Over 76,000 thousand fans were witness to Peyton Manning breaking the NFL's all-time yardage record against the Chiefs Sunday afternoon, but not one of them left Sports Authority Field at Mile High with positive thoughts about their Denver Broncos.
A mass exodus at the stadium occured with about twelve minutes remaining in the fourth quarter — representative of the negative feelings and aura surrounding the teams performance in their 29-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Standing with his Broncos teammates at the edge of the precipice with another NFL record right before his eyes, Peyton Manning did what he has done best this season — do anything in his power to allow his opponents to have an easier chance at victory. Just when you think it couldn't get much worse, it did.
It was another disaster of a performance for Manning, who had three interceptions in the first half alone. His day ended in the third quarter after tossing his fourth interception when he was benched for quarterback Brock Osweiler.
Oh come on Manning! HE'S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU! pic.twitter.com/3ye9xXFQQF— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) November 15, 2015
All I can say is, "It's about time." And one has to wonder why it took so long, though there are a few thoughts that come to mind.
The benching of Peyton Manning, given the Broncos record, would be a public relations nightmare for the squad, especially if it is permanent. Furthermore, it could cause a divide in a locker room from players who have stood by Manning’s side despite his miserable season performance to date. It isn't always an easy call to bench a future Hall of Fame player, but after his lackluster performance through two and a half quarters against Kansas City it was ultimately the right decision to make.
The loss to the Chiefs is the Broncos second in a row. With New England's last second victory against the Giants, they are now two games behind them and Cincinnati in the pursuit of home field advantage for the playoffs. They say bad things come in threes, but lets hope the Broncos can do some deep soul searching this week and come up with a formidable game plan for next week's game against the Chicago Bears.
Alas, here are some of my takeaways from the game.
- Peyton Manning was finally benched after his pitiful performance. Finally. Could it have taken any longer for it to happen? Will it last for the remainder of the season? That's doubtful, but an important message was sent to him that strongly indicates that he has to do better if he wants to be the quarterback to lead the Broncos the rest of the season.
- With Brock Osweiler at the helm, the Broncos finally were able to move the ball down the field, sustain several drives and come away with two touchdowns. He displayed poise in the pocket and also was able to make some plays on his feet in order to keep drives alive. His youth, vigor and mobility in and out of the pocket was pleasant to witness.
Osweiler ended the game going 14-for-24 for 146 yards, with a touchdown and interception. It wasn't a perfect performance by any means, but it could have been enough to show the Broncos Brass that he is worthy of a contract extension and capable of leading the team into battle in the future.
- Call off the Amber Alert! There has been a Cody Latimer sighting. It seems as if Latimer has a little bit of chemistry with Osweiler and he finally got a chance to make some plays with the ball going his way. He caught three passes on six targets for 30 yards. If Osweiler remains the Broncos starting quarterback the rest of the season, expect Latimer's numbers to go up.
- Demaryius Thomas didn't score a touchdown, but he did haul in seven receptions on ten targets for a total of 70 yards. Despite the ambiguity and inconsistency at the quarterback position, Thomas has still made a myriad of big plays this season, including several key third down catches in today's outing against the Chiefs.
- The Broncos offense had 18 total first downs, a majority of them coming in the second half. Interestingly enough, the Chiefs only had 13 for the entire game.
Chiefs 29, Broncos 13
Chiefs 29, Broncos 23
- The score might have been 19-0 at halftime, but the Denver Broncos defense deserves big props to holding the Chiefs offense to only 19 points after being deal a horrendous hand thanks to the lack of efficacy displayed on offense.
- Outside of the Charcandrick West touchdown reception in the second half, the Denver defense kept Kansas City's offense in check. In fact, the team only allowed 303 yards to the Chiefs, despite the numerous poor positions they were put in, as well as how long they were on the field.
- Silver lining stat: The defense held the Chiefs to only four third down conversions out of sixteen attempts. It was a much better performance in that regard when compared to their efforts last week against Indianapolis.
