Very rough start to an ugly game. Peyton was fooled early and often. Refs were a disgrace. Defense was commendable. Falcons are contenders. There's going to be more ranting than rewarding this week...
Is There a Hunting Season for Zebras?
Man, the refs really struggled tonight. When you see the head referee more than you see actual football being played, then there's clearly a problem. 11 yards awarded on a 5 yard penalty? That's not even close. Did they just crack under the pressure and place the ball anywhere? That was one of the few times it swung our way. The rest of the game was heavily in favor of the Falcons. Phantom pass interferences, phantom holds, PHANTOM fumble recoveries! Franklin was laying on the loose ball and a ref was so adamant that the Falcons had it? What is he looking at? Really? It's disturbing how poorly this game was officiated. Luckily for the locked out officials, this was a primetime game that the whole country is complaining about on the social network. NFL lost some ground in this stalemate.
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool Me Thrice..."
Peyton Manning SUCKED.....in the first quarter. The Falcons did an exceptional job disguising their defense until the very last second. Their safety was in the box at the snap and ended up deep third to pick off Peyton's pass. That's some great football there by the defense. Mike Nolan did a really great job to prepare his team for this game. I've been a fan of his as a coordinator. I just don't understand why he can't last very long on a single team.
Train Has Left the Station
Uhm, paging Mr. Doom. Not sure if you're paying attention, but the season has started. A slow start was not what I was expecting from our captain. He's invisible out there. He's not even getting double teamed. He's left on an island and he's stranded. He looked solid in the preseason. I just don't know why it's taking him so long to get involved.
Thank goodness for Von Miller. We have a legit STUD out there. This kid has improved his game, which is scary in and of itself. His run support is getting to an elite level. He's capable of breaking through double teams and disrupting the run. He gets so much penetration that it just blows up the play and leaves the rest of his teammates open for the tackle. The next phase of his game is pass coverage. Once he starts pulling off pick 6's, then it's safe to say he's an All-Pro.
You Still Here?
What's the use of resigning Caleb Hanie if he's just going to be a gameday inactive anyway? You could argue that the FO would like to keep him around so he stays familiar with the offense. That's just a waste of a roster spot in my opinion. He's INACTIVE! If it ever came down to either Brock or Caleb starting, we're screwed at that point anyway. Why resign him just to put him on the inactive list? Sign someone we can develop instead. Since Caleb has already shown his ceiling. Which is good enough to be inactive behind a rookie developmental project.
Props to Brandon Stokley. I'll be honest, I wasn't very excited about him resigning with us. I had my doubts. I just didn't know how much he had left to contribute to this team. Week after week, he's proven me wrong. He's been consistent this whole offseason and early in the regular season. He's the go to guy on 3rd down and is pretty reliable. He makes some tough catches in tight windows and always seems to get open just enough for Peyton Manning.
Some people are still complaining about Rahim Moore's play. He had another dumb drive-continuing personal foul, but other than that, he had a pretty solid game. He's getting close to an INT but is just an inch short of making the play. He was solid in tackling and was not mentioned very much during the game. Which is a good thing as a DB. Nothing flashy, but he didn't cost us the game in anyway. He's not yet at the level he thought he would be coming into the league, but he's still developing and is steadily improving. Quentin Carter played well last year, but clearly something about Rahim is keeping him in the starting lineup. I think we'll be fine at the Safety position with those two still developing.
Picking On the New Kid
Matt Ryan was clearly attacking Tony Carter and it worked for them. We really missed having Chris Harris out there. Tony is an obvious downgrade at the position. I believe we have the best Nickel corner in the league with Chris Harris. And the success of the Falcons showed how much we missed him. Tony was called for a horrendous phantom pass interference call but he still struggled to cover anyone all night long. Matty found the weak link, like Manning used to do to us, and just kept going after him. Hopefully Chris Harris comes back sooner than later. We will need him.
Stay In Striking Distance
As poorly as our beloved Broncos played, they were still within reach of the W. Our defense played exceptionally well except for one drive where the Falcons drove right down the field. They held the high powered Falcons offense to just 275 total yards. The run defense was outstanding. Take away Turner's game icing last run of the game for 15 yards along with the 2 kneel downs, and the Falcons only average 2.08 yards per carry. That's two weeks in a row of marked improvement from the DLine. From the very beginning the D showed that the Falcons would have to earn every inch, literally! They only got over the goal line by inches on their 3rd attempt from the 1 yard line to start the game. If the Falcons would have scored on their first play after the interception, the momentum would have spiraled out of control and lead to a blow out. The defense made a statement and diffused the crowd. 4 turnovers to 0 and we lose by 6 to a top 5 team?
It's a Work In Progress
There is little doubt in my mind that if we would have gotten Peyton the ball back one last time, we march down the field and win the game. As poorly as Peyton played early on in the game, he still completed 65% of his passes. This team never crumbled and scratched their way back into the game. I liked what I saw from our team in quarters 2-4. It's easy to forget that this is a new team. New QB. New offense. New defense. It's reassuring to know that this team will only get better with each rep. There's still a lot of confusion and missed assignments out there but those can be corrected with more practice. I expect this team to really hit their stride in week 6-8. At that point I hope the snowball starts to roll and pick up more and more momentum going into the playoffs. There's still light at the end of the tunnel.
Little Quick Notes:
- Kuper needs to get healthy, and fast. Manny Ramirez struggled last night. He was outmatched by a tough Falcon defense. Kuper is arguably our best offensive lineman and we need him back asap.
- Heath Evans on NFL Network is really growing a nice head of hair
- Some may not even realize how lucky we are to be Broncos fans. We have 2 of arguably the Greatest of All Time at their respective positions in Peyton Manning and Champ Bailey! Some teams have never even had hall of famers walk through their locker rooms. We have two GOATs that are still playing at an elite level together on the same team. This isn't a washed up Jerry Rice playing for the Broncos. Champ and Peyton still have years left in the tank and are playing exceptional football. Sure they're not in their primes, but I wouldn't be surprised to see these two being key contributors to a Super Bowl championship or two together. Count your blessings.
Now the real test for our run defense is up next. Let's hope our home crowd is a factor again this week. We don't have the second toughest schedule in the NFL for nothing. Bring on the Texans! Go Broncos!!