There’s nothing quite like getting your hat handed to you, is there? When you get an old-fashioned whipping, you take it and move onward. There’s a good point in working out what went wrong - there’s no point in taking it too far. This was one of the top teams in the league, fresh off whipping the Steelers in Pittsburgh. They look and play like one of the best, and right now, they are. Denver? Not yet. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
I mentioned this week that of the 53 players on the active roster of Denver in 2008, 32 of them couldn’t even get jobs in the league, playing ball. That means that you’re realistically looking at between 40 and 50 new players, and not all of them are going to be with the team in three more years, either. Some of them are band-aids - I see Jamal Williams that way, and it bothers me that we didn’t fill in a young NT, but that’s the way the draft goes. Or, is it?
In his Monday presser, Josh McDaniels has already announced that the Broncos will be without several defensive starters for Sunday’s matchup against the Jets. Linebackers Robert Ayers and Wesley Woodyard, safeties Brian Dawkins and Darcel McBath, and cornerback Andre’ Goodman are all out. UPDATE 7:45 PM ET - Ayers reportedly has a broken foot and will be out 2 to 3 months, while Dawkins will be out 2 to 3 weeks with a strained knee ligament.
Note: Each Monday we take a look at a player the Broncos used in a new, creative, or interesting way in the previous day’s game. This week we’re getting a second plate of Kyle Orton.
After a game like yesterday, it’s difficult to find anything creative or interesting. The Ravens shook their tail feathers in the faces of the Broncos all day.
So when in doubt on whom to focus on today, I decided to go with the guy who threw for 300 yards.
It’s not Orton’s specific stats that I want to focus on (we’ll get to that in a moment). It’s something specific he’s doing in the pocket this year that all of the so-called elite quarterbacks do in this league. On a weekly basis, you’ll see Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees do it. Ben Roethlisberger (when he’s not spending time in Georgia college towns) probably does it best in the league.
Just what do they do that is so elite?
UPDATED 9:45 AM ET
Good Morning, Broncos fans. That felt familiar, didn’t it? In case you missed it, yesterday’s game went just like every other trip to Baltimore for the Broncos - so just picture one of those prior affairs and you’re good. Denver got shoved around (28 first downs and 233 rushing yards for BAL), played undisciplined (10 penalties), couldn’t keep the ball (1 fumble and 23:43 of possession), couldn’t move the ball (one fruitless trip to the red zone), and again lost the battle up front (4 tackles for loss and 1 sack for BAL, 0 TFL and 1 sack for DEN) in losing 31-17. The final score does not do the game justice, however - the Ravens may have had a TD on their first drive had they challenged the call, and the Broncos got a garbage-time TD pass from Kyle Orton to Brandon Lloyd for their final score (Lloyd’s second of the game). In other words, it wasn’t nearly as close as 14 points would indicate, and really it felt more like a 42-10 game. Andre’ Goodman started but departed after just four plays, while Darcel McBath injured an ankle and Demaryius Thomas left with an apparent neck injury while fumbling a kickoff he returned from five yards deep. Brian Dawkins, David Bruton and Robert Ayers also got a bit banged up. Better rest/heal up quickly, though - another bruising team is next on the schedule, as the New Jersey Jets visit on Sunday.
As a Broncos fan, it was hard to watch the past five seasons as teams like the Ravens continued to simply beat up on Mike Shanahan’s finesse offenses.
But in some ways, it’s even harder to watch the same thing happen to a bigger Broncos team like the one Josh McDaniels is creating.
The Broncos are bigger. The Broncos are tougher. But against the standard bearers of big and tough—the Baltimore Ravens—they continue to play small and weak.
For all of the talk about the Broncos high-octane passing attack, they were the ones to internally combust.
But can a team really light itself on fire in all phases of a football game? Apparently so.
The Broncos lost the game 31-17. As a player, a coach, an owner, and a fan, you can point in a lot of different directions. Drive-killing penalties? Check. Turnovers? Check. Lack of pressure? Check.
Enjoy the games everyone, and Go Broncos!!
Quick, who is last in the league in turnover margin?
Detroit? Buffalo? San Francisco?
If you guessed the Raiders, you almost got it. They are tied for 24th. And it’s always a legitimate guess to place the Raiders as the worst in any category.
But how many of you guessed the Baltimore Ravens?
That’s right. The Ravens are officially minus-7 on the year in turnover differential. Dead last in the league.
And yet this is a team that is 3-1. So what do we make of this turnover stat?
Who’s in Charge Here, Anyway?
I wanted to put up a brief blurb of thanks to Titans DC Chuck Cecil for sharing the digitus impudecus with the refs and the crowd - including the kids both there at the game and on TV. Note to Coach Cecil - All the families with children want to thank you for sharing that teaching moment. I understand that it’s a loss of control during a very high stress situation, but you know where you play and about those big things called cameras. I think that the $40,000 was just about right. You earned every penny of that fine. It’s pretty hard to come down on players for acting out on the field when your coordinators are making obscene gestures on the sidelines. When you show that you don’t have any control, you do a pretty good job of suggesting that your players take the cheap shots when they do, just as they were accused of. Things like that start - and can stop - at the top.
Good Morning, Broncos Fans! Well, here’s that always-scary matchup for Denver - the Ravens in Baltimore. Aside from a win, what I’m hoping to see most of all is that the Broncos are a tougher team than they’ve ever been, as Ted Bartlett averred earlier in the week. What makes this trip always so intimidating, of course, is that the Broncos seem to get pushed around every time they show up at M&T, and that stretches back to that brutal playoff loss to Big Play Shay & Company. Let’s hope to see the LOS moving in different directions today, not just towards the Broncos. We’ll need to see not only that, but no deep turnovers and some semblance of protection greater than what Kyle Orton received last Sunday. Yes, the sack rate is low. But the hits and the sacks add up no matter how often you’re chucking…
(Note: Each Saturday we bring you a tasty late-night Broncos snack. The Kool-Aid is optional, but we’re drinking enough for everyone.)
Man shall not live by the spread alone.
If you’ve paid any attention to the media this week, you’ve probably seen tomorrow’s game billed as the league’s best passing offense versus the league’s best passing defense. While this is technically true when viewed through the prism of total yards per game, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to see Kyle Orton chucking the ball at 20-yard clips or Brandon Lloyd battling along the sideline for deep balls.
You’ve probably also heard that the Broncos absolutely must establish some sort of running game in order to have a chance in the game. This is equally untrue. Statistically speaking, passing the football has always (unless we go back 6 decades) had a significantly higher correlation coefficient to winning than running the football. Moreover, today’s passing game, if done properly, has the ability to replace the run a lot of the time.
In today’s NFL, running the football is truly secondary to the pass. Still, the run has some importance, if, for nothing else, to keep a defense from simply guessing pass on every play.
But if the Broncos aren’t going to challenge the Ravens deep and they aren’t going to establish the run, how are they going to beat the Ravens?