It was awfully nice of the NFL to schedule us to have two scrimmages this year against a JV team, don't you think? I'm sure it has been said elsewhere, but the final score made the game look a lot closer than it was. No offense (actually, yeah kinda) fader nation, but your team just isn't in the same ballpark as the Denver Broncos.
Now that my jeering is out of the way, let's talk about the game. Early on our offense was putting on a clinic on how to beat a basic cover-2 scheme. The silver and black fanny-packs never really adjusted or tried to get creative on defense. We were on schedule for a 40 burger until we started shooting ourselves in the foot.
Eric Decker had a real break-out game this week. I remember telling my wife during the game, "THIS is the Decker we know and love!" The guy was a wrecking ball of a WR and ran some very nice routes.
- In the first series there was a 3rd down where Decker used a stutter step in his route that made the defender look like a complete fool.
- Decker's big 50+ yard reception was absolutely artful. I almost laughed myself out of my chair when the CB turned his back to him to run with him and Decker just started running behind him for 10 free yards. That is the WRONG technique to use for all you flourishing DBs out there.
- Not to be out-done by Welker, Eric showed that he can run a mean slant in the red zone as well for an easy TD.
The O-Line looked pretty decent throughout the game with a few ups and downs. I especially liked their work in the run game as they were opening up some lanes for all 3 backs. I was one of those pretty worried about Clark starting at LT next to Beadles (who hasn't done great in pass protection this year) and watched him on quite a few plays.
- Loved the free 5 yard neutral zone infraction our line constantly makes sure to get. In case you didn't know, if the defender steps into the neutral zone (1 yard in front of the LOS), they can step back before the ball is hiked with no penalty as long as the O-line doesn't move. Our guys have been taught to move when that happens though and I've seen at least one of these in each games so far this regular season.
- Chris Clark failed hard on the sack he let around him on a speed rush. In that situation I put a bit of the blame on Adam Gase for leaving him out there without a chip though. They should have seen it coming and helped him out. Other than that I really though that Clark did very well helping keep Manning's jersey clean.
- Zane Beadles owes the Offense supper. His false start on 2nd and short with 45 seconds to go in the half was inexcusable. Epic Fail Zane!
Peyton Manning was again masterful. I thought to myself during the game, "Wow I used to hate watching him do this to my team!" TYJE TYPM PSJI (Pound Sand Jim Irsay)
- Every game there is one pass where the placement can't get any more perfect. In this game it was to Demaryius Thomas in the first drive.
- It has been said that no one studies as much or as hard as Peyton Manning. The thing that lends credence to that is the TD pass to Julius Thomas where they caught Charles Woodson with his pants down on a blitz. Both he and Julius knew it was coming and neither of them gave it away.
- Knowson didn't wow me with anything he did in the running game, but he always lights up a blitzer at least a time or two if you ever watch the pass rush develop. I'm pretty sure jokeland's MLB regrets trying to run through Knowshon...cause that child got straight laid out!
- Hillman was darting into running lanes very well. It looked to me like he was starting to get some decent vision for holes developing. I saw two runs where I thought he looked very fast (for the first time in his career here) and was very happy they rewarded his great running with the TD run.
- Mitch Unrein at FB at the goal line. That is all.
- Montee Ball was smashing and dashing this game really showing off power and agility. I was getting pretty excited about him until he fumbled again. The guy needs to really work on his carrying form. He's too strong to be dropping balls this often. And let me say it again: his lack of fumbles in college doesn't mean JACK now. Welcome to reality where you now play in the NFL and have quality opponents everywhere on the defense.
Miscellaneous Offense Thoughts:
- Can the WR bubble screens to the outside. They work when the other team is playing off coverage and not expecting it. We've thrown about two per game though so everyone expects them. Try more of the RB screens because they have a chance to work as long as your blockers can get in front of the RB.
- Wes Welker was very smart on his slide. Some people may think he should have dove for yardage, but he would have been killed if he did that. He's not big enough to take big hits like that and being a regular season game there is no good reason to fight for 2 yards after you've already gotten 1st down yardage.
On the defensive side I really liked the game plan. It looked very much to me like we were playing to contain Pryor by a steady, measured pass rush and pocket collapse. Our front guys pushed the pocket back. The Ends were to push the pocket around in containment in a controlled manner so that Pryor had no easy escape lanes. The down-side to this plan is that it allows the QB tons of time to throw and Pryor showed that he had the capability to make us pay down the field when given time. I'll take that, though. It led to lots of yards, but not lots of points for them. It is a great game plan against a mobile QB and I bet we'll see more of it next week.
The only thing I didn't really dig scheme-wise was the constant zone-coverage across the field. That isn't our CB's strength. I know that we had some key injuries, but keep DRC and Harris in Man and use bracket coverage to help Webster. You then keep Woodyard as a spy on Pryor and make him make a tight throw. All I know is that if JDR wants to do more of this, they need more practice with it. It was very abnormal for our defense...they don't use zone coverage very often at all.
Also don't come at me with "zone was the plan". It was not. We started out manning up their WRs with Rahim Moore as the deep safety with LBers playing zone underneath and crashing down on Pryor once they knew it was clear for them to do so. After Tony Carter got hurt we switched.
Speaking of Tony Carter, I loved his coverage and tackle on his 3rd down play right before he got hurt. His tackle form was solid to keep the faders from a 1st down. The play showed a lot of growth from last year (his tackle form was horrid last year often times).
Robert Ayers may have played less downs, but they were as effective as always. I was happy to see him get a gimme sack. He deserves it for how well he's been playing for us no matter what the haters say. Loved the pass rush he showed when the opportunity showed itself.
The Linebackers were a big part of keeping jokeland in check. Their stats won't wow anyone, but they don't have to. The front seven continued to dominate by stacking up blockers and letting these guys flow to the ball to give the other team only one real option: pass the ball.
- Nate Irving got eaten alive on an option play. He turned to cover the guy coming out of the backfield instead of containing Pryor. You have to trust the guys behind you (they were ready for that route) and do your job.
- Wesley Woodyard may be smallish for a LB, but dude jacked up Terrelle Pryor's whole night with a text-book bone jarring hit in the 2nd half. I almost cried because of the beauty of it.
The Secondary didn't look great in my opinion. Like I said earlier, I think the problem was scheme-based. I don't think for even a second that our game plan was to play zone coverage.
- Kayvon Webster early looked very well playing off-coverage in a zone on 3rd and 12. He read the pass and had a great tackle.
- Omar Bolden again got a chance to shine and left me wanting. Sure he's good on ST, but man the dude does not impress when he's on the field.
- Duke Ihenacho before aggravating his ankle had a derptastic play by taking himself out of the play by running into a corner and letting the enemy get an easy 7. Shake it off and learn from that son!
- Rahim Moore had more ups than downs this game. He gave up an easy TD in the 3rd (on that drive our entire defense was too busy pooping their pants to cover anyone). Nevertheless later in the game he had a superb play on a deep ball with great timing and was looking back for the ball.
- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie looked very good in man coverage and dare I say he looked like Champ Bailey in the glory days on a 4th down play in the end zone.
Matt Prater is on a mission to regain the love and trust of Broncos Country. He's off to a great start so far with multiple 40+ yard FGs made. Dude has a long way to go to get his average into decent territory though. Keep that in mind...
Trindon Holliday had a great early return but then didn't get much to work with. To be fair Oakland either kicked away from Trindon or had excellent coverage all game long. I did like the decision making Trindon showed this time letting kicks go instead of trying to field them and giving fair catch signals when he wasn't going to have any chance. That's a big step up from last year.