You can’t say this team doesn’t have fight in it. I doubt many in Broncos Country will rewatch this game, but it was honestly one of the best games of 2016 to date. There was awesome defense, offense, and special teams to be seen.
I’m going to do my best to talk about some positives where they were because I ended up with a ton of notes on problems with the Broncos in this game. I can’t remember a game where I had seen so many dumb mistakes being made by a normally well disciplined Broncos team.
We’ve been seeing this story every week of this season it seems. Our team comes out with its scripted plays and for the first half of the game sees how many 3 and out it can tally. I have some guesses why, but for some reason in every game there seems to be a point where the play calling looks very different and much better.
So my question is this: what is it that changes and can we for the love of everything holy just start doing that out of the gates instead of going 3 and out so many times? Our ineffective and predictable way we start games is looking quite insane to me at this point in the season.
In the first half, there was plenty to complain about from our offense and QB play. He was not accurate enough, had trouble avoiding the pass rush, and the safety probably should have been avoided by getting rid of the ball more quickly.
That being said, there was plenty to like from Trevor Siemian in the 2nd half. He did a gritty job completing a bootleg pass across his body to get a 1st down. Siemian’s scramble TD pass was really superb. He did a great job extending the play and then a great pass where only his guy could get it. He also had a very good run to get a big chunk of yards late in the 4th quarter. He absolutely dropped a couple of dimes to Sanders too.
So what did I learn in this game about Siemian? Well, to start let’s reinforce the point that if your defense wants to run cover-1 man, Siemian will light your stuff up. He has a really good deep ball when his line gives him time and he isn’t looking at zone coverage over the top of his targets.
Another positive thing I’m seeing is a little more fire out of him especially in scramble situations. This still makes me scratch my head wondering why the team doesn’t do more moving pockets and bootlegs to take advantage of what looks like an advantage in his play...get him moving more.
This was Siemian’s best game as a pro to date. It looks like that on the stat sheet and to my eyes. It still wasn’t a complete game so you have to think there’s room to improve, but really I put that onus on the offensive coordinators and not the player given what I’ve seen from this team to date.
Ty Sambrailo just flat out doesn’t belong on the NFL field. He lacks basic fundamental blocking technique, athletic ability, and the strength to hold his ground in any form or fashion. The only reason that he’s even being experimented with is because of his draft position in my mind and if that is accurate at all, it is absolutely mind bogglingly stupid. It appears in my opinion that the coaching staff wanted to give Ty a shot to develop. I have a suggestion for them: develop players in OTAs, TC, and the preseason and only play guys in the regular season who are capable of looking at least like a below average NFL starter.
The other big weak link I’m seeing on our line from this game is Max Garcia. At this point in 2016, I’m questioning my own sanity from 2015 because I remember being pleased with his play in limited action. He doesn’t look like a guy who has the tools to be a NFL starter. He’s too inconsistent in his assignments and too susceptible to getting overpowered by bull rushes.
Russel Okung had an up and down game. He wasn’t nails like you want to see from a starting left tackle and there’s going to be room for him to improve - especially in his blocking against Houston that gave up a safety.
I have to give some props to the two guys who held it down for us in this game on the line: Michael Schofield and Donald Stephenson. Neither were perfect, but they played somewhat reliable football. If we could get 2 more pieces of the line to work as well as they would, this offense would look completely different in a good way.
One thing frustrating me about our offense is the lack of talent at the running back position. It was mentioned during the broadcast that the coaches did some film review with Devontae Booker during the bye having him see if he could find where he could break more tackles and get more yards.
That point could be made to both Kapri Bibbs and Booker. Sure, the line does them no favors most of the time as there just aren’t lanes getting opened up consistently and sometimes guys are getting pushed back into the backfield. But at some point, a good running back makes a guy miss and gets a chunk of yardage out of a play.
That’s not what we have at RB in Denver. My eyes are telling me we have a two players that are JAG running the rock. They both tease potential while never delivering moves that make you sit up and take notice.
Emmanuel Sanders getting some work in early and was a favorite target for Siemian. His deep routes were absolute marvels as he showed some serious jets to take the top off a defense. We need to see more of that and design more of it as well to take advantage of this very potent weapon.
