I’m going to level with you, Broncos Country. This isn’t going to be a pretty review. If I’m going to give a real, honest, No Bull game analysis of our team, from time to time we are going to have to put on our galoshes and slickers and go trounce about in the mud.
Don’t get me wrong: A win is a win. At the end of the day, I’m elated that the team pulled out this game against a division rival. I think it shows great fortitude, will, and teamwork that they were able to put it together on all three sides of the ball to climb their way back on top by the end of the game and seal a victory when defeat was straight up beating on the castle walls all game long.
But this game overall was ugly. There were problems all over the place with how this team was coached, how both sides of the ball were called (at times), and how the players performed.
If the coaches are willing to be real about it, there is a lot of improvement to be had from this game that would help the team in the long run.
Let’s get sloppy...
We’re going to jump right into the middle of a big ole puddle by starting with the offense.
The first half offensively was pretty terrible all the way around. The play calls were by and large very timid and easy for the Raiders defense to defend. If you are going to run route combinations within 10 yards (mostly), they can sit in zone and hold it down well enough as long as they defend the run.
For the most part they did that and it made 3rd downs absolutely rough sledding for the team early. But to make matters worse, there were several plays where routes were ran far too short of the sticks. One was a simple crossing route by our TE what is something he can easily run just a yard deeper and likely still have success getting open with a good cut.
The positives to take way here for Bill Musgrave was his halftime adjustments. The offense righted all the wrongs and came out much more aggressive in the second half which in my mind was the key to the team winning. It put the Raiders defense on their heels, wore them down, and sealed the game winning drive with all the momentum going the Broncos’ way.
As far as Case Keenum goes, you have to give him a helluva lot of credit for the way he led the team back in the 2nd half. In all honesty, I give him credit as well for going from 3 terribad picks down to 1.
He still needs to work on the decision making part of his game in this offense though. I liked the play design on his pick, but the read he stuck with wasn’t there at all and was easy to see from how the defender played his route and the safety rotated down from the top. In a play design like that with no real outlet passes on that side of the field (they were meant to free up the primary read that attacked a seam that would have been there if the safety bit to the left), you have to be ready to throw it away or take the sack.
The other thing I’m picking up in his game is a big time lack of accuracy. He’s not built the right familiarity with this receiving corps yet to be able to get the ball placement right and if I’m not missing my mark, some of that comes from a lack of velocity on his throws.
But let’s get back to the good stuff: I love the fight and confidence this quarterback shows on the field. He’s done it two weeks in a row and it is building great chemistry with the team and helping everyone’s confidence knowing they have a guy at the helm that is going to go down swinging when the going gets tough.
As I stated last week, I was trying to focus on the line play quite a big this week. It wasn’t as impressive of a week as week 1 to be honest. A lot of the problems the team head early in the game stemmed from our line not winning up front. Almost every play in the 1st quarter saw the Raiders holding ground or getting push against the run blocking. When you add to it that they often times were able to bring one more player to the side of the run than the Broncos had blocking, and you have a recipe for spending most of your snaps off schedule.
Probably the most encouraging thing I noticed from the line in this game was that our starting RT Jared Veldheer went out with a concussion and Billy Turner stepped in without missing a beat. He held it down in a big way in the 2nd half and it wasn’t just a few plays. He was in on over 50% of the snaps and I bet most of you didn’t even notice.
As the game wore on though, that mile high air really helped out the line up front. The Raiders lack decent pass rushers, but they have very stout run blockers across their front. Unfortunately without a large rotation, they got worn down by the final drive and our men were able to really push them around in the pass blocking arena.
My dude...is Phillip Lindsay something else or what!? Remember last year when we all wanted to draft Christian McCaffrey? Yeah...I don’t give a frigging hoot about that guy anymore. We have our very own multi-functional offensive weapon replete with all the quicks, speed, and agility you could ask for in a running back. The guy averaged 7.6 ypc and broke 100 yards. For those of you who like to play around with run stats, sure...take out his big run. He still averaged over 4.1 ypc if you do that. This kid can play NFL football and I absolutely love cheering for this guy.
Royce Freeman didn’t have that outstanding of a game if you look straight at the stats. But this is the No Bull Review...you can pound sand with that thinking. Freeman was the thunder to Lindsay’s lightning and he was an absolutely integral tool to have against that stacked Oakland front 7. His 1 yard TD run (shout out to our boy Andy Janovich by the way...that was a hell of a block buddy) was a big time play that we NEEDED and Freeman was the only cat you want in on that play.
I was so relieved when we finally got to see Emmanuel Sanders get involved in the 2nd half. He was money on every pass thrown his way and a big part of this team winning the game. I’d like to see him get more than 4 targets per game though. The way he plays, this offense needs to be throwing his way at least 8 times per game.
I’m very excited to see the production out of Jake Butt in this game. He showed signs of what we’ve been hoping since we drafted him: a real smooth route running TE with great hands.
Tim Patrick only had one catch in the game (screw you refs...that was absolutely a TD catch in every way according to the 2018 clarifications to the rulebook), but the guy got my game ball this week and he’s worth a couple lines to celebrate. He made a really big play that showed some sharp thinking at a pivotal moment in the game. Keep working your craft, Tim. You have the goods and a long future in the NFL.
