Jussel: New era? Same old Broncos

New era.

New leadership from top down, with old legend at the head of the table, older coach replacing young failure.

New hope at New Mile High.

Same old Broncos.

No one can be blamed for having a weeklong hangover after being forced to stay awake into the early morning hours Monday watching the Oakland Raiders toss the Broncos around like so many unlifelike rag dolls. Although the final score, 23-20, was not 59-14 as we witnessed last year, it was still the same old, same old.

If it weren’t for the Raiders’ penchant for shooting themselves in the foot more times than they have toes, the final score would have been far worse.

By my count, Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell threw the ball downfield against the Broncos seven times, only two of those traveling more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. That’s how dominating the Raiders were; they did not have to throw the ball down the field. They just forced it down Denver’s throat.

And although Denver’s defense was and will continue to be better than it was the past two seasons, it will continue to struggle against NFL foes who like to get down and dirty a la the Raiders.

The other bothersome thing about the loss was the breaking of a promise from new coach John Fox. He came in promising to, if not run the ball effectively, at least run it often, theoretically taking time off the clock, all the while playing for good field position. It was a new mindset, he had promised.

The Broncos ran 59 plays from the line of scrimmage. Only 13 of those were runs — for 38 measly yards, with the longest of those being a 13-yard scramble by quarterback Kyle Orton. In a game that seemingly demanded conservation because of Oakland’s lack of explosiveness offensively, Denver had no patience, no desire to bang helmets.

It looked strangely like the Broncos of Josh McDaniels: Try to trick the opponent, not beat on them; throw in any and every situation (46 times in this case), even if it isn’t working.

So, is it time to panic?

Should Bronco fans start the Andrew Luck Watch one game into the season? Should we be more worried about how the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, yes, the Cincinnati Bengals, and others who will likely end up on the bottom of the heap, are doing?

Should we dump Kyle Orton and start — as seemingly every Orange-and-Blue-clad fan would suggest — you know who?

Let’s give it one more game before we abandon all hope en masse.

Today, the Broncos have a “winnable” game at Mile High against the Bengals. True, the Bengals are 1-0 after a 27-17 upset over the Browns in their opener in Cleveland, but that isn’t exactly akin to beating up on the Packers or Patriots.

The best thing about today’s matchup is the fact that it will start in the middle of the afternoon, not the middle of the night.

The next-best thing is the Bronco defense should be familiar with what it is going to see because the Bengals are going to give Denver what it saw against the Raiders.

They are going to run the football with Cedric Benson — a lot. Last week, Benson had 25 carries for 128 yards in the win over Cleveland.

The Bengals were conservative mainly because they started a rookie quarterback in former Texas Christian whiz Andy Dalton (replacing holdout Carson Palmer). Dalton was fine working short passes and handing off, until he injured a forearm late in the first half. He is questionable today.

Dalton was replaced by Bruce Gradkowski, the former Raider, who led the team to two touchdowns that broke the game open in the final quarter.

The Bengals will be conservative offensively but they are suspect defensively. The players you’ve heard of include corner Nate Clemens, formerly of Buffalo and the 49ers, and young middle linebacker Rey Maualuga.

What we have today is a Bengal offense that will be similar to Oakland and a defense that won’t be as nasty as the Raiders were Monday.

That does bode well for Denver.

I can’t see the Broncos giving up a bundle of points to the Bengals — no more than 21.

And I can’t see the Broncos staggering like they did offensively. They were just too productive in the preseason with Orton at the controls.

I’ll try to snap my early losing streak at one. Fox’s crew runs the ball better, Orton throws the ball better — and Denver wins it 27-21.

And we’ll put off the Luck Watch for at least another week.

Email Rick Jussel at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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