Our Scout.com experts, Michael John Schon of Broncos Update and Matthew Postins of BucsBlitz.com, go Behind Enemy Lines to take a closer look at Sunday's Week 5 matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Invesco Field. Read Part I by clicking here, read part two by clicking here.
Only one Tampa Bay player on the current roster has faced the Broncos in Denver as a Buccaneer - iconic linebacker Derrick Brooks.
But not much has really changed since the last time he faced the Broncos. They still have a gunslinger quarterback - Jay Cutler instead of John Elway - and coach Mike Shanahan has the No. 1 offense in the NFL.
"We accept the challenge, first and foremost," Brooks said. "Going on the road, defensively, we know that we have to step up and take the bull by the horn. There is no bigger challenge. Playing Denver, the few times we've played them, their offense has always been ranked very high. So we accept the challenge and we are going to go up there and do our best to out-execute them with our coverage. Gang-tackling will be big. A lot of their yards come after the receivers catch the ball. Their quarterback has a cannon for an arm, very athletic kid."
Both teams are off to a good start at 3-1. The way they got there is somewhat surprising. The Broncos won three straight before losing at Kansas City last week as Larry Johnson exposed their weak run defense.
The Bucs needed come-from-behind wins in the fourth quarter over Chicago and Green Bay.
The Bucs have done it with defense, scoring three touchdowns and creating nine turnovers. Meanwhile, the Bucs have overcome six interceptions in the last two games from starter Brian Griese, who began his career in Denver.
"It's challenging to play them out there because they were the two-time defending world champions," Gruden said. "It's always a challenge playing in Denver, a Mike Shanahan-coached football team. This is a 3-1 team. People look at our schedule. It's a hard schedule. Forget the altitude and the crowd noise and the beautiful stadium and the long trip - they're a hell of a football team. They're 3-1 and they're coming off a tough loss. We're going to have to play a good game to beat them."
The Broncos have made a living with their passing game this season. Quarterback Jay Cutler has had the hot hand and he has two very good wideouts in Brandon Marshall and rookie Eddie Royal. In one game this season, Marshall caught 18 passes.
"That doesn't happen very much, does it?" Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "Especially when you're off a week. I had no idea he caught that many until after the game, but it kind of gives you an idea what he's capable of doing."
Shanahan knows something about Griese, having coached him in Denver. Griese has already beaten his former Chicago Bears team. He calls this his "revenge tour."
"He's the brightest guy I've ever been around," Shanahan said. "There's nobody I've been around that compares with his mind and I've been around some smart guys. He picks things up as quickly as anybody I've ever seen. He can make all the throws. He's got a great sense of timing."
Gruden has never fared very well as a coach against the Broncos. But he has a resilient team that can run the football, which bodes well against a Denver defense that is 30th against the run.