First of all, these updates will be coming with some regularity from this point on. With all the upheaval within the Denver Broncos organization, I wanted to give an opportunity for stability to set and get some true measure of where the organization really is before imposing my amateur judgment.
Heading into this game, there were many questions surrounding the Broncos. They’d beaten a hapless Oakland Raiders team and a floundering group from Pittsburgh masquerading as the Steelers, while losing to the elite tier of the NFL. In their losses, Denver had found themselves down by large margins (27-7 at Atlanta, another 20 pt deficit vs Houston going into the fourth at 31-11, and a 31-7 deficit at New England nearing the fourth quarter). Were these scores more indicative of the Broncos talent level than the much-closer final scores? The affectionately termed “garbage time”–and keep in mind, garbage time isn’t solely indicative of a prevent defense, it also reflects one dimensional run-the-clock-out offensive play? “The Broncos were not bad” seemed to be the only certainty, but when you have Peyton Manning on the payroll, “not bad” is nothing shy of unacceptable.
I found myself anxiously looking forward to the match-up against the Chargers, a very solid, but unspectacular team shy of the league’s elite, and a phenomenal measuring stick not only of our status within the AFC West, but within the league itself. The game arrives and through two quarters we seem to have found our answer: The Broncos suck. Special teams’ errors prevent the Broncos offense from getting any rhythm and left the defense to do what it does best: surrender yards and points to TEs and RBs and anyone willing to make a play over the middle.
My comments last week:
“Good as he is, schematically selecting Miller and playing him as we have been (which IS to maximize his abilities) often put us in a poor spot. We have a player that is an absolute world beater within his role, but he’s not transcendent of scheme (not to say he couldn’t be, he certainly has the athletic skill set for it). He fixes our pass rush woes in spades, but doesn’t address our linebacker woes over the middle (ie: he’s a great player, but he’s not solving issues like TE/RB coverage due to his utilization).”
Now let’s contrast that to what actually happened. Antonio Gates had 5 first half catches for 68 yards and 2 scores leading the Chargers to a 24-0 lead. Then something magical happens… instead of rushing Von, he’s covering… and doing it pretty well. Gruden criticized the move, correctly pointing out that Miller’s best asset is his pass-rushing ability. What Gruden’s lack of Broncos defense focus neglected to realize, no one else was capable of covering. Joe Mays and Brooking can’t cover. Mike Adams can’t fill and take on Gates in a match-up battle. Woodyard can run with him, but can’t get his head around to make a play on the ball.
So Von it must be… situationally, at least.
When DJ Williams returns, we can cut down further on those coverage drops and get him chasing the QB more, but without telegraphing his role to opposing offensive line coaches. With our given personnel, I want 3-3 nickel looks in long passing situations with Elvis, Vickerson and Meth-Wolfe on the line with Woodyard, DJ and Von standing up. With moderate splits, our LBs should have some premium pass-rushing match-ups coming on a blitz–All three have shown an innate ability to get to the quarterback… let’s take advantage of it. Let’s dictate protection schemes as opposing OC’s have to analyze tendencies to answer questions like: Who’s coming on 3rd and long? How many are coming?
Let’s abuse the mediocre QBs-to-come in this pending soft spot in the schedule and build the Broncos into that elite crust… back where they belong.
Jeff Triplette is useless. Phantom PI and pseudo-”false start”s on Rivers among his most recent hits. Hopefully the league can bench this crew under the new officiating agreement… they didn’t even meet the replacement refs standards.
Tony Carter looked exactly like Tramon Williams out there. Really nice to see a local guy (went to High School right next to my girlfriend’s house) not only get an opportunity, but kick the door in on it. He’s made it hard for the coaches to keep him off the field moving forward.
Manning to Stokely is timeless. As are Manning and Stokely individually.
Welcome back Chris Kuper. Whether it was confidence or rust, his rough start seemed to fade and he played stronger towards the end. His is a presence that will be necessary on the OL if we want to compete with the league’s aristocracy.
Decker is his own worst enemy. I’m not sure where his head is at, but when he gets out of his own way he’s a very good wide receiver.