Well, here we are Broncos Country. Halfway through, 5-3, a couple of tough road victories in three weeks, one game lead in the division, and a multitude of adversity overcome. After Trindon Holliday scampered into the endzone on the longest play in Broncos history, many of us let out a sigh of relief. After Manning marched the offense down inside the Bengals 10 and threw a bad INT in the endzone, many of us let out a groan. After the Bengals took the lead 20-17 many of us wondered how after being in total control we find ourselves down to an inferior team.
But through all the momentum swings the predominant character of resilience and steadfastness of our Broncos shined through and snatched victory back from Andy Dalton's soul-less grip. If Manning and Co. panicked they are the greatest collection of actors in history. We all know the truth though, this team does not get flustered, and this team is never out of it. Here are some things I observed throughout the game:
- The Broncos running game was tough going from the moment the game started. It is a good thing we have such a hard runner like Willis McGahee because his physicality started to wear down the Bengals front 7 in the later stages of the game. They weren't huge runs, but a couple nice ones to keep the chains moving is all our offense needed to regain momentum.
- The Broncos rushed 24 times for 65 yards....that isn't the real story. The real story is that they avoided rushing up the middle like the plague notching just 3-yards on 1 carry. Though they tried early on to rush off tackle to the left side, they were met with stout resistance racking up just 2 yards on 7 carries. The bulk of the damage was done off right guard and tackle where they compiled 65 yards on 16 carries.
- Chris Kuper will be missed, but I'm sure glad he isn't done for the season. Of the next 4 upcoming games, only TB has a force inside that bodes to give Manny Ramirez trouble. Watching parts of the TB/Raiders game Sunday, Gerald McCoy consistently pushed the pocket back into Carson Palmer's face. One thing though, our depth is razor thin and we can not afford another injury until Kuper returns.
- Manning had another great outing outside of a couple of really bad throws. I've heard folks try to rationalize the first INT in the endzone as Decker not fighting hard enough for the ball. That is crap---the ball was thrown too high and outside for Decker to have a shot. On the other INT, Manning read single coverage and chucked the ball up for grabs knowing the pressure was coming. Judgment call but bad decision nonetheless. The man still completed an amazing 77% of his passes even with about 4 drops from his receivers/TE in the game. Missed a 5th straight game of 70%+, 3TD's, and 300+ yards by nine yards. Scotty touched on it yesterday and how Matt Ryan is leading in the MVP race is beyond me, doesn't hurt that his team is 8-0.
- After a week where we saw some good use of Ronnie Hillman and Virgil Green, they were virtual nonfactors once again. Two things here, the Broncos relied more on 3-receiver sets (until Kuper went down) and McGahee didn't come out of the game as much as he had against NO. Don't forget about these two, they add another dimension to our offense and will be available when the gameplan dictates.
- Manning has got to stop checking into a run on 3rd down and 4-6. It is just bad strategy regardless of the favorable box count he is seeing. Don't believe me? The Broncos are now 1-6 on the year when rushing on 3rd and 4-6. The one time they were successful was on a Manning scramble on 3rd and 5 against NE. If anyone reading this is a personal friend of Mr. Manning, please show him this stat and hopefully we won't see this bad check again!
- Decker and Thomas have now combined for 91 receptions, 1339 yards, and 11 TD's at the halfway point. Thomas has 45 receptions and Decker has 46. Decker is definitely the go to guy in the redzone as he was targeted on 3-4 trips down there.
- Von "MF" Miller. Three sacks, sumersaulting, eatin'greedy, beastmode, however you want to explain it, he turned whatever guy he was matched up on into his personal b@#$%. All sacks came at crucial times. Two turned promising Bengals drives into FG's and one eventually led to Dalton's INT on 3rd and a bagillion. This guy needs to be talked about more as defensive POY (as should WW).
- Champ Bailey won some and lost some. On the TD pass Champ had bad leverage on a corner route. On the big play up the sideline, he showed great technique on a double move and got screwed when AJ Green pushed off and didn't get called on it. A few other times he played off coverage and allowed shorter gaines, and another time, got badly beat on a deep cross that was negated by an obvious holding penalty. AJ Green is elite, Champ is still great, but he is human. With that gimme INT, he also moved into a tie for 5th place all time in Broncos history.
