A Quick Post Mortem (Broncos / Bills '08)

First, I agree with the sentiments expressed by Guru.  I am a Broncos fan through and through, and refuse to be a bandwagon fan that is "finished" when this team blows a game.  We improved over last year, have a strong, core group of youth, and remain on the precipice of the playoffs.  Reading many of the stories in the pre-season, most of us predicted a record close to 10-6 and a borderline shot at the playoffs.

And as Guru points out, the winner of this next game will clearly deserve the playoff spot, and the loser clearly won't.

Briefly (because dwelling on negatives get us nowhere), I'm going to lay out the problems I saw in play calling.

Both TedBartlett and I have written stories (here and here) that spelled out what we thought needed to be done to win the Bills game.  In the 1st quarter, Denver took our advice.  They ran the ball, and they ran it to the edges where they could take advantage of slower DEs and OLBs.  Pope and even Royal had incredible gains.  At the end of the first quarter, Denver had scored twice, and the Bills were in negative yardage in both running and passing.  Denver then abandoned the run for most of the rest of the game, allowing the Cover Two of the Bills to focus on the pass.  That's when things started going down the hill.

Next, Denver's aggressive play calling at the end of the half reminded me of the last time Denver made a foolish decision near the end of the half.  You'll recall Denver not running out the clock, and handing the ball to the other team in the very recent past.  This week, Denver expected their FG kicker to make a terribly long FG kick right at the end of the half.  Worse, Denver made this decision with a lead!  Denver gave up horrific field position, which should have almost promised the Bills a FG.  The Bills took advantage, and scored a TD.

Note how well the TEs played.  Again, several of the great members of the MHR Think Tank advocated using the TEs in the seams against a Cover Two that doesn't resemble a Tampa 2 very much.  Graham and Scheff had a field day.  Getting desperate towards the end of the game, Cutler gave up on dinking short passes to the seams (which picked up big yards) and relied on the WRs, who were the targets of the Cover Two.  I wasn't in touch with Styg during the game, but I felt as if we were telepathicaly on the same wavelength - "Here comes the interception".

One odd thing to consider: Considering how well we did in the first few drives, is it likely that Shanahan scripted the first several plays (which worked), while the pass happy plays afterward (which didn't work) were the product of our offensive coordinator?  No intrigue here, I think we know the answer.  Is anyone interested in starting a movement to get Shanahan to go back to playcalling?

My advice?  Get your frustrations out here.  Get them behind you.  The team needs us as they move ahead, and the SD game will be a beauty.  I feel neither team has a shot at a deep playoff run, so this game is our Super Bowl.  It will be in prime time, and against a team that seems to me to be fighting the Raiders for the new title of "worthy arch enemy".

I for one have no time for frustrations of my own.  I am grateful for this Christmas season, my family, my MHR family, and the Broncos (win or lose).  I will spend this week serving my community in law enforcement, serving my family, and serving each of you at MHR.  I plan to put the Bills game to rest, and to focus on what matters as a football fan...

Beating SD.  And doing it with overwhelming force.

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