The Broncos are in Atlanta for their first road contest tonight and a meeting with the Falcons, a very good team whose drafting and team development approaches I've followed for years.
The modern version of their franchise was built first by Rich McKay, who’s still the president and CEO, and developed more recently by GM Thomas Dimitroff, who’s a top young executive. Between them, they’ve put together a team that has an excellent offense and a defense that’s good, but is also vulnerable.
Last week, Atlanta lost Brent Grimes, their top cornerback, for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. They’ve signed former Colts corner Terrence Johnson, but 2009 third-rounder Chris Owens, who's never lived up to the Falcons' expectations, is expected to be their nickel corner tonight.
Let's take a look at the rest of Atlanta's roster to see what the Broncos are up against:
Good Morning, Broncos fans! It was a Sunday of lopsided games for Denver's AFC West brethren.
Dante Rosario, who caught seven passes for zero touchdowns last year for Denver, caught three touchdown passes from Philip Rivers, as the Chargers punished Tennessee 38-10 despite the absence of Antonio Gates and Ryan Mathews. San Diego is now 2-0 and atop the AFC West, although they've gotten there by beating the lowly Raiders and Titans; they will host Atlanta next.
Oakland got the snot kicked out of them in Miami, as Reggie Bush piled on 197 yards from scrimmage and two scores to help Ryan Tannehill to his first NFL win, 35-13. The rookie QB ran for a TD and threw for another.
Kansas City got drubbed by the Bills 35-17, with the Chiefs scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns to primp up the pig. C.J. Spiller performed like Bush did, amassing 170 yards from scrimmage for two touchdowns, but on 18 touches to Reggie's 29.
Enjoy the games, everyone; go Bills, Dolphins, and Titans!
Here are the early inactives; the NFL has pulled a replacement official from today's Saints/Panthers game once they realized the guy is a Saints fan, while an official who worked last week's Seahawks/Cardinals game has worked for Seattle officiating practices.
TJ recently commented that the rest of the AFC West may have watched the Broncos play Pittsburgh and realized they were playing for second place. After watching the Chiefs host the Falcons and the Chargers visit the Raiders, I think he’s being too kind. Right now, the three of them seem to be playing just to figure out who remains in the cellar and who departs.
To say that the Chiefs were bad against the Falcons doesn’t fully do them justice. The second half found them inept, bumbling, undexterous, clumsy, and dreadful: all fitting tributes to the hospitality the Chiefs provided to the Falcons. They did everything but gift them the game ball. Their fans did, however, show a lack of class when they chose to boo their former star tight end Tony Gonzalez, when he scored on a touchdown catch. Class, nothing but class. All third, but lots...
I understand that Kansas City is struggling with injuries, but this went far beyond that. Matt Cassel let the Falcons have it with the old 1-2-3: 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, and 3 sacks. The Chiefs had 69 plays for 393 yards. They converted 11 of 16 third downs, which sounds great, gained 4.6 yards per attempt in the rushing game for a total of 152 yards, and notched 22 first downs, but still managed to get beaten by a score of 40-24. It wasn’t even that close, by the end of the third quarter.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Harris and Philip Blake are listed as questionable for tomorrow night's game in Atlanta, while Demaryius Thomas and Manny Ramirez are listed as probable after practicing in full all week.
Atlanta also listed two players as questionable: T Tyson Clabo and LB Sean Witherspoon; WR Roddy White and LB Robert James are probable.
Andrew Mason expects the injury to Ty Warren will result in Sealver Siliga playing for as much as 10 or 20 snaps, and he thinks the absence of Falcons CB Brent Grimes will prompt Peyton Manning to target new Atlanta nickel corner Christopher Owens.
Kevin Vickerson will start in Warren's old spot after packing on 45 pounds during the offseason, with help from a personal chef.
With five minutes to go in the opening quarter of Denver's season-opening win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Von Miller demonstrated that he's well on his way to reaching his goal of improving his run defense this season.
Miller increased the strength of his upper body this year, and it showed during the preseason. Against one of the better rushing teams in the AFC, it was made clear again.
Pittsburgh was in 12 personnel, with the two tight ends forming the closed side on the quarterback’s left: Heath Miller (83) is on the outside, a step back, and Leonard Pope (45) is inline, just inside of him. The Broncos have four down linemen, and Von Miller has moved to the closed side, across from his namesake Heath. Antonio Brown motions from the closed side to a stacked position behind Mike Wallace (17).
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Harris again missed practice yesterday, and John Fox is calling him a game-time decision.
If Harris is limited or unable to play on Monday, that will mean more playing time for Tony Carter, who was something of a surprise as Denver's #4 corner after final cuts. Should Harris not suit up, the team would be left with just four cornerbacks, and none to promote from the practice squad.
Jeff Legwold expects Denver would use Carter on the outside, and shift either Champ Bailey or Tracy Porter inside.
Any further injuries would force some of the team's five safeties down into coverage, with Rahim Moore and Mike Adams the likeliest candidates for such a shift.
Moore was fined $21K for the helmet-to-helmet hit he was flagged for against Pittsburgh wideout Emmanuel Sanders; the youngster says it was unintentional, but still a mistake.
Happy Friday, friends. We've been telling you for a while how awesome access to all-22 coaches film would be, and I can now confirm, it's pretty awesome.
For those who aren't subscribers, allow me to briefly explain how it works. There's no sound, and for each play, you get a high sideline view that includes all 22 players. Following that, you get a tight view from behind the QB.
What that allows you to do is to watch the downfield action of a play (receivers and secondary), and then watch the backfield action (pass rushers, QB, RB) for the same play. So, if I want to gauge the effectiveness of the passing scheme, I can watch the route combination against the coverage for a play, and then watch the protection for the same play.
In the Steelers game, I was impressed with how well the Broncos protected Peyton Manning, and I was interested to see the difference in methodology from last season. With Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow (a slow mover and a slow thinker), the Broncos almost always used at least six men in protection, and often, it was seven. With Manning, the Broncos mostly kept five men in, and sent five men out into the pattern. The use of extra blockers was quite limited, actually, and it speaks to their confidence in Manning recognizing the rush scheme, and getting the ball out quickly to the open player.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Things were supposed to be different for the Bears and Jay Cutler.
He had his BFFs Brandon Marshall and Jeremy Bates back, an OC in Mike Tice who was willing to protect him with more than five blockers, and he had become a father. Jay was all grown up, and the Cutler/Marshall/Bates trio would finally get to recreate the offensive magic they supposedly crafted in 2008 when they were 16th in the league in scoring.
Waxing the NFL's worst team of 2011 in their opener on Sunday (they beat the Colts 41-21) had Jay and Brandon confident enough to talk trash about a Packers team that had beaten Chicago four straight times and physically punished the ex-Broncos passer.
Chicago will be without WR Dane Sanzenbacher, TE Kyle Adams, OT Jonathan Scott, G/C Edwin Williams, DT Matt Toeania, DT Nate Collins, and S Jeremy Jones tonight; inactive for the Packers are RB James Starks, WR Greg Jennings, WR Jarrett Boykin, DE C.J. Wilson, CB Davon House, S M.D. Jennings, and S Sean Richardson.