Before jumping right in to Week 10's road game in Missouri, we cannot deprive last week's Ultimate Fan OrangeandBluesBros from basking in the glory of a big win over the Raiders - as predicted, of course.
Are we still talking about the Raiders?Manning has been playing like a rookie for several games, not seeing open receivers, focusing too much on particular receivers he wanted to be open, and just plain missing receivers often throwing too short.
But I figured the Raiders pass defense was just the ticket to get in a groove. I was a little off, but only because Manning was a little off early on. Change those two stupid interceptions deep in Broncos territory into drives that cancel out the Raiders two early scores and change the Broncos failure to score a TD twice in the red zone into TDs early in the game and the result (49 points or more) is a lot closer to my prediction of 52-0. :)
The other Raiders score was in garbage time and I don't know why Miami can shut out the Chargers but the Broncos can't shut out the Raiders. Otherwise, we get the blowout/shutout I predicted and so wanted. Still, the defense did a great job.
C.J. Anderson busting loose for a big TD was nice to see. I've been waiting for him or Juwan to do something special. The RB competition the rest of the season will be exciting. And when Manning threw to the end zone, I thought he had overthrown Sanders, sort of overcompensating for some too short throws on other occasions in other games. But Sanders is so fast, he managed to get there and make the catch.
DT, JT, Sanders, Welker, and Latimer down the stretch are going to be fascinating to watch. Burse actually making some run backs was nice to see too. If Manning had played the 4th quarter, his stats may have been closer to my prediction. Oh well, I'm still ecstatic with the results. Thanks, Broncos!
Yes, thank you. A thousand times thank you for obliterating the Raiders.
And now it's time to talk St. Louis Rams with PearlJamBroncoGaryFunk, a lifelong Broncos fan who quite possibly owns the longest SBNation code name ever but also made the coolest Broncos flag for his fence. I'd like one of those for Christmas, please!
And while this Kansas-living, Pearl Jam-loving, cold weather-hoping diehard Broncos fan no longer believes the team's' play is dependent on his own focus during the game, G-Funk takes no chances and still probably sports the most Broncos gear of any fan short of The Barrel Man (who probably doesn't count since he really only wore a barrel!).
So let's get this orange and blue jam fest going, shall we?
Denver v. St. Louis
MHR - What are your takeaways from the Raiders game that ended up a blowout?
G-Funk: First, I started to think that this was an atrociously horrible team and we took far too long to "get into our groove."
However, there really is no such thing as a cupcake team or an "easy win" in the NFL, especially when it comes to division rivals. We came and we conquered. I don't like to make excuses for us losing or winning. Though, I will never forget the worst officiated game I've ever seen - our 2012 playoff exit. (No) Thanks to Bill Vinovich and his crew, I can wholeheartedly say that was a game we would and should have won, if it weren't for the officiating.
I think another big thing I got from this game, it reaffirmed my faith in our run D (not that Oakland has been a bunch of world-beaters in the rushing department, but still). I still don't like a lot of Del Rio's schemes, as it seems we employ a bit too much off-coverage on the back end, and I'd like to see far more blitzes, but those are always a gamble in some fashion.
After that first-quarter performance, I was ecstatic about the rest - just because of that first quarter. It also helped that my girlfriend said she doesn't like games "like that." I let her know those are some of the most fun to watch - when your team is just absolutely dominating the other team. Especially when that team is a division rival. Especially when it is the Raiders. Here's to another six consecutive wins against 'em!
MHR - If you are Adam Gase, how do you help your offense figure out how to get in rhythm at the beginning of the game, rather than midway through or late in the game?
G-Funk: That has to be tough. The best idea I can come up with is in practice - if they are doing a two-minute drill (what drill doesn't really matter, as long as it is offense-based) and arbitrarily stop the team at random intervals, make them go sit down for 10, 20 minutes, then get back and "start over," or even start with a completely different set of plays/drills/schemes.
If the offense were in the middle of drills and then pulled away and made to "get cold," then thrown back into the fire, as it were... that may encourage an instantaneous ability to "warm up"?? Best I could come up with.
Point is, I guess, to kind of surprise them into being ready, so they get used to starting from scratch, as it were. I'm sure that's been thought of and perhaps even tried in some way, because I can't be a pioneer of such an idea. If I am, I'm getting paid way less than I should be.
The @Broncos rank 1st in both yards/play on offense (6.21) and yards/play allowed on defense (4.66).
— NFLN_Playbook (@NFLN_Playbook) November 12, 2014
MHR - By record, the St. Louis Rams don't look very good - Last in the NFC West at 3-6, 28th in league for total points scored (163) and 27th in league for points allowed (251). Yet they've beaten the Seahawks and the 49ers and had chance against the Cardinals until well, they didn't. What do you make of this Rams team?
