Klee: Take a closer look - the Broncos are evolving

By: Paul Klee
September 7, 2013 Updated: September 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm
Caption +
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Denver. The Broncos won 49-27. Manning threw a record-tying seven touchdown passes — something no one had done in 44 years. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

DENVER - In the NFL, tradition dies hard.

Old-school coaches swear by the importance of a strong running game like it was football scripture.

In this Broncos offense, that tradition should die, hard.

These Broncos were born to let it fly.

Ground-and-pound on third-and-3? Toss it out with the trash. Then toss the football to Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker or Julius Thomas.

In the first game, Peyton Manning threw for seven touchdowns and 462 yards.

The scary part: Something tells me we ain't seen nothin' yet.

"Every game will be different," offensive coordinator Adam Gase said.

Are we sure about that? What we saw in Thursday's 49-27 destruction of the Ravens looked more like the evolution of a football philosophy.

In the fourth quarter against the Ravens in the playoffs, on third-and-7, the Broncos called for a running play. It was stuffed short.

In the fourth quarter against the Ravens this season, on third-and-8, the Broncos called for a passing play. It was a touchdown, 78 yards by Demaryius Thomas.

The early blueprint suggests these Broncos will be a pass-first, pass-second, pass-third operation, with a run tossed in to keep tradition happy.

What about the groggy running game?

What about the cost of tea in China?

The Ravens last season didn't allow a seventh passing touchdown until Week 10. These Broncos hung seven on the Ravens in Week 1.

The Broncos and Ravens set the NFL record for most combined passing attempts in a non-overtime game (104). The Ravens challenged the NFL record for shoulder shrugs.

No one has thrown more touchdowns than Manning's seven. One thing would've made it better: Peyton holding up seven fingers, a la Michael Jordan's six-finger salute.

"He's the best ever," Rahim Moore told me. "He's the best to ever touch a football."

Is it time yet? Is one game enough of a sneak peek to earn a nickname for a Broncos passing game that has all the makings of a juggernaut?

Rocky Mountain Fly. Win Air. Mountain DEW (Demaryius-Eric-Wes). 18th (18's?) Airborne.

The fans should choose, though I prefer the latter. When it comes to honoring the brave men and women in the military, these Broncos get it.

Manning's overseas work with the USO is better than a touchdown to Demaryius Thomas. Shaun Phillips decorates his locker with Marines logos.

Who else has an Air Force man, Ben Garland, on their practice squad?

Only the special deserve a nickname. Worrywarts suggest one game is too soon to label an offense. I suggest that's the point: This all happened in the first game.

Imagine the fireworks when Manning adds another few weeks of rapport with new targets Wes Welker and Julius Thomas.

Can you wait to see what's in store?

The Broncos are evolving.

When Mike McCoy left for the Chargers, it took the Broncos less than 24 hours to promote Gase to offensive coordinator. The 35-year-old was the wizard in waiting.

"He had an aggressive game plan (against the Ravens)," Manning said.

The next promotion should go to the defensive coordinator who limits the Broncos to fewer than 22.8 points, the NFL scoring average in 2012.

How do you stop a passing game with this fleet of wide receivers, plus Julius Thomas, and Peyton at his peak?

"I'm just glad we only play them in practice," cornerback Chris Harris said.

Manning targeted Welker 11 times, the most for a Broncos receiver. Thomas had 161 receiving yards, the most for a Broncos receiver.

Manning's highest grades came when he threw over the middle for 10-plus yards, according to Pro Football Focus. That's the Julius Thomas zone.

Scrap tradition and look out below. It's time to let it fly.


Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

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