- Doom didn't have as big a day as Von on the stat sheet but the guy was mugged and held countless times by the LT. The only bad play Doom had was when he dropped into coverage and left his man to pressure a scrambling Dalton. That left Jermaine Gresham wide open and a dumpoff turned into 52-yards and a serious bump in momentum for the Bengals offense. Stay with your man Doom! There were three other guys in pursuit of Dalton.
- Omar Bolden only had two snaps but he was badly beaten over the middle, keep the rook on the bench!
- Our front 7 kept the Bengals under 100 yards rushing for the game.
- I'm sure glad Trindon Holliday was given a 2nd chance after his muff against the Chargers. That little dude can burn, and he made a sure tackler look foolish as we will see.
- Prater is quietly having the best season of his career. He is now 10/10 in FG attempts...Vote Elway 2012
- The Broncos offense/team is averaging 29 PPG which is about 10 points more than last year...Vote Elway 2012
- With the amount JDR plays man in coverage, this will have to be tweaked against Cam Newton or we will see some big runs by the QB. Mobile QB's worry me against this defense for precisely this reason. But if you watched the pro bowl last year like I did (I'm a degenerate), you'll also know that Von Miller in a vanilla no-blitz scheme sacked Cam twice in limited action. Eat greedy my friend!
I think I've highlighted this almost every week, but it is important to remember. Our Broncos team is extremely tough mentally. They don't have the big ups and downs. It comes from our coaching staff, #18, and a belief in each other. When things go bad, they step up and help each other out. Virtually no deficit is insurmountable and momentum has yet to rob the Broncos of a victory. This is a good quality to have for a football team looking to make a run on the 2nd half of the season and well into the playoffs. Looking at the schedule coming in, most of us thought 4-4 would be a good mark to shoot for. 5-3 is much better and the team has only started to play good football....the best is yet to come for sure. Let's take a look at some film of the key plays.
Champ Bailey v. AJ Green
This first one shows Champ sticking with Green on a double move down the sideline...that is until Green pushes off to get separation:
Here's the pushoff from a better angle:
This next one is the TD in the corner of the endzone. Notice that Champ begins the play lined up inside the numbers (and inside Green). The safety help is seemingly on the other side of the field and Champ is left on an island by himself. Two things here, Champ is protecting the middle of the field and using the sideline for help, the Bengals just have the right play called. Bad leverage, bad call, and a more athletic AJ Green turn this play into 6:
Von Miller: Eatin' Greedy
First sack of the game. 2nd and 20, dime defense. Von starts on the outside but stunts with Wolfe back to the inside. He uses his leverage to push his man back into the face of Andy Dalton and takes him down.
On this one, Broncos in nickel. The coverage is very good and Von Miller overpowers his man. At the end Dalton steps up too late and Von is right there to wrap him up.
On this last one, Von pushes up field and violently shoves the RT getting his momentum moving backwards. From there he keeps the legs churning upfield and levels Dalton for the 3rd time.
105 yards to history
As you can see, all Bengals coverage men are accounted for except #57 in the middle of the screen.
Both blockers go left and leave #57 with a clear path to Holliday
Holliday makes a sharp cut upfield and jukes #57 out of his shoes
Matthew Willis gets a beautiful block on the kicker and then seals off the last man standing he's gone folks!
Bronco Mike's Midseason Awards:
Offensive MVP: Peyton Manning
Defensive MVP: Von Miller, Wesley Woodyard
Special Teams MVP: David Bruton
Most Improved Unit: Defensive line
Don't agree with me, no worries? Name yours in the comments!
That's all I have for now MHR, I will be bringing you my quarterly stats report and some film work later on in the week, so keep a look out, Go Broncos!!!
A member asked a question about the 3rd down play where Manning checked into a run with 6 yards to convert. Here it is. Starts off 11 personnel, shotgun.
I really don't know what the heck he saw. There were 7 in the box and after he changed into a single back look, the Bengals kept it the same. The linebackers also didn't retreat into coverage once the ball was snapped. Maybe he figured he had 7 on 7, but you have to remember you have Tamme with Stokes who isn't a big physical force lol. Bad decision from what I can see, but perhaps I'm wrong.