Huge Decision of the Week: Broncos-Titans, Week 4

Note: Each Wednesday,  we take a look at a critical coaching decision from the prior week’s game that had an impact on the final score—from a statistical point.

Josh McDaniels is known for having a playbook a mile high, each week throwing multiple formations, personnel packages, and looks at the defense.

Against the Titans, he thinned the playbook out real fast.  Unable to run for much (all) of the game, the Broncos were forced into an aerial attack.

McDaniels himself is quoted as saying that at about the midway point of the 4th quarter, he essentially abandoned the running attack:

“We’re not going to go into any game and try to be one dimensional.  I think, though, at some point in a game, and for today it was 9:27 to go in the fourth quarter, we were, ‘That’s it. That’s enough.’”

Certainly, the Broncos never intended to throw the ball as many times as they did last Sunday,  but I do believe that the Broncos were heavily skewed towards the pass from the kickoff.  In fact, I think it was the focus of their game plan.  And that choice to attack the Titans, who came into the league as a highly-ranked passing defense—is our huge decision of the week.

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The Daily Lard, with feeling 10-6-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! If I may, I’d like to take a moment to offer something of a reality check on the Kyle-Orton-Sucks-McDaniels-is-an-Idiot-Oh-Wait-Orton’s-Good-Vote-for-Kyle-for-MVP Train. Indeed, Kyle is off to a very good start this year, his grasp of the McDaniels offense is certainly better than it was last year, and he’s spreading the ball around quite well. He’s racking up the yardage and breaking records. But he’s got a long way to go. Despite his 175 attempts (an almost unprecedented crazy number), Orton has only 6 touchdown passes (tied for 8th best) with a TD rate of 3.4% (tied for 20th with Joe Flacco). That TD percentage will need to go up - and in a big way - before Kyle Orton is an elite QB, even for a season.

Now, this is something of a rant-laden Lard today. Clearly this is not an everyday thing, but as you know, when things get my goat, I tend to rant. Just ask the guys I work with what happens when they start talking about certain baseball players being “clutch” or “winners”...but I digress. Let’s get to those sand-in-my-shorts links!

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A few things about Sunday’s win

Happy Monday Night, or Tuesday morning, or whenever you it is that you read this.  A funny sidebar just occurred to me, as I embark upon this throwaway paragraph.  I always say Happy Monday, or whatever, which long-time readers will recognize going back to my ST&NO days on Mile High Report.  It was recently pointed out to me at work that my use of that greeting convention is rubbing off, and that other people are starting emails that way too.  I can get colleagues to write and speak like me without trying, but I have a harder time getting them to do what I ask in the actual emails.  You know, like sell new business, and get new projects underway.  It’s funny how the power of suggestion works.

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Forget the Titans

Never mind the cheap shots, the wasting of their own efforts and how well the Broncos handled them. Forget the Titans. What do you say about Kyle Orton?

You’d probably have to start with the fact that very little fazes him. Not the 6 sacks that the Titans laid on him. Not the late hit below the waist. Not the outright hatred that a lot of misguided fans laid on him in the past year. Probably not even the number of late arrivals that are looking for a bandwagon to jump on. Mostly, Kyle Orton doesn’t care. He just does his job, drives his Prius and works with conservation groups. This is NOT normal star QB behavior. But then again, Orton has never been the big star QB.

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The Stats That Don’t Lie - Week 4

There’ll be time enough for countin’, when the dealin’s done. —Vince Lombardi

Even though we’ve already reached the quarter point of the football season, it’s important to remember one thing:

We’ve still got three quarters to go.

That means, like in any game, there’s still time to make a run.  The same is true for your division opponents (sans Oakland).

So do yourself a favor and don’t get too married to the following stats after only four weeks.  Yes, the numbers will show exactly what you’ve been thinking—that the Broncos can’t run, but they sure can pass.  But a lot of this can change in just a few weeks.

