I find it pretty humorous how the ebb and flow of Broncos Country goes from week-to-week through a season of football. Have a few great games in a row and the expectation bar is that every game will look like that. That's a part of being a fan I guess. Last week if you asked me what the final score on this game would be, I would have thrown out something like 40 - 10. Does that mean when the point difference is 16 instead of 30 I'm going to jump off the proverbial cliff though?
A lot of what I'm reading since our win doesn't make a lot of sense to me honestly. In Broncos Country there is a great wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of sack cloth...at least here on MHR and a couple other places I read. I don't get it. Let me get real simple for everyone: We just won a game. Come on back to reality with me Broncos Country. That was a lesser team than ours and we beat them soundly. Keep your eyes on the prize.
I may not be like most people, but all I ever want as a Bronco fan is for my team to have a shot. I've seen too many Super Bowls and play-off games to ask for perfection from a team. You can't go fight for a championship if you don't win in the regular season
We just won a game people. That is one step closer to the play-offs no matter how you want to cut it. Sure I like to point out cool stuff about the team and the plays etc in my reviews, but what I love best is seeing that scoreboard with 0:00 left in the game and we have more points than the other team. We are still undefeated. We are sitting on top of our division and in the driver's seat. Our playoff destiny is in our hands. That's what I want to see and until we lose that, we really don't have that much worth complaining about.
The Achilles Heel
I do see a big problem with our team personnel-wise and it is something I mentioned back in the pre-season. We are not very deep at the O-Line. JD Walton going down was a big blow. Ryan Clady was a bigger blow. Losing Orlando Franklin this week was a blow to the gut for me. By this time we've heard that he's not seriously injured (thank you Lord!), but man we just cannot keep losing guys up front.
- I'm not sure what happened to fix this as the game went on, but early on the line was getting beat consistently and giving the other team shots on our QB. Franklin, Zane Beadles, and Manny Ramirez all got taken to the cleaners at different times. I was not impressed with their efforts early in the game.
- Speaking of my boy Manny...what the heck is with his bad snaps? I seem to recall a few prominent guys here at MHR yapping their jaws about how Manny's move to C wasn't a big deal at all and he'd be fine. It looks to me like all is not well with the snap lately and that kind of stuff can cost us games.
- The problem we have is that these injuries come where we are thin at: Center and Tackle. Winston Justice...is that a guy you are excited about seeing start a game? SMH. I really want to see Franklin and Walton get healthy ASAP.
I tend to agree with the thought that our team did not come into the game with the right intensity to match up with Jacksonville. We figured it out, but in the meantime Peyton and Co. looked like a good Bond Martini. I have to wonder if Manning actually bruised something early, because his throws were not good this game (GASP! He has bad games!?). Also that INT was a completely horrid idea. I have no idea at all why he thought he could hit a window that wasn't there with a guy who was double covered.
- Another week, another nice easy TD pass to Julius Thomas. I hear a lot about how our WRs and TEs need to be thankful to be playing with Manning. That goes both ways though...throwing TDs to these guys is a blessing for him too.
- His pass fake to a screen play with Eric Decker was FILTHY. The second he pumped it, I knew it was a TD. Props here to Wes Welker as well for absolutely kicking it up a gear to make that happen. Man that cat is fast!
Didn't our team all go through puberty already?
I honestly couldn't say so with how many balls dropped this game. See above...Peyton wasn't helping his guys out, but then you have cats like Montee Ball who gets a pass thrown right into his hands and he can't hang onto it. If they don't have our receiving options all spend 5 hours each with the Juggs machine this week I will be disappointed.
Compare and Contrast
Knowshon Moreno is everything this team needs at RB. He's tough, great hands, superb pass protection, reliable route runner, and gains yards after contact. Then we have Ronnie Hillman getting bailed out by Decker from yet another fumble loss and Monte Ball who can't catch. Oh yeah and both of them are still shaky on picking up their blocking assignments. That's not to say the young guns don't have upside, but neither of them are showing signs of stepping up more and the snap counts back this up.
