I will say that by the time the game was over, I felt like everything was right in the world. For those of you who haven't known me long, I've always held to this truth: even if our team goes 2-14, if our 2 wins are against Oakland, then it was a good season. Some people yearn for a fierce rivalry with real competition. Forget that junk. I always relish in the games like this where we make you look like a Division II college team and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Never change Oakland.
NFL Power Rankings: Week 11
It was a weekend of blowouts with seven teams winning by three scores or more. It was all the top tier teams obliterating the bottom tier teams, though. Very few changes this week at the top and at the bottom because of that.
Let's Get Honest
I'm sure a lot of us would like to brush the first half of this game under the table and move on to the cool part where we beat the pants off of jokeland like they stole something, but I put clearly in my notes toward the end of the first half this phrase: "Worst game I've ever seen Peyton Manning play". That was real people. Sure he got it solved, but that was some stanky junk Peyton put on the field in the first half.
I've heard rumblings and musings that the team was testing out some stuff. Okay...I can buy that. I'd even advocate for it against a joke of a team like the faders. But crappy footwork from a QB who doesn't have the biggest arm to begin with leads to really really awful throws.
Manning overthrowing Emmanuel Sanders for an easy pick was pretty terrible. It wasn't even close to being low enough that Sanders could even try to protect it, let alone catch.
That being said, you can't really put the second INT that much on Manning. Hats off to Justin Tuck. That was an amazing play on his part.
Manning also missed a wide open touchdown which was illustrated by the announcers pretty clearly. He threw the ball without planting first and ended up reminding me of the days of yore when #15 was throwing the rock for us.
There's plenty of positives to take away here though. Once we got that first big TD, Manning was absolutely on fire. He was crisp, accurate, and unstoppable. He threw it everywhere accurately and straight-up drove a truck right into, over, and through the Oakland "defense".
Catching the Rock
Our route runners looked very crisp in this game as long as their name wasn't Andre Caldwell. Seriously though, how many more times do we need to see him drop the ball? I'm as irritated with Cody Latimer for not practicing well enough to take Caldwell's spot as I am with the coaches for not making the switch.
I can't say enough how blessed our team is to have gotten Emmanuel Sanders. This kid absolutely adds another dynamic to our offense. His speed and agility put a ton of pressure on opposing safeties. His being on the field helped even when he wasn't catching the ball.
Also, did you guys notice Demaryius Thomas had a 100 yard day? I didn't until I looked at the stats today. Since he never got thrown the TDs, it was very easy to not notice his contributions to the team. He was moving the chains almost at will when Manning was throwing to him.
Even though it is even more easy to take for granted Wes Welker, he has a similar effect. One of these games I think Welker is going to have a breakout game because teams are going to put some chump corner on him and we are going to wear it out like Milli Vanilli.
The Running Back Merry-Go-Round
C.J. Anderson was all kinds of awesome running the ball. It could have been a fluke for sure, but that was the first game this year where it looked like we had a stud at running back. C.J. was tearing it up. He was juking guys out of position, plowing guys over, and showing some very decent jets. It is a bummer to see Ronnie Hillman go down with an injury, but I'm thinking next week you'll see another helping of our boy C.J. and if he can keep playing like this, he'll probably get the start ahead of Hillman.
Big Kudos to Ronnie by the way for getting some treatment and doing his best to help the team. out. After his sprain, he looked completely different, but I applaud a guy playing through it and laying it all out there on the field. Ice up, son and get ready. We need you healthy!
The Linemen Shuffle
Man is our offensive line a mess. Honestly it is. We are nine weeks into the season and do you know who our best offensive lineman was in that game to my eyes? The backup center. Will Montgomery balled the best of all the linemen up front.
I can't believe I'm even saying that when we have the likes of Ryan Clady at Left Tackle. Here's what my eyes tell me about Ryan: He's playing at about 80% effort. Yup, I'm going there. The dude has his nice big fat payday, gets injured, and now he's coasting a bit. Sorry Ryan, but if you don't like hearing this kind of criticism, Bronco up and get back to pancaking fools every game. You look like a shadow of your former self.
