Gut Reaction: Week 12 - Broncos at Chargers

Quick, I know how we can settle this Broncos quarterback controversy very quickly.

Clone Von Miller.

Miller did a little bit of everything today except throw the football.  He got to the quarterback. He beat the double team.  He made the Chargers' offensive linemen look like they were on skates.  And when the Broncos needed him most, he slithered through the line and knocked the ballcarrier out of field goal range.  As a result, the Broncos won in overtime 16-13.

Miller is pure mayhem.  He changes games the way Lawrence Taylor did.  He's the single best draft pick of the 2011 draft class.

Watching Miller play requires you implant a swivel on your neck and suspend your belief that a linebacker can be out of this world against the run or the pass. He's turned the Broncos defense into a dominant force in a matter of months.

Before I prop up his candidacy for President of the United States, let me say one more thing.

It doesn't matter who the quarterback is as long as the Broncos have Miller in the game.

The Positives

1. Von Miller is so scary only a stomp to the groin from Ndamukong Suh could keep him from turning into Derrick Thomas, only better.  Von Miller is five times the player Thomas was against the run.  He makes the entire defense better, and Elvis Dumervil downright deadly again.

2. Willis McGahee was born a mutant; he came out of the womb falling forward three yards.  Another game, another 100-yard rushing performance.  

3. Dennis Allen continues to blitz the A gaps with success, while employing Brian Dawkins where he can sow the seeds of destruction.  The Broncos defense--with the added dash of a healthy Elvis Dumervil, D.J. Williams and Marcus Thomas--is an interesting tincture.  Allen's schemes keep the Broncos in each and every game.  Allen also makes watching John Fox's squeaking offense bearable.  Allen is so bitchin', I can't think of another defensive coordinator I'd take over him straight up right now. This includes Dick LeBeau.

4. Norv Turner's clock management skills, along with a nice little punt return by Eddie Royal--allowed the Broncos to get back into the game at the end of the first half.  If the Chargers don't fire Turner after this year, they never will.  Thanks, Norv!  Here's hoping they keep you around for a few more years, though, because I dig your style.

5. Andre' Goodman, Chris Harris, and Champ Bailey all covered well today.  Harris had the most interesting conundrum of the day: Antonio Gates.  The Broncos have found themselves a keeper in Harris.  They'd better keep this kid around for awhile.  Chris who?  Harris, that's who.  Don't make me tell you again.

6. The Broncos are suddenly in the top five in both kickoff and punt returns.  I've been critical of the Broncos for not drafting a return specialist.  Given that special teams has always been a problem for the Broncos since the Super Bowl days, I ought to shut my big fat trap.  Still, if Devin Hester is walking around...

7. D.J. Williams was beat in coverage by a double move today, but he had another great game otherwise.  He finished with 12 tackles.

8. Eric Decker may not get a lot of opportunities, but when he gets them, he's making the most of them.  All the guy does is catch touchdowns.

9. I really should praise Goodman again.  For a guy who appeared over the hill (from the point of view of playing cornerback in the NFL), he's suddenly quite spry for an old guy.

10. I always find myself reserving my last few bullet points in both the postives and the negatives category these days, because no one knows how a Broncos game is going to end.  Today, I'd have to say the good throws from Tim Tebow today were not just average, but exceptional.  I'm not saying he had a ton of great throws, but when they were good, they were great.  I just call them as I see them.  His throw in overtime on the slant route to Jeremiah Johnson was stellar.  The Broncos are going to ride this horse as long as it's winning, and you can't blame them for doing do, no matter how ugly it looks.  What will Cris Carter say if the Broncos make the playoffs?  Perhaps we'll get to find out.

Honorable Mention: Mike McCoy's use of quads formations today was an interesting wrinkle, as was his use of the fullback split wide.  I thought it threw the Chargers into a funk for several series.  Also, you have to like Matt Prater.

The Negatives

1. On the first series of the game, the Broncos played a 4-3 Over, which is great against the inside run because it creates less bubbles.  However, the Chargers gashed the Broncos on the edges, which resulted in some huge gains.  The Broncos quickly adjusted, bringing Brian Dawkins into the box on the second series of the game.

2. Tebow's accuracy was a bit of an issue.  What else is there to say?  I know it.  You know it.  He knows it (he mentions it every week).  Toda la gente lo sabe (roughly translated: every freakin' body knows it).  In addition, there is a weekly problem with Tebow's clock management, as the Broncos took another critical delay of game penalty today.  In the middle of the fourth quarter and down three, Tebow should have checked down and taken what the defense was offering: a potential game-tying field goal.  On the positive side, Tebow's accuracy is now up to 50%.

3. Announcers who portray this as a win for Tebow are, in fact, stupid.  Willis McGahee got rather testy in the locker room after this win for a reporter suggesting as much, and frankly, I can't blame him.

4. The Broncos committed too many stupid penalties today and had to burn a timeout to save themselves from getting more.  For the day, the Broncos had nine penalties for 63 yards.

5. Is 5-of-16 good enough for John Elway? All together now: "That's not championship football."  Technically, though, the Broncos have won while struggling on 3rd downs, so what the hell does Elway know?