- Peyton Manning was an absolute disaster. In the first half, he was 4-for-15 with 21 yards passing, three interceptions and a fumble. His QBR for the first half: 0. It didn't get any better in the second half, as he fired off another interception and failed to complete a pass.
Yes folks, you read that right. Zero. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Manning laid an egg in today's affair against the Chiefs. With 17 interceptions on the year and at least one in every game, fans have gotten used to sub-par performance from Manning, but haven't had to endure something that abysmal until now.
- In what could be the most embarrassing offensive performance I've witnessed in my lifetime as a Broncos fan, Denver only managed to accumulate 40 yards of total offense in the first half and only amassed 221 for the entire game.
- For the second week in a row, the running game was absent from the Broncos offense. Just 69 yards were earned on the ground on 16 carries. That's good enough for a 4.3 yard average, but when you are playing from behind like the Broncos did all game, abandoning the running game was bound to happen.
- To be fair, the blame for Manning's performance cannot solely be placed on him. Denver's patchwork offensive line once against lost the battle in the trenches and failed to given him adequate time to throw or do enough to carve up adequate lanes in the running game. They didn't do much better when Osweiler took the reigns either and allowed a total of five sacks against the Chiefs.
- Today's worst performer on the offensive line: Michael Schofield, who had his lunch stolen from him by Justin Houston on multiple occasions who recorded a handful of sacks. The second year player out of Michigan has struggled two weeks in a row.
With that said, it takes talent and cohesion for efficiency in the zone-blocking scheme to take place. John Elway and Gary Kubiak didn't do enough in the off-season to bolster the talent on their offensive trenches. When you rely on a "system" with players that either don't fit it or have no business starting in the NFL you can't really expect much more than what they have demonstrated.
- Denver's defensive line was dominated by the Chief's offensive front. The team only accumulated two sacks (one by Von Miller, the other by Sylvester Williams) and failed to put adequate pressure on Alex Smith.
- The Broncos defense had a complete breakdown on Charcandrick West's 80 yard touchdown reception, the biggest play given up by them this year. Nobody covered West and he blew by T.J. Ward who was alone in single-high coverage en route to his score.
- Penalties and a lack of discipline once again plagued the Broncos defense. I have no problem with them being aggressive, but I do take issue with the continuous mental errors and lack of discipline. The players need to be held accountable for their actions by the coaches. Last week, Aqib Talib. This week, T.J. Ward. When will the self-destructive behavior end?
Hart's Quick Hits
- As mentioned in my Quick Hits last week, time of possession is a huge factor in winning on the gridiron. It was primarily one of the reasons they lost to Indianapolis and undoubtedly a significant reason they were lambasted by the Chiefs this afternoon. Kansas City had complete control of the clock throughout the game. They possessed the ball 21:10 of the first half to Denver's 8:50. By games end, they had the ball for nearly 34 minutes to Denver's 26.
- The horrendous offensive output of 40 yards in the first half was mentioned above, but here is another tidbit that will make you want to pull your hair out: The Broncos didn't have one play in Chiefs territory in the entire first half.
- Rookie offensive lineman Max Garcia replaced Louis Vasquez in the second half. Yet, he promptly racked up a holding penalty on his first snap afterwards and struggled in pass protection. The young lineman shows promise, but has been flagged for a handful of penalties when he has seen time with the starting unit this season.
- Speaking of Louis Vasquez, he simply hasn't looked like he did several years ago when he first game to Denver. His mobility has been limited due to a knee injury this season, which has negatively impacted his ability to get to the second level. Vasquez is due $6M next season and don't be surprised if the Broncos choose to move on from him due to his high price tag and poor fit in the ZBS.
- Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders took a fierce hit in the third quarter and was evaluated for a concussion. He passed the protocol and test, but he remained on the sideline for the rest of the game.
- Broncos safety T.J. Ward was ejected after throwing a punch at Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin after Charcandrick West's 80 yard touchdown reception.
- If you started Chiefs kicker Carlos Santos in FanDuel or DraftKings, you likely made a bit of money this weekend. He was 5 of 6 on his field goal attempts and converted on both his PAT opportunities.