Gut Reaction: Week 1 - Broncos vs Ravens

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 Positives

  1. It took Peyton Manning a quarter to get warm, but after he got warm, he got downright nasty. The speed at which Adam Gase and Manning wore the Ravens out—well, it turned me on.
  2. If you watched the matchup between Ryan Clady and Terrell Suggs tonight, it’s clear that Clady is back. Sure, Clady had a false start penalty and gave up a sack, but the false start was mental (fixable), and the sack was mostly due to coverage. Suggs may be the ugliest man in football, but he’s a good pass rusher. Clady shut him down for the most part.
  3. Julius Thomas, shall I compare thee to a summer’s Gates? Michael Huff got [sexual past verb here] by Thomas tonight. As a former Raider, it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.
  4. Holy crap, Wes Welker is amazing (if you take away the muffed punt). You might find someone who can cover him, but you should probably bring a group hug. And Welker was right—you can no longer take away Demaryius Thomas with safety help. Welker will skin you alive (or dead if you want to play a lazy zone) over the middle of the field. It’s even worse (better?) now that Julius Thomas is in play.
  5. Wesley Woodyard may not be the best option for Mike in the NFL or even the AFC West, but he’s the best option for the Broncos. The Ravens never quite got their running game completely on track in the game—part of the reason was due to Woodyard constantly being around the ball.
  6. Chris Harris stepped in for Champ Bailey, and as expected, the Broncos didn’t miss a beat. In fact, Harris did his best impersonation of Bailey tackling, too. I’m not sure how long I’ve been saying Harris is a starter in this league, but nothing Harris has done on the field changes my view.
  7. Did you notice how many tackles Duke Ihenacho had? It took Ray Lewis a fourth of the season to total that many last year. Quick props to my boys Ted and Doc for being all over Ihenacho since Day 1 (or at least Day 2).
  8. I just hate admitting when Cris Collinsworth makes a good point, but in this case he was right—the no-huddle offense didn’t allow the Ravens enough time to review and challenge the Welker drop at the beginning of the third quarter. Ravens fans, though, will be second-guessing the decision for a week.
  9. David Bruton is the new Reggie Rivers, except that he’s better than Rivers ever was. I just needed to win a bet by mentioning Reggie Rivers.
  10. Rahim Moore’s hit on Dallas Clark was enough to land him here. In addition, Moore’s confidence isn’t lacking. He again introduced himself as “The Dream” in team introductions. Normally, I’d point out the stupidity of doing that. This time, I’m impressed with the size of Moore’s Triple Bs (big brass balls).

Honorable Mention: Manny Ramirez, Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson, Robert Ayers, Louis Vasquez, and Ronnie Hillman.

The Negatives

  1. Early in the game, Manning was rusty and off target.  Blame it on the rain gods, or the Ravens’ knowledge of Peyton, or the lack of glove, or the hot wings you ate in the first quarter—it was noticeable.
  2. It didn’t help that the Broncos’ wide receivers had a difficult time getting separation.
  3. On paper it sounds great to have Wes Welker field punts when the chance of a return is slim. The only problem with that move comes when the sure-hands team goes unsure.
  4. As irritating as Collinsworth is, he was right about another thing: the officials gave the Ravens a huge break when they didn’t call Jacoby Jones for blocking after calling for a fair catch. It was the difference between a touchback and pinning the Ravens’ backs against the wall.
  5. It seems as though the Broncos don’t quite trust their running game. Haloti Ngata will do that to a team. Also, Knowshon Moreno is an average running back, so there’s simply not a lot of voltage running between the tackles. I know many Broncos fans have made a good case for Moreno to be the starter, but I’m not feeling it. I still believe Montee Ball is the long-term answer.
  6. Okay, I was a tad wrong about the Broncos’ need for Von Miller. Miller’s absence, especially early, was palpable on passing downs. The Broncos actually played, for the most part, decent in coverage tonight, but pressure is pressure, and Jack Del Rio was forced to create pressure with scheme as opposed to talent. As I wrote this, Shaun Phillips generated one of his 2.5 sacks. Still, unless Phillips flashes more of the same, the Broncos are going to struggle with pressure until Von gets back. Tonight, Phillips faced a lot of chips and more than a few double teams. Smart move on the part of the Ravens. In the end, you’re still going to have to outscore Manning and Company.
  7. You know what’s more confusing than foreign policy? The Broncos’ lazy tackling during the last two minutes of the first half.
  8. As good as Julius Thomas is at pass catching, he’s equally poor at pass blocking. I can live with it, but I’d prefer not to.
  9. The bad news is Danny Trevathan had an interception and ran it back for a touchback. The good news? The Broncos now have a year-long video to demonstrate the need for playing smart football.
  10. Unfortunately, on the same play Wesley Woodyard may have sustained an ankle injury.

The Who The Heck Knows

  1. A random thought: just because the Broncos have Wes Welker doesn’t mean they should try and get him 100 catches in the first quarter.
  2. Worse than getting injured? How about your own teammate injuring you by knocking your ass down on punt return.
  3. I like that Robert Ayers has ideas about scoring touchdowns. But if you are going to gamble for an interception as an end, how about making sure you’ve got some help behind you?
  4. It doesn’t get mentioned much, but it’s got to be hard for Mike Adams to have to slide down the depth chart. That he came in on nickel and played well speaks to his professionalism.
  5. Last week we speculated that Bubba Caldwell would get at least 20 balls this year. The countdown has started.
  6. Danny Trevathan didn’t set the night on fire, but I still like what I saw in coverage from him. He’s an upgrade physically. His celebrations could use some work, though (Hint: cross the goal line).
  7. As Bill Walsh said, every damn play makes a difference. On the back of a few plays in the third quarter, the Broncos took a three-point deficit and turned it around faster than my erection on prom night.
  8. Laughable to compare Brett Favre to Peyton Manning. Manning is twice the QB with a quarter of the text messages.
  9. I’m not sure Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can keep up his torrid man-coverage, but if he can, it’s going to be downright frightening when Von Miller gets back.
  10. Hurry, hurry! Hurry, hurry! Say it three times fast and another Broncos wide receiver gets his wings.

Lay it down, Broncos fans. What were your impressions of the game?

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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