Colts Defenders Understand Challenges in Denver
With last Sunday night's victory over the Giants in the past, the Colts' defense now turns its focus upon the Denver Broncos' offense that scored 31 points last week in its win against Seattle.
Denver is averaging 24 points a game, boasts the second-best third down efficiency in the NFL (56.7 percent) and presents a very evenly distributed offensive attack.
"They are a tough team and definitely very balanced," Colts safety Melvin Bullitt said. "They can run the ball and pass it. We just have to stay on our keys. That's the thing, they are not a team that runs too much or passes too much. So when I say a very balanced team, you have to be patient and let things come to you."
The Denver running game is not short on options. Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno leads Denver with 111 rushing yards in 2010, while he led all rookies in 2009 in rushing yards with 947, yards from scrimmage with 1,160 and total touchdowns with nine. Tenth-year veteran Correll Buckhalter finished sixth in the NFL last season in yards per rush with 5.4 yards per carry, and Denver also recently added a familiar face to its backfield, former New England Patriot Laurence Maroney.
"Obviously we are definitely familiar with Maroney from his time in New England," Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said. "He is definitely a very capable back. Buckhalter and Moreno are very capable as well. So, we have to (recognize) what runner is in the backfield and what type of runner he is."
Denver also presents another rushing variation for the Colts with its Wildcat formation run by rookie quarterback Tim Tebow.
Colts' defensive end Dwight Freeney talked Wednesday about the unique obstacles Denver presents with its many offensive formations and variations.
"Scheme-wise they do a lot of things and really challenge you mentally," Freeney said. "They try to use confusion and different formations and keep you off balance. It is going to be really important for everyone to get mentally prepared for this game."
Denver quarterback Kyle Orton quietly has become an efficient leader of the Broncos' offense, and having a full year under his belt obviously has helped with his understanding of the offense. He leads the NFL in third-down efficiency, completing 14-of-19 passes for 181 yards and two scores for a 138.3 QB rating.
In 2009, Orton set the team record for most passing yards (3,802) by a quarterback in the first year with the team, and that total also was a career-best for the former Purdue quarterback.
"I think he gets off of the ball quick and you have to be cognizant of that," Brackett said. "So you have to be cognizant of that fact in your drops, you have to set up fast, be able to break downhill when he throws those quick passes."
Orton's receiving playmakers consist of Eddie Royal, who leads the team with 13 catches for 163 yards a one score this season along with Brandon Lloyd, who has eight receptions for a team-high 170 yards. Rookie Demaryius Thomas, playing in his first NFL game last week against Seattle, had eight receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown.
Freeney spoke of the difficulty of getting pressure on Orton due to his complement of receivers and understanding of the pocket.
"Orton does a good job," Freeney said. "They protect him, he gets rid of the ball, he is a nice crafty veteran that knows what's going on and they do a good job in what they do. He does not take too many chances and when they do, they have seven guys in there blocking with two-man routes and they get the ball down the field a little bit."
Since 2003, the Broncos are second only to the Colts (121) for fewest sacks allowed with 176.
Colts safety Antoine Bethea summed up the Denver offense and shed some light on what it will take for the defense to be successful this Sunday.
"They have a real good offense with the quarterback, running backs and a good, solid receiving corps," Bethea said. "We have to go out there with our "A" game. Obviously, they put up some numbers last week against Seattle, so they are capable of putting some points up on the board. We just have to play our game."
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS UPDATE
The Colts also announced linebacker Ramon Humber has undergone surgery for a fractured hand. Humber will be out this week against Denver.
Wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez continues rehabilitating an ankle injury and will be out this week. Defensive back Bob Sanders (biceps) will be out this week.
The club also has released offensive tackle Tony Ugoh from the injured reserve list.