Broncos Fanzone: Interview with Ian Henson


Dec 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos fans cheers in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Raiders defeated Broncos 15-12. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos travel to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend. This could be a playoff preview as both teams are in the thick of the playoffs. The Broncos currently hold the third seed in the AFC playoffs while the Steelers are on the outside looking in as the seventh seed.

Both of these teams were well acquainted from 1997-2012, playing such great games. This will be the first time that both teams have squared off since Manning’s Broncos debut in 2012, a 31-19 Broncos win.

The biggest question, in my opinion, is how will Brock Osweiler respond after suffering his first career loss.

This week on the weekly Broncos Fanzone, I got to talk to Ian Henson from Mile High Report. This man is full of information and one of the most well-known guys in the Broncos community,

Reflecting just one more time on last week’s loss, I asked Ian who he believes is responsible for the Broncos loss on Sunday.

The thing that I think most fans have fail to realize is that it is not that Peyton Manning was bad or that Brock Osweiler just isn’t that good, but this is the same offense… You see Osweiler’s first 18 quarters (including the 4th against the Chiefs and the overtime against the Patriots), compare his stats to the first 18 quarters of Manning this season.

Nearly identical numbers for touchdowns and interceptions (I know, but if you include fumbles, Brock is even with Peyton for turnovers in that first 18), Manning blows Osweiler out in yardage though… It’s the same offense.

With the defense doing incredible things, the Raiders had negative offensive yardage in the first half, Osweiler went into the final drive of the 1st half having completed 16 of 19 and the Broncos had 9 points. Then he went 5 of 9 on the final drive of 1st half to finish 21 of 28.Brock finished the game 35 of 51 with no touchdowns.

Dec 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) looks to pass the ball during the first half against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

You can see the chart movement just from those numbers. It’s odd to only throw 3 incomplete passes and have 3 field goals, it doesn’t necessarily point to ineptness on Osweiler’s part, but it is probably safe to assume that the play calling was fine. Yet, as the Raiders made halftime adjustments to combat Osweiler’s efficiency, the Broncos seemed to make little effort to defense Osweiler’s efficiency.

Kubiak was unapologetic after the game, he did not take blame and that leads me to believe that he did not think that it was his fault. He’s admitted fault on many things, including allowing Manning to play further than he should have been allowed.

Kubiak justified not being able to get the offensive line help against Khalil Mack by saying that the run game couldn’t get going, you’d occasionally see Osweiler audible to a bump run to chip away at Mack (a la Manning), but that didn’t stop Mack from going from 4th in the NFL in sacks to 1st in the NFL in sacks in one afternoon.

All that being said, I can’t think of a single quarterback that Kubiak has worked with that has failed, he’s pretty much made everyone a Pro Bowler from Steve Young to John Elway, Brian Griese to Jake Plummer, Matt Schaub to Joe Flacco. Football players and coaches often refer to ‘buying in’ and I can imagine that it’s difficult to buy in when you’ve got two masterminds in the room (Kubiak and Manning).

Very good points Ian. Did I not tell you that he was very informational? But going back to what he said, I would agree with a few points, including the Kubiak mention of not taking any blame. But you have to look at it and see that he did not make any adjustments.

All coaches do what they can to adjust when something is not working. The fact that he did not adjust when Michael Schofield was struggling with Mack, you have to note it and fix it.

Osweiler was efficient, and the fact that the Raiders were able to adjust to that speaks volumes on Jack Del Rio’s halftime adjustments.

So, with playoffs just around the corner, I asked Ian how confident he is with the Broncos matching up against teams that are currently in the playoff hunt.

Dec 6, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) and cornerback Aqib Talib (21) celebrate after a defensive stop during the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

I can’t wait for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, that offense versus this defense is something that I’ve waited for all season.

It also does seem as if the Cincinnati Bengals are going to be able to hold on to their lead in the AFC North, just based on when the loss of Andy Dalton happened and short of a travesty the Bengals really only need to win one more game to make it. However, no Alabama quarterback has won an NFL game since 1987.

The issue with all of the quarterback talk is that it’s really pulled fans away from what they’re actually witnessing, a Broncos defense playing at a historical level. I don’t think that they’re going to have an issue with anyone in the playoffs as long as they keep up what they are doing.

