Just like a football game, I see the season in 4 Quarters. The first quarter usually has a team trying to establish themselves w/o showing too much to gauge the defense. The second quarter we have an idea what we do well and exploit what has not been working for the defense. Halftime is where the adjustments are made. Whether its lack of focus in penalty department or dropped passes, adjustments are made that either put players in position to be successful or put the team in a position continue developing. 3rd quarter is where the adjustments are paying dividends and adding to what has been working from the first two quarters. 4th quarter aka the grind. Its here where we learn about our football team. Do we have the mettle to fight for a first down, add to the lead or pull as last drive victory. To me, the season isn't any different and normally reserve my thoughts in that manner and I'll do my best to explain after the jump.
The NFL season to me are 4 quarters of a 16 games schedule (17 weeks w/a bye). The first 4 games of the season is the first quarter. Its here where we start to learn how to play winning football. Find our strengths and build from that while working on weaknesses so that it doesn't become a bigger issue. If Denver can manage a 4-0 start, good times indeed.
wk 1: Cincy 12-7 WIN
wk 2: Cleveland 27-6 WIN
wk 3: Oakland (Strength: Run Game and Pass Defense -- Weakness: Inconsistent QB Play and Run Defense)
wk 4: Dallas (Strength: Balanced Offense and Pass Rush -- Weakness: QB protection and Pass Defense)
The 2nd quarter is where every team will have enough film to game plan effectively. We'll know what our strengths are after a month of competition as will the entire NFL. Factor in the injuries and we'll be able to see the true value of our depth. This is where teams start to establish their identity w/in their division and maybe pull away early if health and execution fall together.
wk 5: Patriots (Strength: Balanced Offense and Special Teams -- Weakness: OL play and LB depth)
wk 6: Chargers (Strength: Passing Offense and Special Teams -- Weakness: Running game and Pass Defense)
wk 7: Bye (Retired for John Elway and Round of Guinness for the faithful Orange and Blue)
wk 8: Ravens (Strength: Balanced Offense and Run Defense -- Weakness: Special Teams and Pass Defense)
wk 9: Steelers (Strength: Passing Offense and Blitz -- Weakness: Running game and Pass Defense)
The 3rd quarter are where the challenges present themselves for every team. Its at this point where the identity of a team is well understood. Preparation is monumental as every player will have a larger role as playoffs are just a month away. Injuries, game plan, and scheme will start to become consistent (an example would be that our starting RB will have 20 touches and 85+ yds, QB will throw 20-25 passes). The consistency to do the things well and often while minimizing the weaknesses that are crucial at this point into the season as the games are few and invaluable.
wk 10: Redskins (Strength: Running Game and Run Defense -- Weakness: Inconsistent offense and Pass Defense)
wk 11: Chargers (as above)
wk 12: Giants (Strength: Running game and Pass rush -- Weakness: Passing game and Pass defense)
wk 13: Chiefs (Strength: Passing game and Rush defense -- Weakness: OL depth/play and Pass defense)
The 4th quarter. Just like a real game, either you're in it to win it or just waiting for 00:00. The season is no different. You're playoff opportunity is either right in front of you or thoughts of draft position start to fill the fan base. Not going to the playoffs? As I spoke about the 2 quarter, you still want to maintain that sense of identity and this falls squarely on the coaching staff. To build for the following game (or in this analogy of mine, next season) you must continue to compete but in the end its about continuity.
wk 14: Colts (Strength: QB and Pass Defense -- Weakness: Run game and Run defense)
wk 15: Raiders (as above)
wk 16: Eagles (Strength: QB and Run Defense -- Weakness: Run game and Pass Defense)
wk 17: Chiefs (as above)
Now I added what I feel are the strengths and weakness of our competition this season as of week 2. Please take note that w/in every quarter health, player development, scheme and execution will either improve or take a dip as two teams normally attempt to impose their will, their identity. As of right now, our strength is the OL play and Rush defense and our weakness QB/WR play and Special Teams.
By no means am I discrediting what has been accomplished (I can imagine a few readers running off and assuming I'm spitting in the kool aid) just that in our first quarter of season play, we're still figuring out our offense while getting healthy at the QB position. Combine the talent of WR and the learning curve between the two positions and we'll find a drop off what most fans have grown accustomed to in the past regarding QB and WR.
The rush defense of Denver hasn't been challenged consistently but that Cincy game was definitely a tell tale sign of what to expect if teams such as Dallas, Redskins, Ravens, Steelers, Giants and Raiders commit to the run to offset our strengths.
Again, Denver has been doing great and will only get better while absorbing a few steps backs in areas they're normally consistent. I hope my view of how I perceive the season enlightens a few while calming the "sky is falling" group.