|08-14-2007, 01:09 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Henry, Cutler, and the Defense
Broncos win preseason opener
Denver prevails 17-13 at San Francisco
By Mike Klis
Denver Post Staff Writer
San Francisco - Look back at how the lives of Travis Henry and Jay Cutler coincidentally intertwined, and their symmetrical performance here Monday night made sense.
While defeating the San Francisco 49ers 17-13 in the preseason opener, Cutler and Henry played just one series for the Broncos' first-team offense.
In that series, the Broncos went 67 yards for a touchdown. Cutler, the quarterback, accounted for 40 yards, and Henry, the running back, picked up the other 27.
Together, Cutler and Henry 67ed the 49ers.
"It was a lot of fun," Cutler said. "We finally get to go up against somebody other than ourselves and Travis ran the ball well. We had time to throw the ball and make plays, so it went well."
Cutler and Henry may have been playing in the same backfield for the first time, but they complemented each other as if they were preordained for nothing else.
Cutler grew up in an Indiana town called Santa Claus, and Henry was raised a few miles from Disney World in a place called Frostproof.
Henry went to college at the University of Tennessee and Cutler went to Vanderbilt, which is in Nashville, which is the capital of? That's right, Tennessee.
In 2005, both called Nashville home as Cutler was a Vanderbilt senior and Henry was playing his fifth NFL season for the Tennessee Titans. Both eventually made their way from Rocky Top to the Rocky Mountains.
And now here they are, the new stars of the Broncos' backfield.
It may have been only the preseason and the 49ers may have been missing three defensive starters, but impressions have to start somewhere, and so far, Broncoland has to be bucking with excitement at what Cutler and Henry can do for each other.
If someone has to take the lead, as nearly all productive partnerships require, it probably will be Henry. He is not only the player of greater experience, but the running game may be where all-things-Bronco begin this season.
If Henry runs, as he did for 11 yards while breaking two tackles on his first carry, then Cutler can fake the handoff and freeze the defense while he stands alone in the pocket. Cutler threw low on his first pass to Domenik Hixon, who was open on a hitch, but he zipped a 24-yard completion to a slanting Javon Walker on the next play.
Henry then barreled and pushed and churned his way for 9 yards, which may have bunched the 49ers defense on the next play, when Cutler took off and scrambled 16 yards to the 1.
Henry plunged in from there, and Broncos coach Mike Shanahan gave the first-team offense the rest of the night off. While the Broncos' offense was watching the defense struggle to stop a 49ers ground game despite the absence of Frank Gore, it became apparent Henry can become good buddies with more than just Cutler.
If Henry is running, grinding out yards and clock, the defense won't be on the field. The Broncos' second- and third-team defenses were opportunistic while stopping several 49er drives, but new defensive coach Jim Bates knows his starting lineup, which no longer includes tackle Gerard Warren, needs some work.
While Warren was back in Denver awaiting a trade that could come today, the Broncos' first-string defense allowed two scores, for 10 points, in two series.
If it takes the defense a few regular-season games to learn Bates' new system, Henry may take on greater significance to the team's success. For most of the Shanahan era, the Broncos' zone-blocking system spoiled people into thinking any runner could rush for 1,000 yards.
It's a system that made milestone runners of Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell, and it helped push Clinton Portis into a 15-touchdown-a-season back.
Imagine what Henry, who had three seasons of at least 1,200 yards while playing elsewhere, could do while running behind that system - and a strong-armed quarterback he seemed destined to help.
|08-14-2007, 02:08 AM||#2|
Lux et Veritas
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Bit of a corny column, but concerning the game I liked what I saw overall though the defense was a tad shaky at times.
|08-14-2007, 02:42 AM||#4|
Join Date: Dec 2002
|08-14-2007, 03:08 AM||#7|
off season mode
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
The offense however suprised me a bit more than I thought, two things I noticed was how well Travis Henry picked up the blitz and stood up the blitzer, and how Javon didn't seem to go out of his way and block downfield on running plays, I know it's preseason but a major part of the success of our running game used to come from the excellent blocking downfield by our WR's and TE's.
|08-14-2007, 03:12 AM||#8|
Join Date: Mar 2007