Broncos-Eagles: Fast-break football coming to Denver today
AP Pro Football Writer
DENVER — The Broncos host the Eagles on Sunday at Sports Authority Field, and the dazzling new 8,800-square-foot scoreboard, the largest outside of Texas and the centerpiece of a $30 million stadium upgrade, should get its biggest test yet.
Denver leads the league with an average of 487 yards of offense, and Philadelphia is second at 462.
These are byproducts of the speed philosophy Chip Kelly developed at Oregon and took to Philly and Adam Gase’s turbo-charging of Denver’s offense in his first year as coordinator. It’s given a whole new meaning to Peyton Manning’s famous cry, “Hur-ry! Hur-ry!”
The Broncos (3-0) move in and out of the no-huddle offense to throw off defenses and they lead the league with a 43-point average. The Eagles (1-2) go full-tilt from the get-go but they’ve hit some speed bumps along the way.
“I love going fast,” Philly’s Michael Vick said. “There’s nothing better.”
Vick echoes Manning, however, in saying no matter how expeditious the offense, it all comes down to execution.
“Just because you lined up fast doesn’t mean you’re going to line up and do it right,” Vick said.
“Speed, tempo, all those things, it just means nothing if you’re not executing your assignments,” Manning concurred.
Both teams are in the bottom third of the league in pass defense, so everyone’s expecting a shootout — unless, of course, all that practice against their respective offenses pays off in shutting down this highly anticipated aerial fireworks show.
Five other things to watch if your neck doesn’t get too sore from all the back-and-forth when the Eagles and Broncos meet:
Manning is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw a dozen TD passes through three games, and he’s the first since Vick in 2010 to have that many touchdown throws without an interception.
Vick’s first interception that year came in his eighth game.
Manning is coming off a career-best 86.5 completion percentage against Oakland, when he was 32 of 37 and his receivers dropped four passes.
“We know we have to come out and score points, but our mindset can’t be to try to match what they do,” Vick said. “We just … have to do everything right on our part and see where it goes.”
The Broncos believe they’ll have a built-in advantage because it’s hard for teams to come to Denver and run the hurry-up at altitude. Soon enough, their lungs are burning and they’re gasping for air.
“Yeah, I’ve played here many times as a competitor and early you feel it,” Broncos coach John Fox said. “How you adjust is different for every opponent and it’s probably the best home-field advantage in the NFL. That’s why I think our home record is so good.”
Denver middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard said the altitude is no joke.
“There is no hype about that altitude. The altitude is a different beast,” Woodyard said. “They’re going to get a test. …We get the advantage of playing in it and practicing in it every day, going up against a no-huddle offense every day.”
Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie spent the last two seasons in Philadelphia and had plenty of 1-on-1 matchups with Eagles speedy wide receiver DeSean Jackson in practice.
“When that ball’s in the air, he hits another gear,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “And it’s hard as a corner to try to stay with him, stay with him and then he just takes off. Most people don’t have that extra gear that he has.”
When Jackson called him this week, D.R.C. asked, “Who’s this?”
“I’ve got to treat him like a stranger, he ain’t a friend right now. It’s going to be very competitive.”
BRONCOS BANGED UP SECONDARY
Champ Bailey hopes to make his 2013 debut on Sunday, 44 days after hurting his left foot at Seattle in the preseason.
Also aching with sprained ankles are starting safety Duke Ihenacho and nickel back Tony Carter.
Not exactly good news with the likes of Vick, Jackson and McCoy on tap.
“It’s going to be hard,” Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “You’ve got three guys that can take it the distance from anywhere on the field. So, discipline is going to be real big.”
STAYING ON THE FIELD
The Ravens, Giants and Raiders weren’t able to keep Manning & Co. on the sideline, which is probably the best defense for Denver’s prolific offense right now.
The Eagles, however, have had just one three-and-out in 38 possessions.
The Broncos have forced a dozen three-and-outs so far.
“Three-and-outs are something that we thrive on,” Woodyard said.
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