Happy Football Monday, friends. For the first time ever, in five seasons of writing about football, I have two posts in the same calendar day. I’ve come a long way from writing one 8,000-word ST&NO every week. Today, briefly, I want to cover a few things that I think will be important in tonight’s game.
1. Sam Monson of PFF wrote a good article for ESPN Insider today that talked about Philip Rivers’s struggles against pressure this season. Per Monson:
Since the start of the 2011 season, though, his completion percentage has dropped to 45.3 percent and he has thrown almost twice the number of interceptions (nine) to touchdowns (five). His throws under pressure have also been graded negatively overall by Pro Football Focus for the first seasons since we started grading (2008).
The Broncos have some horses in the pass rush game, and the Chargers are looking like they’re going to be personnel-challenged at OT tonight. Jared Gaither really solidified the left side for San Diego last season, but he’s expected to miss the game. Jeromey Clary is pretty terrible on the right side.
On Friday, I wrote that the Patriots' alleged "blueprint" for beating the Broncos was really a blueprint for beating any defense in the NFL. I didn't think it all the way through, though, and an important point was left out.
The one-word fast running game only works when it's quiet enough for Tom Brady to call out that one word. At Seattle yesterday, the Patriots couldn't play as fast, because Brady had no ability to communicate the play as quickly as he could at home.
CenturyLink Field is the loudest outdoor stadium in the NFL, and Brady may have an easier time in stadiums with less noise. But for the moment, I'm going to say that the one-word run game is only something New England can consistently rely upon at home.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver (2-3) has an opportunity to tie San Diego (3-2) for first-place in the AFCW tonight; if not, they'll maintain a dubious pace just ahead of the one-win Raiders and Chiefs.
Oakland (1-4) nearly pulled off a shocker in Atlanta, where the Falcons needed a last-second 55-yard field goal from Matt Bryant to escape with a 23-20 win and remain unbeaten. 17 points were scored in a wild final three minutes, with Asante Samuel returning an interception of Carson Palmer 79 yards for a score, Darren McFadden scoring with 40 seconds left, and Bryant capping yet another late game-winning drive by Matt Ryan, who had been picked off by Dennis Allen's boys three times in the first half.
Kansas City (1-5) got demolished in Tampa Bay 38-10 as the Brady Quinn-led Chiefs got outgained by 202 yards, and Quinn threw two interceptions (including a pick-six by Ronde Barber) in his first start since 2009. The Chiefs are denying that embattled GM Scott Pioli has been offered a two-year extension, as was reported by CBS's Jason La Canfora earlier in the day. But Jason Whitlock believes management only issued that denial because the team had just been pasted again on the field, and he says the recent Matt Cassel/booing fans/Eric Winston drama is just proof that the NFL and its players have no respect for their own fans.
Porter has an illness, the Broncos announced, and he didn’t make the team flight to San Diego for Monday’s game. He had practiced all week.
Chris Harris will move from nickelback to starting RCB opposite Champ Bailey, and Tony Carter is expected to replace Harris as the nickelback. When the Broncos go to a six-DB package, they’ll use rookie CB Omar Bolden or one of their backup safeties—Jim Leonhard or David Bruton—depending on the situation.
I've maintained Chris Harris has the ability to start in the NFL. Tomorrow night, he'll get his first chance to prove it. The good news for the Broncos? The Chargers do not have anyone on their roster named Wes Welker.
Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli has been under intense scrutiny from fans and local media, but has been staunchly supported by owner Clark Hunt, who despite the turmoil recently offered Pioli a two-year extension, according to a league source.
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have Bill Belichick thrust upon them.
Our advice to Scott Pioli: sign the extension. The less strenuous the division is for the Broncos, the better.
Enjoy the games, and Go Falcons and Bucs!
Without the Broncos to watch on Sunday, I'm forced to attend church, clean out the garage--just kidding. I have two advanced degrees, the recession hasn't touched me, and I'm one of the 53%. So I just hire that stuff out, y'all.
Which brings me to my real point--limericks. Feel free to have a whack at life without the Broncos on Sunday. Here's what I did with my left hand (my right hand was otherwise occupied after watching reruns of Baywatch). You see, 53% of us can multitask.
Sunday Cruddy Sunday
On a day like today I would say
there's nothing in this life as the play
of the Broncos on high
with a Manning so spry
that a Denver rerun is as gay¹
The hard hitter, who has displayed a laudable dose of humility and self-awareness when it comes to his misreads and missed tackles, has had a rough year. He's struggled in both coverage and against the run (his strong suit), especially during his last two games (against Houston and New England).
Denver's coaches have apparently seen the same issues.
As Doc had called for two weeks ago, it appears the Broncos will start Keith Brooking in place of Mays tomorrow night. Brooking had been working primarily at Will - splitting time there with Wesley Woodyard - but this week, he shifted to his more familiar Mike spot, working ahead of Mays. Needless to say, we applaud the decision.
Nine Broncos are on the final injury report for Week 6, and all are listed as probable, after all 53 players on the active roster were full participants in Saturday's practice. Ryan Clady was back in action after missing Friday's work due to a minor hamstring injury.
The outlook for the Chargers is not looking as good, as kicker Nate Kaeding is out, starting left tackle Jared Gaither and nickel corner Shareece Wright are doubtful, and wideouts Eddie Royal and Malcom Floyd are both listed as questionable. RB Ryan Mathews and RT Jeromey Clary are probable.