning and offensive coordinator Adam Gase should look at is the success San Diego had with tight end Antonio Gates. Gates lit up that Seahawks defense. At this point, no one would put Gates in the same category as Julius Thomas. The Broncos need to find additional vulnerabilities to attack. None of that matters, thought, if the offensive line doesn’t give PFM time. Those five guys have to do a much better job of protection than they did in the Super Bowl. Yes, the return of Ryan Clady changes everything. Still, if Manning has time and is protected, the rest falls into place for the Broncos.
Middle linebacker Danny Trevathan is listed as questionable on the injury report, and he says he’s ready to go. Talk about another huge advantage for Denver if he plays. You get Welker, Clady and your emotional leader on defense back? Yes, please. The defense has looked flat at times, and that could be due to Trevathan’s absence. Here’s hoping he suits up and plays.
Remember the number 24. If the Broncos score 24 points or more, they will win. Seattle is 1-4 over the last two years in those games.
Broncos Country has had the sneaking suspicion Denver has been intentionally bland and vanilla with its game plan the first two games – the thought being the Broncos didn’t want to give anything away. That’s why I surmised Cody Latimer hasn’t seen the field.
Time to end that talk.
Time to put a complete game together and take another step toward the ultimate goal of a third Lombardi Trophy.
A win on Sunday in Seattle is that step.
Before that happens, let’s just hope Ramirez has a clean snap to open the game.
Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) takes a snap from center Manny Ramirez (66) in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports