If you’re a superstitious fan, you may have figured all the predictions of “a blowout” jinxed the Broncos.
If you’re a pessimist, you will blame the QB, the O-line, the Run D and the zone coverage for the embarrassment that was called a game last night.
If you’re an optimist, you note that Demaryius Thomas had 133 yards, his best game of the season so far, despite being nicked up, and the defense held the Giants to only one touchdown and even blocked a field goal.
If you’re a pragmatist, you know the best reaction is to “learn from the film and move on to the Chargers.”
If you’re just mad, you’d probably say burn the “All-Blues.”
But if you’ve taken a deep breath after the 23-10 home loss to the Giants, you’ll note that the season is not over, the 3-2 Broncos still control their destiny and the AFC is still very much up-for-grabs.
“Everything goes great when it’s going great, but it’s all about adversity and how you react to it,” said safety Justin Simmons. “We’re hitting a little bit of adversity coming out of the bye week, but we have a long schedule ahead of us, 11 games left in the season, plenty enough to turn it around and to get going.”
Still - the Broncos squandered an excellent opportunity to take advantage of a team clearly depleted of strength - but clearly not will.
And the home team was definitely out-coached as a six starters-less Giants team waltzed into Mile High with far more grit than the one just coming off a bye.
“It was terrible. They came out to play,” said linebacker Brandon Marshall. “We started off real flat, and we just couldn’t overcome the turnovers. We didn’t stop the run today.”
Coach Vance Joseph called it “obviously” a bad start from the beginning.
Marshall took onus for bad play.
C.J. Anderson just called it bad football all around by the Broncos.
“We just got our butt kicked tonight,” said the running back who ran just 17 yards in four quarters - a 1.9 yards-per-carry average. “I don’t know what else to say. It’s plain and simple. It was bad execution and bad football. It’s on us.”
With almost an entire backup unit for skills positions on the offense, a Giants trio of Eli Manning, Orleans Darkwa and Evan Engram carved up the Broncos defense like a jack-o-lantern on Halloween.
Darkwa ran through the Broncos “elite” run defense for 117 yards while rookie Engram staked out 82 yards over the middle on a 16.4 yard-per-catch average.
My son is using the fart gun every bad #Broncos play/penalty.— L.Lattimore-Volkmann (@docllv) October 16, 2017
There have been way too many "farts" so far this game.
Trevor Siemian was sacked four times, threw two interceptions, including a pick-six, while the run game combined for 46 yards total, and Brandon McManus missed two field goals (one blocked). Until Jeff Heuerman’s touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter, the Giants’ defense had outscored the Broncos’ offense 6-3.
It was as pathetic a showing for a team contending for the AFC West as one could have imagined - especially for a home team about to go on the road for three tough road games.
“Obviously, the start wasn’t what we wanted on both sides of the ball, really,” head coach Vance Joseph said of the loss. “Defensively, they drove down and they got three the first drive. We had issues in the running-pass game. Offensively, they applied some pressure with different schemes, even a four-man rush. Absolutely, our start was not where I thought it was going to be.”
The blame game will be long and painful by fans and analysts this week, but the analysis from the team wasn’t all that complicated - the offense can’t have turnovers and the defense can’t allow big plays.
“I mean we didn’t score in the red zone, and I turned it over. It’s tough to win that way,” said Siemian, who was 29 of 50 on passing attempts with 376 yards. “You’re already playing a good team; you can’t play against yourself as well.”
Joseph definitely agreed that the red zone offense is a concern.
“[Giants] did a great job with their run blitzes. They did a great job in their single-high and single-gap defenses, which obviously gave us a hard time in the run game,” the coach said. “When that happens, you want to throw the ball more. We did that and made some plays in the pass game, but couldn’t finish in the red zone again. We were one and three in the red zone. That remains an issue for us.”
But, of course, the turnovers were the biggest problem.
“When you have three turnovers, it’s hard to say you played well,” Joseph added. “Watching the film, I’ll know more tomorrow. Turnovers are always tied to the quarterback and that’s the key to success on offense—not turning the ball over. I would say with three turnovers, probably not good.”
