DENVER — If Mike McCoy, Trevor Siemian and the Broncos offense are more than a one-trick pony, "Sunday Night Football" is a perfect time to show it.
The NFL’s newest doormat comes to Mile High. The Broncos should stomp on the winless Giants and remove the specks of dirt from their profile.
There’s not much dirt on the Broncos. They aren't the pushover that so many experts expected. The running game is bruise (C.J. Anderson) and burn (Jamaal Charles), the defense is the “No Fly Zone” and “Ground Control” (and hasn’t missed Wade Phillips), the new coach has handled the divisive and self-defeating national anthem protests like an old pro.
"It won't be easy," Vance Joseph said of the Giants game. "It will not be easy."
If the Broncos are for real, it should be. What Denver doesn't know yet is if Siemian is a QB who can win a game for you, or just one that won't lose it.
No better time to find out than now. Denver’s margin for error won't be bigger this season than Sunday. The Giants' defense has faced five quarterbacks — Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston and Philip Rivers. Their combined touchdown-to-interception ratio was 10-to-1. Age is just a number — three of the five are younger than the 25-year-old Siemian.
It makes sense the Broncos leaned on a powerful running game to go 3-1 through the first quarter. That was an unknown and the key to the season. But it would be nice to know Siemian and the two highly paid wideouts, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, can wing it around the yard in advance of the inevitable Sunday when Tom Brady, Rivers or Alex Smith (these are weird days, man) gets hot against the Broncos. Or down the road when the Denver "D" isn't the wall that it's been. Both days are coming at some point.
Ground and pound is the clearest, safest path to victory. But awaking a sleepy passing game that ranks 24th in the NFL is necessary for a Super Bowl team. It was a trip down memory lane when McCoy, the offensive coordinator, brought up one of the 2011 games when the Broncos won with one trick.
“I’ve played with D.T. before and we’ve run the ball 50-plus times in Kansas City (with Tim Tebow at quarterback),” said McCoy, the offensive coordinator. “They didn’t complain when we won the game.”
Until the passing game is a threat, folks will complain about the quarterback.
Siemian this week is Lucky No. 13: New York is 0-5 and will be missing seven starters. Not only that, but check out where the Giants are less than full strength: one starting cornerback, former Bronco Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, is suspended and won’t play; another starting cornerback, Janoris Jenkins, left the playing field, without an injury, during last week’s game but will play; another cornerback, Eli Apple, was benched for his inadequate play; an $84-million pass rusher, Olivier Vernon, is out with an ankle injury. For a Broncos offense that has managed to score only 16 points in consecutive games, the Giants have good timing, if nothing else.
The dysfunction across the field is what you expect from the old Raiders, current Browns or a Hollywood movie starring Keanu Reeves at quarterback. You don’t expect it from the New York Giants, the only franchise other than the Patriots with two Super Bowl titles in the past decade.
“We just haven’t played well enough,” quarterback Eli Manning said.
If there’s one game to share a luxury suite with Peyton Manning, this is it. And if there’s one type of game that Siemian can convert his Broncos Country haters into believers, this is it. The Broncos need more from Siemian — and more from the play-calling that suggests simply getting by will get them where they need to be. Do they trust Siemian to win a game or not?
On the other side, who will the Giants throw to? New York lost four wide receivers, including Von Miller’s BFF, Odell Beckham Jr., in a heartbreaking loss to the Chargers. Four! With that luck I'd be hanging out on a boat, too.
The No Fly Zone has a new predicament.
“Staying in the game, the whole game, without falling asleep” has been his issue, said star cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who isn't tested often and thought we should know.
“I like Sunday night games when they have all their receivers,” Harris added.
This Sunday night game is custom made for the Broncos to get their passing game off the ground.