Seeing the Denver Broncos second year, third round draft pick tackle get used and abused snap after snap against Khalil Mack was nearly unbearable. Michael Schofield had no answer for the Oakland Raiders star outside linebacker, giving up three sacks, two hits, a hurry and one safety on the day.
According to ProFootballFocus, Schofield (-7.0) was by far the worst offensive tackle of any team for the week. Most of that being due to the fact that Mack (+13.8) had a career day mostly at the expense of the inexperienced tackle.
After the game, Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak talked about how well Mack played against both tackles in the game.
We handled it pretty well in the first half. We were getting the ball gone. We started throwing the ball a lot at the end of the game trying to get ourselves in position to win, which caused our tackles to be in some one-on-one [matchups]. We tried to chip with our backs. We tried to help out a couple of times and we didn’t coordinate that very well, so that’s something that we have to do, but he’s a great player. He did a hell of a job. He did it on both sides with [T] Ryan [Harris] and with [T] Michael [Schofield]. It’s tough to hold up in those situations, but sometimes you have to hold up and get some people out to make some plays. It’s a fine line there as a coach. Obviously, you want to help every player you have, but sometimes you have to get some guys out in some routes, too. We could play a lot better up front and we could have played a lot better across the board catching the ball, blocking and all of those types of things. We’re all in this together.
Kubiak's justification for not bringing in more help for both Ryan Harris and Schofield was because he felt it was more important for players at the skill positions to get a free release into the secondary. Kubiak reasoned that it was on the players along the offensive line to make the plays in those situations.
However, at some point during the course of the game you'd have to come to the same conclusion the rest of Broncos Country came to. It just isn't going to happen. In those situations, it must fall on the head coach to adjust to the superior play of the opposing player. We see it all the time with Von Miller getting checked hard by a tight end before running their route. And frankly, it works.
Kubiak expressed his confidence in Schofield.
Oh, I feel very confident in Michael. For a young player, I think that he’s played extremely well. He’s played against some really good players. I think that he’s grown as a player each and every week. He’s been playing on a nicked up ankle for us for a couple of weeks. Obviously, that’s a tough situation to get put in yesterday. I know that he’s disappointed. As a coach, you look at it and say, ‘How can we help him some more?’ I’m very proud of Michael. I think he has a bright future.
But does Schofield have confidence in his coach to not leave him high and dry when he is clearly unable to contain an elite pass rusher like Mack? Schofield has been humbled quite a bit and noted that his technique needs quite a bit of work.
I am a big fan of Kubiak's, but I really feel he made a massive mistake not adjusting to what the Raiders star player was doing and ultimately, I feel it cost the Broncos a chance to put this game away in the second half.
When asked about the potential for those kinds of adjustments, Kubiak definitely disagreed with that.
No, I wouldn’t say that. I don’t think we played perfect in the first half. They don’t believe that because we just had that meeting. There are a lot of things in the first half we didn’t do well either. We were 16 carries for 21  yards in the first half. I think in the second half, we got five carries for four more yards or something like that. We just weren’t running the ball. I don’t think we were moving the line of scrimmage. I think we had really a lot of trouble on the edges, in the run game as well as the pass game. It wasn’t just the pass game. We did some things to try to get rid of the ball quick, and we did some of those well, some of them poorly. Then late in the game, we’re trying to make some plays down the field. Like I said, you can leave a lot of guys in there and chip people and do all those things, but there comes a time when you’ve got to get somebody out and make some plays. We needed to make some plays yesterday. They pretty much four-man rushed all day long.
When putting this statement into the context of losing the game largely due to Brock Osweiler being unable to have time to throw, it makes me angry. I mean seriously, of course you would bring in help to give your most important player (the quarterback) enough time to generate some points to win the damn game!
Hopefully this is something that Kubiak will learn from and if he is going to make an egregious error in judgement coaching this team, I think I'd rather have it happen now in the regular season than in the playoffs. We don't need another Baltimore Ravens-style playoff game around here.