The Denver Broncos defense is without some of its marquee players. Linebacker Von Miller is suspended, while veteran cornerback Champ Bailey is out for Sunday's game against the New York Giants with a foot injury. Yet still, the Broncos opened the season with an impressive display of D.
The success of the defense starts and ends with their pass rush, according to Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who said the pressure they generate up front allows the secondary to make more plays.
"They did a great job of mixing up a very complex package that obviously caused the Ravens some difficulties in recognition and generated a lot of pressure on the quarterback," he said. "You look at guys like Torrey Smith, (who has phenomenal speed), who wasn't running away from them. That was impressive to me, a little bit unnerving to see how well they ran.
"The fact that they were able to generate pressure on the quarterback and cause him to maybe be not quite as comfortable ... that was all part of it."
Denver will face a new test in the Giants' offense, a unit that had its fair share of peaks and valleys in the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
The positive takeaway, of course, is that for the first time in franchise history three wide receivers recorded 100-yard performances. The trio of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle is proving to be quite formidable.
"We've got some good players. We have a hell of a scheme. We've got one hell of a quarterback," Gilbride said. "If we can protect and do the things we need to do -- where we can get them into the flow of the game -- then they'll be a difficult match-up for anyone."
Two reasons for the receiving corps' success is the health of Nicks and the emergence of Randle. Nicks, who was not in attendance at OTAs in the offseason and dealt with knee and foot injuries all of last season, ran as well as Gilbride has seen in a while.
Randle, who has garnered much praise from the coaching staff throughout the offseason, has a different skill-set than his teammates, according to Gilbride. This allows each receiver to complement one another very well.
"He's been very professional, very workman-like, so he's always had some ability and you just thought if he'd do what he's doing now -- which is focus and zero in -- he'd be a good player in this league," he said. "I wasn't surprised. Let's put it that way. It's what I kind of thought he would do."
While the receiving corps shined, the running game stalled. Second-year back David Wilson, who was expected to make a huge leap forward as the featured member of the backfield, fumbled twice and was eventually benched by coach Tom Coughlin.
But aside from the pair of fumbles, Wilsons missed some blocking assignments and may have contributed to an intercepted screen pass on the first play of the game. Gilbride admits he's worried -- he's worried about everything -- but the lack of a running game can be attributed to more than just Wilson.
"If they say I'm worried about David Wilson, yeah. I'm worried about everything," Gilbride said. "You have to bounce back. The ones who thrive and flourish are the ones who can learn from their mistakes and put it behind them. Certainly he needs to do that and I think he will."
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