Gut Reaction: Week 10 - Broncos @ Panthers

Two wrongs do make a right--at least for John Fox, Von Miller, and Peyton Manning.

Jerry Richardson--the tea-guzzling, pacemaking, and fiery owner of the Carolina Panthers--didn't renew John Fox's contract in 2011.  He also drafted Cam Newton instead of Von Miller.  Finally, he insulted Peyton Manning during the lockout.

That's a lot of bad things in the span of two years.

Today, Richardson got what was coming to him--to the tune of a 36-14 beatdown.

His ego should be sore in the morning.

And John Fox, Von Miller, and Peyton Manning should feel even better about the win.

The Positives

1. Happy Veteran's Day, everyone.  Thanks to all of those who have served, currently serve, or will serve.  If IAOFM is a part of your life--and especially if we give you a laugh from time to time--the hours we put into this site are worth it.  And no, playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 doesn't count.

2. Von Miller once again demonstrated why he should be the leading candidate for Devensive Player of the Year.  He came into the game with nine sacks and seventeen tackles for loss (one behind league leader J.J. Watt) and left as the baddest dude in the yard.  What can't he do?  Whether it's his use of leverage, his hands, his quickness, his coverage skills (not that I'm advocating putting one of the best pass rushers in the league into coverage), or his mental game, the guy is deadly.  And it's not just the statistical way he changes the game.  Did you notice who forced Cam Newton into his pick-six?  No, I won't compare him to Lawrence Taylor or Derrick Thomas. Wait, did you see what just happened?

3. Sometimes running the ball isn't just about getting yards (although they are certainly nice).  It's about setting up the defense for play action.  Sucking the linebacker into the line of scrimmage is that important when you work the middle of the field and the seams as often as the Broncos do.  One of the things you have to appreciate about Peyton Manning is that he won't abandon the run at the first sign of resistance.  So, those two- and three-yard gains that seem so boring to you?  Patience, Daniel-san.

4. Would you have ever guessed in your wildest dreams (non-Tebow Fans) that the Broncos would have run Manning on the the sprint rollout in the red zone as often as they have?  Me neither.  I guess that's one of the reasons it's worked so well.

5. Still disagreeing with my assessment of the Trindon Holliday move?  Either you're not as passionate as I am, or you just forgot the value of expected points for every yard of field position.

6. Notice who didn't burn the Broncos?  Steve Smith.  Two words: Champ Bailey.

7. Mixing Ronnie Hillman and Trindon Holliday into the offense at the same time--Leprechaun Alert!  Defensive coordinators have to now spend time studying.

8. After today's game, I'm convinced Peyton Manning is both the Comeback Player of the Year and the league's Most Valuable Player.  Take Matt Ryan off the Falcons and what do you have?  A playoff team.  Take Peyton Manning off the Broncos?  I shudder at the thought.  For most of the day, Manning was flirting with an 80% completion percentage.

9. Kevin Vickerson didn't just get two sacks today, he played the role of Stonehenge against the running game.  And if Pro Football Focus gives Dereck Wolfe a negative grade after this game, I'll question the veracity of their grading system.  Let's not forget about Robert Ayers, too.  The last time I saw Ayers get off the ball that quickly was when he was at the Senior Bowl the year he was drafted.  Finally, the entire Broncos defense held the Panthers without a single third-down conversion all day.

10. Are you beginning to wonder how we can lock up Tony Carter and Chris Harris for the long term? Carter's break on the pick six was Champ-like.

Honorable Mention: Mike Adams, Rahim Moore, Brandon Stokley, Joel Dreessen, David Bruton, Nate Irving, and Jack Del Rio's delayed blitz packages (seven sacks, y'all).

The Negatives

1. I'm not a fan of the third-down play call on the Broncos' opening drive.  Asking Joel Dreessen to block Charles Johnson is reasonable, but was that doesn't make the call the best one available to the Broncos at the time.  This just in: hindight bias is a real thing.

