DENVER (CBS4)- In a season seemingly cursed by close losses, the Denver Broncos finally pulled out a win. Perhaps more importantly, the team showed progress in beating AFC West rival the Los Angeles Chargers. The early-season struggles may start to pay dividends as the season progresses. At least that’s the hope.
The Broncos welcomed many new faces this past offseason, head coach Vic Fangio and quarterback Joe Flacco most important among them. As Tracy Wolfson, lead sideline reporter for NFL On CBS, explains, “Certainly when a new coach comes in and he brings his system, it takes a little time to get adjusted.”
The Broncos have displayed signs throughout the last month, even if the results only just showed up in the win column. Joe Flacco enjoyed a 303-yard, 3 touchdown day passing against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman combined for 144 yards rushing against the Green Bay Packers.
“It’s just getting the offense on the same page,” says Tracy Wolfson, “and I think we started to see that from Joe Flacco and this offense and Rich Scangarello. I think it takes some time on that side of the ball, with a new coaching staff and Flacco on a new team. Flacco is still getting comfortable with his receivers and getting on the same page, but I think they have to be really happy with what they saw last week.”
Flacco is never going to be an outspoken, carry-the-team kind of leader. But he can be productive with the right weapons around him. Their early 17-point lead against the Chargers is evidence of that. The issue then becomes keeping that offense going for four quarters, or at least maintaining that lead on defense.
The defense is arguably a bit further along than the offense in this new system. Part of that results from having veteran leaders like Von Miller already in place. As Wolfson relayed, Miller has “…just raved about not only Fangio but the defensive coaches that are coaching them right now. For a veteran like him, who has had so much success, to start raving about coaches and how he is learning still and they’re putting him in the right position. That says a lot.”
The defense has remained relatively stout in the early going, giving up only 328.6 yards 21.2 points per game, both top 10 in the NFL. (The Week 4 pounding they took from Leonard Fournette in the run game seems like an aberration.) They’ll have to keep it up, as injuries mount. Edge rusher Bradley Chubb tore his ACL in Week 4 and will miss the remainder of the season. According to Wolfson, “you have to give credit to Vic Fangio and the way that he was able to plug in Malik Reed and other guys last week.”
“The adjustments he made to the lineup really worked for them last week,” Wolfson continues. “I think that is just getting on the same page, getting comfortable with his scheme and him comfortable with the players and what they bring.”
The Broncos defense should be able to contain the inconsistent Tennessee Titans offense in Week 6. The challenge will come on offense, which finds itself facing another of the League’s better units.
The Broncos play the Titans on Sunday @ 2:25 MT on CBS.