I have been able able to review games, but today I was able to see the game as it was broadcasted. A few things stood out to me, and I want to point them out while they are still fresh in mind.
1) I really liked the spirit I saw today. Guys were hustling, slapping each other on the back, jumping for joy, and getting excited. Most importantly, I was seeing this happen on the defense.
2) I'm not thrilled with some of the runs we gave up, but overall I really liked the major improvement that I saw. While I saw some lanes opened up with brute force, the defense fought back hard and did a great job keeping the TB run offense in check.
3) I really liked how the defense made TB eat over five minutes on the last TB drive.
4) I'm impressed with the balance that Selvin shows on runs. Several times I saw him keep his feet after taking big hits.
5) Pittman was terrific. On one run he lowered his head a couple of times and speared his way ahead. Not a safe way to protect your neck from injury, but it worked.
6) No one dared throw towards Champ Bailey, and yet Bailey was in on multiple plays.
7) Cutler is still failing to look off his passes, but he more than made up for it by taking the underneath passes. He made at least three terrible passes that could have been intercepted, but he also made some smart decisions.
8) The DTs (whom I always pick on) did a great job plugging gaps except on two plays. On those plays there was some miscommunication, and a gap was left unfilled. Other than that, I liked what I saw. Because the DTs had a great game, the LBs were able to stuff several runs.
9) Doom and Ekuban looked great. A small part of the improvement was the removal of the pins in Doom's finger, but a MUCH bigger factor was the solid work by our DTs.
10) The Offensive Line still needs some work on run blocking, but is still improving. The pass protection remains outstanding, even facing a very solid front four from TB.
11) I liked the play calling much, much more in this game. More man coverage, and less zone. Still some silly 3 man rushes, but much more 4 man rushes and some blitzes.
12) We dished out some hard hits. I like that a lot.
13) The crowd sounded too quiet at first. That bothered me. But part of the way into the game the crowd picked it up.
14) Hats off to our coverage units on STs! They looked much better today. We can win the field position war with these guys if they keep it up.
15) Nice 53 yard field goal kick. Gutsy call, and well executed.
16) Shanny ball is back! Lots of bootlegs, misdirection, and a little more running. I also like that the ball was spread out to several targets.
Overall, the game was close and low scoring, but that's ok with me. Our defense played a heck of a game, and we can be more than one dimensional going forward. Is it too early to say that Denver has fixed what ails them? Perhaps. But I like what we showed today against a solid team, and it shows that we have the ability to play better than we have (even in the wins we've had).
Today's game showed a big step forward for this team. Impovements on defense and STs, and even playcalling. We're moving in the right direction. Still, we can't rest. We have a couple of potentialy tough games coming up, and we'll need to keep improving.
This team still doesn't look like a deep playoff contender, but it looks like it can get to the playoffs. With SD an KC losing today, we are well situated. We also have time to improve further. We're a young team, so the sky's the limit.
Great job Team!