It's a love/hate thing with bye weeks. You love that our players get time off to heal their wounds. I'm always appreciative that we have a bye generally around the middle of the year. Compared to some teams that get their bye week after just 3 games into the young season. To keep up with the common theme this year, we sustain yet another injury to the team even on our week off. Foxy is recovering successfully from heart surgery and fortunately this game had a business-as-usual feel. There weren't any clear cut signs that we were missing our head coach. Just look at last year's New Orlean Saints for an example of how crippling it could be to lose the captain of the ship. This game had the feel of a blow out until yet another strip sack from the blindside then the Chargers came clawing back to make it a one possession game. Then Manning went down, and stayed down..........
Photo by: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The scene all fans fear most is seeing their QB down on the field. Mutiplied by the fact that it's the greatest QB to ever play the game(and I'm an Elway fan). Peyton took a couple serious hits to his legs this game and was under duress plenty. The first sack given up by Orlando Franklin looked bad enough as Peyton's fragile ankle was gator-rolled by Larry English. The last one forced him to drop to the field not once, but twice. Meaning it was serious enough. Despite these hits, he played a stellar game throwing for 330 yards and 4 TDs. The offense was rolling, up 28-6 on the verge of another blowout victory, then it happened. Another strip sack allowed by Chris Clark gave the Chargers the ball at the Denver 11 leading to an eventual TD. The momentum had shifted and rhythm broken. The rest of the game, the offense was stagnant and escaped with a 28-20 victory. The score was a lot closer than the game actually was. I wasn't happy, but not at one point did I think we were going to lose this game. The biggest issue now is Peyton's health going forward. He's been taking a beating lately and I don't expect to see that stop. Now we have the Chiefs coming to town with their league leading pressure defense. Now, Peyton was able to stay in the game and tough it out so I don't think the injury is too serious. Just painful. Showdown in Mile High on primetime. Hopefully the sheriff is in town.
Demaryius Thomas is the first receiver to score 3 TDs since the great Shannon Sharpe and leads the team with 793 yards receiving. DT did a great job working in space and running after the catch, probably his best attribute. He's so big, it's hard for smaller DBs to bring him down. Heck, it's even hard for LBs. That WR screen is clearly his bread and butter. It's becoming a repeating theme of him catching the ball behind the line of scrimmage then bob-and-weaving through his stampeding O-linemen before speeding to the endzone. He can score from anywhere on field with this play. What I don't understand is why we don't throw deep to DT more often. It's mostly been Decker getting the long ball, even though DT is our bigger/faster receiver. The coaches seem to be content with getting DT the ball quickly and in space so he can do his thing, and run after the catch. It's a good feeling having a non diva at our WR1. He willingly "blocks" on rub off routes knowing a teammate will easily score. He's a team player and he knows the benefits of him being used as a decoy. No complaints and just gets the job done. A humble young man on the verge of greatness. Great pick McDaniels! Game Ball DT.
Front Office Then and Now
How annoyed are you to see what a great career Earl Thomas is having in Seattle? He's arguably one of the best safeties in the entire NFL. Now how even more annoyed are you to know that we traded him away to select Alphonso Smith in the second round of 2009? The same Smith we traded away a year later for Dan Gronkowski, a 7th round selection! Great pick McDaniels....(don't know how to use sarcasm tag)
Flash forward to the John Elway era. I'm not going to list all of his accomplishments in just 2.5 short years, but there are definitely some diamonds. The Duke has delivered yet again. PFM isn't even worth mentioning anymore so I'll go to the more unheralded pick ups. Elway managed to bring in THE best RG to Denver on a club friendly deal. He's locked up for the next 4 years and is only 26 years old making just under $6M a year. Compared to the highest paid NFL Guard in Carl Nix who's making just under $10M a year. That car salesman in Elway sure comes in handy when negotiating these deals. How could the Chargers have ever let this elite young player go? D'oh!
Elways is just as pinpoint in the draft as he was on the field. He's found gems throughout each round. A stud LB in the 6th round, D. Trevathan. A stud RT in the second round, Orlando Franklin, who is arguably the best RT in the league. And then there's Kayvon Webster. I can't help but keep mentioning this kid in my reviews. Probably because he's flashing every week. This time assisting in breaking up a potential TD pass early in the game. He was considered a major "reach" in the 3rd round, but his contributions to the team warranted that draft slot. Maybe even more productive. He's getting plenty of man to man responsibilities and he's stepping up to the challenge. Sure he has blown coverages from time to time, but you have to take into consideration that he's still just a rookie. My favorite play from him yesterday was when he came head on with Antonio Gates in the open field as the TE was running free. He showed no fear taking on the bigger Gates and brought a solid thump to put an end to the play. A message was sent. There is no backing down from this kid no matter who you are. I think Gates got the message. Great pick Elway!
