Good morning, Broncos Country!
I've never been comfortable saying one player, one play or even one call is the reason for a loss. It's a team game, and a loss comes from an accumulation of misses.
Even when one player on one final play costs the team a win, the loss is no doubt a result of a string of mistakes leading to that moment where one play will make or break the game.
So I think Gary Kubiak has a point when he says execution was the main problem on Sunday. It wasn't the only one, by any stretch, but it was the biggest. And the coach's role in it - or lack thereof - cannot be overlooked.
"I think it's always execution. Adjustments, yeah, you make according to how you're being played. We were doing a pretty good job against how we were being played. We went out and did a lot of the same things that we did in the first half," Kubiak said Monday, adding the Steelers didn't play differently second half, just better. "It's always a combination of a lot of things. The bottom line is that we have to execute better."
Kubiak reiterated on Monday his view that the Broncos' first-half performance was some of the best football he's been around. The second half? Not so much.
"It was tremendous except for a fumble on play two. We need to build off of that. Our execution in the second half yesterday was poor. It was penalty filled. We dropped snaps, we dropped balls. You name it, we did it," Kubiak said. "We're going to try to build off the first half in what we did and obviously try to do some things different in the third quarter because we have to play a lot better coming out of the locker room than we're playing right now."
The question is, of course, what is Kubiak going to do to help these players execute better? Everyone - including the coach - taking a good look at his own responsibility is a good start.
Chris Harris, Jr., who already placed blame solely on himself for the defense allowing the Steelers to push their way back into the game, said it even more plainly - he just got beat.
"Shoot, we just played straight man-to-man. One-on-one, that's what we do. I just lost," he said. "It's just the way it is. It happens to the best of them. I've just got to regroup and come back next week even better."
The highlights were aplenty for @ESanders_10 in his Steel City return. WATCH https://t.co/oBGioEJFUU pic.twitter.com/Nkq2yTLdEy— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 21, 2015
Emmanuel Sanders is also in the "we just have to play better" camp.
"It's a lack of everything. You can't point the finger at anyone but yourself and that's what I'm doing," said the wide receiver. "Obviously, I could have done something better. I could have brought more energy to the catches that I made or made a certain block. That's what I'm about. I'm about pointing the finger at myself, not saying the coaches could have made better calls."
Of course that's what we'll do, but I like the leadership and integrity from Harris and Sanders - that attitude heading into this practice week should keep the team focused on playing better for a Monday night showdown that has huge playoff implications.
But don't expect Kubiak to be using that as motivation. He's just focusing on winning each game.
"I worry about us," Kubiak said. "I know that that team that played in the first half last night could be very successful here down the road and the team that played in the second half is going to have a harder time. We've got a big game this week against a very good football team. That's what we're trying to do right now."
Dare I say it?
On to Cincinnati.
Manning back to practice
Speaking of Cincinnati, Kubiak didn't automatically name Brock Osweiler the starting QB on Monday, saying that the goal has always been to get Peyton Manning healthy and see where he's at each week.
"It was good to have him back a practice. We'll see. My assumption is that we will get back to that on Wednesday," Kubiak said, adding that Manning could be active on Monday night. "We're trying to work him back to where we feel like he can go play and he can go be himself. That's been the plan all along and we're not there yet."
But even if Manning isn't starting or playing at all, Kubiak and Osweiler say Manning has been a big asset to the offense.
"He's contributed a great deal, yeah. He's very much involved. He had a lot of good ideas yesterday," the coach said. "He's doing everything that we ask him to do and he's doing it because he wants to do it."
Just for fun, enjoy this spoof Nationwide ad discovered by the one and only, Jess Place:
Peyton Manning Christmas lights show QB's true colors
Via Sports Illustrated, Peyton Manning "says" he's perectly fine to act as the Denver Broncos backup QB, but we're not buying it.Posted by The Cauldron on Monday, December 21, 2015
Last-minute Christmas gifts - football books you'll love
In honor of the Broncos' resident book lover and total balls-out player, David Bruton, who suffered a fractured fibula in the first quarter but played the entire game because he is a stud (even enduring a dirty hit from Cody Wallace), I have some football-related books that just might make a great last-minute Christmas gift (and make Bruton happy that you're reading!)
