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.
When I realized that my Monday column fell on the real opening day of Denver's season, I wanted to put together something with a gravitas fitting to the occasion. Musing over the years, I found myself thinking back to an event that was essential to John Elway’s presence as Vice President of Football Operations for the Broncos. It features historic characters, human fallibility and an outcome that changed history for the team that he’s putting back in orange.
Did you know that John Elway actually agreed, in a phone conversation, with Ernie Accorsi (the much-loved GM of a demented franchise in those Baltimore Colts, owned as they were by Robert Irsay) to wear the horseshoe? History records that Elway was willing to make the leap that would have kept him from ever becoming a Bronco. I’d never heard this part of the story until recently, and since we are on the threshold of the first regular season game with Elway running the franchise, I think that it’s worth looking back upon.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Here we go - it's been a tumultuous 12 months for our team, what with the firing of Josh McDaniels, John Elway taking over the organization, the hiring of John Fox, the lockout, yet another scandal (the arrest of Perrish Cox and the prospect of Broncos players having to testify against their ex-teammate) and something about a pair of quarterbacks whose names I'm struggling with at the moment. It felt like the longest offseason in history, but finally we get to see the 2011 Broncos for really real tonight, and against our most hated rivals, nonetheless.
Enjoy the games, everyone!
Several weeks ago, we explored the basics of personnel groupings and how they can quickly tell you how a team wants to attack its opponents. There's a good reason we got that out of the way before the start of the season: We're going to now put those groupings to the test as we scout the Oakland Raiders.
The goal (at least the stated goal) of these reports is to provide you something akin to what teams get as they prepare each week.
Typically, defensive players will get a report from the advanced scouts that look at the last three or four games of their opponent. The reports focus on personnel groupings, formations, tendencies, and general tips that will be helpful. They are generally short and to the point and include diagrams and visuals. The groupings and formations are always framed in the language of the defensive team's lingo. So while the offense may have terminology of their own, the scouting reports will be in language of the defense. In short, the offense may be speaking Latin (or Pig Latin in the case of the Raiders), but the defense is still going to translate the groupings and formations into their own native tongue. E tu, Butkus?
This immediately presents us with a problem. What language do we use here at Fat Man? Simply put, something that even the most mainstream of fans will understand. This means personnel groupings will be referenced by numbers instead of terms (212 will be used to describe 2 RBs, 1 TE, and 2 WRs instead of the term "Regular"); formation descriptions will be kept to a minimum and displayed visually when there is any chance for confusion.