We sure can be fickle fans sometimes, right? Last week I read a lot of gnashing of teeth and wearing of sackcloth over the Broncos missing the playoffs. Yet here we are back to controlling our own destiny.
How quickly some of us fans forget who this team is. Let me share some No Bull insight with you all out there in Broncos Country: you should be used to this kind of football and expect to see it until some big changes happen on the offensive side of the ball. Until that happens, this team will live and die on the back of its extremely talented defense. Much like 2015, all we need from the quarterback position is for them not to give the game away.
This game is a great example of that. The offense was deplorable in its output. We started a rookie that looked like a rookie. But the best thing was the team fought their tails off on every side of the ball and came out of it with a well deserved win. The offense didn’t hand the ball to the other team. The defense did what they do and here we are.
Speaking of the defense, until this offense finds some way to lift itself to at least the realm of mediocre NFL offensive football, I will no longer start my review with them. I just don’t think the defense gets enough credit for what this team has been able to accomplish and this is my little way of trying to correct that in some small way.
Our defense is pretty darn awesome. Any time you hold a team to 10 points in the NFL, you are playing darn good football. There was a lot to like this week. One of my favorite adjustments by the defense this week was that at the end of the halves, the defense didn’t play any deeper zone schemes. We were still running our man coverage based stuff with a 4 man rush for the most part and it held up very well.
The pass rush just flat out wasn’t there for most of the game. You really have to credit Jacksonville as they absolutely handled every pass rusher up and down the line consistently for the majority of the game.
Von Miller had a tough time all day getting to the QB. A lot of this has to do with a heavy dose of double-teams on him. On our pick 6 it was Miller hitting Bortles that caused the pass to be short and get housed. Also late in the game when we needed to seal the deal, it was Miller with the forced fumble to ice the game beating his guy with both speed and power. For most of the rest of game he was fairly tame, but you have to love a player making his plays really count.
Shaquil Barrett had a productive busy day. When he wasn’t getting his helmet yanked off, he was setting the edge so well and absolutely blew up a jet sweep in the 3rd quarter.
Early in the season I was pretty tough on Corey Nelson, but really as the season has wore on he has really stepped his game up and played well. He is a really strong linebacker in coverage and showed it in the 2nd half on a perfect man coverage pass breakup. Later on in the same drive he broke up a 3rd down pass with help from Ward that was again as good of coverage as you are going to see from a linebacker.
Todd Davis had a tough assignment on 3rd and 3 in the 4th quarter. His coverage was tight and he broke up the pass at the sideline.
CHJ put on an absolute clinic in the first half of the game. The man coverage he showed in this game was picture perfect. His interception was just amazing hands and fighting on his part. Luckily the WR bumbled the catch to start and let Harris get a slap at it.
Bradley Roby early showed some great man coverage on the outside. He still takes the award in my books for most inconsistent defensive back for Denver. On Bortle’s TD run his effort was absolutely pathetic for being the one guy on the defense that didn’t have his back to the QB. Later in the 4th he gives up a big chunk of yardage by interfering with his guy.
Darian Stewart made a great play in coverage on a 3rd down throw to the sticks. His timing was perfect as he hit when the ball got there and knocked it away.
Aqib Talib was robbed on a pass play where the refs called him for holding. 1) He was within 5 yards. 2) While he had his hand on the receiver, he didn’t obstruct or keep him from moving to the ball. Later in the 4th quarter he made the same kind of play and of course there was no flag.
Overall I think we called a pretty conservative game against the Jaguars. Most of Lynch’s throws were to guys in single coverage or meant to be deep throws that our guys use their jets to outrun the coverage. I liked a lot about how the offense looked in design, if not execution.
The big key I’d like to share with Broncos Country is to take notice of how different the offense looked with Lynch in. Because the throws we were attempting were more often farther than 10 yards, the run game opened up a little bit and the defense wasn’t just crowding the line of scrimmage on the early downs. Since we couldn’t connect on much of any of the deep throws, the defenders had a fairly easy job of just sitting back in coverage, but hopefully with experience the team will be able to open more up downfield.
Don’t read more into that statement than what it is. I’m not saying anything huge about any QB controversy. I’m saying that the offense looked much healthier. And before anyone starts talking about caveats regarding playing a scrub team like Jacksonville let me remind you that their passing defense is the 3rd best in the NFL and they have a ton of talent on that side of the ball.
Lynch came out and had some very big inaccuracy issues. Basic out routes are an NFL staple and you have to be able to throw them to catchable spots. He had an easy 1st down on the first drive if he hits Sanders anywhere where Sanders has a shot at the catch.
His footwork is something that really needs some work. He has a big, strong arm, but because of that when he doesn’t throw with good form, his passes sail a bit. This was a constant issue throughout the game.
I got really excited on Lynch’s big bomb early in the 2nd half. He hung the ball too much and didn’t throw it far enough through so that Sanders would be the only guy that could get it. He was lucky it wasn’t picked off.
He also had huge problems converting 3rd downs. Hopefully that’s a big point of his coaching this week since that is what makes and breaks quarterbacks in this league.
If nothing else though, we can pat the kid on the back for not throwing any INTs. There may not be many boxes that he’s able to check off this week, but that is one of them.
Max Garcia is still very shaky at LG as he gave up a sack. In run blocking I saw what is starting to be a typical play for him: push forward and fall on the ground to let his guy win. He’s probably the weakest link on the offensive line right now.
Booker needs to buy Russell Okung dinner. His TD happened because Okung grabbed him and towed him into the end zone.
Did you also notice Ty Sambrailo in as a 6th lineman to the left of Okung? It seems like we may have started taking a page out of the Radier’s playbook and installed a big package using an extra lineman.
Booker really looked poor in this game to me. I saw 2 plays where he’s not bursting through arm tackles. He also keeps running into the backs of his linemen instead of cutting back to a hole. He seems to have a lot of talent, but his vision wasn’t there today.
Kapri Bibbs had a really nice big run and showed really good running in space. Later in the same drive he took a outside run for another big gain. It was a shame he got an injury as he looked like a guy that was “on” today up until that point.
Derby had quite the impressive catch against great coverage. Our pass offense was still inept so we didn’t see much of him, but the kid really looks good in the few looks he sees each game.
DT did a great job on 2nd drive being an easy target for Lynch and making a catch while getting hit. Sadly, he had a couple plays where he dropped passes that were very catchable.
Emmanuel Sanders had so many plays where he did his job perfectly but the ball just wasn’t there. It is going to be important for Lynch to build report with Sanders to tighten up their game. If the throws get more on target, Sanders will get a TD per game easy the way the offense looked to me.
Khalif Raymond was the new face on returns and I have to say overall he looked like a definite upgrade over Norwood. The only knock I have on him was needing to call for a fair catch once when he got lit up after the ball got there.
Riley Dixon had a rough game punting especially with his 4th quarter punt from just past midfield. Giving up a touchback there was terrible and while he hit the right distance, if he added hang time our guys could have gotten under it.
You just can’t argue with a win this late in the season. Also, take note that the Denver Broncos are not going to have a losing season in 2016. It is such a blessing in my mind to cheer for a team that so consistently wins in this league dating back for decades. We’re 8-4 at this point and in many ways the master of our own destiny.