You have to admit that the Broncos are an amazing squad right now. They’re on top of the AFC West with a 2-0 record but let the record also show that the team is doing this despite a totally different roster than about this time last year. Most teams who would go through something like this would probably be going through tougher times. Not these Broncos so far.
They have seven new starters on offense and 6 newbies on defense, not counting D.J. Williams who made a positional switch to middle linebacker. Not to mention that kicker Jason Elam has a new holder in punter Todd Sauerbrun after previously using the now-retired Jake Plummer. Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan said that with these changes, it will take some time for the new charges to gel.
What most likely is keeping the Broncos defeated right now is the brilliant timeout that Shanahan took when Oakland Raiders K Sebastian Janikowski. To recap, Shanahan called a timeout just before Janikowski apparently nailed a 52-yard field goal. Unfortunately for Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin, he celebrated prematurely, not being aware of the new rule change that has been in the books since 2004. The new rule states that coaches on the sidelines, not just the players, can call timeouts. Needless to say, Janikowski missed the second FG attempt which led to the Broncos kicking the winning FG in overtime.
Another master stroke by Shanahan was, as the team describes it, the “Toro” fire drill. The drill in question involves rushing the field goal unit on the field, instead of risking not getting the first down or the QB spiking the ball with 12 men on the field which would have drawn a penalty. This took place Week 1 in a victory against the Buffalo Bills. So in addition to the new faces on both offense and defense clicking, some brilliant coaching by Shanahan played no small part in the Broncos’ undefeated record at this juncture of the young season.
Shanahan credited the successes so far by saying on Monday, “I think that just comes through time. You’ve screwed it up so many times that eventually you’re going to get it right. As a head coach, the more you’re in it, the more comfortable you feel in game situations that it becomes fairly natural. “I wish I could have said that a number of years ago. Because it’s got to come up like that.”
What’s scary about this overall situation the Broncos are in is that in their current state of affairs, they’re winning games, especially in the clutch. With 14 weeks remaining, you know the new faces will become cohesive and Shanahan will coach like his usual self, which could mean trouble. Especially for the rest of the AFC – even more so if the Broncos reach the playoffs.
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