6. Britton Colquitt finally had an average game as a punter.  Although a penalty negated one of his good kicks, he still struggled a bit today both with his distance and his directional kicking.  But when it comes to playing Foxball, Colquitt is a critical piece, so I have to point out one of his average games.

7. Ryan Matthews racked up yet another 100-yard game against the Broncos.  In fact, he hit his career mark today.  Most of these yards came on the edge, where the Chargers owned the Broncos defensive ends with zone-blocking schemes.

8. John Fox, you need to grow a pair.  You have the best--the most durable as well--quarterback in the league at short-yardage running, and you wave the white flag on 4th down and less than a yard.  Your defense may stop them 9 out of 10 times, but eventually, that one time comes due.  I won't criticize Fox for the timeout on the blocked kick because it wouldn't have been blocked had he not taken the timeout.  The Chargers' linemen gave up when they heard the whistle.

9. Denver puts the ball on the ground too often.  Recovering fumbles are random events.  Luckily, the Broncos didn't lose the two they put on the turf today.

10. The Raiders won again thanks to the fattest kicker in the game.

The Who The Heck Knows

1. If you've not yet seen the Shannon Sharpe interview with Tim Tebow this morning, you can find it here.  I thought Sharpe did a good job of touching on the points that all the marketing people wanted him to hit that have nothing to do with football (Do you have the support of the organization, Tim? Why does the name Tim Tebow bring up a such a heated debate?), while at the same time making the larger point that Sharpe has been making as a football analyst--namely, that doing what Tebow does best (running) hinders his development as a passer.  The best line from the interview, which Vic Lombardi retweeted earlier in the day, was Tebow's response to Sharpe's assertion that he was brought to Denver to be a passer: "You signed up to win games."  No matter your position on Tebow, that response was killer.

2. I find myself fascinated by the Tebow phenomenon on a lot of different levels, some of which are just personal curiosity.  One of those involves the cult of personality that has developed around the guy, which I'd gauge on the mania meter somewhere between Bieber and the Beatles (alliteration, Raiders fans, look it up).  After reading and watching dozens of interviews with Tebow--this allowed us to bring you a Tim Tebow Random Quote Generator--I decided to scan his book (I'm not paying good money for anyone's autobiography, son).  I'm confident that Tebow could walk away from the NFL if all of this doesn't work out.  I'm not so sure his fans are mentally prepared for it, however.  If you want to get a feel for the types of Tebow zombies that walk the earth, turn into the call-in show at 850 KOA about an hour after a Broncos game.  You hear everything.  When the Broncos win, the zombies call in and scream things like "FAAAAACE!," which I'm sure I remember hearing in the ninth grade.

3. For what it's worth, Tebow's position on the Denver Broncos has always been our position here at IAOFM:  "It's just a game."  It's the reason we can poke fun and criticize our team and still come out on top of most Broncos fans on Mazlow's Hierarchy.  If you want to read a homogenous website that sits in the corner drinking orange and blue eggnog with Jim Saccamano, singing songs in the spirit of the yuletide season (look, I did it again, Raiders Fans), you may want to consider a different Christmas sweater, amigo.

4. John Fox says he will never do another interview while watching game film.  This is what led to his now infamous "he'd be screwed" quote.  My question to Fox is, "What made you think this was a good idea to begin with?"  The Broncos' living embodiment of the Marlboro Man has been around a long time, but the number of media blunders he's committed this year has been surprising.  One wonders if the Broncos will reevaluate their new-found openness next year or if the Marlboro Man of Malapropism (BOOM, Raiders fans!) will continue dropping knowledge on Broncos fans.     

5. Andy Lindahl said before the game that John Elway will be looking for quarterbacks in the draft that are big athletes, pocket passers and can move around "inside the pocket."  This means a smaller guy like Matt Barkley would be off the menu.  Lindell speculated that Ryan Tannehill would be high on their list.  I'm not sure I'm excited about the prospect of Tannehill, but the guy does know his way around a pro-style offense.  The Broncos would probably have to take him with a second-round pick or possibly a first-rounder depending on when the run on quarterbacks begins.  

6. Malcom Floyd didn't start today.  Part of the reason I consider the Chargers less of an enemy, I'll admit, is because Floyd played at the University of Wyoming, while Vincent Jackson played at Northern Colorado.  That's a pretty good pair of wideouts who didn't even come out of the SEC.  Can you believe it?  There's a conference outside of the SEC, I swear.

7. Von Miller is so hipster (have you seen his specs?), he's taking to calling wins "dubs."  He's so cool, he probably doesn't care if you think that's cool or not to say "dubs."  He did pull out the trite "one game at a time" line before the game, however, so I'm docking him some cool points for that.

8. Tebow said before the game the Broncos had the best week of practice they've ever had since he's been with the team.  If that's the case, I'd rather see them practice poorly. 

9. Listening to Dave Logan and Brian Griese immediately try and get away from a Tebow response with a quick change of subject after Tebow mentions the words "Lord," "God," "Christ," or "Jesus" is quickly becoming a hilarious distraction for me.

10. Adam Schefter said two interesting things before the game.  First, he said that Norv Turner is coaching for his job (you just got Tebowed, Norv!).  Second, league insiders believe that Philip Rivers is playing with some sort of undisclosed injury due to his poor play.  What's that injury?  A broken right arm?

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

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