The Indianapolis Colts open the season up at the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night. I spoke with Sayre Bedinger, editor of Predominantly Orange, to get some behind the scenes information on this week’s opponent.
News broke yesterday about Wes Welkerbeing suspended for four games due to amphetamines. What is the game plan with Welker sidelined for awhile now? Who is expected to step up in his place?
The Broncos, as crazy and homerish as it may sound, can absorb the blow of losing Wes Welker pretty easily. You’d obviously prefer to have him, he’s a phenomenal slot receiver and makes clutch third down catches. Also, Welker was a beast in the red zone last season. However, the Broncos will use a combination of Andre Caldwell, rookie Cody Latimer, and tight end Jacob Tamme to replace him. All except Latimer are proven replacements, but Latimer is easily the most talented of that group.
The offense will flow through Demaryius Thomas as it pertains to the passing game, and then probably Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Then Montee Ball and the backs, then whoever is the fifth option. To be honest, the Broncos probably won’t skip a beat without Welker but are definitely upgraded by having him in the lineup.
Everything fell apart for the Broncos in the Super Bowl. What changes have you seen in terms of scheme and mentality going forward for the Broncos?
The Broncos made it a point to add toughness to their defense, signing Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, and DeMarcus Ware. They will also benefit in a big way from the return of injured players who didn’t get a chance to compete in the Super Bowl. Guys like Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr., Rahim Moore, Derek Wolfe, and Quinton Carter all would have played huge roles. The Broncos were just a mess defensively with all the injuries and medical issues last season.
Offensively, they got a lot faster at WR with Cody Latimer and Emmanuel Sanders. As good as Eric Decker was/is, he couldn’t get separation vs. Seattle corners. The Broncos got guys who can beat you with speed (Sanders, Latimer) and physicality (Latimer).
We know that Peyton Manning has a vengeful streak. Is there any indication that he wants to punish the Colts for beating him last season as well as the Super Bowl loss? What kind of performance should we expect on Sunday?
You can expect to see Peyton’s best. I watched the Colts game with family and friends last year, and we all agreed after that emotional opening ceremony that Peyton was going to be rattled. He came out looking like complete garbage. The same thing happened in the Super Bowl after the botched first snap. Last year against the Ravens, the Broncos trailed and looked out of sync for much of the first half. Two quick touchdowns to Julius Thomas, and all of a sudden Peyton Manning was on his way to 7 TD passes. I don’t know how drastic it’s going to be, but I expect the Colts will see the best possible version of Peyton Manning they could see.
Besides Manning, who should Colts fans be on the lookout for in Sunday’s game? Who will have the biggest impact on the game?
Aside from the obvious like Demaryius Thomas, Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, etc., I think a crucial return is that of Ryan Clady. Also, you’re not going to want to sleep on Montee Ball or Emmanuel Sanders. Broncos fans are going to be interested to see what the rotation looks like with a bunch of guys coming off of injury defensively, but you can pencil those offensive players down for sure. Nate Irving is starting at middle linebacker on opening day for the first time since being picked in the third round in 2011. Brandon Marshall is starting in place of Danny Trevathan at the WLB spot as well, both worth monitoring for this game.
What is your prediction for the game?
I predict the Broncos will get the win. I don’t like to do score, because I’d hate to ever short-change my boys, but I realize the talent level of Andrew Luck and the influence he can have on the outcome of games. The Broncos’ defense will have their hands full, but I think they can come up with enough big plays to get that first win of the season on Sunday night.
Make sure to follow Predominantly Orange (@PredomOrange) for all your Broncos news and info.