Do you all remember last year right before we played the 9-0 Kansas City Chiefs and they were thumping their chests and talking big with us? I do. I remember plainly stating to them that they had a candy-cane schedule built on playing backup quarterbacks in their first week starting for something like six of their nine games. We beat KC both games last year without much ado as it should be. We were a juggernaut and they weren't. We won games we should win.
Well fast forward to today. What does it mean when we get a shot at a true candy-cane game where a team is switching quarterbacks and we completely face plant? I'm a kind of optimist, but I don't think the outlook is good.
Before you all start harping about knee-jerk reactions, please feel free to search for "No Bull Review" and read up on what I've said so far this season. You'll find connecting dots along the way. I'm going to light a fire in this review, but it has been something I've seen coming and it is well deserved.
I'm going to shake up my normal format to get the big 800 pound gorilla out of the way. Let's talk coaching for a moment, shall we?
I said when we hired John Fox that he was just what our franchise needed, but that he's not the kind of guy that is going to take us to a championship. In ways, he's pleasantly surprised me (the adjustments during the Tebow season and his new found fondness for going for it on 4th down). But he still is the same coach to me. Here's some things I took away from this game:
- He still doesn't understand end of half clock management
- He allowed his team's game plan to begin and end with passing at an awful ratio (54 passes / 9 runs)
- He didn't adjust at halftime to take advantage of what St. Louis was doing (what happened to this skill by the way? He used to be very good at this)
- He didn't get his kicker out there to attempt long field goals in a game where it would have made a difference.
- He did not step in to change anything about how the defense was being called
- He stood up at the end of the game and pointed the finger at the players with his typical talk about "execution".
- Our team had guys knocked out of plays because of a team playing dirty and he was content to keep his team playing patty-cake
I'm going to start off with Gase by saying I don't know jack or squat about how much he has to do with our actual offense. From what my eyes tell me, there's not much there, though. I think it is pretty likely he's just letting Manning steer the ship and he's going along with Manning's expertise. Granted, I'm just a guy and this is just an opinion, so I could be completely wrong, but here's what I saw from our offensive coaching:
- We game planned to pass and never changed our approach even when it wasn't working
- We did not make the running game a focus in any way, shape, or form even after having a spectacular showing from C.J. Anderson last week
- Manning was constantly throwing into coverage and not once did I see Gase jumping his case on the sideline after a pick
- Our offensive line was completely outmatched (which was predictable...St. Louis has one of the best front four in the NFL) and we did not adjust to give our guys help. Even late in the game with 4th downs we went with an empty backfield and sent our TE out in the pattern. Our Offensive Coordinator has a line in complete shambles and he did nothing to adjust in game
- He has a WR that looks to me to be about as useful as a protocol droid in a Star Wars movie and we have him on the field taking snaps and screwing up all over the place instead of our 2nd round pick who looked pretty darn good in the preseason
Jack Del Rio
We were ran on.
We were passed on.
We had a backup journeyman quarterback playing who was getting max protection consistently, yet we rarely called any blitz packages to shake him up.
Everything I've liked about JDR over the past few years was missing in this game. He's constantly rushing four only, playing zone mixes with man corners, and has a defense that appears clueless as to where the first down marker is on a third down play.
It Begins At Quarterback
Peyton Manning was Kyle Orton. I said this in my low-lights, and it bears repeating. He got us lots of yards. He made critical turnovers. He looked completely inept in the face of a pass rush. He failed to get us more than 7 points on the board.
There is no bright side for Manning on this game. You can chirp about those 300+ yards he passed for and I'll tell you to pound sand. They are meaningless without points.
If he was the one making us pass so many times, then he needs to have his tail sat down and straightened out. I don't care about his storied history. I don't care about him being the most cerebral QB the NFL has ever seen. He was a BIG problem this game, and he needs to be held accountable for it by the coaches in front of the players.
Also, as I've seen for weeks, he's still got a propensity to overthrow guys on intermediate and long routes as well as he's locking onto his matchup way too much and throwing regardless of coverage a la Jay Cutler (yeah, I just went there).
Next Up, The O-Line
Let's start off with the good part: Orlando Franklin played well. Yeah...beleedat. So whatever needs done on the line, it isn't Franklin in my opinion who's junking up the system. He's had one bad game this year and that's far better than anyone else on the line can say (including Ryan Clady).
Ryan Clady got pushed around. Will Montgomery looked mediocre. Manny Ramirez played like crap. Louis Vasquez played like crap.
Granted, that defensive line is the kind of line that will make teams look bad, but the problem here is that this wasn't an outlier game. We've seen this line have problems constantly this year and whatever solution is out there now isn't working.
I thought C.J. Anderson looked pretty darn good both running and catching passes out of the backfield. Maybe we could have used this more instead of passing to our back-up tight end, but what do I know? I'm just an fan right?
