Another week into the 2014 season and we get to see a little more about the character of our team. There's a great rumbling in Broncos Country. Teeth are beginning to gnash. Robes are being torn asunder. But before you pull the old sack cloth out of the closet, just take a deep breath brothers and sisters.
I'm all about calling a turd a turd. I haven't ever shied away from calling out our team on wanna-be QBs, cry babies, hacks, and no talent guys on our team. I'll do some more of that today even. But let me say that everyone should really take a deep breath, step back away from the ledge, and get some No Bull perspective.
Sure we should have beaten KC by three scores, but things don't always go as planned in the NFL. Every week we will be getting everyone's best. And yes, that means teams will be gunning harder for us than in most weeks. That is because we are the #1 team in the AFC. Get used to it people.
This is only week 2 people. It probably isn't as bad as it looks and there is no reason for anyone in Broncos Country to be apologizing for that win. Next week we get a real test. We've often played down to our competition (and yes both Indy and KC are poorer teams than us due to injuries and lack of talent). What's going to happen next week at Seattle?
Overall I think our offense had another good game plan. I'm not going to compare this week to week 1 because KC held the ball for so long and we still had some success in the 2nd half. I liked the play-calling a lot more this week as it kept KC off balance a lot more than we did against the Colts.
The Run Game Picks Up
Let's start off by giving some props to our team for the run game. It was far better than week one. We averaged around 5 yards per carry (this is what we should be shooting for in my opinion). We ate up some very good chunks of yards when KC was light in the box. Also we didn't run the ball on 1st down almost every down like last week.
The offensive line is still up and down a bit, but I saw some more very nicely blocked plays happening where both Montee Ball and C.J. Anderson had good holes to run through.
One big note I had on Ball's running was two different times he missed a nice cut-back lane. Granted this could be because of play design, but he needs to keep his awareness broad and work on his vision so he can have the chance to slash the opponents for even more yardage.
A Hand Up for our Receivers
Overall I thought we saw a lot of progress when compared to week 1 from our WR corps. Some of the guys cleaned up some drop issues. Some of our guys showed us why they are back-ups as well.
- For two weeks in a row we've started off the 1st half making teams pay for trying to man cover Julius. This is going to continue or JT will be quiet while our other WRs get all the plays. You can't double up on everyone.
- That fade route catch was gorgeous and the defender had no way to stop it.
- For all the wonders he made in the passing game, he had quite a mental failure late in the game. DT was catching a pass in the flat and Julius's job was to run a go and carry off a defender. Because he stuttered, and the released off the defender, the defender was able to collapse down on DT and keep him from converting the 3rd down play. Manning rightly chewed him good for the gaffe.
- I was pretty stoked to have Caldwell back with us another year and doing more work with Peyton in the off season. But at this point, I'm far more interested in Cody Latimer suiting up.
- Andre didn't get the memo from last week on drops sucking really bad.
- I really would like to see us work him deep 2-3 times a game. He's just a burner and it is obvious watching him live.
- Like others in Broncos Country, I'm a fan of the idea of putting Sanders on Sherman all game long. Sherman couldn't handle Sanders even a little.
- When Wes Welker gets back, this WR is going to be even more dangerous.
- I called him out last week in our weekly tweet question from Marshall Faulk. Way to respond DT!
- That touchdown pass was astounding. One handed with a guy hanging on his back and he made it look easy. Thomas is a monster of a man and KC just doesn't have the kind of guy that can handle him.
- I have a feeling that this morning Marcus Cooper was quite sore rolling out of bed...Peyton and DT were straight up wearing it out. We did the same thing last year.
3 TDs and over 80% accuracy in an NFL football game. That's some superb passing from our QB in a week where multiple areas of our team were struggling. I gave him my game ball and it bears repeating here: without a QB like Manning I don't think we win that game.
There was a lot to hate on about the defense, but let's not forget the good stuff too. That 10 min drive in the 2nd half culminated in no points for KC. Also we had two more goal line stands succeed in this game. That's a big deal and you should be proud of it.
In the Trenches
Many folks seemed to think things seemed lackluster down inside again this week. That's not the whole story as I thought we did a decent job of putting pressure on Alex Smith when we were actually rushing 4 or more guys (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Jack Del Rio!?).
