It is friggin about time.
Thank you Denver Broncos for a very satisfying win. Thank you for putting together three phases of a football game and looking like a solid NFL team from kickoff until the game ended.
To many in Broncos Country it is a bit bittersweet. We should have seen a whole lot more of it this year. The team has far too much talent to have lost so many games this year and this game stands as proof of that.
Hopefully the team uses this win as another data point on what needs to be done to course correct and get back to playing relevant football in 2018.
Honestly, hats off to Joe Woods, the other defensive coaches, and all of the defensive players for a spectacular defensive performance. It may have only been against the Jets (who I still think are a dangerous team if McCown were healthy), but shutting out any NFL team is a pretty big feat. This one gets some serious No Bull style points too. It was one of the most dominating games I’ve ever seen from a NFL team. The Jets had exactly 100 net yards of offense. That’s rushing plus passing.
Shelby Harris superb pass rush from the NT position gets a sack to kill an early drive. He also swatted down a pass at the LOS from Wolfe’s end position later in the 1st half. The dude was asked to slide over for most of the game and do his best impression of Domata Peko and was a straight up baller. What I loved most was seeing him using his style and technique (more of a powerful gap penetrator than a space eater like Peko) and being extremely effective in this defense.
I loved seeing a little funky chicken dance out of Von Miller with a big time sack in the 2nd half. I have no clue how a guy spins around backwards, still pushing his guy back, and is able to keep his feet in order to get the sack. The dude is an amazing baller and we’re so lucky to have him play in the orange and blue. He also had 2 superb TFL, 4 tackles, and another pressure hit on the QB.
I’m going to just come out and say it is an absolute tragedy that Shaquil Barrett saw 24% of the snaps to Shane Ray’s 86%. I don’t care that we may want to sharpen up the younger, less skilled player in Ray. I don’t care that the team doesn’t have a dream of making the playoffs. Ray’s play has NOT warranted more time as a starter or on the field. He’s a lesser player than Barrett and it is a friggin insult that he’s getting more time on the field. One of the biggest gripes I have with this coaching staff is the lack of accountability in many areas and this is a great example of that. Ray has been far less effective on the field. But instead of holding him accountable and making him ride the pine since Barrett is better in almost every way, they keep trotting him out there. It is part of why this team has been such a mess in 2017.
Darian Stewart got a nice INT after McCown came back in from injury. The ball sailed on the route to be fair, but good safeties make those kinds of picks and make QBs pay for not being accurate over the middle of the field. It is good to see him playing good football. I really do think he looks like a better FS than a SS...which is a bit of a bummer honestly with Justin Simmons looking really good at FS as well. As a fan of safety play, it is a story I’ll be following this next year to be sure.
Chris Harris, Jr. looked magnificent in coverage. I honestly got quite excited to see the Jets throw his way a few times so we could enjoy what great football looks like. I especially liked Chris playing with physicality matched up with some undersized WRs that he was able to push around and throw down as it were.
The best thing about this offensive performance was the lack of mistakes. All year long the biggest problem we’ve had has been offensively shooting ourselves in the foot. It wasn’t a pretty game, but the offense was productive. The offense didn’t put the defense in a bad spot. They played complimentary football all game long and it worked like a charm.
This is what the team’s plan was all year long. Don’t make the quarterback have to do too much. Keep running the ball. Let a playmaker or two make plays and just get the lead and keep it.
The Broncos do have to be more than this. The quarterback must absolutely, positively change next year. I’m not a fan of any of the three current QBs on the team staying as a backup honestly, though we’ll likely see at least Paxton Lynch stay unless Elway finds a sucker to take him off our hands (this is due to his contract).
Also, we need more weapons and need them to consistently have an impact in both the running and the passing game.
The quarterback threw a very nice back shoulder throw down sideline to Cody Latimer early. His TD throw to DT in the end zone was another really good throw where you are letting your guy fight one on one for the ball. That’s a good risk to take with a physical receiver like DT.
Again, let me stress that we didn’t see any INTs. The pockets were shaky at times and there were a couple of throw aways and even a self-sack. That’s okay. Peyton Manning himself did that plenty of times in last couple years with us. With a defense like this and a very limited offense, the number one thing a quarterback must do is protect the ball.
This line really missed Ron Leary on the inside. Having Max Garcia and Connor McGovern as your guards with Matt Paradis at center produced almost no push up front in the run game. Let’s give some credit to the line for the Jets though...they are big and nasty to be sure. That being said, the backups being in (including Donald Stephenson who actually didn’t look that bad at RT this game) led to a very ineffective rushing attack that averaged 2.4 ypc on 35 attempts.
I’m not inclined to harp too much against our backs here. We know there are no Barry Sanders type players in this corps. Barring that, the team has to have decent run blocking to be productive and they did not. I still saw great effort from C.J. Anderson and Davontae Booker, but it hard to be productive when 1st contact is mostly happening at or before the LOS.
I will say, I loved the FB dive to Andy Janovich that scored for us on the goal line. That’s a wrinkle I’d love to see the team keep. Janovich is a weapon and a football player. The game in today’s NFL doesn’t focus on that in any way, shape, or form, but I’d love to see a more creative OC come in and find ways to use Janovich more.
Demaryius Thomas showed some of the best work I’ve seen from him all year long in this game. He went up and caught passes high. He also brought in passes with guys smothering his face. The focus he showed in this game was the kind of focus you see from impactful star #1 WRs in the NFL. He still had another two of his signature drops where the ball hits him directly in his hands. Really by the end of the game, this was one of the most consistently productive games of his season though. 12 targets, 8 catches, 93 yards and 1 TD...that’s not a bad stat line at all.
As far as the Tight Ends go, I’m just going to point out that we severely lack talent in this area of the team. I’ve seen enough from our coaches this year to know they know how to use them...the talent just isn’t there. Jeff Heuerman and Virgil Green should both put in some long, hard work this next offseason if they want to stick around in this league (Green is scheduled to be a UFA in 2018 and Heuerman will still have one year with us at <$850k which isn’t enough in my opinion to guarantee his spot if he keeps being such a lackluster player).
Brandon McManus missed a 29 yard gimme early in the game. At the end of the half, he nails a 53 yarder making it look pedestrian. At the end of the day all I know is that was 3 points out of 6 on FG attempts. We’re just happy to get the win, but I’d love to see more consistency out of McManus next season.
Not only did Jordan Taylor do the job of punt returning without muffing the catch (you taking notes, Isaiah McKenzie?), he did it with very solid production and smart decision making. He averaged 12.4 yards per return and knew when to fair catch it. Well done, Taylor!
I’m very thankful for this win. The team needed and more importantly the fans needed it. It almost felt strange winning because it had been so long since we saw good football for 4 quarters.
Whatever that was, give me more. Draft pick be damned, I want to see this team being successful and competitive. If we lose out, so be it. I’ll be happy for that draft pick. But the hell if you are going to see this guy cheering for losses.
I will say that I’m getting pretty excited for the season to end. Knowing the playoff chances for the team ended this week was relieving. Now it is like we can move on to looking forward. This is going to be an exciting offseason for the Broncos.
What is John Elway going to do to find a QB?
Is Vance Joseph going to be able to keep his job?
Is it ever too soon to dump the bag of Skittles we have currently at QB?
So many engaging ideas for us to discover.