Not sure what a week 1 loss on the road means in the grand scheme of things.
I didn't love what I saw Sunday morning. Frankly, we look like a team that lacks a difference maker on offense and a team that lacks a pass rush on defense.
Kyle looked good for most of the game, but like some expected, the offense came up short in the 4th quarter. In fact, only Sam Bradford had a worse QB rating in the 4th quarter. I'll be honest, I don't lump all of that blame on Orton, especially when you consider that the play calling (IMO) left a lot to be desired.
Denver lacks team speed on offense. I hate to say this but we need Demaryius Thomas on thie field as soon as possible so long as he's not going to hurt himself. Unfortunately, that may be a while and I don't think we'll see him until week 3 or 4.
Watching almost every game, I can tell you that Denver's offense is neither physical nor fast compared to the rest of the league. "Average" describes Denver's offense best. And I would go so far as to say below average describes Denver's defense. At least in game 1, anyway. Yes, Denver did a reasonably good job clogging up the middle versus the Jags. But they couldn't (again) hold contain on the edges and a few things bounced outside and nobody was there. Worst of all, Denver didn't give David Garrard much to worry about once he was back to pass. Garrard was 3 for 3 and a TD in the 4th quarter and 2 for 2 with a TD in the last 2 minutes before halftime. As a note, J-ville only had 1 passing TD in the 4th quarter in all of 2009. Sunday Garrard was 5 for 5 and 2 TDs in the clutch. He's not THAT good. J-ville isn't an elite offense. They are average. And they scored 24 points on Denver's defense.
Kyle Orton is better so far than he was last year. But Denver played against a poor secondary and a defense that had 14 sacks in 2009. On Sunday alone, J-ville notched 3 sacks. I don't think Denver's offense has improved overall compared to last year. While Orton is better and more confident, I think it's obvious that so far Denver's offensive line is not as good as last year's unit. Much of this has to do with injuries, so the jury's out on the finished product, but for game 1 I would say teh unit was below average. I will give the WRs a push, compared to last year because I think Brandon Marshall was (and is) incredibly over rated but I think I'm being kind by saying that Denver's 2010 WR group from game 1 isn't worse than Denver's game 1 WR's from 2009. Denver's RBs had to contend with a lackluster and banged up offensive line in game 1 and it showed. Buckhalter fumbled in a game that was going to come down to who made more mistakes. Moreno looked pretty healthy, but still hasn't proven that he is 'special' or above average (at least to me) yet. Lastly, it seems like Josh McDaniels still isn't quite sure what he wants to do with Tim Tebow. I think the media saying that Tebow's not a 'make you miss' kind of QB is idiotic. Everyone knows this. McDaniels drafted Tebow to be a starting QB, not Pat White. But I think that there's a part of McDaniels that (understandably) can't deny that Tebow is a dangerous (good and bad) player to have out there on offense. Maybe he is a difference maker that Denver needs on offense and doesn't have? McDaniels will go with Orton unless Orton proves that he can't play well in games where he has to play well in order to win. Same thing really that Plummer went through in 2006. He was playing poorly enough for Shanahan to pull him. If Orton plays like Plummer didn in 2006, he's gone, but I really don't forsee that situtaion to be at all likely.
The defensive line looked like they fought hard for most of the game. Had some good plays and some bad. McBean's penalties hurt Denver in a big way, but he played alright beyond those two horrendous penalties. Williams played pretty well but wasn't knifing through the defense and Bannan looked only ok. The linebackers didn't wow me in any way. They just don't look really fast or dangerous. DJ is a good tackler and I think Hunter could be a really good find, but I can't stomach our LBs in pass coverage or to see another slow bull rush come up 5 feet short. Denver seemed like they could only get pressure by bringing a Dback in. I'm sure that we'd all agree that Denver's pass rush isn't as good as it was last year. Another note, only 13 of Denver's 39 sacks came in the last 8 games last year - that's exactly a third of the sacks - that leads me to believe that the rest of the league did a decent job adjusting and identifying Denver's pass rushes and blitzes. Denver's nickel and dome defenses got beat up too in both the running and passing games. J-ville was 5-7 vs the dime on Sunday (only 2 were 1st downs) and Jacksonville was able to run versus Denver's nickel defense without too much trouble (vs. nickel, JAX gained 59 yards out of 134 total rushing yards).
The kick coverage was absolutely reprehensible. I don't want any excuses. There are no valid ones. Every team in the NFL has a roster of brand new special teamers, but Denver's looked like the worst group and the most poorly coached. Denver gave up 115 yards on 3 returns to Underwood. Cox returned 3 kicks for only 62 yards.
McDaniels likes to talk about complimentary football and I didn't see much of it Sunday. Denver's offensive line made expected mistakes (Denver had 7 penalites for 70 yards - both of those are higher than average - 6 for 52 was the week 1 NFL average). The pass rush hurt the secondary and the lack of protection and a consistent run blocking line cost Denver first downs. Denver was 3 for 10 on 3rd downs. That's below average at 30 percent. J-ville had the exact same numbers on third down. Denver really had an even matchup with Jacksonville, and just like many of us thought, the team that made the most turnovers and mental errors would lose. And Denver lost.
So, while 0-1 isn't a death sentence by any means, the most important thing to me as a fan going into week 2 is: Who (and what units) will improve this week. That's about all we can ask for; a team that improves.