I took a little time recently to work through the published rule changes for 2011, which you can find here on the team's official site. Most of it I’m very comfortable with, and a lot I’m strongly in favor of. The change that has already gotten the least fan support, for obvious reasons, is kicking off from the 35. What’s that about? The stats have shown an unacceptably high level of injury on special teams, particularly kickoffs. It’s really that simple. The NFL has decided that sending those 11 men flying full speed down the field, running into wedges (which are also now illegal) and hitting other players with a 20-yard run-up just isn’t worth the injury list. Much as I thrill to a great kickoff return like anyone else, I do support this one - player safety can’t be a catch phrase. It has to be turned into rational policy, and in this case, that’s what they’ve done. You’ll still see long TD returns, and shorter TD returns - perhaps not as many. You will see a greater benefit from a kicker with a big leg and an injury roster with less names. There’s a tradeoff, no doubt. I’m fine with it - it’s going to extend careers.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Over at PFF, Khaled Elsayed analyzes Monday's loss, calling Raiders LB Kam Wimbley the star of the night and crediting Von Miller with playing a game that hints at future stardom. The only other positive on the Broncos' ledger was the effort of Jason Hunter - no mention of Brian Dawkins. As for assigning blame, PFF graded all of the offensive linemen as having losing performances, especially Orlando Franklin and Chris Kuper, while Kyle Orton did not fare well under pressure. Let us know if you've heard that one before.
Meanwhile, Nathan Jahnke reviews the Bengals' victory over the Browns on Sunday, basically saying they won because they just managed to suck less than Cleveland did. Jahnke writes that DEs Robert Geathers (who did not practice yesterday) and Carlos Dunlap combined to apply plenty of pressure on Colt McCoy, that Cedric Benson had an impressive game, and that QB Andy Dalton forced plenty of passes and was lucky to not turn the ball over more and cost the Bengals the game. But Bruce Gradkowski graded out even worse, and aside from his quick-snap TD with nobody in coverage, he only completed 11 passes for 51 yards.
The Broncos are reeling from the awful performance they put out on the field Monday night. The offense was dreadful and the defense, although I saw some good things, still was vulnerable to runs on the weakside and up the middle. What was even more frustrating for fans and team alike is that the Broncos still were within striking range of the lead several times and failed to capitalize. Kyle Orton gave the worst performance of his career, and I’ve watched every game of his since the 2005 season. All in all - it was dreadful.
It’s not without its good sides. Overall, Dennis Allen called a good game. The same can’t be said for Mike McCoy, although he started to make better calls as the play went on. But the offense couldn’t seem to carry out anything he asked of them - so in one sense, it’s hard to judge. During the game, though, I was alternately watching the staff chat and watching the game, and a note went by that had been going through my own head for a while.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Woody Paige is annoyed with claims that the team may not have fared any better Monday night had Tim Tebow been the quarterback, and frankly so am I. So, Kyle isn't the only problem. The offensive line isn't so great, the run defense was iffy for much of the game and poor late, and the team as a whole exhibited a complete utter lack of discipline. But why does the fact that Orton is not the only player at fault mean he deserves to keep the starting gig?
So, the pass protection isn't that great. In that case, do you prefer a QB who steps/shuffles/slides his way into a sack multiple times per game and at best throws it away under serious pressure? Or would you like to give your team a chance to make winning plays when there's a little bit of pressure? Let's not call this a knee-jerk reaction to one little game either, or was nobody watching the preseason when Orton was doing the very same thing? Look, I'm not saying Orton is a terrible QB. He's not - we saw him turn in some excellent performances over his first two seasons in Denver. But to truly excel, the guy needs a lot of good things happening around him: big, clean pockets, a solid running game which he will not contribute to (Monday's one first down aside), and apparently a dry, sunny day. Tebow may not be the answer, but we might as well find out. If he's not, Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley or Landry Jones might be...
Happy Tuesday, friends, even though it really isn’t. I was in a hating-some-people mood all day Monday, and it continues today. Last night’s game against the Raiders tells us some important things about the Broncos, and all we can really do is take the lessons and try to understand what happened, and what it means on a go-forward basis. Feel the excitement? Ready… Begin (or whatever…)
1. Last night’s game was a great example of complementary football, and how the Broncos aren’t close to playing it yet. The primary damage was done in the second quarter behind bad field position, penalties, a blocked punt, and a couple of terrible turnovers.
