I'll have to admit that I was quite nervous heading into this game. It is a division rival with a potent QB at the helm and an offense that has done a lot of good things this season. As the game wore on I still feel concerned about our defense at times...the best thing we can say is that while they may be giving up big yards still, they make it hard for teams to get TDs. That's a formula I think all of us in Broncos Country can live with.
About That Short Passing Game...
So the big vulnerability I see for our offense currently is our gimped up QB. Peyton Manning isn't looking great throwing the ball the past three games. Keep in mind I'm not talking about the wobble he normally has (and has always had), but the accuracy. That has mostly forced us to work our short passing and run game.
- This works out okay for our offense because we have such dangerous weapons once they catch the ball. For example see the first catch by Julius Thomas in this game. That was some very superb and agile running by the big man...the route and catch were child's play...it was the stroll down the sideline that impressed me.
- Also Demaryius Thomas made me feel dirty inside on the WR screen play he took to the house. That is some filthy good stuff right there. I'm glad DT had a big game like this...he deserves some serious recognition for how well he plays. On a team with lesser weapons he'd be blowing Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson's numbers out of the water this year in my opinion.
- We had several intermediate - long passes that didn't connect this game and to my eyes it looked like a more accurate pass would have made the difference.
- One thing we can't abide in our limited offense now is drops a la Bubba Caldwell. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot son...how do you drop that pass!?
The Big Offensive Concern
Now we also have a few games in a row with some serious problems in our O-Line. This has me more worried than anything going up against a great pass rush this week in _C.
- Let's call a duck a duck shall we? Chris Clark has been doing a solid job overall filling in some very big shoes for our injured Ryan Clady. The problem is that he's too consistently showing a weakness to a speed rush around the edge.
- Manning can't afford these blindside hits as old as he is. His body isn't going to heal quickly and keeping his jersey clean needs to be paramount. If we don't see more 12 personnel with TE's chipping on the RDE before heading out into the flat I'll be very worried. My big trouble is that we've seen this problem since Indianapolis and the team has done very little to address it. I don't care how bad Manning wants 11 personnel out there...his health is more important than having Decker on the field.
- Orlando Franklin is probably still gimped up a bit too...he let an uncharacteristic sack happen from his edge on a 3rd down play no less.
- I give Manny Ramirez some props too for the job he's doing...but in the same breath I have to say he can't let guys dive at Manning's legs like what happened at the end of the game...sit on that defender next time instead.
- Big props to Montee Ball. First of all for not fumbling on any of his carries (I'm looking at you Ronnie Hillman). Also his down field blocking on DT's 1st TD (the pylon reach) was fantastic. If he doesn't hold that block, the defender has a very nice angle to deny DT.
- I really liked what I saw from Knowshon Moreno as well. In the 2nd half he and Montee absolutely were doing their jobs when they go the rock. Late game Moreno really powered through some nice yardage to help secure the win.
- The late game 3rd down throw to Eric Decker made me crazy. Why would you throw to Decker in a pressure situation when he's been consistently showing his weakness to handling pressure (focus son!).
- I'm getting sick and tired of the refs letting DBs manhandle our WRs past five yards without the illegal contact penalties. I saw that three times during this game and this play was one of them. It has been a trend now that teams are playing dirty press on us and the refs are letting them break the rules consistently. I'm all about a defense playing press and hitting the WRs in the mouth, but once you get past five yards hands off.
That Broken Pass Rush
Yeah the game was close and yes there were times where our pass rush got completely handled, but overall I was very happy with the performance of our front seven in creating pressure. Phillip Rivers got smacked around, pressured, and sacked.
- It was good to see no flags on Kevin Vickerson this game. Keep up that clean aggressive play man! I noted a big swat down of a pass and a very nice tackle for loss in this one from the big man.
- Terrance Knighton had a very nice stop on 3rd and 2 in the first half. I said when we signed him that he'd be just what the doctor ordered for us in the trenches. I'm loving how he seems to be getting better as the season wears on.
- Speaking of getting better as the season wears one I also loved seeing Derek Wolfe laying Phylis out as well.
- Von Miller keeps bringing the heat...he had a bunch of pressures, a sack, and a blazing TFL. Man it is good to have you back on the field Von!
- Here's the cherry on top of the defensive sundae we had...our first Von Miller / Shaun Phillips sandwich and it couldn't happen to a better guy!
San Diego did a very nice job of mixing up the match-ups against our guys to keep them on our toes. We didn't scheme much to man cover with specific guys to keep that from happening. As with most of the season though our guys came up big when it counted and otherwise minimized their mistakes.
- Whoever thought it would be okay to have Chris Harris cover Antonio Gates needs to check their heads. The size mismatch there cost us some 3rd down conversions that would have been less likely with a taller defender.
- Here's something to get excited about: Kayvon Webster again made a very big pass defense in a pressure situation. This week it was in the end zone and was text-book defense. TYJE
- I still waffle on Rahim Moore...on one hand he missed another gimme INT that good safeties catch. On the other hand he laid a whollap on Antonio Gates with a perfectly timed hit on a 3rd down pass to deny him the catch.
- Big props to Mike Adams who came to play again this week filling in for Duke Ihenacho. Mike had two very solid plays against Gates that denied him catches. Last year in this match-up Adams lost that exchange badly.
- Here's a couple of good things about Chris Harris though. He still owns Eddie Royal. He also had a superb pressure late in the game on 3rd and 6.
- Yeah it was only a yard, but I didn't think our guys looked ready for that 4th and 1 fake punt.
- Matt Prater is taking a page out of Mike Adams' playbook and making me look bad...kicking at sea level this week Matt was booting it out of the end zone. Keep eating those wheaties Matty P!
- I guess this year we should all just accept that the refs are having a down year (not just with Denver...there's been a lot of poor performance on their part in other games as well). So there's an illegal snap call (not common to see in the NFL), but you let the play play out? If you do that, our team should have the option to decline the penalty. Automatic penalties like that are supposed to be blown dead.