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Old 12-03-2010, 02:34 PM   #1
Bronco Rob
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Default USA Today: Denver Broncos Team Report

Denver rookie Eric Decker isn't surprised that Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is on a tear in his fourth NFL season.
He got a sneak peak this past summer at Larry Fitzgerald's elite receiver camp held in Minneapolis.

"He's 6-2, 225, 230 pounds and he plays like he's 5-10," Decker said. "He gets out of his breaks and his run after the catch is probably his best attribute, making guys miss, shedding guys and making touchdowns."

Bowe has been doing that with impunity for seven weeks, with four 100-yard games and 13 of his career-best 14 TDs. Bowe's season-highs were set in the Nov. 14 loss to Denver (13-186) as Kansas City tried to rally from 35 down and were caught in pass-first mode.

"There's nobody hotter than Bowe," Broncos defensive coordinator Don Martindale said.

One way the Broncos likely will try to cool him down is by assigning their best cover corner, Champ Bailey, as a shadow for Bowe. Double teaming the hot receiver leaves Denver's suspect run defense without numbers, so the nine-time Pro Bowl cornerback appears to be the best overall solution.

"You put your best guys on their best guys a lot of times and you go," coach Josh McDaniels admitted when asked about that potential matchup.

"Sometimes you have to let that happen and let that play out; other times you can't do that the whole game, though. If you do that the whole game and tell them what you are doing all the time, I know the coordinator is too good and the scheme is too good. They will find a way to hurt you in another direction."

Bowe's 14 TD receptions are only two shy of his career total his first three seasons. His 15.3 yards per catch is well above his career norm. He should also shatter his personal best in yards of 1,022 in 2008. He already has 885 yards through 11 games.

"He just seems more focused, more confident," Bailey said. "He's always had talent. But he has a quarterback now that can get him the ball. They've had some issues with that in his early years. He just looks like a different person."

—The last time the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos squared off on Nov. 14, the Invesco Field at Mile High crowd got a double dose of what it coveted: a blowout win, and the most significant performance of rookie Tim Tebow's career.

Tebow both threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score in a thorough, and rare, dominant Denver performance, 49-29.

As the rematch Sunday beckons, it's too much to expect one repeat performance much less two.

Denver's record against the Chiefs at Arrowhead in the last five games in December is 1-4, notwithstanding a 44-13 win last year in Josh McDaniels' inaugural season as coach.

Overall, the Broncos are 3-8 in Kansas City since 1999.

As for Tebow, he may make another token appearance. He could even score again this week. But for all the talk of timing when it comes to an enhanced role for the 25th pick in April's draft, this wouldn't appear to be it — despite calls from many fans disillusioned by Denver's 3-8 start.

From a locker-room perspective, McDaniels would be making a mistake by inserting Tebow into an expanded situation where the Broncos, at least on paper, are mathematically in the running for the playoffs. Many veterans would view it as a desperation move that punishes a player having a career year.

Kyle Orton, that player, is on a record pace for passing yards and, he too, wouldn't be happy handing over the offensive keys given that backdrop and his competitive drive to play to the end.

The third reason is harder to gauge. But whispers around the Denver locker room are that Tebow simply isn't ready to be given the starting gig on a trial basis based on practice performances.

Tebow's key role has been to mimic opposing quarterbacks with the scout team. That responsibility and the stage of a NFL Sunday are far removed from getting in the huddle, rallying teammates and successfully navigating complicated NFL defenses.

Tebow is caught in the middle but handling the situation with deference and class.

"I'm a competitor. I play football and I want to be out there and compete," he said this week. "But Kyle's having a very good season and my No. 1 goal and job here is to be a leader, have a great attitude and be a supporter of whatever goes on, whatever my role is or whatever I'm asked to do."

Tebow acknowledges there are some around him who can't believe he truly believes that, based on his itch to play.

"But I'm not thinking about that," he said, instead, he added concerning himself with playing a supporting role to the best of his ability until told otherwise.

"I tried to learn my freshman year in college at Florida to only try to control what I can control," he said, alluding to calls for him to play more when Chris Leak was the expected incumbent in 2006. "That was a lesson I really tried to learn and practice. Coach (Urban) Meyer did a great job helping me do that. So I try not to listen to fans or reporters or read papers. ... If I worry about that, it's only going to bring me down and weigh more on me. If I keep my mind clear and go to work every day, I get a much better perspective."

If there's a best-case scenario where perhaps Tebow could play, it may be the Dec. 26 home game vs. Houston. The Texans have had the league's worst pass defense. And after a three-game road trip, Denver — and possibly Houston, too — should be out of the postseason mix.

Tebow said he understands both the politics of his playing and questions about whether he's ready, particularly since there are certain aspects of Denver's offense he hasn't done physically in practice, only through mental repetitions.