A special No Bull take on DT:
Time to drop some more No Bull #TRUTH up in this. Demaryius Thomas is no longer a #1 NFL WR. He’s paid like one. He looks like one. He has a ring to prove he’s been one. But the #1 best thing that Bill Musgrave can do to help improve our offense is shift snap numbers so that the young guns start seeing the field more than Thomas does.
“Sadaraine, how can you say this nonsense! It was just one game!”
Sorry, Broncos Country, but my eyes and the stats both don’t lie. I started talking about DT looking like he lost a step last year in my reviews. This is nothing new. Now let’s add to it that he’s throwing stat lines out there like 11 targets with 5 receptions for a whopping 3.6 average and 0 TDs and you lose me. Add to it that 3 of those missed targets were absolutely infuriating drops that in every way should have been caught and you get the boo birds coming out from the stands (and rightly so).
Would Peyton Manning put up with this kind of play? Nope. Peyton Manning would stop throwing DT’s way if that was the kind of performance he got. Manning demanded performance from his receivers and that’s what the coaches should be doing moving forward.
Let’s start with a big dose of reality for everyone: the Raiders offense is very talented. Sure, Carr lacks some of the 5 - 7 step drop tools you want to see out of your QB, but he’s very very good at quick throws to timing routes. Marshawn Lynch will likely wear down by the end of the season, but in week 2 this guy is an absolute impossibility to tackle with one guy. The Raiders’ line is one of the better lines in the NFL. As division rivals we talk all the smack on this team and it takes away from understanding what is really happening on the football field. This team was ready to play and it showed.
That being said, Joe Woods, Vance Joseph, and the cornerbacks need to have a long look at this film and make some serious adjustments to how they go about their business. Unlike what our offense did (make halftime adjustments in a big way to change the game), our defense didn’t make a heck of a lot of progress from one half to the next and a lot of it had to do with how the secondary was covering the receivers (more on this below).
The game plan called for stopping Marshawn Lynch. The game plan never adjusted off of that in any way, shape, or form and it was to the detriment of the passing game and darn near lost us the game.
These guys honestly did a pretty solid job against a monster front. It wasn’t pretty at all, but Brandon Marshall (4 combined tackles) and Todd Davis (5 solo tackles) did everything they could to crash down on the runs and seal holes in the passing game.
Domata Peko had another monster game with 5 tackles and a lot of film showing him swallowing up 2 blockers consistently. The guy is playing enlightened football and I absolutely love seeing it from the big guy up front.
Von Miller made plays where he could and sadly had his best play (a strip sack) nullified by a silly penalty down field. He still was a monster out there with a sack, TFL, and QH.
Tramaine Brock needs some love for this game. He had a great pass defense and was in on 6 tackles in the game. It wasn’t what I’d call a perfect game by any stretch, but for our #3 - #4 CB, it was a very strong game to put on tape and is something that I think will build opportunity for him as the season moves on.
I have some good plays by guys like Justin Simmons and Chris Harris, Jr., but both of them have some bad plays left out there as well including a TD over the middle where Simmons once again wasn’t able to diagnose the play fast enough to break up the TD pass between him and CHJ.
About that off coverage…
The biggest problem I saw all game long from our corners especially was that they mostly played off-man coverage all game long. That didn’t work in the 1st quarter. It didn’t work in the 2nd quarter. It didn’t work for them the whole frigging game. It played right into Derek Carr’s strengths (quick short timing routes) and allowed a lot of points that should never have been scored in my mind.
So let’s keep it real: I’m playing armchair GM and am just a guy watching the game like the rest of you. Was this how the defense was called? Was it specifically the game plan because guys like Amari Cooper will blow the top off of press man coverage? Did the corners have the choice on whether to play press or man and just felt more comfortable playing off? Did the coaches want the corners to be able to react to the run game because you have to swarm tackle Lynch?
We don’t know any of those answers at the end of the day. But as a guy who’s watched a lot of ball in my years and knows what defensive adjustments look like, I am going to hold firm on the opinion that the scheme could have been adjusted to take away Carr’s short game and make him beat you on a 2.5 - 3 second throw instead of letting him throw 1.5-2.3 second throws all game long.
Big time props to Shaquil Barrett. My boy has an impact wherever you get him on the field and his blocked extra point was arguably the biggest reason the Broncos got the win on Sunday.
The other special teamer who needs some big time love from Broncos Country is Brandon McManus. The guy was cash money on every kick he was asked to make including the game winning kick. One quick note for Brandon: Can you please do me and the wife a favor and stop kicking as close to the right upright on every frigging kick!? Do you not pay any attention to my boy @ThatsGoodSports? Get those kicks right down the gooch!
This is a team on the rise in my opinion. I see a lot of winning football being played and a lot of young talent throwing it down on the field of play. With guys like Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Phillip Lindsay, Bradley Chubb, and Royce Freeman making an impact, the future is looking bright.
The team has a lot to work on for this season. What I’ve seen so far looks far more like an 8 - 8 team than a playoff team to my eyes. The good thing is it is early in the season and they have plenty of time to improve on it...and they should. The team is installing a fresh offense and is infused with a lot of brand new talent. As long as they keep believing in each other, growing as a team, and fighting their asses off, the sky’s the limit.
Your turn now. Share your best No Bull insights in the comments and tell me what you thought of the game, the players, or the coaches and what you took away from it.