2. Let's hand it to the Panthers.  Their second drive was a thing of beauty.  The screen call and the touchdown to Greg Olsen were both clever ways to take advantage of an aggressive Jack Del Rio defense.  Speaking of Olsen, he may have been the one bright spot for the Panthers in this game.

3. The good news? Eric Decker can execute an amazing double move.  The bad?  He didn't make the catch.

4. I don't know what to say about John Fox's thought process with two minutes left in the first half. First, he didn't challenge an obvious play that would have made it either a first down or fourth and inches.  Second, he decided to kick a field goal instead of go for the first down.  Chewing tobacco can give you quite a buzz, apparently.

5. Injuries to Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller, and Demaryius Thomas are as scary as it gets, my friends.  At least Peyton Manning didn't get come down with cholera.  As long as he remains upright, the Broncos always have a chance.

6. Speaking of Demaryius Thomas, I wouldn't have played him in the second half.  No, I'm not a medical doctor, so you'll just have to trust me. I have two doctorates. The first is in lovin'.  The second is in fightin'.

7. Willis McGahee is awesome when he's awesome.  When he carries the ball in open space, however, he tends to fumble the ball like he's dropping loose change.  Suddenly, I find myself wanting to give Lance Ball a little sugar.

8. Orlando Franklin could have gotten Peyton Manning killed by blocking down when he should have blocked to the outside on the strip sack by Charles Johnson.  But let's not complain too much.  For most of the day, Franklin did his job as well as Ryan Clady.

9. The win was great, but don't overlook this stat: the Broncos were 3 for 12 on third down.

10. The Chargers and Raiders both lost today.  While that's usually a positive (and I'll take it now), the Broncos are going to have to guard against complacency in the coming weeks.  The division crown is no longer at stake, but home-field advantage is.

The Who The Heck Knows

1. Mike Evans, it's not PFM, dude.  It's PMFM™.  Get it right or don't get it at all.

2. Von Miller has a charity that benefits kids in poor neighborhoods with glasses and eye exams.

3. Are the Broncos playing better without Joe Mays, Tracy Porter, J.D. Walton, and Ty Warren?  Or are they playing better because they are out?

4. Ron Rivera said earlier in the week that Cam Newton spends a lot of time dealing with his own emotions.  The implication was that it was unproductive energy that could be better spent on football. 

5. Quick 2011 redraft--Von Miller or Cam Newton?  I know who I'm taking, and let me just put it this way:  Superman is the lamest of all comic book characters.

6. Mike Evans on 104.3 The Fan brought up an interesting thought experiment this morning.  Feel free to donate some of your brain cells to it:  Would John Fox have gone through the same drama with Jay Cutler as did Josh McDaniels?  During the brief McDaniels era, I was supportive of Josh, and a critic of the way the Broncos let him go.  My thinking was that McDaniels had some growth to do as a head coach, but that McDaniels's skill with the X's and O's merited the Broncos' patience.  But when Evans posed the question this morning in the context of John Fox, I have to admit that it gave the Josh McDaniels experiment some interesting context.

7.  Heard from Eddie McCaffrey on 850 KOA's broadcast: "You can't give Champ Bailey a forearm shiver."  That's right, Ed.  Not unless you plan on paying the 10-yard price tag.

8. Hey, remember when the Raiders drafted Tony Mandarich Bruce Campbell? Today, he was a Panthers inactive.  My favorite Bruce Campbell?  This one.

9. I'm rereading a book this week: “The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives.” It's a classic if you want to better understand how randomness affects everything from gambling, to coaching, to who ends up hitting the lottery of success.  Every time I see Willis McGahee fumble the ball, I am reminded of this great book.  Give it a read if you have the chance.

10. Going into the game, the receiving tandem of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker led the league with a combined 1,333 yards receiving.  Does it matter?  Not really, but if it doesn't remind you of the days of Rod Smith and Eddie McCaffrey, something is wrong with you.

11. The Panthers' radio team had a great point during the broadcast--Carolina should have run the ball more often on third and short.

12. Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez broke up this week.  My faith in humanity is once again shattered.

13. Karl Rove's future in the Republican Party--and my faith in humanity--is once again restored.

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

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