ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The tale of the tape wasn’t very kind, at least for one week, to the Denver Broncos offense.
Clearly an effort to wrap the new playbook around what quarterback Peyton Manning has done most in his career, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak made some opening-week decisions based on what he has called "meshing" as well as what he saw from the Baltimore Ravens defense.
So, with an offensive line playing its first game together against the stout Ravens front, Kubiak decided to spread things out much of the time and hope some room to work was left behind.
As a result, the offense the Broncos ran Sunday looked a lot more like the offense the Broncos have run over the previous three seasons than what was expected from Kubiak's often run-first past. The Broncos were in three- or four-wide receiver sets on 48 snaps (penalty plays included) -- or 62.3 percent of the time -- and put Manning in the shotgun 48 times. They used a four-wide receiver, no running back set seven times.
This was after some offseason work when Kubiak kept Manning under center for entire practices to get him ready for that adjustment. The Broncos didn’t protect well in the look, with all four of the team’s sacks allowed, as well as Manning’s interception that was returned for a touchdown, coming with the Broncos in a three-wide receiver set.
It is indeed just one game against a Ravens' defense that likely will be appreciated more for what it did Sunday a few weeks from now, but it is something the Broncos don’t want to be a trend. The Broncos did pump up things a little more on their final drive -- the 17-play, 81-yard game-clincher that used up 10:56 of the fourth quarter -- and used a two-tight end set more in that possession as they gained 43 of their 73 total rushing yards.
Some other nuggets from the game video:
The Ravens showed early on they believed the Broncos would be slow to adjust to a cornerback in the pass rush. Kyle Arrington plowed into Manning on an incompletion to Emmanuel Sanders -- an on-time throw was likely a touchdown -- to end the Broncos' first possession. They came back to it later as Arrington hit Manning on the third-quarter interception that was returned for a touchdown by Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith.
Jordan Norwood has the trust factor with Manning. And working out of the slot much of the time, Norwood had two catches for 25 yards -- both went for first downs in one second-quarter drive. There is more coming there.
The Broncos were aggressive on defense, but created an awful lot of quality pressures with four-man rushes. They rushed four -- a mix-and-match four at times, but four nonetheless -- on 75 percent of the Ravens’ pass attempts. They got a sack with a four-man rush (DeMarcus Ware) and one with a five-man rush (Brandon Marshall). Their two interceptions came off a five-man rush (Darian Stewart’s to end the Ravens’ last drive) and a six-man rush (Aqib Talib’s return for a touchdown).