It is a crying shame that our one most physical receiver with the most aggressive attitude got taken out by our opposition (big shout out to Emmanuel Sanders...get well soon man!). Because the rest of our WR corps looked like a bunch of little girls in skirts out there. I hated that our guy got taken out and our team just took the slap across the face and walked away. This is football ladies. If your guy gets taken out like that, Bronco Up and start laying the wood back on the other team. St. Louis was getting away with murder going after our defenseless receivers and just like last year in the Superbowl, we just stood there and took it. Our guys were getting held on routes constantly and we were not capable of pushing them back and getting separation.
Demaryius Thomas had a decent game, but I'd just like to say in a game like this Dez, Green, or Megatron would have taken over and imposed their will. I love how soft spoken and humble DT is, but sometimes, you need to stand up and tell Manning to throw you the damn ball.
Wes Welker looked like he was getting after it, but unfortunately it didn't seem like we were looking his way much. I know we want to keep him safe and I am happy for that, but if he wants to play football then he should be thrown the ball. We pay him far too much money for us to only target him a handful of times.
Andre Caldwell has been in the league long enough that we've seen his ceiling. It isn't high. Whoever is making the call to keep him on the active roster ahead of Cody Latimer is, though.
I would have thought losing Julius Thomas wouldn't be that big of a deal with a quality receiving TE like Jacob Tamme backing him up. The problem is that Jacob Tamme isn't getting separation like he did the past couple of years. Remember last year when he filled in at the slot for Wes Welker? I do...Tamme looks nothing like that now. We need to stop forcing the ball his way because he clearly isn't cutting it. We'd be better of having Paul Cornick being our starting TE and keeping him in to block than force the ball to Tamme constantly (I think we threw his way almost a dozen times with very little to show for it).
It is worth mentioning again that C.J. Anderson was a great weapon in the receiving game. So was Ronnie Hillman before he got injured. Maybe we should use this advantage in our scheme a bit more?
In The Trenches
I really liked some of what I saw from our D-Line. We were somewhat successful in the pass rush department in disrupting things here and there. I would have loved to see what happens if we blitz more since their offense were keeping in 6-7 guys constantly to protect their QB. Even with superstar rush ends, you aren't going to get home against that kind of pressure.
Von Miller was constantly double-teamed and rightfully so. He was playing hard, but wasn't able to win the battles at any consistent level.
Demarcus Ware was much more productive and disruptive from what I saw. It was unfortunate he didn't swipe away the ball when he got a free hit on the QB instead of just jumping down on him.
Malik Jackson was playing superb ball. I wish it would have happened in a more competitive game. He was the best defender on the line and I'd make an argument he was the #2 defender behind Chris Harris, Jr.
For the first time this year, I saw Marvin Austin flash on a couple of plays. I'm glad to see him in there getting a shot and making the most of it.
The one thing I didn't like about our linebackers was our lack of ability to really close down the run lanes. We did a mediocre job...there were ups and downs, but when a team rushes for 100 on you, your linebackers didn't have a good day.
Brandon Marshall was a machine though. He was all over the place making plays. It really reminds me of Danny Trevathan honestly. I think we'll have a great pair of LBs once Danny gets healthy.
That being said, Steven Johnson didn't completely suck. Much like Nate Irving, I didn't notice him much in this game, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Chris Harris, Jr. continues to be the best cornerback in the NFL and the gap is getting bigger each week. I'm sorry Revis, Talib, Sherman, and all you other quote-unquote studs...you are all in the backseat. I sure like being able to see something good in a game that was so poorly played. It is a weak little moral victory, but I'll take it.
Aqib Talib is getting paid to play like the guy right above this line and his play is probably worth about half that. Bronco up, Aqib. You are getting beat consistently and you look like an average cornerback. A backup scrub journeyman quarterback lit you up like a cigarette and smoked you all game long.
Rahim Moore continues to disappoint in the play-making department. Why did we draft you again?
T.J. Ward didn't even get a big hit in that I can recall. Usually that's the typical silver lining in his game. At least we didn't have a tight end light us up for 100 yards and two tds on Ward this game.
We don't believe in our kicker, so in my books that is a weak link in the team. Sure, I'd love to say with a Manning offense we don't need a kicker, but I've seen enough teams figure our offense out to know better today.
Britton Colquitt, you finally get a chance to shine and you laid a deuce on the field. Didn't we sign you to some huge money recently? Yeah...don't expect to be back on the team next year.
Isaiah Burse was very solid at fielding punts and not allowing turnovers to happen. I sure wish our team could cover a gunner though so he'd have a chance to return one.
Why again is Caldwell returning kickoffs? How much fail does a team need to see before they pull the plug? I know it took awhile for us to be done with Trindon Holliday last year, but I feel like it wasn't quite this long.