G-Funk: Well, their rushing game has been pretty inconsistent. Their passing game has been dwindling and getting more questionable week by week. The only thing they have going for them is the D (and "going" is kind of an understatement at that). Their special teams aren't anything to write home about. This is all relative to how awesome we are, mind you.
As mentioned earlier, there is not an easy win in the NFL. This team is capable of beating us. I don't like the idea of playing this defense, but it will be a superb test and showing of just how much faith our O-Line should have from the fans/rest of the team.
At this point, I am far from comfortable with what the organization has done to protect Manning. The shuffling of the O-Line in weeks 9 and 10 of the regular season, and not due to injury, is a huge red flag.
However, with what I feel our defense is, and can be, I am not worried at all about the Rams' offense. If there were a game this regular season where we were going to hold the other team scoreless, I'd bet on this one (it sure looked like we could have shut the 49ers out, but I digress).
MHR - This is the last road game of our three-game stretch of away games before one game back at Mile High. How is this kind of road schedule useful for preparing for playoffs and a Super Bowl? What should the Broncos be practicing more of to make these useful for those games in January?
G-Funk: As we saw in February - crowd noise. We should always expect it. Even at home (some "fans," I swear - that should be one of the easiest things to understand about football, is what home field advantage means - shut up when Your O is on the field people!) I'm always surprised by this.
I think it would also be beneficial to practice/do more trick plays as well. Ask the Rams. They had an awesome fake punt on a fourth down that was the primary catalyst for them being able to pull through and defeat Seattle (their punter now has an excellent QB rating, by the way). Granted, I have a strong feeling that we'll end up with the No. 1 seed, so likely won't have to worry about crowd noise in the playoffs, but it is something we obviously need to be better prepared for. I will try to refrain from mentioning last February any more in my answers. Dang it.
MHR - According to PFF grades, there are a few Rams players who could cause some issues for the Broncos:
- On offense, Jared Cook has been a productive tight end, and the Broncos have been known to let TEs get away with some big plays.
- On defense, two rookies for the Rams have been proving their worth - defensive lineman Aaron Donald(+20.5 overall, +7.5 on pass rush) and cornerback E.J. Gaines (+6.6)
What do the Broncos need to do to make sure these guys aren't playmakers on Sunday?
G-Funk: Well thanks for stealing my thunder. I totally looked up these exact stats and was going to use them in one of my answers to help show my elaborate research skill and immaculate football acumen, but.... ah, I'm kidding.
I have looked at a lot of numbers and stats, these included, and...
- I have more confidence in us not letting Cook, or Lance Kendricks for that matter, get away with any big hauls. Brandon Marshall has been showing better coverage skills (especially last week - Awesome!). As long as we don't see Von Miller lined up to cover either of them, I think we'll hold them to under 30 yards/3 catches combined and no TDs.
- These two along with Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, William Hayes, James Laurinaitis ... the Rams have a front that can get things done. With Our O-Line so questionable, I have absolutely zero answers here, besides keeping a RB/TE in/near the backfield for emergency chips. LoLoti (*ed's note: I had to look that one up!)
G-Funk: I'd love to see Ben Garland really step up, and the O-Line be in a logical order (say, perhaps Orlando Franklin back at RT, Louis Vasquez back to guard... y'know where we've all seen these guys do most of their best work, and to me, where they belong). But I have a hard time believing the coaches aren't shuffling for good reason.
I'm still mixed on Manny Ramirez or Will Montgomery at center, but it seems Montgomery may be better suited/more capable.
Bottom Line: I don't like the reshuffle at all at this point in the season (or any point after Week 1 for that matter). If it's not injury related, I can't help but wonder what the coaches were/weren't paying attention to in all of Training Camp/preseason/thus far in the season. Yikes. Gotta think positive though because thinking negatively about our Broncos doesn't do anyone any good. Especially me!
MHR - There was some potential that Richie Incognito would have been one of the Broncos by Sunday. It didn't happen this week, but the door still seems to be open. What do you think of that prospect - good or bad for the team?
G-Funk: You know, I cannot be one to pretend to know all the answers, and it seems many are willing to act like they do on subjects like this. If he helps the team, great.
But what if he brings bad mojo into the locker room? Personally, I don't think "the locker room" would allow it, let alone our staff. But I'd rather not have him. I would like to think we have the necessary talent already on the roster, plus I never paid attention to his play. Regardless...
Overall, it is BAD for the team because there is zero reason we should even have to be looking for O-Line help at this point in the season when it's not because of an injury. Bad, bad, bad.
