This league is so cyclical.
Denver's team is too. Denver hasn't seen a youth movement like it is seeing this season since the mid-eighties. In the early to mid-eighties (1983-1987) Denver was really good too but a lot of folks forget that because they were a young and wild team and didn't win a playoff game until 1986. With a truly young team, Denver won 9 games in 1983, 13 games in 1984, and 11 games in 1985. We all know how 1986 and 1987 turned out.
Denver is young and wild again. Denver's defense isn't a good unit...yet. They're not the worst unit in the game but they're not very good. They can improve. They have talent. They'll add talent in years to come. Oh, and one more thing, the defense isn't the scapegoat for the Chiefs loss. That falls squarely on the shoulders of 3 people:
1) Jay Cutler. 2) Brandon Marshall. 3) Eddie Royal.
They know it too. Truth is, they're shrugging it off. And they should. They're young. They are going to make mistakes. Nobody goes undefeated (except for the Pats but they ended up losing the one game that really counted). Marshall's fumble was bad and served up 7 points on a platter to the Chiefs. Marshall even admitted after the game that he should have been where Cutler threw his second interception, if not there for the reception but to knock the ball away from the defender. Royal's fumble wasn't as bad but killed any possibility of the offense getting into rhythm. The Denver receivers definitely found out that the rest of the league thinks they are careless with the ball. Turnovers lose games. Four in one game all but guarantee a loss.
Cutler played his Elway card on Sunday. He was erratic and more inaccurate than usual. But do you know why? It's because he felt like he had to win the game all by himself. Why wouldn't he feel that way? The defense wasn't going to win it. The running game wasn't going to suddenly dominate the line of scrimmage. Sound familiar? Ask John Elway if he felt like that when the mid 80's Broncos were young and wild.
Cutler forced passes. Even the TD pass to Marshall in the 2nd Quarter was forced. Cutler kept going to Marshall because Marshall makes plays and Denver needed a few. Truth is, Marshall did make a few plays but the Chiefs had two to three players around Marshall even when he was able to get open. When Cutler finally resigned himself to taking what the defense gave him, Denver was able to move the ball with short passes to Royal and Stokley. But it was too little, too late. Only a special teams miracle would have netted a win, but alas, Spence Larsen played defense in college for a reason: he can't catch.
Is it okay to simply shrug your shoulders over this loss? Yep. Sure is. First of all, it's just a game. Second of all, these guys are 25, 23, and 22. Elway threw LOTS of interceptions when he was 25 (He threw 23 INTs to 22 TDs). Thirdly, the defense will improve. Not to an elite level but to a serviceable level. Brandon Marshall is one of the best runners in the game after the catch. Yet there are at least a few times during the game when you cringe because he's carrying the ball like a loaf of bread. And Eddie Royal has played in four games in the NFL. That's it: four games.
They get the benefit of the doubt. They have three tough games upcoming. They could win all three. They might lose all three. But you can be sure of one thing: Cutler and his boys are learning on the job. Jay will learn that he needs to be more patient. It's going to take him a few more years, not a few more weeks, but he will progress. Marshall and Royal will learn to cover the ball up when they turn up field. Again though, it'll take years, not weeks. Be patient. It'll be worth it. It was in 1984.