It all starts here
When I look at what is happening the past two weeks, I see JDR mostly choosing not to blitz often (unlike early in the season). We appear to be going for a bend-don't-break defense while we wait for Von Miller to get back. I'm more okay with that idea against a team like Jacksonville than I am the Cowboys. Keep in mind that there is a bigger picture than just "win the game" every week. It is an advantage to show teams vanilla looks a lot during the regular season and save your exotic stuff for more important games. That is the main reason I see that we never bracket covered Blackmon to shut him down. It irritated me during the game, but upon reflection I can understand why. No need to shut down a guy when they aren't putting points on the board.
Getting after that QB
Is our pass rush doing great things? Nope. But I would argue we are doing enough and a lot of this appears to me like our coaches are picking their poison. Sure we'd love to have pressure at 3 seconds or at least closer to league-average, but I'm not going to argue with it much when we are seeing good results by the end of the game.
- Big props to Malik Jackson who really took over on one series. You have to love seeing a young guy like this taking a step up in game and making an impact. I guarantee you after that series (Sack, TFL, Sack) he was well accounted for in the blocking scheme. I'm glad this guy is on our team and I think he provides great depth at DE in case of injury to Ayers or Phillips. By the way...did you guys notice his second sack was in a 3-man rush? That is filthy football right there...
- I think Kevin Vickerson is under-rated for his contributions to pass rushing. It seems like at least once per game he's causing a hurry by plowing through his guy at the line. If any of you have access to hurry stats, I'd be curious to know what his look like on the year. Dude also had some superb knock-downs this game too.
- Shaun Phillips and Derek Wolfe were somewhat invisible this week in the pass-rush department. Part of that is because the refs have an aversion to calling holding against them - I saw 3 easy calls this game and 2 that were iffy.
Do we have linebackers?
I didn't get many notes on the LBs...a lot of that had to do with us playing a bunch of Dime. Obviously we missed Wesley Woodyard and suffice to say Paris Lenon missed an opportunity to have an impact. Danny Trevathan gets another great pick this week though and I am looking forward to him wearing orange and blue for a long time.
Given the lack of pass rush this week the secondary naturally had a lot of ups and downs. I will say this though..check that scoreboard before you guys keep trashing the defense or the pass rush too much. That doesn't apply to last week, but holding a team to 19 points is pretty impressive in today's NFL and will be more than good enough to win almost every game for us this year.
- Welcome back Champ Bailey! Just as I had thought, Champ got a full game in against Jacksonville to knock the rust off. He did look rusty though. I counted two missed tackles with one being very costly. He wasn't all bad though...he saved a 3rd and 5 with a solid Champ-like tackle earlier in the game.
- Also welcome back Chris Harris! This guy was once again all over the place. He didn't make a huge impact with a INT or anything fancy like that, but the dude got the tackles.
- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie wasn't facing Dez this week so as I would expect he was looking much better.
- Mike Adams had two really impactful plays. He made a great tackle on a 3rd and 20 and then saved a TD late game with a perfectly timed hit. I actually think Adams is playing better this year than he did last year and I wonder if it has to do with conditioning (he's not constantly on the field this year...).
- You have to be proud of Kayvon Webster for a really nice looking INT. He's a rookie getting some playing time and that is a pretty big deal in my opinion. Dude is working his tail off and it is paying off big time...I'm sure he'll learn something from that big pass he gave up though.
Special Teams / Coaching
- Trindon Holliday is very eager to make a play...maybe too eager. Early in the game with a punt coming back inside the 10 he's way too close to it. Dude should have vacated the area so he didn't accidentally touch it...
- We don't need to run fake punts all that often, but it is pretty cool to see a successful play like that..great blocking up front and David Bruton was a boss running the ball around the end.
- John Fox still worries me with his game-day coaching. Challenging a 7 yard gain? I couldn't believe it at the time and I still can't believe he threw that flag...I wish we knew what his reasoning was for that.