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Six and Out With John Bena

I'd like to thank John Bena, a fellow Sports Blogs Nation writer over at Mile High Report, for answering some questions regarding the Denver Broncos heading into this week's game. I encourage you to go over to his site and read the thoughts on this week's game from Denver's perspective, as things have heated up due to the comments made by Gerard Warren and Quincy Morgan. Also, later on today, I have a set of questions I answered that will be posted on John's site. Now, let's get to the questions I asked John, and how he responded...

1. Would the Broncos be the same team without the big bag Gerard Warren, whom Browns fans were pleased to see get the hell out of Cleveland?

John Bena: "It's hard to say, since the success of the Broncos defensive line goes beyond Warren. For the Broncos, Warren has been the exact type of player they need to fit their system. To get an idea of what I mean look no further than Casey Hampton in Pittsburgh. Hampton's stats aren't mind-blowing, but his effect on a game is unquestioned. Warren does the same sort of thing for the Broncos. He is able to clog up the middle, keeping O-Lineman of the linebackers, which is key because though Wilson, Williams, and Gold are fast, they are under-sized. This is just a situation where it was best for all involved for there to be a change. And let's face it, it isn't Warren's fault the Browns drafted him at #3. I'd blame the Butch Davis regime for that mistake."

2. Of all the former Browns currently on the Broncos(Warren, Brown, Myers, Ekuban, Lang, and Morgan), who has been the most important contributor this season?

John Bena: "At this point of the season I'd have to go with Ekuban. He has put consistent pressure on opposing QB's and is a very steady player, never too high or too low. As fans in Cleveland know, Kenard Lang is a classy player, and classy guy, and his influence in the locker room can't be over-looked. As for Myers, I loved his addition in the Droughns trade, and he continues to be a steady force for the Broncos. I will say if you ask me this question in 3 or 4 weeks I may change my John Bena to Quincy Morgan. That's how bad the Broncos kick return game has been."

3. Is there a fear that Reuben Droughns will have success against his old team?

John Bena: "From what I have seen of Droughns in Cleveland he hasn't changed much since his Denver days. He runs hard, but can wear down at the end of games, and really slow down as a season goes along. The Broncos focus on stopping the run.  here have been times this season that the Broncos give up some yards, but when it counts they just don't let teams run on them, they are just too athletic up front."

4. What's the deal with Jake Plummer and the offense - is it just being to conservative, does Jay Cutler need to get in, what's going on?

John Bena: "It's a combination of things, some the offense's fault, some not.  Though Mike Shanahan doesn't say so, I believe the Rams game during Week 1 still has him a bit gun shy about opening it up. That said, the Denver Broncos are most successful when they are running the football. By nature, that shortens a game, and lowers the score. The Broncos brought in a new offensive coordinator this season, and there are quite a few new faces on offense. Another consideration that hasn't really been talked about is the Prime-Time factor. The Broncos have played their last three games on either Sunday Night or Monday Night. Both teams are charged up to play in prime-time, and the two of the three teams are pretty good(New England and Baltimore). Even the Raiders usually play the Broncos tough because of the rivalry factor. That said, Denver was able to beat all three by double-digits. As for Cutler, his time will come. Cleveland fans know better than anyone what a quarterback controversy can do to a team and fan-base, and the detriment a non-decisive head coach can be to a team. Shanahan is going to take his time making the change, because once he does it will be for good."

5. How has the defense played so well to only allow one touchdown this entire season? That is an incredible feat.

John Bena: "Stop the run, and great cornerback play. Sure, the Ravens and Bears get all the pub, but the Broncos linebackers are pretty damn good. Teams just can't outrun these guys, and it leaves a bunch of 3rd and long's for offenses. Secondly, and Browns fans may laugh at this, but the defensive line is getting pressure on the quarterback themselves, without the need to blitz. Last season the Broncos blitzed someone on almost every down. That leave a team susceptible to the big play, and can cause confusion on defense.  This year, Denver has barely blitzed, relying on the front four to bring pressure.  If you can consistently bring pressure with 4, you are going to stop a lot of teams. You add to that the play of Champ Bailey and Darrent Williams at corner, and the offense is going to struggle. For Browns fans that don't know a lot about Williams, think a 5' 10" version of Leigh Bodden. This defense will give up yards, but in the red-zone gets really stout."

6. How do you think the game will go down this Sunday?

John Bena: "I have been on Broncos fan sites all week letting them know that this game isn't going to be easy. The Browns fans will be ready, and weather can always be the great equalizer. Games like this are usually decided by two things - who can run the ball/stop the run, and turnovers. The Broncos are going to be able to run the ball on this defense. Tatum Bell is 7th in the league rushing, and the Browns have given up some big runs this season(LaMont Jordan). The Broncos will stop the run. I really like Kellen Winslow, and the threat he can be, when he is on the field. That said, the Broncos defense has the experience defending tight ends, facing Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates 4 times a season. Look for the "Big Nickel" to be used when Winslow is in the game on third down. The Broncos like to bring a safety, usually Sam Brandon, in to lineup against a tight end, instead of an extra corner.  Sure, Brandon isn't as fast, but the extra size allows him to be more physical. I also love Charlie Frye, being a University of Akron guy myself, but he can be baited into throws, and D-Will and Champ are two of the best at doing it. Just ask Tom Brady, Steve McNair and Andrew Walter."

John Bena: "This game is close for awhile, but the Broncos pull it out - Denver 24 - Cleveland 13."

I'd like to thank John once again for answering these questions. Before I leave, I'd also like to welcome two websites, TheFalcoholic.com(representing the Atlanta Falcons) and TheFootballMonologues.com(a football site dedicated to the female fans). Both websites will be successful additions to the rapidly growing Sports Blogs Nation!