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Week 2 Guru Review -- Denver 9 - Kansas City 6

I've slept on it, and rewatched most of the game on Tivo.  It was ugly, sloppy, and you know what?  I could care less becuase it was a Bronco victory!  That said, there are some issues to be dealt with on this offense, but there were also some glimmers of hope.  Thanks to OHNOKOOLAID for the basis of my review, as I again will use his tidbits and comment on them.  

One thing I like about this site is that it allows you to be critical without calling your fandom into question.  Most of us aren't critics for criticism's sake, and we are more than willing to give credit when credit is due, or even admit when we misrepresented a player (as I will do later here).  It's nice that most of the frequent posters here are fans but not sell-out homers, fans who will root for their team but not make excuses for them.  To this, I credit not only the smaller size of this community, but also the level of perception and understanding of the game that you see here.  If only other well traveled boards could take such an attitude, and it is those boards that I've used to fuel some of my points for this week's addition of blunt observations.

Couldn't have said it any better my self.  I to am annoyed at some of the other fan sites that base your loyalty on whether or not you agree with the majority.  I want the members here to have an opinion, and not be afraid to express it, even if it isn't popular.  I want debate, as long as it isn't flaming, and when a disagreement is resolved there is nothing wrong with admitting as such and moving on.  I have said it before, we are all Bronco fans, and we all want the same thing.  Thanks for reminding all of us why we are here and why the MHR is such a great place for Bronco fans!

-In the future, Al Wilson should just shut up and play.

If you're going to call out the top active runner in football, make sure your game steps up to your mouth.  For a player that missed as many tackles as he made, Wilson was in no position to make the comments that he did regarding Johnson.  I'm still a big Wilson fan, and consider him a top three linebacker, but he had a big hand in the struggles of the run defense today.  Too many attempted kill shots and not enough fundamental tackling.

Al Wilson seemed to be a much better player when he let his play do the talking.  I have been disappointed with the overall play of the Linebackers so far this season, and with New England coming up they are going to need to shore up and fast.  As was stated, Wilson has missed a lot of tackles, and D.J. Williams has been a borderling disaster so far.  He continues to over-pursue, allowing runners to cut back.  Ian Gold has been steady, but as a unit they have not plyed up to the billing as teh best linebacking corp in football.  I wouldn' tmind seeing a little bit of Nate Webster, who has been inactive for weeks 1 and 2, not as a replacement for anyone, just to provide depth and a different look.

-The raw individual numbers might not be there, but the run game is still fine.  

Keep in mind that Kansas City was effective in slowing Rudy Johnson last week, so today's effort from the Bell's was satisfactory, especially when you consider that the Broncos' rushing numbers were almost identical to Kansas City's, and many fans feel that our run defense was absolutely picked apart.  Making matters tough for the running game was how predictable it was early.  Shanahan and co. get credit for some innovative and gutsy calls in the running game to give the offense the tiny spark it needed.  If the passing game will ever come around, I think we'll start to see big things from these backs.

The Denver Broncos have always used the run and pass in perfect harmony, and when one of those pieces aren't firing on all cylinders the other tends to struggle.  It is true, however, that the pure numbers don;t lie and the Broncos are still getting it done on the ground.  I will say I would like to see Tatum Bell be the starter and get 25 carries a game.  I like Mike Bell, but Tatum has been more concsistent and more explosive, and nearly won the game against the Chiefs in OT.  I'd like to know what you guys and gals think, but now would be a nice time to give T. Bell the rock consistently and see what he could do.

-Blocking was improved this week (Tamba who?)

The running lanes weren't overwhelming, but they were enough against a front that often included eight or nine defenders.  No sacks were allowed, but Jake did have to escape pressure on occasion, however, he wasn't running anymore than he would in any other game, and most pressures came on our sloppy screen plays.  Hali had four tackles, but was not an impact player for the second week in a row, so why do we still have to see him featured every week?  I was an outspoken critic of drafting an "effort" guy like Hali last season on BM, and he did little today to convince me that he can be more than an average playmaker.

