I love being able to cheer for a team that is undefeated. It means something. Even with only two games under their belts, it is something to hang your hat on.
No win in the NFL is easy and until some phenominal play in the 4th quarter, I was on the edge of my seat getting worried about one of the best young QBs in the NFL in Andrew Luck leading a comeback to beat the Broncos.
It was a gutsy win by a team seeking their groove for 2016. So far, that groove looks very much like the same one they danced in 2015 which as we all know was good enough for a championship run.
The offense that Gary Kubiak is running absolutely looks in form and function superior to the product we saw throughout 2015. The frustrating thing for Broncos’ fans is that the results sure don’t look very different.
Untimely turnovers deep in the red zone, failures to convert 3rd and short, and a lackluster passing attack rule the day.
The positive take-away here is that it is SUPER early in the season. The team is also very young. Everything we’re seeing from this offense that makes us scratch our heads is absolutely, positively on par with what fans should be expecting of this offense.
That being said, it has been ages since we have run the QB sneak on 3rd and 1. Even when the defense isn’t packed in (see the drive late in the 3rd against the Colts around the 11 yard line). Could we add that to the playbook? Maybe?
Trevor Siemian finished the game with 22 out of 33 passes for 266 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT. It was a very solid, if unspectacular performance. Luckily, that’s all a team like the Broncos need out of their QB.
He ran a nice bootleg early with a pass to Emmanuel Sanders who was wide open. The play looked very good and I’d love to see it used a little more often with a deep crosser to challenge the safety integrity.
Siemian’s red zone play looks very shaky early with overthrows, poor timing, and very conservative (and dare I say scared) play. I’ve seen only two games of his career, but the one thing that worries me about Siemian is what looks like a lack of fire for scoring the ball. Really great QBs get hungry for the score in the red zone. Kubiak needs to work with Siemian to scheme some plays that he loves and encourage him to go after the end zone with gusto.
I’m so excited by what we’re seeing in the trenches from this offensive line. They are blocking to get the running backs to the 2nd level with consistency and holes are opening up often.
I thought Paradis had another stellar game in week 2, though it made me chuckle when he lost count late in the game of when to snap the ball and caused the whole line to false start.
I also really liked what I saw from Max Garcia this week. The left side of the line was honestly just dominating. This makes me think maybe Garcia just had a really bad match-up week 1.
Andy Janovice was used early out of the backfield for 11 yards on a swing pass. This is vintage Kubiak offense. Keeping him involved in the passing game gives defenses more to keep track of.
C.J. Anderson had some shaky choices of run lane early on. His TD run early was due to great blocking by Garcia, Okung, and Sanders. On a 3rd and 10 he one-handed the ball in the flat, shakes the defender with a spin move, and gets the 1st down for one of the better plays of the game.
Devontae Booker definitely passed the eye-test with a good run outside early for 10+ off tackle. I thought he rotated in well early in the game and did well with his touches. Later in the game, his runs were working just as well gaining solid consistent chunks of yards.
Kapri Bibbs comes in on a 3rd and short and converts in a play where it seemed like the defense was absolutely positive that we weren’t handing off.
Demaryius Thomas got the outside WR screen and almost housed it early. His size and speed was on display. The big positives DT had in this game was drawing poor play by the guys covering him. He had 3 PI calls drawn in the game that had they not occurred, he would have had TDs. His 3rd and 11 conversion late in the 4th was a purely physical effort play that you just don’t see from the average WR.
Jordan Taylor had a nice 20 yard pass off play action. He’s as tall as a TE and ran his route up the seam perfectly. I don’t know what the deal is, but I want to see this guy in more often in the red zone. He has the kind of physical size to be a real weapon from what I’ve seen.
Virgil Green kept the train rolling in Denver and had a bunch of really good plays in the passing game. On a 3rd down he ran a great crossing route with a big stiff arm to convert. In the 2nd half this connection works again to convert a 3rd and 12. One of the more gutsy deeper throws by Siemian to Green was in the middle of the field late in the 4th quarter.
Don’t look now, but this defense is rounding into form. They looked like a more cohesive unit against the run this week (competition has something to do with that to be fair).
The big plays were there though and when the pressure gets turned up, this defense plays like a pack of mad wolverines scrapping over a rabbit carcass (did I mention to you that I friggin LOVE good defense?).
Von Miller is worth every penny he is making on that fresh, new contract. He was an absolutely destructive force for the Broncos and had game-winning plays late in the game to seal the deal. Von finished the game with a money strip sack off a great move to get by his tackle where he stab-stepped like he was going to bull into the defender on the defender’s left side. This made the tackle go flat-footed for just a fraction of a second. In that blink of an eye, Von exploded around to the outside and straight up stole Andrew Luck’s lunch money.
Something else worth mentioning is the great coaching of Bill Kollar. Want to know how you know a Bill Kollar defensive line is playing? Look no further than balls getting swatted down at the line of scrimmage. There were a good handful in the game by Von, Crick, and Wolfe.
Losing DeMarcus Ware would normally be a big talking point and all, but Denver has disgusting depth in Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett at OLB. It just wasn’t a big deal with Ray in on 64% of the snaps and Barrett in on 37%.
Aqib Talib is one of the best corners in the game today. I’m saying that after he loses his guy on a 3rd and 2 to give up a 1st down conversion. I’m saying that after he let the Colts convert a 3rd and short late by holding the jersey of Hilton. It matters not. In the 4th quarter as Talib absolutely robbed Luck and Hilton on a 3rd and long play where he predicted the pass route perfectly and took that sweet lovin’ to the house like only he can.
The other defender worth a lot of accolades was T.J. Ward. He absolutely laid the wood on a pass attempt over the middle early which is what you want to do to set the tone to the offense and make the WRs think twice about those middle of the field routes. He also had a great blitz that caused Luck to throw away a pass to avoid a sack. Ward had a few passes that he gave up, but mostly he was all over the field flying to the ball and making plays.
Darrian Stewart late in the game gets an unnecessary roughness call for his elbow hitting Luck’s helmet on a slide. Great job by Stewart trying to adjust to not kill the guy, but too bad his elbow made contact. Stewart poor open field form on a pass inside the 10 to give up a TD. I kinda have to give the guy a pass though...he was the only player on defense to be in on 100% of the defensive snaps.
McManus misses a 50+ yard field goal early, hits a gimme from 23, then nails a 43 yarder before halftime, and knocks his last 39 yarder RDTG. When he missed the first long one, it sure seemed like people were pretty irritated. I just want to remind everyone that kicking the ball through the uprights at 50+yards is not simple, even at Denver.
You just can’t argue with a win. I know part of my shtick here at MHR is to get into critiques of the game and spot flaws, but it is always good to take a step back an say, “What were the results?”
We got a win. The offense moved the ball well. The defense did everything from run stops to scoring the ball. It was a lot of what we saw last year: Great team effort.
Just like I stated this offseason: give Denver a QB who can minimize turnovers and this team is built to win. Sure we’ll get some close games where we’re all down a half inch or so of our fingernails, but it is reassuring knowing this team has the right fire and drive finish the game well.