"I'll continue to get better and I'm not close to where I could be in the future," he said of where his game currently stands. "But hopefully I would be able to go in there and compete and help the team."

SERIES HISTORY: 101st regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead series, 54-46. Kansas City's victory total vs. Denver ties for the most against any individual opponent (Oakland, 54). The teams have swapped blowouts in the last two meetings, with Denver losing in last season's finale 44-24 and defeating the Chiefs 49-29 on Nov. 14. Both those games were at Invesco Field at Mile High.


—Owner Pat Bowlen has always been a straight shooter in interviews. It's that quality, along with the undeniable effort and money he's put into trying to return the Broncos to glory, that satiates reporters while making him beloved by the majority who have been in his employ.

Bowlen has been mostly quiet over the last year, deferring to COO Joe Ellis, even with the franchise struggling on the field (5-16 in the last 21 games) and off it with a recent videotaping scandal.

But AOL Fanhouse caught Bowlen in one of his unguarded moments, and the owner spoke from the heart, saying that McDaniels had no culpability in "Spygate II" but more importantly said to Broncos fans that the embattled coach "will" return for 2011 since he's "not interested in making a coaching change."

Only hours later, at the behest of media that have been shot down in their efforts to speak candidly with Bowlen in recent months, the Broncos released a statement that had a completely different tone.

It read in part, "Josh McDaniels is the head coach of the Broncos and you always strive for stability at that position. However, with five games left in the 2010 season, we will continue to monitor the progress of the team and evaluate what's in the best interest of this franchise."

What likely happened in between the two divergent messages is that guaranteeing McDaniels a return gig with more than a month to play may not sit well with fans, particularly if the season goes off a cliff.

McDaniels now is answering questions about his job security and saying it's something out of his control. But he's also not oblivious to the criticism he's receiving, and with rematches still slated with San Diego and Oakland as well as Kansas City, the team can't afford a string of blowout losses — no matter the message.

—McDaniels right now may wish for quieter times, like when Chiefs coach Todd Haley refused to shake his hand and instead wagged a finger his direction after the first meeting.

Haley did apologize for breaching etiquette but still hasn't come out with a specific reason for his anger towards the Broncos' coach. Some believe it was the action of Denver's players on the sideline late in the route. Others think it has to do with continuing an aggressive approach in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.

"I'm very much in the present tense right now," Haley said, averting the question about the incident from Denver media.

McDaniels has repeatedly said it's much adieu about nothing, adding Wednesday that he expects nothing more than a competitive game Sunday without any sideshows.

"I plan on shaking hands and all that stuff. It's not a big deal to me. I plan on doing that no matter what the outcome of the game is," he maintained.

McDaniels added that the Chiefs were playing "the whole game and so were we." The score bears that out, with Kansas City rallying to 49-29 after Denver surged to a 35-point lead.

"There's really no other way to play," McDaniels said.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 — Decades since the Broncos held a 3-8 record after 11 games. Denver, fresh off Super Bowl XXIV, came back to finish 5-11, which is the team's worst record since the advent of the 16-game schedule.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We definitely have a lot to play for. We're playing for jobs, contracts. You definitely want to go out there and play these last five games strong and show people that you love what you do and appreciate what you do." — OLB Jason Hunter, on the Broncos likely playing out the string.


The Broncos will have yet another shakeup to its defensive backfield Sunday against a suddenly efficient Matt Cassel and Co. Safety Brian Dawkins (knee) and cornerback Andre Goodman (hip) have already been ruled out. So while the Kansas City running game remains an emphasis — the huge deficit in the first meeting held its numbers down significantly — there's got to be concern too about how they'll hold up with the Chiefs' resurgent passing attack. One option in Denver's possession is shadowing Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe (14 TD catches) with cornerback Champ Bailey. The Broncos still are playing rookie Perrish Cox in Goodman's place and Bowe's size and physicality may be too much for Cox to handle on a down-to-down basis. Either Nate Jones or Darcel McBath are the likely starters in Goodman's place, if McBath can get through the week unscathed after a slew of injuries to open his 2010 season.


—S Darcel McBath returned for the first time since Nov. 22 from a quadriceps injury. McBath sat out Wednesday's practice. If he's able to play, he can be plugged in for injured Brian Dawkins. Without him, Denver will try a piecemeal lineup, with the likes of David Bruton, Kyle McCarthy and Nate Jones at safety.

—WR Brandon Lloyd was born in Kansas City and attended high school in the area. But a seventh-grade game and a preseason tilt with San Francisco in 2003 are his only experiences playing at Arrowhead Stadium.

—WR Kenny McKinley's death of a self-inflicted gunshot wound earlier this season was tied to depression about his health and gambling debts, according to multiple reports. Some teammates stated they want the player to be remembered for his gregarious nature rather than the reasons behind his passing.

