REMEMBER -- MHR Radio coming up at 8:00 PM est / 6:00 PM mst
Hard to decide on a place to start, so I'll go the classy route. A big tip of the MHR cap to the Chiefs, who campe out and played 4 quarters of inspired football. Congratulations to their fans over at Arrowhead Pride who joined us for a great week of cross-blogging.
Now, for the game. First, I picked the Broncos to win, and picked them to win big, but I can't honestly say I am "surprised" by the outcome. The Broncos have had one of the winningest frnchises in football the past 40 years, and still we are only 13-35 all time in K.C. Mike Shanahan has won alot more football games than he has lost as a Head Coach, but overall he is only 3-11 in K.C. It just hasn't been a good place for the Broncos to play. Worse, they rarely play well in Kansas City, whihc is why today's performance was so disappointing, if not surprising.
I have called 2008 "Year 3 of a 5 year rebuild". There are several reasons for that, most notably the holes that exist in 2 of the 3 phases on the team - defense and special teams. When there are holes on 2/3 of the team, the other 1/3, in this case the offense, better play lights out when the other two struggle. That didn't happen today, with the offense turning the ball over 4 times. This defense cannot make up for that. For three quarters, the defense kept the team in the game(16-13 Chiefs), despite being on the field 8 minutes longer than the Chiefs defense(26:15 - 18:35). I'll take that, but we can't expect the defense to hold out forever.
When the offense wasn't putting the defense in tough spots, it was the coverage teams, who seemed to allow big returns every time the Broncos scored in the 2nd half. The Chiefs offense has trouble moving the ball, but when you give them a short field, when only a couple first downs are needed to get into FG range, that puts the defense in a tough situation.
Lastly, I won't mention any names, but I was bashed for saying the Chiefs had the advantage at Running Back in my "EDGE" post, and for saying the Broncos running game hadn't been as dominant as they needed to be as we moved through the season. Well, today, you saw exactly what I was talking about. This was a game where Jay Cutler was struggling and the Chiefs pass defense, ranked 4th in the League coming in, was doing a great job forcing the Broncos to make alot of plays to move down field. The Broncos needed to be able to run the ball, first to give the defense a rest, second to control tempo and set up the passing game. They couldn't do it.
The play calling left something to be desired as well. I know Brandon Marshall can't fumble the ball in that situation, but we should expect a wide receiver to run like a running back. Marshall is used to being tackled by DB's, not linebackers or defensive linemen. He's used to being the strongest guy in any confrontation on the field, against linebackers and defensive lineman, he isn't. Should Marshall have held on to the ball, yes. Should the play ever been called in the first place? Absolutely Not!!
There are many reasons the Broncos lost, and blame can go alot of different directions. Keep this in mind, however, Broncos fans - the Broncos are 3-1 and no matter what happens the rest of the day the Broncos will be alone in 1st place. If I had said before the season that the Broncos would be 3-1, in first place, after the first 4 weeks you would have been ecstatic. Well, that is exactly where we find ourselves. As bad as the Broncos played, this is only 1 loss. We need to focus on what's next, including two home games. Everyone must take a look in the mirror, players and fans alike, and evaluate who and what the Broncos are, but in the end, the Broncos are 3-1, in 1st place in the AFC West. Not a bad place to be at all.