I'm upset with the loss yesterday, but not as much as I was after the Kansas City game. I think there were a few major positives which emerged yesterday, and generally, I was fairly happy with the performance of the defense for the second week in a row. Some thoughts....
1. The Broncos were very physical, even slightly more physical than the Jaguars, who are known more than anything for being a physical team. Last season, the Jaguars whipped the Broncos physically, and the fact that that didn't happen yesterday is something to be happy about.
2. Mike Shanahan had it exactly right when he said that there was an opportunity lost to take control of the game. The Broncos need to establish significant early leads to win games. That is obviously helpful for any team, but over his career, Shanahan may be the best coach ever with a 10 point lead. It is crucial to cash in on these early opportunities.
3. Dre Bly played very well yesterday in coverage, better than he has all season. Even on the deep completion which was called back, it was a perfect throw which beat very good man-to-man coverage.
4. It must have been payback day from the officials. The Clady downfield holding penalty was not nearly holding, the Bly illegal contact penalty was ridiculous, and the Manuel-McCree was completely horrible. I'm not blaming the loss on these three calls, but one penalty stalled a promising drive, one extended Touchdown drive for the Jaguars, and one allowed the Jags to kill the clock and end the game. When the AP is reporting on bad calls in their write-ups, what you have are obvious bad calls.
5. The Stokley injury was just a killer. I'm not in the business of being an apologist for losing, but the Broncos were already very handicapped by the absences of Selvin Young, Eddie Royal, and Tony Scheffler. Losing a reliable target like Stokley just made it a really tough task to move the ball in the passing game. There is no rapport or familiarity between Cutler and Darrell Jackson, and Glenn Martinez is who we thought he was, which is a solid punt returner and a marginal receiver.
6. I don't like Larsen at FB. Sure, he hits guys hard, but he hasn't shown anything else. I very much prefer Hillis, who is a good runner and receiver, and gets his pads into guys well as a lead blocker too.
7. Pittman played a terrific game, but I still prefer Young to be the starter at this point. I think Pittman is great at what he has been doing this season, and is merely solid as a starting back.
8. Something needs to be done about all of this fumbling. It's getting very troubling, and you can't have it happening, and still expect to win.