A loss is a loss is a loss. It is even worse when it comes out of the blue. Sunday's defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots wasn't one of those for the Denver Broncos. However, if the Broncos had won the game, that would have been unexpected.
For the three years that I've been a member here at Mile High Report, I have seen fans get bent out of shape because of these Un-expectations. Then the blame game comes out. It's always one player's fault that our team lost. Time to get rid of so and so. The blame goes from the players to the coaching staff and even to the owner himself. In the age of Fantasy Football, too many people are looking at things like they can exchange one player and make everything alright. Not on;y that, but players aren't allowed to make mistakes. At all. They get paid too much for that.
Well, it doesn't work that way folks. You can't analyze by emotions.
Those players who are getting paid too much? Guess what. They are going up against other guys who are getting paid the same. Surely that might have something to do with why the Broncos lost yesterday. Shouldn't it? How can it be one single players fault when it is a team sport and there are eleven other guys doing their damnedest to win?
The Denver Broncos got beat yesterday by probably one of the top two teams in the AFC right now. In my opinion, theHouston Texans are the other. The Number One Offense managed a near perfect game, at home, to beat our Denver Broncos by 10 points. Does that suck? Of course it does. Nobody likes to lose.
But I don't think that was a game we were going to win.
Denver is 1-3 in their last 4 trips to Foxborough and 1-4 in the last 5 meetings. The last time the Broncos beat the Patriots, was the "Fist Pump" throwback game I attended on October 11, 2009.
Tom Brady was 8-4 going against Peyton Manning led teams. He is now 9-4.
Turnovers. The Broncos would have needed a near perfect game, or at least win the turnover battle. Going into the game, the Broncos were a -4 in the plus/minus stat. Not as bad as the Kansas City Chiefs, who lead the league with something like -17, but there were only six other teams, including K.C. that had more giveaways than Denver. The Patriots had forced the most turnovers in the AFC.
That perfect game didn't happen of course, but it wasn't because of one guy or one play or one play call.
It isn't Peyton Manning's fault because he fumbled the ball. It isn't Demaryius Thomas' or Willis McGahee's fault either. It isn't like they just gave it away. Those Fumbles were caused by the New England Patriots, who forced them. Now last week, Demaryius' fumble was all on him because he didn't secure the ball. Good teams get good breaks, all the bounces and take home the Prom Queen.
Joe Mays took a lot of flak in the Game threads too. And Jack Del Rio. And Mike McCoy. And John Fox. Heck Elway is even being blamed for this loss. That is how emotional thinking blows rationality out of the water.
Joe Mays got picked on and picked apart yesterday. I'd tell you why, but Troy has it nailed down right here, so I'm going to let him tell it like it is.
There’s not really a whole lot to say other than Joe Mays isn’t built to cover guys like Danny Woodhead and Wes Welker. I think that, based on this one game against New England, it is unfair to blame Jack Del Rio for the defensive effort. His hands were tied by his personnel. The Broncos just aren’t meant to have Joe Mays in coverage against quick receivers and Running Backs. He’s a big bruiser in the middle of the defense and is used best when running downhill.
Credit Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady, though. They realized that they could exploit the middle of the field and take small chunks of yardage throughout the game. Furthermore, they realized that if they run plays as quickly as humanly possible, the Broncos couldn’t substitute out of an unfavorable match up. The Patriots never got greedy, trying for a deep pass. It’s the old expression "you can never go broke taking a profit". The Patriots did that. Short passing with their lightning quick no huddle just wore out the Denver defensive line. Once they had established the short passing game, they began to run it. And run it, they did… to the tune of 251 yards on the ground. Most people would say that it’s the defensive tackles fault. It’s not. It’s not even Joe Mays’ fault.
The Broncos defense just isn’t built to play that way. We have Danny Trevathan who was touted, throughout training camp, as our nickel linebacker. Unfortunately, because of the Patriots ridiculously quick no huddle offense, we couldn’t sub him in. It was Joe Mays on the field for the whole time. After a while, it became predictable. Tom Brady was going to target Joe Mays early and often. Eventually, you could see the fatigue in Joe Mays’ play. He wasn’t attacking the running back on running plays because he looked exhausted. The Broncos even subbed in Danny Trevathan a few times, and the Patriots ran it until Joe Mays returned… then they passed it again. The Patriots knew where they wanted to attack. It was at the linebacker position.
Again, this isn’t an indictment of Joe Mays. He’s a football player. He attacks and can lay the wood on players, at will. But being a player that big comes with a cost. You’re not going to run with Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead.
Jack Del Rio’s hands were tied. You’ve got a guy out there who can’t stop the pass and you can’t sub him out because Tom Brady is only allowing 5 seconds between plays. What are you going to do? Blame Jack Del Rio for that? I don’t understand why you can justify that. When Tom Brady is clicking, there’s not a scheme in the world that you could implement to stop that. You just pray that you can slow him down.
The Broncos got beat yesterday because they don't have the firepower on Defense yet to matchup with the league's No. 1 Offense. I'd like to think that Everyone already knew that prior to this week. If you didn't, you ought to know it now.
Are the Broncos improved? Hell yeah they are. Here's what happened in January against the Patriots. Five 3 and outs in the first six possessions on the way to a 45-10 manhandling. I didn't see that yesterday at all. There was one 3 and out by the broncos for the entire game. They were 53.8% on third down, usually good enough to win. But New England had a 64.7% success rate on 3rd down. Yes I know about the two 3rd and forever's they converted. That was terribly embarrassing. Cut those two mistakes and the percentage goes to 53%.
The third of the 3 important stats (Turnovers, 3rd downs being the other two), Time of Possession, had much to do with this win as well. New England controlled the clock, 25:10 to Denver's 24:11. Mostly because the Patriots didn't give the ball away. Tom Brady led the Offense on Four 80-yard drives that took up 22:08 of clock time and more importantly, put 28 points on the board.
The Broncos are 2-3 at the end of Week 5 of a 16 game schedule. The combined record of the 3 teams that defeated Denver is 12-2 and I will bet that all three of those teams make the playoffs. Those losses were by 4, 6 and 10 points and the Broncos were in each of those games. They didn't get blown out like last season.
All I'm saying, is this team is improved from last season and hasn't hit their stride. I will take these three losses if our team peaks during December. I think we will find out next week if the 2012 Denver Broncos are destined for the playoffs this season.