Hi folks! Here is this week's Unfinished Business.
Ugh...where to begin....Well, we have come to the first loss of the season. What I saw last night was a team that was outplayed, out-coached and out-classed and still only lost by SIX POINTS and had chances to win. When a team has four mistakes that gives away 19 points and miss both of your starting offensive tackles, 99% of the time it is a guarantee of a rough night. I will breakdown all three phases as best as I can.
OFFENSE: This group was the most maddening to me. I guess I expect more from a Peyton Manning led offense. For the offensive line, the group was completely patchwork. Louis Vasquez was moved from right guard to right tackle and played well for the most part. Chris Kuper was OK, but the Colts abused him on the delayed blitz to hit Peyton Manning late in the game. Chris Clark was completely schooled by Robert Mathis which led to a safety and a number of hits to Manning. Manny Ramirez was his low effort self with a bad holding penalty and a number of rushes for loss when the backs were running up the middle. That leads me to the one person that I want cut this week---RONNIE HILLMAN. I'm sorry, but this guy was hyped up as this elusive speed back that was a threat to take one to the house on every play. Here's the reality of this. The guy is nothing but a scared running, fumble prone waste of a second round draft pick. Every time he gets a few yards, he then turns around and fumbles the ball at the worst possible time. Denver had the momentum in the fourth quarter with Wes Welker getting a pass for a first down at the Indy two yard line. At that time, it's fine to run the ball on the next play, but running Hillman up the middle behind Zane Beadles and Ramirez was the recipe for an epic fail. The whole league knows that Hillman is prone to fumbles and that was no different. I hope that John Elway and company realize their mistake and let this guy go.
The offensive game plan was perfect if you have J.D. Walton at center, Orlando Franklin and Ryan Clady at the tackles. Sadly, that is not the case at all. In this situation, a heavy setting with Virgil Green and Jacob Tamme available to block more and take some pressure off of Manning would have helped immensely. On one of the third downs, Denver lined up Julius Thomas, Green and Tamme on the right side with the pass going to Tamme for the first down. This needed to be the adjustment to keep the offense on the field longer. Julius had a great TD catch in the first half, but his poor blocking skills led to Manning's INT late in the game. Denver's receivers were out-physicaled by Indy's DBs. While the officiating sucked, I'm more alarmed by our two outside bigger receivers that were beat up by the DBs. Sometimes you have to adjust the game plan when you are getting beat up and you need to fight back to get the ball. They did have some success, but not until some of the defenders went down with injury. Wes Welker had some great catches in the game, but too little too late. If I have a grade to give the offense, it gets a D from me.
DEFENSE: Another huge issue for me is the poor zone defense and the lack of middle pressure on Andrew Luck. He had a ton of scrambles including a TD later in the game. Denver needed a spy on Luck and keep the coverage in man. One of the maddening issues for me is running a zone blitz with Robert Ayers or Shaun Phillips in coverage instead of rushing the QB. Ayers was stuck out in the middle of nowhere while the back took the pass while waltzing into the end zone. Champ Bailey was fooled by Heyward-Bey early in the game by going into motion and not staying home which lead to another TD. Bailey hurt his foot again which could be a season ender if not a career ender. Von Miller did OK for first contact since August. I do expect him to improve with this in the coming weeks. Jack Del Rio has got to come up with a different plan to improve the defense. Paris Lenon needs to not be on the field. I'd rather have Nate Irving in Lenon's starting spot otherwise. Is Keith Brooking still available? Kevin Vickerson better learn to keep better composure out there. His bump of Luck cost Denver time and another chance to score. With all of these injuries, the bye week can't come soon enough. Unfortunately, Denver has one more game before the bye. The Defense grades at a D+ for me.
SPECIAL TEAMS: You live by Holiday, you die by him too. Trindon's fumble was the start of the bad momentum for the Broncos. One of the most fundamental things you do as a kick returner is hold the ball on the side that is closest to the sideline. He didn't do that and fumbled the ball. His judgement was not good in returning the ball. Many times the blockers were not there or they had been flagged. Matt Prater hit all of his field goals. Grade: C-
OK, I have beaten this horse to death. On to the next opponent. The Washington Redskins.
The Redskins come into Denver with two straight wins with the last game being a shootout with Chicago. Mike Shanahan returns to Denver with the 2-4 Redskins. We all know about Shanahan with his zone blocking, mobile QBs and suspect defense. Sounds like 2008 doesn't it? Well he is back in town with Robert Griffin III leading the way. Griffin is just now getting back to his old form with being able to run from pressure. On defense, Brian Orapko leads the defense and has a knack for harassing the QB. This game will be huge for Denver to get its mojo back after that embarrassing showing Sunday night. Since the Chiefs get to play the Browns and Bills in the next few weeks, it's imperative that Denver keeps pace in the AFC West.
For this game, Denver must get going early and often on offense while making no mistakes. It's a simple formula if they want to follow it. On defense, they must stop the run and keep a spy on RGIII. Wesley Woodyard will be critical with his speed to spy and contain RGIII and hopefully he will be back this week. I see Von Miller getting some sacks in his home debut. With the Skins having defensive issues, the Broncos should be able to get the win. If they play like they did Sunday night, all bets are off. Lets hope for a win and get the season back on track. To Shanny all that I can say is "thank you" for bringing the Lombardi to Denver twice, but I don't wish your success on Sunday afternoon. That's all I have an GO BRONCOS!!