31st January 2016

Sky Sports News reporter Richard Graves, is in San Francisco covering Super Bowl 50. He took some time out of this busy schedule to answer a few questions.

Q: What is your key to the game? What could be the difference maker?
A: The ultimate key to the game is out scoring the opposition. To have any chance of doing that, Denver’s defense has to contain and frustrate Cam Newton. No team has scored as many points as Carolina this season and a number of their touchdowns have come on explosive plays. As good as this offense has been, their receivers are still prone to making errors and dropping balls they should catch. So the key is whether Denver can limit the number of big plays – both in the air and on the ground – as Atlanta did in their week 15 success over the Panthers while not committing turnovers themselves or can Carolina continue in the vein we’ve seen this post season. If they can score early and often, this game could get out of hand in a hurry.

Q: How do you see both defences, would you say Denvers is on par with Seattle a few years ago?
A: Denver’s defense is completely different to Seattle’s, so it’s tough to compare them. Denver play in a base 3-4 scheme while Seattle operate a 4-3 defense. Both have good secondaries and tend to leave their cornerbacks on an island – roles they more than capably fill. Ultimately both get the same result – they stifle the opposition.

Going into this game, Denver have the better defensive unit in my opinion and that’s backed up by the regular season stats – Denver’s defense being the number 1 ranked unit in the NFL. The combination of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware rushing off the edges combined with Sylvester Williams blocking up the middle has been lethal. Their performance made all the more impressive when you consider how rarely they’ve been able to play with big leads.

In contrast, that hasn’t been a problem for Carolina. The longer the season has gone on, the more points their offense has scored and that’s allowed their defense to get after the quarterback. To their credit, they’ve taken full advantage – leading the league in takeaways and turnover differential. Make no mistake though, this is a good unit. Josh Norman has been outstanding, covering the best receivers in the game this year. Kawaan Short is the only defensive tackle in NFL history to earn Defensive Player Of the Month awards twice in the same season and we haven’t even mentioned linebackers, Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis but man for man I give a slight edge to the Broncos.

Q: What do Denver need to do to win this game?
A: As I stated earlier the entire game for Denver rests on not turning the ball over and frustrating Cam Newton. When asked, how do you get to Tom Brady, Von Miller said he only needed a second and played lights out in the AFC Championship game. DeMarcus Ware’s stat sheet in that game might not have been that impressive (recording 0.5 sacks) but he was a constant menace in New England’s backfield as well. Denver have to accept, Cam Newton will make some plays with his feet but if they can force Carolina into 3rd and long situations, not only will they have a chance of stopping drives, there’ll be turnover opportunities as well. For the likes of rookie WR Devin Funchess, Tedd Ginn Jnr & Jericho Cotchery, this will be their first experience of a Super Bowl atmosphere. There will be nerves, there likely will be dropped passes and Denver must make he most of these opportunities. If Carolina can be forced to play from behind, it’ll be somewhat uncharted territory. Only Atlanta have achieved that recently and Carolina weren’t able to turn it around. If defense wins championships this is Denver’s chance to shine.

Q: If this is PM last game, should Denver stick with Brock next season, or do you think they should possibly draft a QB for insurance?
A: Absolutely Denver should stay with Brock Osweiler. He’s shown flashes of promise when he’s played this season. He’s also shown a little inexperience at times but that’s what you expect from a young quarterback. He has good arm strength, appears capable of making all the throws and has the mobility to excel in a Gary Kubiak led offense. In week 17 when Peyton Manning entered the game, he didn’t make any exceptional throws to win it for Denver. It was his experience which proved too much for San Diego’s defense to handle – after all, the game winning drive relied heavily on the run.

Without doubt Osweiler will be a better player for his game experience this season. He will learn from his mistakes and he will learn plenty from Peyton Manning, both in performance and how he’s handled adversity.

Thanks Richard!

Richard Graves
Interview by

Michael McQuaid



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