Our run defense got pretty tore up early on. I blame this mostly on our lack of talent at Linebacker right now. I know we us some Nate Irving but that's just because we don't have anything better (see the off season where we chased after Linebackers left and right looking for someone to man the middle). Brandon Marshall looked painfully noobish this game especially in run defense.
Von Miller had a pretty good game to my eyes. He was disruptive and was up in Smith's grill on a number of occasions. His sack flashed a little of what we saw his rookie year: elite speed around the edge.
Terrance Knighton was a beast in the middle and still made his presence known with a couple of knock downs...one of which was a game clincher (/fistbump T Knight!). You can't ask a defensive tackle to do much more than Knighton as he was pretty consistently pushing back single blocks and when he wasn't double teamed.
Demarcus Ware didn't get home much, but the one time he did he was robbed. At worst that "incomplete pass" was intentional grounding. At best it was a strip sack. There is no other way and the refs blew the call. To all who disagree you tell me two things:
1) Why was his left hand reaching over to cradle the ball?
2) What receiving option was standing at Alex Smith's feet that he could have been targeting?
Tight End Special
Here's the big problem this defense has when we have an injured Danny Trevathan: we can't cover TEs worth a crap. The KC Tight End duo beat up our LBs and took their lunch money. It was New England circa 2011 all over again. We even threw T.J. Ward (you know...the guy who eats Tight Ends for breakfast?) at them and he got owned too.
The Best Secondary Talent in the NFL vs Captain Checkdown
Guess who won this match up? I'd call it a draw honestly. Even after another close game with Kansas City, Alex Smith just flat out doesn't scare me. He's not a game winner. He's a good game manager and that's about it. Even at the end of the game as they drove down to our goal line I wasn't that worried honestly. He's just not the guy that is going to win a game.
That being said with as bad as his accuracy was throwing 15+ yard down the field and outside the numbers, I was surprised at how little we left Aqib Talib and Chris Harris on an island and converged on the inside stuff.
One cat that did get a special mention on more than one occasion in my notes was Bradley Roby. That rookie got straight-up smoked like a good salmon by Dwayne Bowe. I don't have video available of it yet, but later in the week look for a quick article on me going into this in depth. Also, please don't feel like I'm being hard on the kid...I'm just calling a duck a duck. He's a rookie in the NFL. He's going to get taken to the wood shed this year. Everyone needs to just accept that for what it is and hope it doesn't cost us a game. So far it hasn't and he's going to be better for it.
Coaching and Miscellaneous Thoughts
- From the start until the end KC tore us up with tight ends up the seams and underneath routes. I saw little adjustment to this as far as scheming to take them away and force Alex Smith to throw outside the numbers.
- A quick note for the KC fans reading: Andy Reid was absolutely crazy not going for it on 4th and 1 around the 50. Just nutso crazy. You are playing a Peyton Manning led team. You have a stud young RB running roughshod over our team. It was ONE YARD!
- There was an absolutely tremendous lack of discipline from our team in this game and it wasn't just our young guys. This is a coaching issue...especially all the free plays we kept giving KC by getting neutral zone infractions. Count your lucky stars that didn't happen against a great NFL QB.
- Bradley Roby getting smoked by Bowe should have never happened a third time on third down like it did. Last I checked Dwayne Bowe is still KC's highest paid WR. Maybe you'd put one of our higher paid CBs on him? Just a thought...
- I really really really don't like how JDR is calling defense to start the season. The only thing that makes any sense to me is that he is getting practice in for our guys so they can mix in zone coverage effectively. Our staple pass defense scheme so far this year is zone and our personnel excels at man coverage. I am never a fan of trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.
I'm really looking forward to our next game because it is going to speak to the character of our football team win or lose. And yes, technically speaking it doesn't matter nearly as much as either of the past two games. We don't need to beat Seattle in week 3 to achieve anything. That being said, I've always been a believer in character, momentum, and morale in football. If we get throttled by Seattle (which is very very possible), there will be a lot of doubt creeping into the thoughts of our players and us honestly. The best thing for this team next week is to punch Seattle in the mouth and win the game. I just don't know if we have the discipline to get it done after the first two weeks.