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Broncos at Steelers: The No Bull Review

The Denver Broncos faced the Pittsburgh Steelers sunday in a match of playoff teams. We rode THE biggest roller coaster. Let's discuss what happened, why I think it happened, and what it tells us about our team.

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

I've been sticking with a fairly consistent format this year for my reviews as I try to touch on all the areas of personnel where there is something of note from my viewing. I'm eschewing that this week and just talking about a few key ideas I'm picking up from this game.

That was not the end

While that was quite the collapse, let's not throw ourselves off of cliffs, line up for grief counselling, or cry "the sky is falling." We aren't the chef fans ladies and gentlemen. This was not the playoffs. Our season isn't over.

So everyone take a deep breath. We still get to lace them up next week and get in the ring. We still control our own destiny for the post season. Win out and we are in with a bye.

Post-Season outlook grim

What I did learn from this game is that this team is in troubled waters. Offense, defense, special teams, and especially coaching are not on stable ground right now (and this is the wrong time of the year to have difficulties).

The only thing our offense has been consistent at this year is being a mess. We had the best offensive game of the year going in the first half and still managed to look completely inept by the end of the game.

  • Brock goes from scoring 4 TDs in the first half to being at a loss of what to do vs zone coverage.
  • Our receivers cannot stop themselves from letting crucial drops happen in game week after week. I get that drops happen, but we have players leading the league in drops and most of them are coming on critical 3rd and 4th downs (Owen Daniels, Demaryius Thomas, and Vernon Davis all need to give their paychecks back this week...their drops were that bad).
  • Our vaunted Kubiak running attack wouldn't scare a shaved opossum with a broken leg.

Our defense went from world-killers to completely below average. Let's be fair though, the Pittsburgh offense is really REALLY good. Their WR group is very very talented. Let's not take anything away from their team's talent. That being said:

  • Chris Harris Jr. completely crapped the bed in this game. Again, I know he faced one of the best WRs in the game, but he got completely owned and very consistently.
  • Our starting safeties being injured are a CRITICAL weakness of our defense. Our backups outside of David Bruton, Jr. are garbage and can't operate in the schemes we like to use.
  • Where the hell was Von Miller?  Anyone? I know I've been touting him as an impact player, but he sure disappeared this game.

The team is currently playing foxball with the season. We look like a team that is playing scared. Where's the aggression? Where on the field are we dictating to the other team what we are going to do? I can tell you that if we play the next game the way we played the last two, we are going to lose. That fairy tale where KC wins the division and we stay home this off season is no fairy tale. I can easily see it happening.

Game Notes worth mentioning:

  • Colquitt needs to be canned this off season. He is a consistent liability to the team.
  • If teams play man coverage on us and the line can give Os 2 seconds, we will carve up anyone
  • It is worth mentioning again: Osweiler is clueless on what to do against zone coverage schemes. He doesn't read them worth a wooden nickel and makes decisions too slowly. He can fix this, but it is going to take time and practice that I don't think we have.
  • I liked Osweiler's scrambling ability in this game. He did much more moving in and out of the pocket than we've seen and it was really beneficial to him and the team.
  • Our receivers coach needs fired: multiple guys on the team are not attacking the ball. They are softly waiting for it to get to them and it is costing us dropped passes (DT, OD, AC, VD, etc).
  • CHJ may take the cake from a statistics perspective of which secondary player sucked worse, but make no mistake: Bradley Roby looked silly out there too and had he been challenged with Brown or Bryant, he'd have been the guy we'd be talking about. Everyone likes to talk about how good Roby is, but I see a pretty medicore CB. I'm comfortable with him being a starter, but I wouldn't expect much.
  • The refs really called some ticky-tack stuff in this game. Our team got robbed on calls multiple times that weren't called the same way on the flip.
  • Malik Jackson looked like a monster in this game. I wish Ware and Miller would have stepped up to help him out along the front.
  • Brandon Marshall had a really nice game at linebacker. His coverage skills and read / react ability are going to make us really want to keep him here for a long time.

The real culprit

I looked over my notes on the game and two big things stuck out to me. These two things cost us the game and point to a much larger problem that we need call out from behind the curtain.

  1. We made little to no half-time adjustments of impact and even less in-game adjustments as the game wore on
  2. Our team played without confidence once the game started going south

There's one thing that plays into both of these problems more so than anything else: leadership. Peyton isn't on the field. Von isn't a leader. CHJ can't lead when he's getting beat like a red-headed step child. Osweiler is too young to be a leader that will have a voice and impact. Our leaders for this team are the coaches and the coaches are letting the team down.

We've played with smoke and mirrors all year with the coaches:

  • This defense is unstoppable
  • The players have to play, I can only coach
  • Peyton Manning ITBSOHL
  • We're going to run the Kubiak system
  • We're going to run the Pistol Kubiak system
  • We're starting Os because Peyton has an "injury" that we just found out about
  • Our offensive line just needs time in the system

I get why coaches do this stuff and I understand that some of that stuff is as honest as they can be at the time, but let's dig down to the real NO BULL truth about the team this year:

  • Our talent on the offensive line mostly sucks eggs
  • Our offense is a complete mess and has been since day one because the team doesn't have the talent to run the scheme (which requires good linemen), and they tried to hybrid stuff just to get Manning to function in the system
  • Our defense was outstanding early because no one had real tape on it. Now teams are finding the soft spots and figuring out how to get some points on them
  • Osweiler is a 4th year QB who plays like a mediocre 2nd year QB on a bad team (to be expected mostly...but that doesn't change that it sucks)
  • Our running back talent is either thin or injury prone
  • The coaches don't have answers to a lot of this stuff and the players sure do look like they know it.