For as much scoring as the Broncos did in the fourth quarter, this game proved one thing:
Their defense is only getting better.
The Broncos bumped, pushed, and otherwise beat the hell out of Robert Griffin on their way to a 45-21 victory. Sacks don’t tell the story, although they did get to Griffin three times.
Jack Del Rio’s strategy of shadowing Griffin with Von Miller turned out to be just the right strategy. Griffin couldn’t put his strength—running out of the pocket—on display. And when he tried, there were orange jerseys waiting for him.
Now comes the bye week. The defense not only gets better, they get healthier too. And that should scare the rest of the league.
Hey there, Broncos fans. We got an email yesterday from one of our readers by the name of Dave Traveller. Here was Dave's question, or a series of questions, actually:
So, if the formula for beating the Broncos offense is press coverage with 2 high safeties, then what is the technical strategic response to that defense? Seems like running the ball up the middle. Montee Ball time? Also, do the Broncos have the personnel to beat press coverage? Do you think the wide receivers can adjust and adapt? Where is [Demaryius] Thomas? If he is this big athletic receiver... why isn't he ever open?
These are all good questions, so let's deal with them one by one.
The Broncos weren’t who we thought they were.
Instead of passing, they ran; instead of keeping the ball, they gave it away; instead of being aggressive, they were passive-aggressive—heavy on the passive coaching, heavy on the aggressive personal fouls.
The Colts' game plan was simple and recognizable, because it’s the same game plan the Jaguars used last week: press the Broncos at the line of scrimmage, play Cover 2 behind it, and force the Broncos into short passing gains. The Broncos took the bait. How many times did we see Manning float the ball tonight in the hopes of good things just happening downfield?
The Broncos delivered an easy victory, 35-19. They held their opponent scoreless in the first and fourth quarters. They allowed fewer than a hundred rushing yards yet again.
Oh, did I mention they are 6-0?
Then why does this win feel like a loss?
I guess that’s what happens when expectations are set as high as the Rocky Mountains, when your team is setting scoring records, and finally, when fans want the sun, moon, and the Super Bowl.
We should probably get used to it.
The image that I enjoyed most tonight was one you probably didn’t even notice.
Adam Gase on the sidelines, looking like a football nerd, intensity washed over his face, calling plays as fast as his brain could think and his mouth could move.
On the other end, a football cyborg named Peyton Manning: half man, half machine, calculating the defense’s moves three or four steps ahead, changing the play with the mere flick of a hand.
No Von Miller? No Champ Bailey?
No big deal.
We’ve been telling readers for weeks now that as Peyton Manning goes, so do the Broncos. We gesticulated the notion that with Wes Welker, the Broncos were going to score more, not fewer points. What we didn’t tell you was that Peyton Manning would be on pace for 112 touchdowns.
Okay, I’m getting a little carried away now, but you get the drift. Bring me a team that puts up 30 points a week, and we can have a discussion about the Broncos losing a game. Otherwise, John Fox is keeping his foot on the gas this time.
The final preseason game—little scheming, fewer names, and absolutely zero meaning.
To make matters worse, a lot of dudes wearing orange and blue tonight won’t have a job tomorrow. That’s a cold reality in a colder football world. It’s a little depressing, frankly—like an afterschool special without the moral lesson.
The good news is that Peyton Manning has been game planning to pluck the feathers out of the Ravens for two weeks.
So take a day and lament the Broncos who won’t have jobs tomorrow. Thank them for their service. Even wish some of them a path to the practice squad.
Then get ready for some big-boy football, the kind they play when the scores start to matter.
Hey, you want in on a little secret?
Come closer. No, closer. Close enough so you can’t feel the spittle from Dan Dierdorf’s lips.
That’s better. Okay, here it is: the Broncos have exactly zero takeaways over their past two games, yet they’ve given the ball away eight times.
If it wasn’t the preseason, and if Peyton Manning wasn’t a Golden God, I’d probably be worried.
So for now, let’s just keep this between the two of us.
This week, the US Government confirmed the existence of Area 51.
It means that weird stuff does happen, not just in the proximity of a Skip Bayless tweet.
Tonight, the Broncos saw just how absurd things can get: a kickoff returned against them for a touchdown, a fumble recovery returned the length of the field for a touchdown, and that doesn’t include the freak injuries to key players.
It got so odd, the Broncos should be happy aliens didn’t land on the fifty-yard line and take Von Miller captive for four weeks of testing.
For now, let’s just hope the Broncos get back to Denver, lick their wounds, get to the next game, and leave the strange probing to Roger Goodell.
I’ve been waiting an entire offseason to write this, but here goes:
Rahim Moore, you’re off the hook. In fact, you’re already victorious in my eyes.
How so? Given that none of us—the organization, the players, the fans—can change the results of last year’s playoff loss, my definition of victory evolved once preseason began.
And once I saw Rahim Moore take the field tonight and play (even just a few snaps) with the ferocity I’d hoped to see from him, I knew he’d already won.