MHR - The Broncos running game was a big concern among MHR members before and at the start of the season. After Montee Ball came out with an injury Ronnie Hillman, C.J. Anderson and Juwan Thompson have all stepped in and had big games. Now that Hillman is out with an injury, and Anderson had a huge game last week, what are your thoughts on the running game (and even the prospect of Kapri Bibbs)?
G-Funk: I've been cautiously optimistic about our running game since before the season started (for those who even kind of know me, me being anything less than full-blown optimistic is rare, ha ha!). I felt that those who make such decisions, were willing to let Moreno go, so we must have had more than one someone we were comfortable with.
I've loved Juwan every time I've seen him carry the rock. Anderson was not quite as flashy but just as reliable, and after last week, he'll either seem less awesome because he doesn't break out again, or he's just starting to show us what to expect.
Bibbs... I'm pretty durn biased when it comes to any "homers." I've not really seen enough from him on an NFL field to have confidence, or lack thereof. But he reminds me of Jeremiah Johnson in that I sense he may never really get a chance with the Broncos. Wouldn't mind being wrong on that at all though!
G-Funk: I agree with many that Latimer should be getting any playing time at the WR position over Caldwell. There is much speculation as to why he hasn't yet, and I will refrain from adding my useless conjecture to that. I just know that it's a good thing we don't really need him at this juncture. Good to have him waiting in the wings just in case.
It seems like they never really let Brock play. But I don't know what play calls they've allowed him either. I expect greater than he has shown, given who his mentors have been for his entire NFL career (Manning and Elway? Come on! No fair to any other QB, like.... ever). Also with the possibility that he may not even sign a second contract here, it makes me rather antsy to see stuff/more from him.
Love Ben. So glad he got the chance to get out on the field and hope to see more from him. It may have just been a courtesy because of Veteran's Day, but I'd like to think he earned that playing time and that we'll see more of him (and see him improve)! I liked what I saw from him in Training Camp his rookie year as a D-Lineman but haven't seen nearly enough of him to judge how well he can do on the O-Line.
MHR - The Broncos are the No. 1 rushing defense in the NFL; have two of the NFL's season sack leaders on the team in Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware; and have Brandon Marshall, one of two linebackers in the league with 70+ tackles so far. What do you anticipate when the Broncos D lines up against a very suspect Rams offense?
G-Funk: Wouldn't it be sweet to have a Bronco break the single-game sack record? I expect nothing less than that. Ha!
OK, seriously... I expect domination here. There is no excuse if we don't just absolutely throttle this offense. Greg Robinson and Wells (not as much) and are their only linemen I've ever taken notice of due to excellent/above average play. I seriously would not be surprised if we shut this offense down completely. And I would duly appreciate not giving up any garbage time points this time, thank you very much!
MHR - What do you think the Broncos goals out of this game should be (other than a W, of course!)?
- O-Line to gel. J-E-L-L-O (line)
- LB/D backfield getting tighter and tighter.
- Execution. This is where I feel we could benefit from basically practicing our execution on standard/vanilla-type plays, and even throw in some trick plays.
- Penalties. This should be a huge game to have a big focus on no penalties.
- I really still wonder if we were trying "new" stuff in the first quarter of the Oakland game and that was the reason for the slow start. If so, this would be another game where we could probably get away with devoting a quarter of the game to "practice."
- And as with every game: No injuries!!!
Full stat line for Peyton Manning? 30/38, 349 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT
Number of yards total by the Broncos running backs? 233
Which wide receiver will have the most yards? DT!!!
Number of sacks on whichever QB is in there (Shaun Hill)? I'll say 8! #Confidence
Number of sacks on Manning? 2
DT/DE/DB (from Broncos) with the most tackles? I was going to say Talib, but I'm going to go out on a limb (somewhat) and say Roby. Back-to-back eye-drawing games from the rook!
Broncos player with the most INTs? Rahim Moore wakes from a dream and gets 2.
Number of penalties on the Broncos? One (Come on now, we can't go a game without a block in the back on a kickoff/punt).
Final Score? Broncos 38, Rams 0 (Going for it - Bold, I am feeling!)
Favorite team to watch the Broncos play?
Has to be the Chiefs. Especially lately with all the winning ;)
Before I moved out to Wichita, Kansas, and got surrounded by Chiefs fans, I always thought our best years (most fun to watch), were when the division was between Broncos and the Chiefs. They've always been a respectful rival on the field (for the most part - and of course, relative to say, Oakland), their "fans" are quite the different story, but that's beside the point.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster?
