The Denver Broncos lost to the Houston Texans today because of missed opportunities and a lack of execution. That's not to say that the Texans are a pushover at the least. They are a very good team and the Broncos matched up fairly well with them. However, it would have taken a near perfect game to achieve a victory this afternoon. Needless to say that didn’t happen.
So what is it with our team?
While it may appear to the fans that Deja Vu has trickled over from last year, that isn’t the case. The Broncos Offense has shown up in the first Quarter this season as opposed to that spectre of 2011. Let’s not forget that our beloved team somehow drew the second hardest schedule this year. Yes, we have Peyton Freaking Manning, but that signing didn’t automatically earn the Broncos a trip to the Super Bowl this year. Last I heard, you still have to actually play the schedule. It is my belief that the Broncos got beat by a good Houston team because of two things: Execution and missed opportunities.
The Houston Texans have three men who know the Broncos well. Their head coach Gary Kubiak for one. You remember the guy calling the plays for our back to back Lombardi’s? Yeah, that guy. Gary hasn’t lost the ability to call a game and keep his Quarterback in a rhythm.
Rick Dennison, Remember him? He apprenticed under Zone Blocking Guru Alex Gibbs, another former Bronco. The Texans ran the Zone Blocking scheme to perfection this afternoon. Along with Arian Foster, it really looked a lot like Terrell Davis and the Broncos running game of the 1990’s.
Do I really need to mention Wade Phillips here? I don’t know where the Texans Defense will rank after this weekend, but they were the No. 1 Defense coming into this game. Much of that comes from player execution, but we all know that while Wade might not be head coach material, he can certainly create an effective Defensive Game plan.
Last week, there were plenty of mistake made by Bronco players. Peyton Manning threw three picks and dug a hole that Denver couldn’t quite overcome. Peyton cleared that up this week, but there were other chances lost in this contest. Dropped Passes were a huge problem today. I’m not going to play the blame game or get into "What if" scenarios, so this isn’t me pointing fingers at single players. This is a team game and the Broncos didn’t lose because of one player or one play.
Nevertheless, the stat line shows that there were numerous dropped passes. Demaryius Thomas was targeted 12 times, finishing with 4 catches for 36 yards. Jacob Tamme was targeted 10 times. He made 3 catches for 31 yards. Now Peyton Manning was 26/52. The stats say he targeted his receivers 50 of those times, so they must be counting two throwaways. The Houston Defense is credited with 10 Pass Break Ups so that makes 14 dropped balls. You can factor that into the next category.
The Broncos were 6 for 17 (35.2%) on 3rd down today. Those 14 drops might have had something to do with that. Then again, the Texans Defense should get some of the credit too.
The Texans Offense went 7 for 14 (50%) on 3rd down. Was it a case of the disappearing Linebackers, or effective Zone Blocking by the Texans? My belief is the latter caused the former. Once more I will call upon your memory. Remember when Terrell Davis lit up the league for a ton of yardage? Much of that had to do with the Zone Blocking scheme. Today, we witnessed our Linebackers being nullified by the Texans Offensive Line, who were able to get to the second level and make blocks. Essentially, the Broncos were beaten by their own game plan from years past.
Another factor that contributed and also reinforces my previous statements, is Safety play. Too many times it seemed like one of the Safeties was in the wrong coverage or position in today’s game. I don’t know if that was because of schem, play calling, poor reads or merely being out of position, but the leading Tackler for the Broncos was Rahim Moore. In the Broncos past wins, it has been Wesley Woodyard leading the charge, but today Wes had 2 Tackles for 10th on the team and one of those came on Special Teams. Granted, he had a nice Interception that turned into 3 points and may have prevented a 10 point swing, but if the Secondary is making more Tackles than the Linebackers, 50% on 3rd down conversions should be a piece of cake.
To nail my point home, the Defensive Linemen made 17 Tackles, the Defensive Backs 15 and the Linebackers had 9 Tackles. That’s not how John Fox and Jack Del Rio operate, I assure you. Fox has always utilized fast Linebackers and Del Rio is a former All-Pro Linebacker. Traditionally, the Broncos strength on Defense was it’s Linebacking Corps and since history repeats itself, I can hardly wait for it to be a force once again.
The nice part about all this, is that it’s only Week 3. This Bronco team has not peaked. Heck, I don’t think they have found their identity. Denver is 1-1 at Home, one game behind in the division and the Raiders are coming to town next week. If you ask me, I’d offer another piece of history. To quote Keith Bishop, "we’ve got them right where we want them!"
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