—WR Eddie Royal needs just 56 scrimmage yards to become the fifth player in franchise history to post at least 1,000 combined yards in each of his first three NFL seasons. Terrell Davis (1995-97), Floyd Little (1967-69), Glyn Milburn (1993-95) and Rick Upchurch (1975-1977) are the others.

—WR Jabar Gaffney can surpass his single season career high with two catches Sunday. Gaffney had 55 catches for 492 yards with Houston in 2005. Gaffney's also only 67 yards shy of his career best, set last season (732).

GAME PLAN: The Broncos have gotten off to fast starts the last three games, scoring on the opening drive each time. But after the initial "feeling out" phase and adjustments made, Denver has played uninspired — save for a late, unsuccessful fourth-quarter comeback vs. St. Louis. Denver has to be able to run the ball effectively to set up play action at the very least. Long-distance situations created mainly by penalties have prevented that as well as the team's 2-for-21 mark on third down over the last two games. Denver ran for a season-best 153 yards three weeks ago against Kansas City and that balance will go a long way towards being successful, especially playing in a loud Arrowhead environment that makes executing the cadence difficult.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chiefs ROLB Tamba Hali vs. Broncos LT Ryan Clady: Hali has not registered a sack in three straight weeks. But the Broncos have seen Orton go down 16 times in the last five weeks. Clady has shown flashes of his All-Pro form but has been inconsistent. And Hali's speed could give Denver problems, as it has in the past. The key for the Broncos is being able to maintain balance offensively and not let Hali just run to the quarterback without the threat of a rush.

Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson vs. Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno: Johnson already has over 100 tackles and while Moreno remains a threat running the ball, Johnson's task will be equally important shadowing Moreno as a target out of the backfield. As Moreno has regained his health after months with balky hamstrings, Denver has targeted him more and more as an outlet receiver as teams try to protect against the deep pass. Moreno has 13 of his 28 receptions over the last two weeks, gaining 124 yards in the process.

INJURY IMPACT: The absence of WR Demaryius Thomas (ankle) will give more offensive snaps to fellow rookie Eric Decker, who nearly scored off a 38-yard reception vs. the Rams. Decker may spell Eddie Royal as a slot receiver in three wides but mainly will take part in four-wide formations as a dual slot with Royal.

CB Perrish Cox will start in Goodman's place and has been picked on by opposing quarterbacks. But if McBath is unavailable, it will trickle down to the rest of Denver's nickel and dime packages, meaning more snaps for David Bruton and rookie Syd'Quan Thompson.
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Old 12-03-2010, 02:40 PM   #2
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If the Broncos can find a way to win this game at Arrowhead, it would be huge.
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Old 12-03-2010, 03:06 PM   #3
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Wow. 5-11 is our worst record ever with a 16 game schedule and it happened decades ago. I knew we had it good but damn. That's amazing.
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Old 12-03-2010, 03:07 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bronco Rob View Post

—WR Eddie Royal needs just 56 scrimmage yards to become the fifth player in franchise history to post at least 1,000 combined yards in each of his first three NFL seasons. Terrell Davis (1995-97), Floyd Little (1967-69), Glyn Milburn (1993-95) and Rick Upchurch (1975-1977) are the others.
Wow good for Eddie! Kind of surprised to find out he had 1000 combined last year. Joining some great company there.
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Old 12-04-2010, 05:05 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by snowspot66 View Post
Wow. 5-11 is our worst record ever with a 16 game schedule and it happened decades ago. I knew we had it good but damn. That's amazing.

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Old 12-04-2010, 05:52 AM   #6
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That was a good article about the team. I still say wait til the season is over, wait until all is said and done before making drastic judgements.
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Old 12-04-2010, 06:00 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by snowspot66 View Post
Wow. 5-11 is our worst record ever with a 16 game schedule and it happened decades ago. I knew we had it good but damn. That's amazing.
5-11!! Psh, we can beat that. COME ON 4-12!!
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Old 12-04-2010, 07:22 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Cito Pelon View Post
That was a good article about the team. I still say wait til the season is over, wait until all is said and done before making drastic judgements.
I like how our running game has shown improvement and hope to see another 150 yards put up against the chiefs. The offensive line needs to be commended here as they are slowly getting into sync with prolonged player consistency.

A couple of key 3rd down stops by our struggling defense could make a big difference for the offensive pass protection and running game. Moreno is becoming more effective as a result of the oline play improvement.
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Old 12-04-2010, 08:14 AM   #9
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The year after our back to back Super Bowl wins, we were 6-10. That was the year we lost Terrell for the year (the beginning of the end for him), and the game against Minnesota ( I was there) where the Vikings had a 3rd and 49 and converted it on a 50 yd. run by their slow FB, . We did play very competitive in alot of those games that year, we were all missing Big John.
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