Before Sunday, it had been a hot minute since we’d last seen the Broncos play anything closely resembling a complete game. I’m thinking maybe back in 2015 against the Packers? That’s a long damn time. Then they went out and did something that basically no one outside of their locker room thought they could do: for four quarters, they largely bullied and battered the beleaguered Cowboys en route to a 42-17 blowout.
It was the brand of Broncos’ football that we’ve all come to know and love, and the one that has typically been most successful for the team. Run the ball with authority, take what they give you in the passing game and play great defense. It was a beautiful sight to behold and reestablished the Broncos as legitimate contenders in the AFC.
And though there’s plenty of credit to go around, we may as well start with everyone’s favorite seventh-round quarterback.
1. Trevor Siemian
Despite playing well in the opener a week ago, I didn’t highlight Trevor’s solid outing as a standalone performance because I thought the offense excelled (and sputtered) largely as a group. That was mostly true against Dallas as well, but it’s time to start showering some praise on no. 13. Save for a few mistakes here and there, the dude was a complete stud and is one of the main reasons the Broncos are 2-0.
A lot of that has to do with his improved supporting cast. It has even more to do with how far he has progressed individually, and there is no doubt he is a much better quarterback than he was a season ago. When I was criticizing Trevor last year (and this preseason against the Bears), what frustrated me the most was that the throws he was making were preventing his team from sustaining drives and generating points, which sounds obvious but that’s one of the main responsibilities of the quarterback. Throwing short of the sticks on third down. Always looking to his left when he had a guy wide open on the other side of the field. It drove me nuts.
And Siemian fans will be quick to point out that having a terrible offensive line, no running game and bad playcalling made his job impossible, but I think that does a disservice to how far he has come. He’s been much more efficient with his passes, is seeing the field a whole hell of a lot better and is even extending plays with his legs to find the open man or run for the first down. These were things that just didn’t happen last year.
So kudos to Trevor. If he can consistently perform at this level for the rest of the season, the Broncos are going to be set at quarterback, possibly even for the foreseeable future.
2. The Coaching Staff
Two weeks in a row, the Broncos have been the more well-prepared and energetic team. And two weeks in row, they have vastly outcoached the opposing staff. I can’t say enough about the job that Mike McCoy has done to breathe new life into the offense, which is playing at a level we haven’t seen since 2014. And when the offense is playing well, then the defense stays rested and effective. Speaking of that defense, Joe Woods has stepped into Wade Phillips’ post and done that son of a Bum proud. His unit bullied and harassed the Cowboys’ offense and made their lives miserable, and so far it looks like John Elway made the right decision in elevating Woods’ role with the team.
And finally, Vance Joseph. Counting preseason, the man is undefeated thus far in his head coaching career. He appears to be everything that Elway said he would be when Joseph was introduced: a leader of men and someone who will establish and foster championship habits in the locker room. Most importantly, he’s the first Broncos coach to become a meme, which is definitely his most impressive accomplishment.
3. Offensive/Defensive Lines
What a difference a year and some new players and coaches can make. Remember last year when Siemian had little to no time in the pocket and our running backs were tackled before they could get out of the backfield? Or how opposing teams could open up gaping holes for their running backs and keep our defense on the field forever? Things couldn’t be more different thus far in 2017 for the Broncos, and is arguably the most important factor behind their 2-0 start.
It even allowed them to flip the script on the Cowboys (you know, the team that was supposed to stonewall the Broncos running game and let Ezekiel Elliot run all over the place). Instead, it was the Broncos who were doing the stonewalling and C.J. who was barreling over Dallas defenders left and right. It’s been three days since the game and I still get all giddy just thinking about it. If the lines continue to control the line of scrimmage to this level, then there aren’t going to be many teams who can hang with the Broncos this season.
And seriously, we could keep going about how well different groups on this team did, but I’m short on time so we’re moving on.
1. Brandon McManus
I had to find something that I could complain about, although thankfully that was hard to do. Still, McManus has been uncharacteristically shaky in his first two games and luckily it hasn’t cost the Broncos too much yet. More than anything it’s just annoying, because he’s missed a couple of kicks that he was knocking down continuously and automatically in the preseason. Maybe he’s just pressing because he got his new contract and the pressure is going to his head. Who knows, but McManus just needs to relax and put a couple field goals through the uprights, and he should be back to normal.
1. The Cowboys
There is literally nothing the Broncos did on Sunday that warranted me bringing it up down here, so let’s all take some time to laugh more at the Cowboys. It never gets old.
Next week’s prediction: Broncos 23, Bills 20
I know what you’re thinking. The Bills are pretty mediocre, so why is this game going to be so close? Historically, the Broncos don’t do well when they travel east for an early game. Maybe it’s just the time change or maybe there’s something about Colorado that makes anyone who lives there want to sleep in. Also Kevin will be at the game and he doesn’t like Buffalo, so of course the Bills will rise to the occasion just to spite him.
All I know is that the game will probably be too close for comfort for the Broncos, but McManus will come through with a game-winning field goal and all will be right with the world.