The offense did little in this game to help the defense, which actually played at a league-average level. (I think that’s the best we can hope for in 2011.) When Matt Prater missed his 56-yard field goal, it gave the Raiders good field position. When Knowshon Moreno fumbled, it gave the Raiders excellent field position. When Britton Colquitt’s punt was blocked, it gave the Raiders excellent field position. When Kevin Vickerson took that awful personal foul penalty at the end of the first half, he practically asked Sebastian Janikowski to kick his record-tying field goal, which ended up being the difference in the game.
TJ: Doug, for the record, I think Eddie Royal goes off tonight. The Raiders play man, and with our play action Eddie will be able to use 2 moves
Ted: Yeah, Royal is a man-beater. That's the main reason I like him outside
Denver’s first possession ends with a punt; Oakland promptly fumbles the ball right back, but Denver settles for a 28-yard FG after taking over on the Oakland 15. 3-0 Broncos
TJ: Here we go! Double TEs, I guess they want to run
Doug: Wow nice little wrinkle - who ever game plans for Spencer Larsen in the passing game?
Ted: I like Lloyd in the slot on Huff... Huff sucks
TJ: Was that a 023? I haven't seen that ever in the preseason. Nice stuff, they've shown 4 different personnel packages on the first 4 plays
Ted: Wow, Clady got defeated there. Bad read by Moreno, too.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Well, it's (still) morning at least. While Denver's 23-20 loss (box score) to the Raiders was not quite of the same magnitude of their previous three defeats to Oakland, in some ways it was worse. The narrative we've been told for the past eight months is that John Fox would bring offensive balance and discipline to Denver, but his debut showed none of either; it was instead hallmarked by penalties in bunches (ten of them, and those are just the ones Oakland accepted), turnovers (three), a blocked punt, several wasted timeouts, and a complete dud on offense - the team mustered only 13 offensive points as Eric Decker's lipstick-on-a-pig punt-return TD was the only thing that saved Denver from getting blown out. The Broncos' reputed new commitment to the run resulted in 13 carries for just 38 yards with a long of 13 by none other than Kyle Orton.
Speaking of Orton, if last night didn't epitomize his career in Denver, then what does? Fantasy owners will be happy with his 304 yards, but that empty number required a whopping 46 attempts to achieve and was accompanied by just one TD but two costly turnovers - a ghastly INT and a phantom fumble that called Jay Cutler and Ed Hochuli to mind on what could have been a TD pass to a wide open Daniel Fells. To make matters worse, Orton shuffled his feet into five sacks and could have been picked off on several more occasions. Three visits to the red zone and just the one touchdown, when Oakland was working with a 10-point lead and playing off coverage. In short, it looks like we'll be seeing Tim Tebow a bit sooner than Woody had predicted, or perhaps the Broncos really will be in the running to select Andrew Luck next April.
Let me start with a question.
Did you think when the Broncos fell behind by a score of 23-13 early in the 4th quarter that Kyle Orton was going to lead them back?
Nah, me neither.
That's your 2011 Denver Broncos. They are a team in limbo--stuck between Orton and a guy the Broncos claim is sharing 2nd-string status with Brady Quinn (when they're not leaking how bad his mechanics are). On the horizon is the secret that John Elway keeps to himself--he's taking a quarterback with his first pick next year.
Tonight did nothing to change that. Those boos you heard weren't just Tebow cheers in disguise. They are the outcome of a fan base that knows the truth.
The truth is this: the Broncos' defense played well enough for them to win tonight. They'll continue to play well enough to win.
Can the Broncos' offense stay out of their way?
Enjoy the games, and Go Broncos!
The team is asking all fans attending tonight's game to wear orange like the team is doing, and to be in their seats by 30 minutes prior to kickoff for a special ceremony commemorating the anniversary of 9/11. They've even been using a recording of Brandon Lloyd in phone calls to season-ticket holders to get the message out.