I'm not going to lie, ladies and gentlemen. I was bent by the end of the first quarter. Miami is a legitimately talented team and their offense was outclassing our defense early. Add to that a sprinkle of injuries, mix in a bunch of almost turnovers that never quite bounce our way, and stir in some wide open long TDs that are overthrown and you have an edge-of-your-seat game that feels like a big win.
Let's start this party off with our self-proclaimed victims (hey...blame Manny Ramirez and toss him a tube of Prep-H while you are at it). So you never get any credit? I find that hard to believe given how long I've been doing reviews and I make sure to comment on the line play on both sides, but I'll chalk this up to you not getting your news from Mile High Report.
What am I going to say that didn't work? The pass protection was phenomenal. The running game tore it up. You have to give credit where it is due right? The line overall looked pretty good to me. Louis Vasquez looked pretty darn good at right tackle. That was the best performance from a RT I remember seeing this year. Orlando Franklin also looked very good and we actually saw him execute a flawless pull on the TD run as nimbly as I've ever seen him move.
Here's the No Bull caution I'll give you though: keep in mind we had Virgil Green and and Paul Cornick seeing an awful lot of snaps this game. I'm all about keeping more of our 12 look though. We were able to succeed in every area while looking the most balanced that I've seen our team in ages.
Running the Ball
I gave C.J. Anderson my game ball and I'm going to expound on that a bit here. I'm an eye-test guy. I know what a good throw looks like. I know what a good juke looks like. I know sucky route running when I see it. Anderson's performance yesterday was the best I can recall seeing from a running back donning the orange and blue since Clinton Portis.
I'm not saying that was numbers-wise the best game...it wouldn't surprise me to see Knowshon Moreno have better numbers against the Chiefs for instance, but as far as running talent goes, C.J. has "IT". He does all of the little things right: falling forward, great vision, great awareness, ability to shift horizontally, soft hands, and good communication. Montee Ball can kiss his starting job good-bye. C.J Anderson in space is Dangerous.
I applaud the offense deciding to make a statement this week with the running game. What stood out this game was our consistency. We had some 1st downs get stuffed for 0 - 2 yards, but then on 2nd down we'd get 5 -7 yards. A lot of what I've seen in our other games this year has been where we only break decent runs 1 out of 3 or so or when we just don't run the ball at all. What this team needs is more of this same type of aggression for our run game as the season finishes out. Our line needs to really get a taste for blood and get themselves immersed in the trench warfare.
Throwing the Ball
Peyton Manning went 28 of 35 for 257 yards and 4 touchdowns (no INTs). I'm going make a couple of simple statements for Broncos Country to chew on in the comments:
- Peyton left probably 2 TDs on the field with a handful of overthrows. His long-ball accuracy was way off this game and it made my soul weep for Emmanuel Sanders who was consistently beating his guy.
- This is close to what a perfect style game for our team looks like from the quarterback position. The run works, so our yards don't all come through the air, which makes the passing game more potent and unpredictable.
So you guys talk it out here: why the overthrows? Why with THIS personnel would that look like a perfect stat line?
Catching the Ball
Demaryius Thomas showed in this game why he needs to stay a Bronco for life and we can let JT walk. DT does it all. He does it all while dominating and in all phases. He missed the 100 yard mark, but I'll take 3 TDs from a guy every week.
Speaking of that I just can't say enough how much Emmanuel Sanders means to this offense. As I mentioned above, he should have had a couple more scores himself. When you have this kind of threat to take the top off a defense constantly it helps in every facet of the game.
Did anyone else notice Wes Welker talking to Manning right before the TD he caught? I'm pretty sure he was pointing out the guy they had covering him and that he couldn't keep up. Welker isn't as big a focus this year, but I was glad to see him get that TD and stay involved. We'll need him going into the playoffs.
Miscellaneous Thoughts on Offense
- I'm a pretty big Jacob Tamme fan, but he has lost a step this year and his hands look like they have turned to stone.
- I know we converted them well enough, but am I the only one who is tired of seeing a 3rd and short with our team in shotgun?
- I didn't miss Julius Thomas in this game. Passing is cute and all, but I love me some Broncos punching teams in their mouths with the run game. Learn to block, Julius.
Where Did our Run D Go?
The one thing on defense we've been able to rest our hopes on has been the consistently superb play against the run by our guys. That wasn't the case in this game. Miami ran for close to 90 yards in the first half. They were running at will and were consistently getting into the 2nd level. The strange thing was that as the game wore on, our team got better and better against the run. Miami didn't go away from the run, we just started playing it better.
