Yay! We finally lost. Wasn't that a relief Broncos Country? I'm sure you all felt a load off the shoulders after watching our derp-fest of a game Sunday night. Well the good thing about a loss is I get to really dial in on problems with the team. Also keep in mind that was no poor team we played and we still were very close to winning. If you've been following me long and reading my comments much most of this shouldn't be a surprise to you.
Remember last year's playoff loss? I know it stings, but don't worry...it is worth the pain. Here's the skinny people...I pointed out a few problems with that loss that reared their ugly heads again in this loss:
- Poor coaching
- Terrible Refs
- Poor RB depth
One of those the Broncos have absolutely zero control over. The other two they have honestly in my mind failed to do an adequate job improving. We can't do anything about bad refs and can't use them as an excuse...see Fox's press conference and read between the lines. He basically inferred that they were a very large obstacle to our team and he didn't mean that they were calling the game fairly. Last I knew refs were supposed to be rule enforcers. They half did their jobs - they enforced the rules on us plenty. I think something got lost in translation though.
On to what we can do. Coaching: John Fox got himself all over the TV screen that game. I thought I was watching 2011 all over again. Let's run the ball to a 3 and out, then punt on 4th and 1 even if we are close to the 50 and should be going for it. Remember this preseason where he said they'd go for it more on 4th down? Where was that? And what in the name of everything that is holy is with the game plans on both sides of the ball? Run - Run - Pass - Punt. Very Dan Reeves of you Fox. What about defense? Zone, Zone, Zone w/ linemen covering the flats and a scrambling QB. Yes I know that Gase calls the offense and JDR calls the defense, but I put this on Fox. It is his show and he should have made them adjust. I love letting people do their jobs as a manager, but if they are stinking it up, it is time to put your boot in their rear and get things working.
I also said when we dropped Willis McGahee that we'd regret that if we didn't sign some more depth. Yet here we are and this is what our depth looks like:
- Knowshon Moreno - playing out of his mind, yet we're all just waiting for that season ending injury that is going to happen sooner or later.
- Ronnie Hillman - A constant fumbler who is lauded with great speed, yet doesn't show that at all on the field of play.
- Montee Ball - the second coming of Terrel Davis other than the fact that he has shown poor vision, poor ballhandling, and sucks eggs at pass protection.
- CJ Anderson - and undrafted diamond in the rough other than that he sucks so bad he can't beat out either of the chumps in front of him to get on the field...there is a reason that he's listed as #4 people.
So I hate to go all Rodney on you and throw a big bucket of "I told you so" in your faces, but hey guys. Didn't I call this stuff? Sure we can talk about the problems but what do they mean. I like bullet points so let's make this simple:
- Fox has to grow as a coach or he will cost us big time. He coaches scared and that is not how you win championships. Coaching scared is for football in the 70s and earlier when the rules favored the defenses.
- If Knowshon goes down, we will go from having mediocre run game to having a liability of a run game...and that is when our O-Line has some semblance of health.
- We have very little chance of making a run in the postseason if this stuff doesn't change. We have time to adjust, but I've seen Fox for a few years now and like I said when we hired him, "He is just what we need, but he's not a solution long-term because of his conservative nature."
That's enough of that rant. I do believe we can still go all the way. I do think our team is better off with this loss though I don't ever want to see my team lose. Let's get into the nitty gritty though.
It Starts With The Line
So what happens when you lose your starting Center, Left Tackle, and Right Tackle and you go up against a very good defensive front 7? Your line looks like garbage in pass protect and run blocking. Our line looked as bad in this one game as I can remember going back a decade or so.
- Chris Clark finally got exposed. I don't think that's the end of his usefulness by far, but Adam Gase HAS to get him some help when he's going against a Robert Mathis type guy. We should stop being so scared of 12 personnel...
- Louis Vasquez looked pretty darn good at RT, but the problem is he's a better LG and our backup LG Chris Kuper looked like garbage.
- Zane Beadles still can't power open a hole for us to run through...this might have something to do with our poor ability to run inside...
The Monster Rears Its Ugly Head
Where do I start with the running backs? When you only have one solid guy and two nobodies, that guy is going to get worn down. It looked like it in this game to me. We have a very big hole at RB on this team and it appears to be mainly due to some poor drafting followed by too much hubris to make a move to remedy it.
- Knowshon Moreno is still a stud, but dude did he look tired to me as the game wore on. Also his pass protection didn't hold up as well this game - he made the wrong read two times that I saw and one of them got Manning hit.
- Ronnie Hillman has a fumbling problem. It isn't something you shoo shoo away either. Look at how many carries he's had vs how many fumbles. It is ugly. Also ugly is how many times he's touched the ball and how little home-runs we've seen from him.
- Montee Ball saw so little of the field and there is only one reason I can think of for that: they don't trust him to pass protect. Dude...study harder and get better faster please...we need SOMEONE to back up Moreno and I honestly feel completely done with Hillman.
- I've noticed a bunch of guys talking about CJ Anderson seeing the field. I'm excited about the kid too, but remember Broncos Country: we only saw him in one preseason game. He's not getting a shot because he isn't good enough yet. He probably also has trouble with pass protection calls.
No one wants to hear this, but I have to think after that game Peyton Manning got injured. It wasn't bad enough that he couldn't play, but dude did not have the normal zip on his throws. I still think he played pretty darn well and it is a shame he didn't get a shot to win the game (thanks Hillman!). I do want to say that if he's audibling into those inside run plays he needs to know that it has to stop. We couldn't run up the middle the first 6 times...why did you think it would work the 7th, 8th, or 9th time?
I have liked Kevin Vickerson quite a bit for a couple of years now, but that has come to an end. This kid had the maturity of a middle-schooler and started playing like a raider. I'm sorry, but I have no place for such stupidity on my beloved Broncos. You cost us 45 yards man. 45 stinking yards because you couldn't handle keep your cool. Tell the ref what is happening next time instead of taking punches at some dude's injured leg.
A Step Up
The bright spot in this game was the play of the defense overall in my opinion. I think top to bottom we looked much more solid with one glaring problem. Our pass rush was better, our coverage was more consistent, and our run defense was still solid.
What was up with all the weaknesses in the flats? Part of it is Paris Lennon not being Wesley Woodyard. Part of it is our defensive scheme calling for our defensive ends to cover the RBs. There will be plenty of good film for JDR to address this. My question is will he adjust?
I still think this is one position on the team that we have a great amount of depth. We have too many guys showing up on the field even when we lose Champ. Let these cats go mano y mano and they will do their jobs.
- It is great to see Chris Harris back out there...that cat is one of the 3 biggest components to our defense being successful.
- As sad as it is to see Champ reinjure himself, I think our team played just as well without him. Champ needs to go recuperate as long as it takes and not push himself to get back.
- The reason we looked so good without Champ? Look no further than Kayvon Webster. This kid has got it and he was sometimes on an island even. Well played rookie...just make sure to catch those gift-wrapped INTs next time.
- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie still looks fantastic in man coverage.
Man I'm ready to see him take another one to the house. He was close if it wasn't for the helmet-to-helmet no-call... That fumble was awful though...our ST coach needs to keep working on the mental aspect of Holliday's game. He has to know when to drop to the ground...when that guy is catching up to him all he had to do was get a knee down and that fumble never happens.
It was good to see our punter still knows how to do his job well. It was bad to see that Matt Prater still looks completely average when he's at sea level. Good thing our coverage units know how to cover.