Over the past week I had the excellent opportunity and privilege to speak with Kim Constantinesco, the editor of Predominantly Orange, the Fansided Denver Broncos blog. In anxious anticipation of the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Denver Broncos, I posed five questions to her, to which she graciously replied. I found her answers insightful, and I hope you will as well.
Blogging Dirty– The Broncos looked absolutely miserable when playing with a huddle, but completely unstoppable when operating with a no-huddle attack. Is there any chance the Broncos even try to use a huddle this week, or will they operate purely from the no-huddle?
Predominantly Orange– I personally think one of the reasons the no-huddle worked so well in week one is a combination of altitude plus customary glitches in early season conditioning. Expect the Broncos to take advantage of their own high altitude training when they travel to the much more lung-friendly air in Atlanta. Remember, teams don’t have the same off season as they once had. Because of once-per-day practices and very limited playing time in preseason, players are coming into weeks one, two, and even three in poorer shape than in years past (It saves them at the end of the season, however).
That’s why I expect the Broncos to continue with the no-huddle on Monday night. Against the Steelers, they scored on their next four of five possessions once they went to the no-huddle. The one they didn’t score on was a Peyton Manning kneel down to end the half. With the no-huddle, Manning is the one in charge. He can put defenses on their heels and he basically does what he wants. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
BD– The Broncos boast a good pass-rushing tandem in Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller, and showed it against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That being said, the Falcons offensive line is much better than Pittsburgh’s, and the Falcons can run the ball. Do you think that the Falcons can run on the weak Bronco DTs setting up PA passes, or will the Broncos tee off on Matt Ryan & Co.?
PO– I think you’re right. The Broncos will have a tougher time against the Falcons’ offensive line. However, it’s not just Dumervil and Miller that offenses have to contend with. Rookie Derek Wolfe is an absolute animal on the line and is another pass rushing threat. His very first time in a pro uniform in preseason, Wolfe had two sacks in one quarter of play against starters. In week one, he sacked Ben Roethlisberger for a nine yard loss. This is a full-fledged Broncos defense you will be seeing, not the Chiefs’ defense with four of their starters missing. Will the Falcons burst out for some big gains? Probably, but the Broncos will stop them when it matters most.
BD– Denver has two very good cornerbacks in Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter. What do you think of the depth players at corner, as well as the players at the safety positions? Will they be able to control the many options in the Falcons passing attack?
PO– The Broncos secondary certainly has their hands full this week. There’s talk of Bailey matching up one-on-one with Julio Jones for the entire game. I’m sure Porter will be tested time and time again. For the Broncos’ secondary to succeed, it all starts up front with the pass rush. It doesn’t matter if the secondary can contain Ryan’s targets for long periods of time. Give Ryan enough time, and he’ll find someone.
BD– Do you think Willis McGahee will be able to run the ball very well against the Falcons solid front, and good linebacking corps?
PO– The Falcons gave up 152 yards on the ground against the Chiefs and I would say the Broncos running attack is comparable to the Chiefs’ ground game. McGahee will get his yards, especially with Manning opening things up for him. Again, the no-huddle will help keep the Falcons’ front and linebackers on their heels.
BD– What are your predictions on the outcome of the game?
PO– It will be a close game in a great football environment. I know John Fox is excited to play against a former division rival. Expect a high-scoring game with big hits. Broncos – 34 Falcons – 27
Really great material from Kim. I really appreciate the time she took in answering my questions.
Most of what she wrote about, I have no disagreement with. She’s a realist for the most part. I don’t buy into the whole thin-air practice helping the Broncos once they get to Atlanta the way she does, but we are both biased on that topic.
I do also disagree with he perspective on rookie Derek Wolfe. He may be a fine player at some point, but his play against the Steelers is a little skewed– the Steelers pass an awful lot, and are notorious for having a poor offensive line. Wolfe was the forgotten man because the Steelers were worried about other players. There are plenty of pass-rushers on the Broncos to worry about, but the Falcons are both more balanced offensively than Pittsburgh, and also have a better offensive line. That should help them in the long run.