Some Food For Thought - Jaguars 24 - Broncos 17

The Denver Broncos lost against the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-17, but is this game indicative of things to come for the Broncos or was it a result of playing a potential playoff team?

I thought it was a brutal loss, at first, but once I gave it some time and thought it over, the loss wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. There are certainly some things that we need to improve on, but the fact of the matter is that the Jaguars are a team that is built to give us fits. The last time the Jags played the Denver Broncos, we saw a lot of the same things. They pounded us on the ground and put our offense on the sidelines. This year, our offense was a bit better at sustaining drives, but the turnovers and penalties killed us. Here are the stats.

Category Broncos Jaguars
Score 17 24
Rushing - Carries,Yards, YPC
25-89, 3.6 ypc 32-136, 4.3 ypc
Passing Yards
274 165
Total Yards 363 301
3rd Down % 3-10(30.0%) 3-10(30.0%)
T.O.P 30:30 29:30
Turnovers
2 0

 

The number that jumps out at me is two. Two Bronco turnovers to zero Jaguars turnovers.

Granted, the final turnover was the Kyle Orton INT at the end of the game when the game was already slipping through our fingers. The big one, in my mind was the Correll Buckhalter fumble. When you think about the grand scheme of this game, it becomes even more painful. The Broncos were driving, certain to get at least a field goal. I think it's safe to say that we could have expected a touchdown, given the momentum at that point of the game. Moving forward into the 4th quarter, instead of going into that 4th down play with 4 minutes at 21-14, it could have just as easily been 21-21 and we kick the field goal to go up 24-21. Now, the jags have to score to even tie the game.

I know there's a lot of game between that fumble and the 4th down incompletion to Lloyd, but it's fair to say that, at the very least, the Broncos could have been in a better scoreboard situation than they were in reality. I realize it's a large jump to say that nothing else would change and we would have just added 7 points to our total going into the 4th quarter. What I want to get across is that the Broncos circumstances could be much different without that fumble. It took points away from the Broncos while also giving the Jaguars some momentum.

The Jags are a team that pound the rock and hold on to the ball. If you aren't able to hold on to the ball, yourself, or stop their running game then you are likely to come away with a loss. We did.

The rest of the stat line is pretty close, but what doesn't show up is the special teams. As John Bena mentioned in a previous post, the Jags had 166 return yards while the Broncos had only 66. Near the beginning of the game, you could see that the game was going to be a field position battle. As the second half began to roll on, you saw some  more scoring, but the field position game was still a factor. Instead of defending 80 yards, the Broncos defense had to defend 50 on a regular basis.

The penalties killed us. Ryan McBean has no excuse for two facemasks on the same drive. That is unacceptable. The broadcaster even mentioned that "McBean is basically playing for the other team". That's true, in a way. You shoot yourself in the foot with boneheaded penalties like that. Then you get cursed out by McDaniels on the sidelines and your teammates have to try and clean up your mess. It's not a good situation to be in, unless you're a Jacksonville fan.

The game from a statistical standpoint (and even on the scoreboard) was fairly even, but on offense I was a little surprised at how poorly we did on first down. I don't have the numbers in front of me but it seemed, to me, like there were an awful lot of second and long situations. The running game on first down was painful to watch. McDaniels addressed this during the postgame press conference, as well. I look for this to get better (how could it have gotten much worse?).

 

What to Take Away from the Game

First of all, I expect the Richard Quinn questions to arise.

The Broncos had to burn a timeout because he didn't know what to do. Josh McDaniels chewed him out with some very colorful expressions. If you watched the video, you know what I'm talking about. Quinn was in motion and Orton stood up, looked at him, tried to give him quick directions and had to burn a timeout once he realized he didn't have time to tell Quinn what to do. It was embarrassing on Quinn's part but at this point in the year, you can't have that.

 

The run defense will look better next week.

The Broncos just got done playing the Jacksonville Jaguars. They run it really well. The Jacksonville Jaguars had 2029 rushing yards last year, 1774 rushing yards the year before, 2391 rushing yards in 2007, and 2542 rushing yards in 2006. 

There is a trend there, I believe... It seems to me that the Jaguars like to run the ball (understatement of a lifetime). 

Sure, the Broncos gave up 136 yards on the ground but they were going against a team that has been top 10 in rushing yards in 3 of the past 4 years.

 

  • 3rd in rushing in 2006
  • 2nd in rushing in 2007
  • 18th in rushing in 2008 
  • 10th in rushing in 2009

 

The Broncos are going to play teams this year that can't run the ball half as well as the Jaguars. We are going to play well against those teams. In my opinion, there are just a handful of teams that can out-run the Jags this year. Don't be too upset about getting run over this week because that's what the Jags are built for. They are made to beat teams like the Broncos, especially when we make as many mistakes as we did (Buckhalter fumble, McBean's facemask penalties).

I know that they scored with 3 TD passes and had 0 rushing TDs, but the point remains the same. The Jags ran the ball until they were in a position to strike and they passed for touchdowns when we were fully committed to the run. Great strategy on their part and great job by them to execute that strategy by, first and foremost, running the ball effectively. 

 

One game is a small sample size

I tip my cap to them, but that was just one game. The Broncos have 15 more games to play and the most important game is the next one. For the Broncos, reviewing the game film is going to be important so that they can improve and put together a better game next week. For us, as fans, we need not be too caught up in this last game. We did some bad things, but the mistakes can be corrected (penalties, turnovers). The run defense we may be stuck with but, personally, I just think that what we saw today was a result of playing a dominant rushing offense in Jacksonville. Like I said in my last post, one game is too small a sample size to put together any significant trends. The Jags may go on to win 12 games. Who knows? If they do, this loss won't be any easier to digest, but it will mean that we aren't a terrible football team, either. 

I think that the Broncos are going to be fine. Pick your chin up, MHR. It's a long season.

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