Giants safety Landon Collins who accounted for one of Siemian’s two picks, said the defense didn’t do anything different, it just played aggressive.
“After the first three series, we got [Siemian] kind of shook because he wasn’t expecting what we were doing,” Collins said. “We watched a lot of film. He was just holding it too long and not letting it go.”
Siemian’s slow decision-making behind a weak right side cost him and the offense several times - as cornerback Eli Apple pointed out.
“We were able to rush the passer and get some good sacks out there to kill some of those drives,” Apple said. “I think we can actually play better and limit some of those explosive yards.”
The Giants defense most definitely limited explosive yards. Although Demaryius Thomas had a big statistical night with 133 yards on 10 receptions, he and the offense could barely get into the red zone or convert once there. And a 4th-and-5 conversion from DT that turned into a fumble was one of a long list of miscues by the Broncos offense.
“I can only speak on myself, and of course I could’ve played better, especially on the conversion,” Thomas said. “I converted on fourth-and-5 and turned it over, that would’ve been big for us. I’m just going to get back in the lab, go back to practice and try to get better every week.”
The lack of production and mistakes by the Broncos offense have previously been recoverable by the Broncos’ defense for the most part.
But last night’s showing could ultimately do no such thing despite many stops.
A "decimated" #Giants offense is torching our "elite" defense way too often tonight.— L.Lattimore-Volkmann (@docllv) October 16, 2017
Following Denver’s first offensive three-and-out to start the game, the Giants offense engineered a 13-play, seven-minute drive that only netted a field goal despite driving to the 7-yard line.
Two more punt-ending drives by the Broncos offense set up a nightmare scenario for a flat Broncos defense as the Giants busted the D wide open with a 47-yard run to start the second quarter.
Linebacker Todd Davis said that drive shifted momentum and the defense never really recovered.
“They got a big play in the run game and it shifted some of the momentum and we were just trying to play catch up from there,” Davis said, adding that the Giants offense didn’t do anything too flashy or new, but they “got after us.”
“It started off as one of those tough ones in the beginning and it’s one of those things that you got to continue to fight through,” Davis added. “We didn’t end up fighting enough this night.”
That lack of fight will surely be addressed by coaches - and perhaps GM John Elway - today as the team watches film to confirm what they already know - poor effort equals poor execution.
“Throughout the game, we were consistently getting in the backfield a few times and making a few plays, but there were a few times where one person was out of their gap. It is what it is,” said Simmons. “A few times we stopped them, but they kept coming back to it, and like I said, they found different ways to get into different plays and so there towards the end, they found a few ways to pop a few run plays and it worked out.”
It certainly did.
Running the ball and throwing short passes to the tight end limited the effect of the No Fly Zone, and Chris Harris Jr. pointed out that was a frustrating reality - even though it was not really a surprise.
“No, we kind of expected that,” Harris Jr. said, adding that the Giants “came ready” to fight. “Their defense played great. They had turnovers and that really changed the game. Eli played really safe. They did not really throw the ball down the field and with the way the game went, he could play like that.”
Harris on Engram "We weren't doubling him at first. I thought that was the game plan doubling him,but us & the LBs weren't on the same page"— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) October 16, 2017
If you’re a realist, you look at this game and recognize there are obvious weaknesses that have to be addressed - some possible during the season, some not - and then you take the Von Miller approach.
“A loss is a loss,” he said. “We lost a game. We’ve got a big rivalry game coming up this week against the Los Angeles Chargers and they’ve been playing well. They’ve strung together two wins and it’ll be a tough one. Every week is a tough one. You’ve got to be desperate to win. We’ve got to get this win next week against the Chargers.”
But it might not hurt to include a little bit of Anderson’s mood right now too.
“It’s pathetic right now. We’re just not executing. Myself, us playmakers, we’re not making plays. It’s on us. We’ve got to find a way to put the ball in the box,” he said. “We’re relying on the defense to make a play and that’s just terrible. It’s terrible football, and we’re not helping our team that way.”