I am convinced the Broncos O-Line gets better as a season goess on.  At their size they don't wear down like some of the bigger O-Lines in the league and are able to gel together.  Most of the big plays for K.C. came from their back 7, and bringing extra men in the box.  As the game went on the K.C. defense started to wear down, and the score of the game allowed the Broncos to stick with the gameplan, and continue to pound the rock.    When Jake did have to throw, especially in the 2nd half, he looked better and more confident doing it, and he and Javon Walker seem to be getting some rhythem going together.

-Defense was frustrating at first, but really came on in the second half.

It's still a bend-don't-break style, but one done with good athletes and active corners that give receivers little room to run after the catch.  Johnson got his touches, his yards, but not his signature big plays, and Denver waited for Kansas City to make mistakes.  It's a frustrating concept to watch, but one that ends up being pretty effective.  Myers, Lang, and Gold were the most consistent performers today.

I still think the DB's play a little too far off the ball, but you are right, the scheme seems to be to avoid the big play and tackle once the catch is made.  I almost can't blame Coyer, with the problems the Broncos have at Safety.  Listen, I love John Lynch, but he isn't even very effective against the run anymore and Nick Ferguson is a liability.  If the corners take any chances there isn't going to be a safety there to help becuase we just don;t have the athletes.  Between the draft and FA, we need to address both positions in the off-season.  The D-Line still isn't getting much pressure, and the career M.O. of Gerrard Warren is continuing in Denver -- One play he is the best player on the field, the next he looks like he shouldn't be on the field.  If he can play with consistent effort every down he could be a Pro Bowler.

-Despite my distrust in his total ability, Chuckwurah had a big game today.

Making cameos on third down, Chucky outplayed several of his every-down counterparts, and really gave Turley fits, keeping separation to bat down passes, or drive low, hard, and fast on a bull rush to Huard.  He's not my first choice for nickel rusher, because I'm still not sold on his fluidity and pass rushing skills, but his edge/bull rush was pretty effective today, and he's redeemed himself for last week's special teams gaffe.

I have been very outspoken in my support for Chuky, but have always said he needs to be used correctly.  He is not a very good linebacker, and the Broncos have tried to keep him there in the past.  Finally it seems they are putting him out on the edge where he can use his speed and hi motor to get it done.  At least two tipped passes, and he pressured Huard several times.  That is what Chukwurah does best and what the Broncos need to use him for.  As stated, his play made up for last week, and if he can stay healthy I expect big things from Chuky.

-This defense misses Courtney Brown.

As readers of FP will tell you, Denver's run defense was at its best when teams attacked Brown's side of the line.  He may not be a great pass rusher, but Brown rarely gets knocked back and almost always re-directs runs inside or makes the play on his own.  Ekuban and Lang both struggled on the left side in running plays, sometimes in single blocks by TE Dunn.  It also didn't help that Warren wasn't sure if he wanted to play hard every down, and when he doesn't command a double team, it puts pressure on the undersized Myers and whichever end is manning the left side in Brown's stead.

100% correct.  People often assumed that Warren and Brown were of the same clth and that just isn't the case.  Warren takes plays, even whole series, off.  Courtney Brown has always played hard and been effective, when he can stay healthy.  Brown's problems have been all injury related.  I can't say that I overly optimistic about Brown's chances at getting on the field any time soon.  He has already had the microfracture surgery on the knee, and I just don't know how much better it is going to get.  It may just become a situation that Brown is going to have to decide how much pain he can play with, and how much it's worth to him.  Only time will tell

-At this rate, the quarterback controversy will be in full swing during the bye week.  