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He’s Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Bronco - Week 4

This is going to be a weekly gig - a celebration of two players, one from each line, who made a positive difference, win or lose. Some weeks it’s not easy - the guys who do the best are in the middle of piles and you can’t read their jerseys. But this week, that wasn’t hard.

Offense: The award for this week goes to the rookie center, JD Walton. Walton was fighting for his life on much of the day, but watching him racing Ryan Clady down the field, the second level quickly turning to the third, looking for more people to hit gave you an idea of how hard he was working throughout the game. Like most rookies, he is learning by doing. He’s going to get mauled at times, but he’s holding his own better and better. Congratulations to him.

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Knowshon and Goodie maybe? Lard 10-5-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Some potentially good news coming, as the Broncos have reportedly restarted talks with Champ Bailey’s agent on a four-year extension. Plus, the Broncos expect Knowshon Moreno and Andre’ Goodman to return for the game at Baltimore. But cross your fingers; don’t hold your breath.

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A Second Helping of…Eddie Royal

Over the past offseason, Josh McDaniels admitted to several coaching mistakes he made in his first season.

One of his biggest regrets?  Not utilizing Eddie Royal’s unique skills.

Broncos fans were told to expect something different in 2010.  McDaniels committed Royal to the slot-receiver spot, which would allow him more immediate separation off the line of scrimmage.  This additional space would allow Royal to utilize his superior quickness and get into his routes before a defender had time to jam him.

Royal, for his part, committed himself to getting stronger in the offseason.

Yesterday, against the Titans, we were able to see how it all came together.

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Broncos beat Titans

It’s happened to all of us. It looks like your team is playing like processed dung. You pop into the kitchen for a brewski and find the remains of last night’s chicken sitting next to it. The BBQ sauce you made for the last set of ribs still looks kind of good, smells fine, and pretty soon, you’re well into food prep. You walk back to the living room and suddenly the Hottentot Hasbeens have gained 10 points on the scoreboard. Ah, well, they’re still down 10 more. You’ll catch the highlights on whatever sports show is in your area.

The game drags on - looks like both teams fought out their energy in the first half, but the Hasbeens are at least trying. Suddenly, it looks like the Davenport Dilberts have been caught in press when their safeties are in Cover 2 - you just don’t do that. Your QB audibles, drops into the shotgun, drops back, loads up - and through the window comes a piercing scream from the area of the swing set. This isn’t your first game - it’s not your first kid, either, that that was the “I fell and sprained something scream (Note - it’s not your first kid-scream, either)”. You fly out the back door, with the ball still in the air. Worse still, it turns out that it’s probably just a minor sprain, but it’s a a full-bore bickering argument between the kids. By the time you straighten that out and clarify that pulling on people’s pants when they are hanging from the monkey bars really is unacceptable behavior, regardless of what a visiting male child he thinks that his uncle told him (make a note to talk to that perverted idiot) and get an ice bag on the knee, you suddenly recall that there’s a game on. Or was. Could be?

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Even Steven Lard 10-4-10

UPDATED 11:40AM

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Broncos beat the Titans yesterday 26-20 on a late TD pass from Kyle Orton to Correll Buckhalter. It was far from a perfect game for Denver, but any road win is a good one. Titans KR Marc Mariani was both a hero and a goat, first scoring on a 98-yard return in the third quarter to give his team the lead. But after the Broncos took the lead on Buckhalter’s TD reception, Mariani fumbled Matt Prater’s short kickoff. Prater’s ensuing FG essentially put the game away, and the Broncos had their upset victory. While the absence of Wesley Woodyard and Spencer Larsen likely cost Denver in kick coverage, it wasn’t all bad on special teams, as Prater went 4-for-4 (plus a re-kick after a Titans penalty) and the Broncos may have finally discovered a KR in Demaryius Thomas, who racked up a 36-yd avg on 3 kicks with a long return of 65. His big return was an important answer to Mariani’s TD gallop.

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