Big "Fat" Elephant In The Room
Whenever we're on defense, my primary focus is on Von Miller. He's my favorite player so of course I want to see what he's about to do. After his 3rd game back, I've come to the realization that I don't like the added weight. He doesn't have the elite first step that he had last year. He was generally a full body ahead of the rest of the defense right after the snap. Don't get me wrong, he's still an elite pass rusher, but he seems to be missing something. He may be stronger, but he's not getting the edge like we're so used to seeing. He was beastly against the Redskins, but that once-in-a-lifetime speed/quickness wasn't there. I've never seen him so addicted to the oxygen mask before. Every time they show him on the sideline, he's wearing that mask and he's not even in Denver. He still had a solid performance against the Chargers with 6 tackles, a sack and 2 tackles for a loss and 5 hurries. I'm sure PFF will still give him a good grade, but something is missing in my eyes. How long do we give him before we stop using the "he just came back from suspension" excuse? My expectations for Von is "greatest of all time" so I'm expecting more than what I've seen.
On paper, you may not have realized the defense had another solid performance. They have held 2 top-10 passing offenses to under 199 yards for the second week in a row. Without Peyton, Philip Rivers would be the top QB in the AFC. Yesterday, Rivers was under constant pressure and took plenty of hits after releasing the ball. He even mentioned before kickoff that there were games where he didn't even hit the ground. The defensive unit was credited with 4 sacks, 7 tackles for a loss(just as good as a sack), 6 passes defensed and 5 hits on the QB(though you could argue for more). Luckily for Philis, he was able to Jake the Snake out of several other sacks. A very productive day by the defense even though the score was a lot closer than the game seemed. They gave up plenty of yards early, only to give up FGs. The run defense gave up more than usual, but the secondary was locked on, limiting the Chargers 4th rank pass offense. Great game considering the Chargers won the time of possession battle 38 to just 21 minutes for the Broncos. You have to remember, the Broncos only had the ball for 57 seconds THE ENTIRE 1st quarter. Leaving our defense on the field for majority of the game used to kill us. Have to give credit to the defense in limiting a top offense all the while being on the field for majority of the game. Only thing missing was turnovers.
Little Quick Notes:
- How old is Jim Nantz? At what age does senility kick in? Twice Jim said "we have a Bronco" down on the field and they were both Chargers. He even said the Chargers' correct name? Both times I was worried we'd lose another player to injury.
- Julius Thomas really showed some wheels on his 74 yard TD. He showed another gear in outracing the rest of the defense. How worried are teams now knowing our TE can go the distance from anywhere on the field. TYJE.
- So how much of an advantage did McCoy have in having coached the Broncos offense last year? None, zip, zero, zilch, come again, better luck next time but not really though.
- How happy is Philis to have Peyton in the division again? An amusing 0-3 happy.
- Sadly, DT is our lone home run hitter on offense. Wish we could have more, but I guess the Peyton Manning offense doesn't really need it.
- Our coaches must really trust Paris Lenon.
- Offense was poor on 3rd downs today. Denver is the best team on 3rd downs converting almost half the time. Yesterday they only converted on 37%. A little nit picky, but it led to a stalled offense that had it's lowest scoring output of the season.
Well, here it is folks. The week everyone's been waiting for. The showdown of the big dogs. The top 2 teams(on paper) are set to meet on primetime. The unstoppable force(Denver) vs the immoveable object(Chiefs defense). We've gotten a lot of flack from "disrespected" trolls from AP. It's finally time to put up or shut up. The Chefs LUCK continues with Peyton getting injured right before the Chief game. I personally don't think Peyton will miss this game, but we don't know at this point. I don't see us losing this game, especially at home. The Chefs pass rush is of some concern considering Peyton's been taking a lot of shots from less stellar units. Chris Clark is on watch this week. I'm sure they'll be attacking him plenty. I say, we bring out the 3 TE sets more this game than any. We've always had success with that personnel. I don't know why we don't use it more. If anything, this close victory over the Chargers only gives the trolls more food to feed their paper tigers. Let's get healthy and show KC what a real Super Bowl contender is about. Go Broncos!