My First Book of Football, Sports Illustrated Kids
With the help of a "rookie" cartoon character mixed in with photos of real NFL players and games, this is a perfect choice for a young kid (ages 4-7) getting interested in the game of football. With sometimes simplistic but often entertaining ways to explain the game and its rules, I'm thinking this could also be a great gift for many of the NFL's referees and perhaps the commish himself (you know, in case he realizes there's a certain Steeler who needs a suspension!)
Yo, @NFL...what are you going to do about this? https://t.co/kXfhoybwVQ— L.Lattimore-Volkmann (@docllv) December 22, 2015
Tales from the Denver Broncos Sideline, Andrew Mason
Though I must confess to not having read this (though it is on my list this year!), knowing what a good writer and storyteller Mason is, I have to believe this is worth more than its $16 price tag.
The Last Season, Stuart Stevens
This is an outstanding book by an outstanding writer who shares a personal story of reconnecting with his father via college football. Aiming to get back to the days of his childhood when he spent Saturdays watching Ole Miss games with his dad, Stuart Stevens invites his aging father to attend a season of Ole Miss games with him, and the two embark on a journey that is all about football and all about much more too.
Super Bowl Gold: 50 Years of the Big Game
If there is a mack daddy of coffee table books - and one that fans like you and me would actually want to take time to flip through - this is it. Highlighting all 49 of the past Super Bowls with small factoids and interesting sidebar info, there is nothing that will ease your soul after a Sunday loss better than flipping to page 224 and remembering "This one's for John!" just one more time.
The Denver Broncos are suffering an identity crisis | Mile High Sports
Following a loss to the Steelers, everything we've come to expect from Gary Kubiak, Brock Osweiler and the Denver defense is now being called into question.
NFL Week 17 Playoff Implications: Someone Has To Win The NFC South | FiveThirtyEight
With just one week remaining in the NFL regular season, the playoff implications are fairly straightforward, and running thousands of simulations of Week 17 simulations may seem like overkill. But the field is far from settled.
Here's how the 10-4 division-leading Broncos could still miss the playoffs - CBSSports.com
Could the Broncos miss the playoffs?
Interviewed #Broncos' PS tight end Dan Light. Incredibly cool story coming soon in @MileHighReport. #GronkoftheBronx pic.twitter.com/pcktqlK09w— L.Lattimore-Volkmann (@docllv) December 22, 2015
Gary Kubiak sounds off on Vernon Davis' drops - The Denver Post
On a third down in the fourth quarter, with the game tied at 27-all in Pittsburgh on Sunday, tight end Vernon Davis found himself in familiar territory.
Denver Broncos: Gary Kubiak deserves plenty of blame
Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak deserve's the lion's share of the blame for the team's recent stretch of losing (4 of the last 7 games)...
Denver Broncos safety David Bruton Jr. played with broken leg Sunday
Safety David Bruton Jr. played most of Denver's game at Pittsburgh with a fractured right fibula that will sideline him indefinitely.
David Bruton believes Cody Wallace should be punished for late hit
David Bruton believes Pittsburgh offensive lineman Cody Wallace should be punished for his late helmet-to-helmet hit Sunday.
Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders safety, to retire after 18th season - The Denver Post
Woodson announced Monday he will retire following his 18th NFL season, ending a career that included a Heisman Trophy, a Super Bowl title, numerous honors.
Andrew Luck ruled out for Colts' Week 16 game vs. Dolphins - CBSSports.com
It's starting to look like Andrew Luck might not play again this season.
Giants should have suspended Beckham themselves | ProFootballTalk
Largely lost in the antics of Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was the failure of his team to do anything about it. From teammates to coaches, no one was able to get Beckham under control -- and no one was inclined to get him off the field.