Now, I think as far as offense goes, it’s murky, because there is probably a plan that the Broncos coaches would like to implement offensively, but they’re giving the rest of the AFC playoff teams a month to prepare if they were to say strut out three tackles or debut Juwan Thompson strictly as a fullback.

As far as the Patriots are concerned, Denver did not have that win until they had it. That game was turned on a muffed punt return and the loss of Dont’a Hightower which left a gap in the defense that Denver just continued to pound (including the final 48-yard run in overtime by C.J. Anderson). So, yeah, unless some of these red zone filed goals start turning into touchdowns, I’m probably most worried about the Patriots still.

Well said. And he brings an interesting point about Alabama quarterbacks. If that is the case, the Bengals might have a tough time until Dalton returns. And the classic offense vs defense battle that Pittsburgh and Denver will bring this weekend will be a fun one to watch.

The defense has been playing at a historical level. We could very well be witnessing history. If the Broncos go far in the postseason, then I have no doubt that they will be the reason why.

Dec 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Vernon Davis (80) celebrates with tight end Owen Daniels (81) after catching a pass for a first down during the first half against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

We appear to be in for another installment of this Broncos vs. Steelers battle. They have had some entertaining games, especially in the playoffs. I asked Ian what his favorite memory from this series is.

I think that most people will say the Broncos wild card round pass from Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas, but this history goes back so far and one team has caused the other not to make the Super Bowl so many times.

I’ll tell you my least favorite, Ben Roethlisberger dismantling the Broncos in the AFC Championship game in 2006, that was a rough one. Especially one week after a win in the playoffs over the Patriots.

Howard Griffith caught a 16-yard touchdown from John Elway in the 2nd quarter of the 1998 AFC Championship game. That gave the Broncos the lead that they never surrendered. The Steelers were -1 in that game, it was in Pittsburgh and the Broncos won by 3. Sending them to the Super Bowl to face the Green Bay Packers.

It has been something to see that both of these teams have had a hand in the AFC representative in the Super Bowl whenever those two teams have played. I also will never forget 2006. I thought that team was Super Bowl bound after beating the Patriots and seeing the Colts lose the next day.

The Steelers were a team on a mission and managed to beat the Broncos. And how can we all forget about the Tebow-Thomas connection in the Wild Card round in 2012?

The Steelers have been red-hot in the past few weeks. So Ian, what do the Broncos need to do to slow this team down?

The teams that I worry about scoring on the Broncos defense are those teams with elite tight ends, Cleveland, New England, Kansas City on a good week. Heath Miller isn’t a good tight end necessarily.

The Steelers’ strength is Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, but unlike most defenses, the Broncos will not need to double Brown and leave Bryant open. You can leave Harris on the slot and Talib on the outside all day, this defense has given up 2 touchdowns to receivers this season and neither of them were incredible receivers.

What scares me is that even with 2 touchdowns from Pittsburgh, I don’t know that Denver will be able to keep up offensively. This means that the team will require defensive and special teams points. I do feel in my gut that Denver’s offense won’t have any issues with success against the Steelers necessarily, because Pittsburgh’s been atrocious at points this season on defense.

Also, Demaryius Thomas is basically a Steelers Killer.

Next: Broncos vs. Steelers Game Preview

Agreed. Those two wide outs have been a solid play, but that Broncos secondary have been playing very well in regards to the limited touchdowns by wide outs. But the biggest thing is that the defense and special teams are going to need to step up in case.

The Steelers are also near the bottom in pass yards allowed, so that could spell some success for the Broncos offense.

Alright Ian, as I ask everyone who has been a part of this, what is your final score. Do you have any bold predictions?

I don’t make score predictions, I think that the Broncos win though. I think that it’s a pretty bold prediction to predict that neither Antonio Brown nor Martavis Bryant will score. I will take it a bit further and say that Demaryius Thomas will and that Denver will have issues stopping DeAngelo Williams for at least part of the game.

No score, but a Broncos win? I will take that. Thank You Ian for taking the time out to talk Broncos here at Predominantly Orange. Go Broncos!