Moving down the line, let's talk about Orlando Franklin. Up until this game, I saw a guy who was week by week getting it together. I don't know what the deal was at Oakland, but Franklin was WAY off his game. He constantly was using poor leverage (reaching from high up instead of stepping into the defender to engage using his core strength).
Manny Ramirez looked like the Manny Ramirez of yesteryear at right guard. He looked like a back-up just the same as he looked at center so far this year. I'm hoping we get the Manny from last year at some point cause that dude was awesome.
Louis Vasquez did an okay job at RT, but it was just OK. He looked better to me than Paul Cornick, but worse than Chris Clark in pass protection. I'm still a fan of Vasquez at RG.
It isn't a good sign to see this level of shuffling so late into the season. It isn't because of injuries, but poor play. Part of me thinks you need to put Franklin back out at RT and take your lumps with the others inside, but I honestly don't know if he'd add much more than Clark or Cornick. All three of them have trouble with the footwork piece which leads them to being susceptible to speed rushers.
A Caveat to Start
Before we go too far patting the backs of our defense, let's get some perspective here.
A) this was the Oakland Raiders
2) that was a rookie QB
iii) the opposing RBs are all mostly washed up
So yeah, this was good stuff on defense, but it may not mean much in the grand scheme of things.
The Front Seven
Color me blown away with our linebacker play this year. Let's give some major credit to the coaches for developing Brandon Marshall and Steven Johnson. Remember the off season when Rodney was clamoring for a cover LB? He was here all the time. When Danny Trevathan gets healthy, you are most likely going to see a lot of him and Brandon Marshall in our nickel packages.
I think overall, our line played a very strong, disciplined game. We didn't get duped by misdirection. We wadded up Oakland's run game and threw it in the garbage. We also were swarming all over Carr when he wasn't doing his best impression of Captain Checkdown. The stat sheet may not show any sacks, but the pressure was clearly there all day long from what I saw.
Von Miller is seriously playing out of his mind. He got robbed of a sack and had some supreme athletic displays to stop run plays that no mere mortal should have been able to get to.
It also bears mentioning that this was yet another game where Malik Jackson was a breath away from a sack to break up a play on multiple occasions. He's all kinds of disruptive up front.
Secondary Builds Confidence
Bradley Roby easily had his best game as a Bronco against the Raiders. It is pretty hard to get a good look at coverage technique watching from the TV angles, so you only really see good looks when a player is thrown at. The thing about Roby I saw this time in the handful of good looks I got of him was that he wasn't out of position playing catch-up. He was right where he needed to be breaking on the plays to good effect. His discipline paid off well with an INT on a play where the Carr had no business throwing Roby's direction.
Chris Harris, Jr. had another phenomenal game in which he was thrown on a mediocre amount of times for little to no gain. He was flying in on tackles too in run support. This kid is the total package at CB, size be damned. If he keeps playing like this, there is no way he won't be voted All-Pro.
Another stand-out from this game was T.J. Ward. He got a very nice coverage INT and was showing up all over the field on tackles just like a good safety should.
Special Teams / Coaching
Report: Incognito is meeting with Broncos
Jeff Darlington is reporting that Richie Incognito is meeting with the Broncos. Other sources are saying the Guard has already worked out for the team and that talks are ongoing.
- Do you think we could coach our team on what a "Block in the Back" is on a return and then coach them on how not to do it? It is getting silly at how common our return units get flagged for this.
- What a nice confidence builder for Brandon McManus! Coach Fox gave him not one, but two chip-shot field goal attempts to help lift his stat sheet up a bit.
- I have to say that I was pretty relieved to see John Fox let Manning go for it on 4th and 1. It was an easy TD. That is not one, but two weeks where Fox has been aggressive on 4th down.
- I thought this game plan was much more creative and unpredictable than what we've seen in the past few weeks. We sprinkled in some end-arounds and some more screens with mixed success. The thing about that is that if you keep using it, then teams have to respect it and can bite on play fakes.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts on what the story was with the first half. Were we trying out anything in particular or did we just have a ton of poor execution? What was the problem with Peyton's accuracy? Hit up the comments below and let us know what you saw and where you think the team is going with the O-Line.