NFL Wire News

Broncos TE Davis blames 49ers for dropoff


The Sports Xchange

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos didn’t make all the trades they wanted in advance of the Tuesday trade deadline. But they did procure tight end Vernon Davis from the San Francisco 49ers in the hopes of improving their red-zone offense with an inside threat who had 13 touchdowns just two seasons ago.

Davis has just two touchdowns since then, but from his perspective, there’s a good reason why his production has not matched its 2009-13 apex.

“Everyone is asking that question, where did I go? If you look at San Francisco, look at the year (2014) when I started to drop off. What happened with the team? They started to fall all in,” Davis said. “There were so many things going on, so much turmoil. No one really excelled. No one really had success. As a team, we didn’t have success.

“If the team’s not having success, the chances are that I’m not going to have success.”

The 49ers have lost six of their last seven games. The Broncos have won seven in a row. The situations could scarcely be more different, and in Davis’ mind, the same is true of the quarterbacks.

“Not knocking those guys – Colin [Kaepernick] and Alex [Smith] were really good. They were good at their craft,” said Davis, who admitted that he has long dreamed of playing with Peyton Manning. “They were good quarterbacks, but we’re talking about Peyton Manning. It’s a whole other level.”

Davis was immediately listed on the second team of the depth chart, behind starter Owen Daniels but ahead of fifth-year veteran Virgil Green. How much Davis plays in Indianapolis this Sunday depends on his progress.

“A lot of our verbiage makes sense to him from some of his West Coast offense days,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “I think that we can make up some quick ground, but it’s our job as coaches to make sure that he’s in a comfortable position come Sunday.”

Kubiak might opt to pick and choose his spots for Davis, but just having him available brings the offense closer to what he wants.

“The biggest thing with getting Vernon is that we were surviving with two tight ends. We got Richard [Gordon] here two weeks ago; he’s been at about eight practices. But we were surviving with Owen and Virgil. Then Owen gets hurt in Cleveland, so we had a little problem on our hands.

“If anything, it settles us down. We have a really good group now and we should be able to keep everybody going for the long haul.”

SERIES HISTORY: The 22nd regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series, 12-9. Colts have won seven of the last eight. The most historic meeting between these two teams was on Jan. 11, 2015, when the sleepwalking Broncos stumbled to a 24-13 divisional-round defeat that helped set the stage for the departure of head coach John Fox and most of his staff one day later.

GAME PLAN: The Broncos will have to prepare for tweaks in the Colts’ attack in the wake of offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s sacking on Tuesday. New coordinator Rob Chudzinski could opt to accelerate the tempo to force the Broncos into playing out of one formation more often and not substituting. But he will have his work cut out for him in neutralizing the Broncos’ pass rush, which has been effective against every quarterback it has faced this year – even mobile ones like Teddy Bridgewater and Aaron Rodgers. Offensively, the Broncos will try to find the same balance they did last week, when C.J. Anderson and Demaryius Thomas each had over 100 yards rushing and receiving, respectively, and Peyton Manning completed 6 of 9 passes for 153 yards out of the play-action.


–Broncos CB Chris Harris Jr. vs. Colts WR T.Y. Hilton.

Prior to the teams’ January matchup, Harris spoke repeatedly of wanting to cover Hilton, the Colts’ productive slot receiver. In the offseason, he remained upset about not getting the opportunity. That should change Sunday. Harris should be up for the challenge after allowing Green Bay’s Randall Cobb just two receptions for 10 yards in the Broncos’ throttling of the Packers last week.

–Broncos OLBs Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware vs. Colts OTs Anthony Castonzo and Joe Reitz.

Each of the Colts’ starting offensive tackles has allowed three sacks apiece this season, and now face their stiffest challenge to date in Miller and Ware, who each had a sack of Aaron Rodgers last week and have combined for 9.5 of the Broncos’ 29 sacks. The Broncos remain the only team to have sacked opposing quarterbacks more than once every 10 plays (once every 9.38).

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