After the Broncos won their first three very high scoring games with the most potent offense in the league, I said to myself, “Who needs defense when you have an offense like this? Defense wins championships? Maybe this year it will be Denver’s offense that wins the championship.”
At that time, it didn’t matter to me that Denver was scoring so many points but only winning by one or two points. Denver simply didn’t have a defense on the field, but no worries, as long as Jay Cutler keeps firing the ball the way he has. Denver will win the ugly ones. Look at these scores (with exception to the 41-14 blowout over Al Davis’s Raiders): 39-38 against the Chargers at home, 39-38 against the New Orleans. Luckily, Denver’s offense was able to simply outscore the opponent, although not by much.
Then Denver’s offense got ugly against the Chefs… er, Chiefs, who at the time were the worst, the absolutely worst team in the NFL. And what happens when Denver’s offense has an off day? Can the defense save the day? Hell no. And Denver was basically embarrassed 33-19. (So my hypothesis that a championship could be won with offense only doesn’t hold much water.)
The Broncos high-powered offense that was dependant on the pass and not so much on the run fizzled that day with a whopping four turnovers. Even the best can be beat by the worst when the basics aren’t taken care of.
“Coach said at the beginning of the game: stop the run, run the ball, no turnovers and we win the game – we didn't do any of those,” veteran cornerback Champ Bailey told DenverBroncos.com after the game. “So obviously we aren't going to win the game and put ourselves in a position to win if we don’t do that.” At any given time, any given team can beat any other team when the basics fall through the cracks. Hey, at least I wasn’t in Vegas before that game, or I would have really had some problems.
On to last weekend’s game where Denver beat the Tampa Bay Bucs in a dogfight of a win, 16-13. This time, Denver’s defense showed up to play while its offense, which can’t seem to get the run going, continued to hiccup. This time though, with the defense in action and playing well and causing turnovers, the team was able to come out with another check in the win column – proving even further that a successful, even championship team must have some sort of defense.
The Broncos’ season so far has been textbook football. An explosive passing offense can only take you so far. The run must be your base. Defense is more important than offense, no matter which way you look at it. As the defense goes, so goes the team. And finally, turnovers – the killer and the winner. The team with the most takeaways usually wins and if you can’t hold the rock, you can’t hold the lead.
Now I am not reinventing the wheel here. I am just pointing out that the Broncos’ first five games are a terrific example of what football is all about. The basics. Run the ball. Stop the run. Make turnovers. Simple Xs and Os.
Looking forward, I think Denver’s number one hope is to keep that defense they brought onto the field last weekend. Hopefully it wasn’t just a good day for the D and they have made some real changes for the better… including better tackling and forcing turnovers.
If that defense can show up to play again and the offense, which we know can be the best, shows up, Denver will be the best team in the NFL hands down. It’s finding that perfect balance that may be the hard part.
This weekend it’s Jacksonville who will (and always does) have something to prove when they come into Denver this weekend. Jacksonville is certainly a team Denver should beat. And then it’s off to New England for a Monday Night Football matchup against the Pats, who without Brady are still miraculously looking strong in that AFC East Division. That game, I am sure, will garner further discussion as it nears.