On Sunday for the first time during the same game, our offense and our defense played poorly for long stretches. Despite an offense that was scoring at prodigious rates, the Broncos turned the ball over twice in the first half and only scored 14 points in the half - none in the 2nd Q. PFM was far from perfect, throwing his first pick-6 of the year and failing to convert on 3 out of 4 3rd downs at one point. The offense had 3 3-and-out's. The offense had four straight possessions that ended without points. The offense also failed at the simplest activity in football - snapping the ball - losing two fumbles on the exchange. The Broncos defense missed more tackles than they normally do. They made another receiver look like Megatron (Blackmon 14 rec 190 yards). They allowed Chad Henne, a backup QB, to throw for over 300 yards (something he hasn't done since Dec. of last year!).
Offensively and defensively the Broncos had their worst game of the season....
...and won by 16 points. Let that sink in. Yes, I know that it was against one of the worst (if not, THE WORST) teams in the NFL, but it still counts and they have highly paid professional athletes just like we do. Our offense turned the ball over 4 times and still scored 35 points. Our offense failed to convert on 3 out of 4 3rd downs during one stretch and still finished 7/13 for the game on 3rd downs. Our defense missed tackles and generated scarce pressure on Henne, and still only allowed one touchdown. The sky is not falling.
As always I am going to focus on how our D did in 3rd and long and then how our D did against the run on 1st down.
Here are the 3rd are long outcomes
|3rd and 20 at JAC 10||(Shotgun) C.Henne pass deep right to M.Brown pushed ob at JAX 29 for 19 yards (M.Adams; C.Bailey).|
|3rd and 12 at DEN 12||(Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short middle to A.Sanders (K.Vickerson).|
|3rd and 10 at DEN 20||(Shotgun) C.Henne pass short right to J.Blackmon to DEN 5 for 15 yards (C.Bailey) [S.Williams].|
|3rd and 18 at JAC 12||(Shotgun) C.Henne sacked at JAX 7 for -5 yards (M.Jackson).|
The Jags faced only 4 3rd and longs - converting only 1, on a 15 yard catch by Blackmon on 3rd and 10. The Jags also converted a 4th down after gaining 19+ on 3rd and 20. While that doesn't count as converting a "3rd and long" it really should. For the game the Jags only converted on 5 of 14 3rd downs - 5 of those were 3rd downs were medium (4-6 yards) and the remaining 5 were short. The other four 3rd down conversions came on 5, 5, 2 and 1 yard needed situations:
23 yard pass to Blackmon on 3rd and 5 (Fox challenge play)
15 yard pass to Forsett on 3rd and 5
19 yard pass to Blackmon on 3rd and 2
1 yard sneak by Henne on 3rd and 1
The Jags converted 1 of 4 3rd and longs, 3 of 5 3rd and mediums and 1 of 5 3rd and shorts. The 1 of 5 on 3rd and short is a credit to the front 7 particularly the big boys in the middle. Interestingly, the boxscore over at ESPN shows that the Jags were 0-3 on 4th down conversions. They were actually 1-3, converting on that two yard sneak after the 19 yard pass to Mike Brown on 3rd and 20.
Through the first quarter of the season, our D was very good at forcing the opposing O into 3rd and long situations. Over the past two games this has not been the case. During the first 4 games, 66% of the 3rd downs our D faced were 3rd and long (40/61). Since WW has been out that has dropped to 40% (8/20) in the last two games.
On the season our D is now allowing 22.9% conversion on 3rd and long (11/48). Overall on 3rd down, our D is allowing 38.3% conversion (31/81). Generally our D has been good at stopping the run on first down (on 2nd down too) and this game was no exception. The Jags ran 12 times on 1st down for a total of 25 yards (2.1 ypc). MJD's one big run came on 2nd down. Our run D had one TFL and two stops for no gain on first down runs. On the season our D has only allowed 202 yards on 69 carries on 1st down (2.9 ypc) - with 10 TFLs and 10 stops for no gain on first down runs. Against the Jags our run D was stout allowing only 71 yards on 27 carries (2.6 ypc) with 28 of those yards coming on one play. If you take out that play, the average plummets to 1.7 ypc allowed on the game.
For all of those who are down on our defense after the performance of the past two Sundays, I have three words for you - Miller, Bailey, Woodyard. Without them (and Ayers), I would be really worried about next Sunday's primetime matchup with the Clots (intentional misspelling). It will be a tough game, no doubt, but I am expecting the defense to play a lot more like they did in second SD game last season instead of how they have played in the past two weeks. Yes, I know that is a tall order given that the Colts put up 34 on the Seahawks D, but I think we could do it with WW, RA, CB and VM back on the field.
For those of you who are so down on the defense after the performance of the past two Sundays, I also have two numbers for you