What a game. Wow. Kicking and screaming indeed.
After last night, it is not surprising to see a lot of opinions (here and on other sites) that we should scrap the Kubiak offensive experiment and just let Manning be Manning. The sight of The Sheriff coming out guns ablazin' to reinforce the cavalry (defense) doomed the Chiefs in the crossfire and led to an instant classic rivalry win.
Clearly Manning looks uncomfortable under center and could not move the ball until the muzzle was off. Why shouldn't we set the clocks back to 2013 and assume our fanged defense can be the difference?
Here are a few reasons why I think we should not be so quick to entirely dump the Kubiak playbook just yet (and for the record, I am thrilled we have a coach who is willing to turn Manning loose when the situation requires- I expect we will see it again):
- It was the Chiefs. Let's not overreact. I am NOT insulting the Chiefs, they are a very good team (even better than I expected) but it is hard to ignore the fact that Manning has their number. Before Thursday, he had racked up a 6-0 record (as a Bronco) running his offense. It was not a big leap of faith for Kubiak to say - "Alright, try it your way. Let's get the W and get out of Dodge".
- 43-8. The Broncos did not lose that game solely because John Fox forgot to prepare them for crowd noise. Go back and read the post game interviews. The Seahawks knew what was coming and they had a plan to stop the Manning offense. It worked. There are other teams that have also gotten a good bead on the Sheriff and are equipped to follow the Seahawk blueprint. Oh Look! Some of them are on our schedule - the cheating team in the northeast, Colts (assuming their defense gets back on track after that week 1 egg), and KC round 2 (You can be sure the Chiefs will not allow Fleming on the field next time we see them). A look at the schedule also shows Green Bay and two teams with coaches who know Manning's offense as well as he does - Chicago and San Diego X 2.
- Make no mistake, we are going to need the run game at some point. Whether it is a clock-chewing 10 minute drive to play keep-away or a frigid day in February when Manning can't feel his fingers (see what I did there?) we will have to move the ball on the ground. It takes time, reps, and stubborness to impose your will on the other team in the NFL. This is not a switch that can just be flipped and turned off/on at will. It will take patience and persistence to help this O-line gel and give the backs confidence that their holes will be there.
- This team intends to be playing ball in January and February. To avoid excess repetition, re-read reason #3.
- Continuing to find the compatible pieces from both playbooks will force defensive coordinators to prepare for more options. Do not underestimate the value of having DC's spend time and valuable practice reps on preparing for both Kubiak and Manning's preferences. Right now the Kubes offense looks rough, but I have confidence this aspect can progress enough to keep opponents honest (and it would be awesome if it got good enough to keep them guessing).
Let me finish by saying that I am excited about the idea that the Manning 3-wide, shotgun, no-huddle, bombs-away offense can be our ace in the hole rather than our bread and butter. What a wonderful, golden (even if 39 years old) ace that is. I'll take that every day of the week.
And twice on Sundays.