The 1-1 Buffalo Bills return to Orchard Park on Sunday to host the 2-0 Denver Broncos. The two teams haven’t played since a 24-17 Broncos win in December of 2014, and it’s Denver’s first trip to Western New York since Tim Tebow led them to a 26-point loss on Christmas Eve of 2011.
The Broncos blew out the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2, with heavy contributions from Trevor Siemian (four touchdowns) and C.J. Anderson (118 yards and a touchdown on the ground). How has the offense improved after the departure of Rick Dennison to the Bills?
It is plainly night and day. I have been beating this drum for two weeks straight and will probably wear out the message by Week 5. The Broncos offense is looking absolutely potent and dangerous. Neither of those adjectives applied to the offense we saw last year in all honesty. Mike McCoy uses a slew of personnel on the offensive side of the ball to create looks and player mismatches that give the Broncos favorable plays consistently in both the run and the pass game.
The other big factor in the Broncos offense working is a very stout offensive line. Everything stems from the trenches in football and the Broncos line is looking far better than anything they put on the field in 2016 (outside of Matt Paradis who played at an All-Pro level even then. The Broncos line is consistently bullying the defense off the ball and it leads to making everything click into place like what we saw in week 2 against the Cowboys.
There are reports that rookie offensive tackle Garret Bolles suffered a bone bruise and could miss a game or two. How has the first-round pick looked this year, and how much of a loss would it be if he misses time?
Garret Bolles has absolutely blown me away with just about everything he's done leading up to this point in his short time with the Broncos. He's a young man who is absolutely engaged at improving his craft and being a linchpin for the offensive line. His attitude is everything you want from a guy protecting your QB: nasty, ferocious, and jealously protective.
As far as his play goes, he's a beast in the run blocking game. The guy uses power, leverage, and raw athleticism to win at the point of attack, then knows exactly when and how to disengage and move on to the 2nd level. That's probably the part of his game that is so consistently impressive: he keeps showing up late in plays downfield blocking as the Broncos ring up big gains.
His pass blocking is the weaker area of the two, but even then I'd say that at worst it is "average" from what we see week in and week out from NFL left tackles. I haven't seen him completely whiff a block yet against some very dangerous pass rushers albeit only two weeks of NFL level action.
The Broncos are fourth in the NFL in defense (258.5 yards per game), although the three teams ahead of them (including the Bills) have faced some pretty woeful offenses. Where do you see the Broncos finishing the year in that category?
I have a hard time judging a defense on yards per game...I'd rather talk about ypa and ypc. I still think Denver has a very real shot at leading every one of those categories barring a significant injury (knock on wood). Their run defense especially is very stout. When you couple that with the hands down, unquestionable best secondary in the NFL (and it isn't close), you have a shot to be a completely dominant defense like what we saw in Denver in 2015.
What are your impressions of Vance Joseph through his first couple regular-season games as a head coach?
I'm becoming more impressed with him as the weeks go by. I'm always skeptical of young coaches (Josh McDaniels has forever scarred me in that arena), but I have to say I love the moxie and smarts I'm seeing from Vance. He absolutely oozes leadership in his press conferences and I have to think that is the same kind of guy the players get in the locker room. We'll see how the rest of his rookie coaching season goes, but so far I have to think the sky is the limit for a guy like Vance. That being said, we have yet to see a lot of adversity during his stint as the HC so I'm going to stay cautiously optimistic for now.
What do the Broncos need to do to beat the Bills? Conversely, what do the Bills need to do to come out with the win?
#1 Stop Lesean McCoy and the rushing attack of the Bills.
#2 Contain Tyrod Taylor - I'm betting you will see a lot of pass rushes where Denver will form a pocket around him instead of directly going for the throat. They know how to play QBs who can beat you with their legs and know they can rely on the No Fly Zone to keep his guys covered downfield.
#3 Don't turn the ball over. This offense while looking spectacular in Week 2 just needs to play smart and not give the ball away. If they can play possession football, it should be a somewhat comfortable win for the Broncos.