By Leora Ruzin // @LeoraKitty78
Denver Broncos- 27, Seattle Seahawks- 24
The Denver Broncos are coming off one of the most disappointing seasons since the McDaniels era (5-11, 4th place in the AFC West). This, after coming off a slightly-less disappointing season in 2016 (9-7, 3rd place in the AFC West).
Once quarterback Peyton Manning retired, and offensive coordinator Wade Phillips left to go to the Los Angeles Rams, the team fell into disarray. When Head Coach Gary Kubiak retired the end of the 2016 season, the proverbial last nail on the coffin was hammered down. It’s crazy to think that this is the team that won Super Bowl 50, and yet, here we are.
After what seemed like a forgetful preseason, the Denver Broncos opened the season at home against long-time rival Seattle Seahawks. The post-Peyton Manning revolving door that is the quarterback position continues to turn, as the team introduced yet another new starter in former Minnesota Viking Case Keenum. This marks the third year in a row where the team has a new starting QB, so it is safe to say that Keenum definitely has his work cut out for him.
Linebacker Von Miller continues to torment quarterbacks, and Sunday was no exception. Miller logged six tackles, three sacks, two fumbles, and one really weird post-sack animal crawl. The defense has not lost any of its potency, with the unit snagging six sacks, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions on the evening.
Von Miller unveils his latest magic trick in Denver this afternoon.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 9, 2018
The one deficit for the defense continues to be their inability to cover ANY tight end. It doesn’t matter what uniform that TE is wearing; the defense just loses sight of them. For the Seahawks, it was rookie Will Dissley, who burned the Denver secondary for 105 yards on just three carries.
Another quarterback, another case of the missed teammate identity. Keenum threw three interceptions, and the Seahawks were able to capitalize on all three. The Broncos have a flat turnover differential, which seems like it is not a terrible thing, but that is only because the defense was able to offset the turnovers. The defense should not be expected to continually bail out the offense.
While the game lacked pizzazz, the Broncos were balanced on both sides of the ball for the first time in what feels like ages. The defense continues to show that they are one of the best in the league, while the offense is starting to develop an identity. As Keenum gets more comfortable with the offense and the playbook, the turnovers “should” become fewer and further apart.
Fun stat: The Broncos were the only team who (as of Sunday night) converted at least one first down on every single series. After how poorly the offense has performed over the last two seasons, this is a mind-boggling achievement.
Next up, the Broncos host divisional rival Oakland Raiders, who will be coming off a short week, and who will be missing their biggest defensive threat in LB Khalil Mack. The linebacker was traded to the Chicago Bears right before the regular season began, in what is being considered one of the most lop-sided trades in recent memory.
If Keenum can keep the turnovers in check, and the defense can continue bringing the heat, it wouldn’t be completely insane to see the Broncos bring home another victory.
Talk Broncos with Leora on Twitter @LeoraKitty78