I did note a couple of things about this. First of all, our Linebackers in the first half were not reading well. I saw at least three plays where our backers stepped to the wrong gap, then had to correct to try to stop the runner. It reminded me a lot of D.J. Williams back in the day but without the freakish athleticism to recover like he could. I can tell you we miss Nate Irving a whole lot in the run game (he excels in this area).
Demarcus Ware and Von Miller need to step it up. Between them they got 3 tackles. That's it. I'm not strictly a sack guy freak, but It looked to me like most of our threatening pressure came up the middle instead of the edges. I knowRyan Tannehill is a running threat, but he can't be as dangerous as Wilson or Kaepernick and we harassed both of those guys from the edges.
Malik Jackson is absolutely relentless. I love his game and his aggression. He's one of the guys on defense that brings the attitude we need.
I almost passed out in the 2nd half. I was seeing blitzes from an array of formations and positions. Can we have some more of this please JDR? It is the gutsy stuff like this that helps create turnovers.
I'll start off here by saying that I love the grit Aqib Talib showed in trying to stay on the field and help the team, but it cost us a TD in my eyes. He was way too slow to adjust to the out from an off-man technique. I will say that the rest of his snaps looked very good though even post injury.
I thought Kayvon Webster represented himself very well in this game. He hasn't gotten much of a chance to see the field since we drafted a CB in the first round this year, but I'll say his play in this one game was better than any one game I've seen from Bradley Roby this year.
Speaking of which, Roby again looked pretty darn bad to me in this game. I know he's young and the young guys get picked on, but I don't get why he's not being matched up with the #3 guys more instead of the top guys. The most consistent thing I see from Roby is his penchant lose a step or two on a route and have to play catch-up. Good CBs stay on the hip of their guy. There was a TD scored on him where he was completely flat-footed.
That leads to another interesting point: Chris Harris Jr. had what looked to me to be his worst game of the season, but it wasn't really even that bad. He basically got out muscled on a couple of plays (this is his one weak-area...he doesn't have size). The thing I noted though is in all cases, he was right on his guy where he needed to be and maybe a split second away from knocking the pass away.
T.J. Ward was again to me so very inconsistent. I don't know if it is because they have him shifting to LB so much or what, but he's not consistently playing as well as what I saw from him last year in Cleveland (admittedly small sample size though). His INT return was some pretty impressive running, though. On the flip side, his defensive holding penalty was as unnecessary and poorly timed as I've ever seen.
Brandon McManus has got to go. I still hold by the decision that switching kickers was the right thing to do. We had way too much money over the next two years tied up in a guy who was a big risk and just a kicker. That being said, this kid does well on kick-offs, but doesn't have the skills to kick field goals. It isn't just this one missed 33 yard FG, though. He's missed like half of his kicks this season. That's not even close to okay in the NFL.
Isaiah Burse had his first big gaffe of the year in the return game. He tried way too hard to get yards and gave up the ball. Hopefully he learns from it and gets wiser on when to just go down and protect the ball.
Coaching / Refereeing
- Have you seen a more awful challenge than the one Fox did in the first half? I haven't. Whoever is up in the box helping Fox makes those decisions needs to be fired unless Fox just wasn't listening to good advice.
- Do we never get the home-town calls or is our discipline so poor that we can't help but get penalties in bunches (9 for 98 yards against us, 6 for 50 against Miami)? I lean heavily toward the latter which is a coaching issue.
- I'd love to see a couple of holds called on the other team...I know you can't call it every time it happens, but you can call it some times (I saw 3 this game).
This whole season has seemed to be a series of big games. I'm honestly loving it. I would love more if we were undefeated or had only lost to Seattle like many had hoped going into the season, but there's nothing like playing meaningful football late in a season and seeing what your team is made of.
I think there's plenty of time for us to continue an upswing into the playoffs. This next game is huge though. Kansas City is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL and since the League schedulers hate the Broncos, we of course have to play away in November (why does this need to happen so often? Can't you sadists mix it up?). I'd feel better about our chances if our linebacker corps was healthy, but you play the cards you are dealt.
So what's your thoughts on the game, Broncos Country? I've asked a few questions above...give me your insights and let me know your takes. Let's get what we can out of this game and then start getting ready for a big game at Arrowhead!