Demaryius Thomas. Humble, modest, seems to have awesome ethics and morals... as far as I know, the definition of a class act. Especially awesome for being this way at such a young age! Not to mention, all that to go along with wicked-awesome skill and measureables!!! OpThomasPrime indeed.
Favorite Broncos player of all time?
- Floyd Little. For so strongly contributing to keeping the team in Denver when he easily could have gone elsewhere for a bigger paycheck.
- Rod Smith = close second. For accomplishing so much (undrafted) with so many odds stacked against him. Not to mention, doing it with class, grace and dignity.
Favorite thing to eat during a game?
I never paid attention really. Having a Fat Tire or a few throughout the course of the game can easily be far more important than food. Let's just say, brisket. Hard to beat a good brisket. I can't think of one time I've turned down some brisket.
Favorite Game-Day ritual?
I used to be superstitious, and struggled with the "aw, it was because I tucked my jersey in when I went to the bathroom", or "it was because I didn't tuck my jersey in"... or any variation of silliness like that.
Now I just like to have on some Broncos socks, Broncos shoes, Broncos boxers, Broncos shirt/sweater, Broncos hat, and have Broncos lighters to light my smoke, and Broncos coasters to set my drinks on... The only thing I've never had is Broncos jeans/pants. Pajama bottoms don't count.
Though that brings to mind the fact, that I've never fully been decked out on game-day, due to not having Broncos pants, and me taking off my pajama bottoms after I wake up. Maybe I'll have to do that for the next game that I can watch at home. Get all my normal Broncos gear on, then wear some Broncos PJ pants, so I'll finally be fully decked out. Either that, or splurge on some ridiculously priced jeans on nflshop.com, I guess.
What is your favorite Game-Day attire?
Oh. Yeah, kinda covered that in the last one. D'oh! Rinse, repeat.
I didn't mention that my prescription glasses are orange and blue Ray-Bans, but I wear those literally all day, every day, so that is why I hadn't thought about them. But those are included in my game day attire, of course.
Most embarrassing-to-admit superstitious behavior regarding Broncos on Game Day?
I guess I find it akin to driving over railroad tracks and lifting your feet off the floor, touching a screw and saying "peanut butter," but I used to have some dumb stuff I worried about of this nature.
I think the silliest would have had to have been ESP-like. I used to seriously think that if I wasn't focused.... for lack of better phrasing... properly, during a given play, that could be part of why things didn't work out, or the reason they did if I was focused.
Best Broncos game ever played?
Who hasn't answered SB XXXII for this one? I guess I could see the argument for SB XXXIII, seeing as we totally dominated the opposition in that one...but nah.
Oh yeah, I always forget that there are new fans who haven't "been there."
For anyone who became a fan after we drafted Cutler, I guess I'd go with "The Retribution: Part I" (that's what I am now calling that game where we handled the Ravens for the 2013 season opener.) Either that or the Tebow playoff win against the Steelers, just for how edge-of-your seat (reminiscent of the Elway days), and exciting that game ended up being.
Who makes your "Hall of Fame" Broncos team?
Wow. Awesome question!
QB = Elway (+ Manning can be his backup)
RB = Terrell Davis and Floyd Little (Mike Anderson can be second/third string since these two are tied for 1st)
FB = Howard Griffith (just because ;p)
WR = I'd love to see the trio of Eddie Mac, Rod Smith and DT all in their prime. Wow.
TE = Shannon Sharpe (even though I liked him a lot less after signing with the ratbirds, what can ya do - he earned it)
OL = I'd say the entire O-Line from '97 - but throw in Clady for Tony Jones maybe?
DT = Trevor Pryce, Rubin Carter
DE = Alfred Williams, Rich Jackson
LB = Randy Gradishar, Karl Mecklenberg,Tom Jackson, John Mobley and Al Wilson (yes, this is a deep group. But only because I couldn't exclude any of these guys. Ha ha!)
CB = Champ Bailey, Louis Wright
SS = Dennis Smith
FS = Steve Atwater (sorry Goose, it was a tough call!)
P = Tom Rouen or Mike Horan? Tom. Or that Fraser guy I've heard and read about, but didn't he only play three seasons for us? I'll stick with Tom.
K = Jason Elam
HC = Mike Shanahan (in his prime of course)
OC = Gary Kubiak
DC = Greg Robinson (still my favorite D coordinator thus far. I'd like if Del Rio gave me reason to de-throne Robinson though ;) )
Oh and can't forget:
Mascot = Thunder, because Thunder II seems kind of arrogant at times. Ha ha! No way have I ever known a horse that I could consider "arrogant." Stubborn, or just an outright jerk maybe, but they don't have that attitude in their genetics. Horses are awesome.