While the loss to the Texans was obviously very rough, it wasn't all bad. Now obviously there was a lot of bad in there as well, but I hope that the digging we do in this article can point out a few bad, and good, things that may have been glossed over or not noticed in the game reviews.
Now as I mentioned last week, this is purely what happened, I can't comment on what was said or what the coaches were thinking, but when you watch the game, this is what you'll see.
Defensive Back Coverage Issues
As any Saints fan will tell you, Tracy Porter is a corner who can make game changing plays, we saw this earlier in the season, but Saints fans will also tell you that he will give up a lot of big plays. That is the cost of having a guy who will take big chances like Porter. So far this season he's missed six tackles, gave up four touchdowns, and gives up almost six yards per reception after the catch. Porter ended up being benched about mid way through the game, and while I fully expect him to start again this next week, I hope it sent a strong message, especially since both Champ Bailey and Chris Harris had solid games.
The next player I wanted to highlight is Rahim Moore. Now Moore is a player I am a big fan of, I overlooked his struggles last season and ignored his issues in the pre-season and camp this year and have not talked about his coverage woes this season, I do this because I'm a fairly huge Moore apologist, but I can no longer ignore the evidence. Last game Moore saw his playing time dwindle as the game went on, and there were reasons for this. The first is that on one of the deep passes that went for a touchdown Moore was the deep safety on the play and didn't get deep enough in his zone. Now luckily for him he wasn't in on the second deep pass, but he has also given up another touchdown earlier this season and leads the team in yards after the catch allowed, not what you want from your free safety. He has also allowed 100% of the passes thrown his way to be caught. I do note he lead the team in tackles, but you don't want your free safety making that many tackles, it's usually a sign a lot of passes are being completed.
Now I am a big Moore fan so that was hard to say, and I'm not saying we should cut either of these players, merely noting what I saw.
Defensive Coordinators Giving Offense Fits
One of the biggest struggles this season have come against opposing defenses, and there's a good reason for that, we've faced three of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL. So far the Broncos have faced:
- Dick LeBeau (12th ranked)
- Mike Nolan (3rd)
- Wade Phillips (5th)
These are three of the top tier defensive minds around. LeBeau is one of the best guys at maximizing the players he has. Nolan is unbelievably creative and we saw it against the Falcons, some of his formations I still don't know exactly what they were without rewatching what happens after the snap. And Broncos fans know that while Phillips isn't exactly the best head coach around, he's one hell of a defensive coach.
So while I am among the group that is concerned about this offense, I also note that there have been reasons for this. The struggles of the offensive line, Peyton Manning's lack of consistency and Mike McCoy's play calling issues all deserve blame, but after looking at the past three games, these are defensive coaches could give Manning fits when he was in his prime with much more talented players. These are defenses that still bother Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees, so even if Manning was his old self, those games wouldn't be cake walks.
So while this may sound like an excuse, take heart because the toughest defenses are behind us, and hopefully our offensive woes will be also.
Von Miller's Impact On Other Aspects
Von Miller's impact is well known, I raved about his prep for last weeks game and how he demolished the Falcons offensive line. This week, while he wasn't as dominating, he still solidified a trend I'd been seeing, Von Miller is a game changer. Last season we saw how great Miller was, he won Defensive Rookie of the Year award which says something, but he didn't garner the respect from offensive line coaches he deserved.
This season we saw that changed, on nearly every down he is double teamed, either by a tight end and tackle or by the tackle and guard. This is fantastic since it allows more flexibility along the rest of the line. It allows Elvis Dumervil to remain lined up against only one lineman and makes it easier for the defensive tackles to create pressure up the middle. Now I won't comment on how Jack Del Rio is making use of these opportunities since this is the GOOD section, so I'll move on.
For years to come it appears that Miller is be a play maker for this defense, the bigger impact may be what opportunities he creates for the rest of this defense in the future, because it looks like it he will be helping out his teammates for a long time to come.
Veterans Stepping up
This is a very young team on a lot of positions, but some key veterans stepped up big this past game, most of which are new additions. The first one I want to talk about is Justin Bannan. Now I was a pretty big supporter of Bunk and when he wasn't brought back I thought our defensive line would massively struggle against the run. We brought in Bannan and I didn't feel good about it at all, but I'll be the first to admit I was wrong. Bannan has played incredibly at the nose tackle position in this 4-3 defense, shutting down the run, but this past game he had an even bigger impact with a pass deflected at the line and two quarterback pressures. Bannan has done very well, even with the loss of Ty Warren
Next is Mike Adams, while not a sexy signing, considering the struggles of most of the secondary, Adams has stepped up. So far he has zero missed tackles, has only allowed one touchdown, only allows three yards after the catch on average and has seven quarterback hurries, most among the defensive backs, actually it's the 3rd most on the team behind Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. Overall Adams has been able to do it all and, outside of Champ Bailey, has been the most consistent defensive back on the team.
And while I don't need to talk about Wesley Woodyard since he's hardly been overlooked, I do want to mention he had such a key turnover that he deserves a spot here.