Broncos 20, Chargers 27: Studs and Duds

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The MHR staff outlines the highlights and lowlights following Denver's 20-27 loss to the San Diego Chargers Thursday.

Dud: Jack Del Rio

On a short week Del Rio decided to bench two players in Duke Ihenacho and Wesley Woodyard that had been starters.  The public reason given was a bunch of smoke and mirrors.  They were benched due to poor play and overall lackluster performance of the defense.  I can understand wanting to make a statement, but this was simply the wrong place and time.  On a short week against a tough division opponent is the last time to change things up.  

Not only that, the players they were benched for, are quite possibly the worst players on the defensive squad.  Time after time, Omar Bolden and Paris Lenon took poor angles.  Time and time again our defense suffered.  

Did they play terribly?  No.  That's not the point.  The point is this team has no identity on defense.  There has been no sense continuity with all the injuries and this move just exacerbated the issue.  

Not only that, but throughout the game, Kayvon Webster was targeted and picked on by Rivers and Keenan Allen yet there seemed to be no midgame adjustment whatsoever.  A big portion of this loss falls at the feet of Del Rio.  

Without a competent defense, this team is going nowhere.  The buck stops with him. - Bronco Mike

Stud: Andre 'Bubba' Caldwell,

Oh how I have dreamed of the day when I could call this man out for his great play for the Broncos. He's had limited opportunities, but today he rewarded his biggest opportunity with six receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns. He also had one heck of a special teams stop (that was later made all for nothing by a player that I assume made the Duds list) that could have put the Broncos in great field position to score.

Caldwell proved that it truly is next man up, even on the famed Denver receiving corps. It seemed as the the San Diego defense had game planned for everyone except Bubba. He's no Demaryius or even Decker quite yet, but it's nice to know that Caldwell exists as the team makes its push into the playoffs. A push that may or may not include Wes Welker. - Ian Henson

Dud: Omar Bolden.

Somehow, somewhere, someone thought it was a good idea to start Omar Bolden at safety over Duke Ihenahco. While the Duke's play hasn't been all that stellar over the past couple of games (which we all hope is due to inury). "We wanted to look at Omar", words from John Fox, via The Denver Post. "We took a look at some other guys a little bit to develop that throughout the rest of the season." Well, John, you got your look and it wasn't pretty. Now you're going to have to travel to New England this year if you're lucky enough to see that defense get through the divisional round. Which I'm guessing they won't if Omar is the starter. Here's to your health, Duke. - Mr. East

Studs: Running Backs

A running back expects to at least get back to the line of scrimmage before they can screw it up. Even during the longest run of the game, Moreno's 6 yard run, he was hit at the line of scrimmage.

The Broncos' two running backs may have left the game with a piss poor rushing line, but that's for those who didn't watch the game. On Moreno's and Montee's 11 runs they were hit within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage 10 out of 11 times. That means that on 91% of the Broncos run plays the backs got beyond the 1 yards line untouched on only 1 play, 1 PLAY! The backs were hit an average of -0.9 yards behind the line of scrimmage - that's horrible and entirely on the offensive line. A running back expects to at least get back to the line of scrimmage before they can screw it up. Even during the longest run of the game, Moreno's 6 yard run, he was hit at the line of scrimmage.

Another factor was the fact the Broncos lost the time of possession battle and got behind, when a team is behind and not winning the clock battle, the run game is abandoned. The Broncos ran the ball 3 times in the 2nd half.

Both backs were also impressive in the receiving game for the most part, including Montee who I don't think has great hands, but both stepped up, they combined for 85 yards on 10 receptions with 0 drops.

These guys were put in a tough position, the Chargers were getting penetration with only 4 defenders, throw in getting behind before half time and the run game was going to die. But they did their job, especially in the passing game, they weren't perfect but when you are hit within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage 91% of the time, no run game in the NFL will do well, period, end of story. Props to Moreno and Montee for playing tough. - Topher Doll

Dud: Kayvon Webster

Do you know why the Broncos lost the Chargers game? It's because their entire game plan was this: FIND WEBSTER AND THROW TO WHOEVER HE IS COVERING! Yep, sounds like about the most solid gameplan I've ever heard. Scan the field, find #36, and throw the ball. Simple as that. That is all any team ever needs to do to beat us. - Big Pete

Stud: Sylvester Williams

Congratulations to Sylvester Williams on his first career sack! While it looked at times like Denver's offensive line was taking plays off (or, at least, wasn't matching the Chargers' intensity), I wouldn't say the same about Williams and his counterpart Terrance Knighton. Both guys gave good effort and combined for two hurries and a sack - decent pressure for defensive tackles that were on the field for 40 minutes. - Monty

Dud - Nate Irving

Irving's only "moment in the sun" came on a special teams play. With 10:04 left in the game and Denver trailing 24-10, Colquitt and Caldwell had joined forces to trap the Chargers on their own 1-yard line. The Broncos' defense actually made a stand and held San Diego to a 3&out for just the second time in the game. The Broncos looked to have good field position with Scifres punting out of his end zone. Then enters Irving who manages to mistime the count and get called for a Neutral Zone Infraction. The penalty gave the Chargers a first down and they went on to burn all but the last minute-and-a-half of the third quarter before being forced to punt. - Brian Shrout

Your Studs and Duds

Let us know your highlights and lowlights in the comments.

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