I initially thought Plummer's performance was just bad, but looking back on several plays today, he was quite awful once again, and while you shouldn't single out individual players in a team game like football, Plummer's struggles weigh so heavily into the struggles of the offense.  The review of the missed touchdown pass to Scheffler in the one on one end zone situation showed that the pass was pretty bad, and probably wouldn't have been caught if Tony was able to get a better jump, because of how far over his head and behind him.  The biggest problem was that Bell was totally clueless and would have no play on Scheffler, so why put that ball so far out of reach?    

What really got me today was that the offense looked as if it had little confidence in its passing game.  To many short, safe passes that had little impact, running in passing downs, etc.  The pick thrown was once again an unforced error and should little awareness of downfield defenders.  His size and release also were a factor today, as too many balls were batted down or floated downfield.

I've seen the complaints that receivers weren't open, but I don't agree with them.  Part of the problem is that Jake has poor velocity on balls thrown downfield in the pocket.  Any cushion created is closed when a ball floats or waddles to the target area.  Teams can live with poor velocity or floating passes if the accuracy and timing is good, but how many balls did we see go behind or too far in front of receivers today?  

Finally, I'll say it again, why use the "rookie quarterback" excuse when you have a veteran that performs like a rookie?  It isn't Cutler time yet, but a bye week loss and another 50's or below QB rating, and it will be time to see if the hot shot rookie can translate his pre-season to the regular season.  More Broncos fans need to stop with the excuses, the team can't succeed with the current version of Plummer.

It was almost sad to watch two professional football teams play a regular season game, two teams with playoff aspirations no less, with absolutely no confidence in their quarterbacks what-so-ever.  At least the Kansas City Chiefs had a good excuse.  When your backup is starting his first game in 6 years it might be a good idea to be conservative.  The Broncos starting QB was in the Pro Bowl last season, and the Broncos are deathly afraid to let him throw the ball.  I knew what we were in for when only 4 receivers were active for the game.  The Brocnos were content to run the ball, shorten the game, and hope to win it in the end.  This is no way for a playoff team to play, let alone a team that thinks it is SUper Bowl caliber.  I can't wait to hear Shanny's presser later today.  I said last week if the Broncos went to the BYE at 1-2 they would have to seriously consider a change.  The extra week is the best chance to get another QB ready, if you want to salvage the season.  The only doubt is this year is nearly a carbon copy of last season's start for Plummer, so Sunday Night in New England will be a big test, and pivotal game to the Broncos' season.

-The receiving core received a scare today, but they're in luck for the future.

The last point is a prelude to this week's draft observations, where we start to see how deep the receiver position really is in the college game right now.  As many as ten receivers could get first round grades, depending on how thinks shake out in the coming weeks.

Rod Smith is a warrior, and he isn't getting any younger.  If the Broncos are going to be successful this season they are going to need to find another threat in the passing game.  Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler, David Kircus, someone is going to need to step up.  Walker is going to become more and more the go to guy, but I fear Plummer is too late with the ball, and it takes so long to get there, that we won;t be able to utilize Walker to his fullest.  With glaring holes at safety and on the D-Line, I wonder where the Broncos will be able to get a quality receiver in the draft.

A couple extra observations -

--Either work on the screen pass or scrap it.  Watching this offense attempt to run a screen is painful and it isn't what this team does well.  I know we need to slow down this pass rush, but we need to find another way.

--On the bright side, great call on the end around on 4th down.  One way to slow down that pass rush is to use misdirection and the Broncos did that several ways, using Kyle Johnson up the middle, and the FB fake, pitch to the outside.  look for this to contiue until teams stop sending 7 guys up the middle to blow up the running game.

--Not one bootleg yesterday, and if this trend continues Plummer really begins to lose his effectiveness.  Something to keep an eye on this week.

--All this bad, and we still eeked out a win!!!  1-1, 1-0 in the AFC and the West, and the offense can't play much worse, can it?  Defense has yet to give up a TD, despite have 5 opponent drives start at the Bronco 35 or better.  There are things to be excited about, and I feel pretty good about the New England game, a team we always seem to match up well against.  Be prepared for a big dose of Corey Dillon and Lawrence Maroney.