A.J. Derby is looking more like a legit pass catching tight end each week. He made a nails catch on 3rd and 11 to keep our team on the field and get out of a really bad punting situation. The kid is running clean, sharp routes and appears to have very good hands. You have to like more and more each week the trade that brought him to Denver.
Demaryius Thomas wasn’t seen much in this game, but he made several key possession type catches. I honestly think we didn’t throw his way as much because Peters was covering him. Why challenge the one good corner a team has if there are so many inferior defenders to go after?
This defense is so full of talent. I do want to say that their play in the 4th quarter and OT was disappointing. They definitely did their job for 3 quarters. That last drive in the 4th was killer and I honestly think Wade Phillips made a mistake by switching his defense to zone to try and make them drain the clock. That played right into the hands of what Alex Smith loves to do. We should have dictated to him that he’d need to beat us in other ways besides check-down throws that dink and dunk down the field.
Von Miller had an awesome game. He showed a superb pass rush that tallied 3 sacks and 4 QB hits. Also impressing me is how much he’s getting in on the action out in space. He’s covering guys in the flat, chasing down passes downfield, and passing off a tight end out of his zone to tackle a RB in the flat. The guy is a straight-up football playa.
DeMarcus Ware made a great technical sack on Smith by going underneath his blocker.
It was really good to see Derek Wolfe back in action. He was a force in this game with a sack, TFL, and 8 combined tackles.
Jared Crick deserves some props for this game. It was probably his best in orange and blue against the run. If he keeps playing defense the way he did against KC, we are going to be in very good shape along our front 7.
Another guy that was very busy was Shane Ray. He chalked up a sack, TFL, and 2 QB hits. We really do have a disgusting amount of pass rushers on our team who are the real deal.
Chris Harris, Jr. gets a holding penalty when matched up on a TE. I’d love to see our defense do more to get a safety or LB lined up on a TE when that happens. He also did a great job blowing up a WR screen. When he was matched up with receivers, the guy was awesome in coverage.
Roby gives up a critical first down late. He then doubles down by giving up the game tying TD. This has been a mostly down year for Roby. He has the look of a guy on the field who’s playing to “not lose” and it is costing us. The guy needs a kick in his ass to get after it and be more aggressive. That KC was able to tie it up was largely on him and his lackadaisical coverage.
Justin Simmons didn’t show up a whole lot in this game, but he’s making a good habit of showing up in key moments and looking good. On 3rd and 9 in overtime, his coverage on Kelce was about as perfect as you could ask for from a safety covering a TE.
The returned TD could have used some better blocking downfield, a flag from the refs for holding, and a better angle or two from our guys. But at the end of the day, the punt itself was placed well.
Joe Decamillis not having his guys lined up legally for a field goal cost the team led to a 4 point swing in the game. You can’t make mistakes like that this late in the season if you want to be consistent winners that can make the post season. I did like his play design on trying a punt block.
Jordon Norwood needs to walk after this game. He’s been an iffy return player for us all year and in this game his muff (which was terrible) cost us in a big way. The only reason Norwood was kept on this team was so he could be a returner. We have far better WRs on the team. If you can’t do that one job well, why are we wasting our time?
I loved the call to go for the 62 yard FG to win the game. A tie doesn’t help us win the division. We are the Denver Broncos and we play to win. Anyone whining about “but the playoff standings, blah blah blah” can pound sand. When you punt in that situation you tell your players, “I don’t believe in you.” Of all the clusterfunk of coaching decisions that were in this game, the call to kick the field goal was not one of them.
This was like the Atlanta game in that is a really big gut-check to this football team. Either we are going to respond in a really big way or we are going to keep derping around and miss the playoffs. I honestly think this loss is going to be used for good for our team. The football team fought hard and left it all out on the field. They all know that they should have won that game but any one of 8 mistakes cost them.
The cool thing is that it is fixable. Dumb alignments, poor players getting snaps, atrocious game planning, garbage coverage execution...these things can get better.
Every game is precious right now. If the team can focus on one week at a time and on executing just a little better, they will be on the right track. These guys know what it takes to win and they know that there is a lot of football left to be played.