Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was asked to size up the opposing offense in Super Bowl 50.
“It’s 7-0 … It’s 14-0 … It’s like the guy singing the national anthem is still on the field” the first time the Carolina Panthers typically score, Manning said Thursday.
“They feed off each other; the offense takes advantage (of what the defense starts) with the turnovers they give them. That’s the sign of a great football team.”
The Broncos have a great defense, allowing just 18.5 points per game. Denver’s offense is so-so at 22.2 points per game, particularly when compared with the Panthers’ 31.3 points per game this season.
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Broncos coach Gary Kubiak acknowledged as much when asked about the matchup Monday.
“Offensively, we’re going to have to play better,” Kubiak said. “We did some good things, but we’re going to have to play a lot better. Defensively, we played very, very well, but we’re going to be facing a very different type of opponent from a preparation standpoint.”
Kubiak gave his players Tuesday and Wednesday off, in part to give the coaches an extra day to study the Panthers. They didn’t play each other this season and had only two common opponents – the Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers.
Kubiak says he’s fortunate to have two weeks to prepare for the Panthers, but most of the installation will be completed by Saturday before the Broncos fly to the Bay Area Sunday.
Some of this is about preparing the defense for Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s distinctive abilities and size. But it’s also about asking more of the offense, and that invariably starts with future Hall of Fame quarterback Manning.
“We would like to play better every single week. We want to do our part on offense to help our team win,” Manning said.
“Like I’ve said from the get-go, our defense has gotten us to this point. Let’s make that very clear. But we’ve got to do our part and contribute. We are facing a tremendous team in all three phases. So each phase of our team has to do their part.”
The Broncos average 107 yards rushing per game, compared with 143 for the Panthers. Denver averaged 248 yards passing, compared with 224 for the Panthers.
But just as Manning suggested, the Panthers’ huge advantage in takeaway-giveaway (an NFL-best plus-20, compared with minus-4 for the Broncos) makes it easier on Newton and the rest of the offense.
Manning gets it that Kubiak needs another level from his unit to win it all Feb. 7 at Levi’s Stadium.
“You see a lot. You see a fast, physical football team that has created a lot of negative plays for (opposing) offenses. They create a lot of turnovers, which create a lot of short fields,” Manning said of the Panthers.
“All of us offensive guys want to carry our weight and not take the defense for granted. We are working hard to prepare, but we have a tremendous challenge in front of us. There’s no question that we can improve and that we would like to improve. I assure you our effort and will to prepare is certainly there.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell