Gut Reaction: Week 15 - Broncos vs Chargers

It’s no secret why the Broncos lost tonight.

The Chargers converted half of their third downs.

The Broncos converted only a whisper of two.

It’s really that simple. You can take the time of possession, the big plays, the stupid penalties—all of it pales in comparison to the fundamental fact that you can’t string a drive together without converting on third downs. Of course, the converse is also true. You can’t stop a drive without stopping your opponent on third down.

I suppose we should have seen this coming. The Broncos defense has so many moving parts due to injury and what John Fox describes as “giving guys opportunities” that they were bound to suffer a complete breakdown—physically and mentally.

12 men on the field? Hell, it wouldn’t have mattered if they had 13.

The Broncos are broken and down, and by Sunday, they may be down to the AFC's #2 seed.

The Positives

  1. Could the first drive of the game have been any easier for the Broncos? It was like the Chargers were playing soccer and had already received a red card. Shockingly, the Chargers played off man. They paid the price. They quickly adjusted.
  2. Malik Jackson continues to be the best defensive lineman the Broncos have—especially against the pass. That’s not saying much, by the way.
  3. Chris Harris did everything he was supposed to do once again.
  4. It’s not a good sign when Von Miller is leading your team in tackles at the half. Why is this a positive then? I needed something to write.
  5. On a sluggish night, Eric Decker at least fought like hell. I can't comment on the other receivers, since the Broncos only ran what seemed like ten plays.
  6. When your team plays this badly, you’ll find positives anywhere you can get them. Nick Novak gave the Broncos their best field position of the night on one of the oddest kickoffs I’ve ever seen.
  7. Andre Caldwell is making the best of his opportunity, which makes him the fifth best receiver in the offense.
  8. Mike McCoy couldn’t have picked a better time to go conservative—in Broncos territory and late in the fourth quarter.
  9. Danny Trevathan had a lot of tackles. Ask me if I give a damn.
  10. Mike Adams had a lot of tackles, too. So what?

The Negatives

  1. A good sign that the Broncos defense is missing a lot of parts? They had to waste a timeout instead of being called for having 12 men on the field for a second time. That’s okay, they decided to go ahead and pick up that call in the second half. On virtually every big play, the Broncos looked like they were out of position in the secondary. Paris Lenon? Omar Bolden? Bugs Bunny in the nickel and dime? It doesn’t matter. The Broncos defense is in complete shambles with two weeks to go before the playoffs.
  2. The reasons the Broncos were down going into the half were not hard to discern. They couldn’t get any yards in the running game (averaging 1.9 yards per carry), they had horrible field position, and the Chargers managed to magically get some strategic pressure when needed. Combine that with a long drive by the Chargers, and the Broncos end up with only 24 total plays.
  3. Either Jacob Tamme isn’t Wes Welker, or Wes Welker is concussed—or both.
  4. It had to come eventually. Manny Ramirez had an average game. By my count, he left at least five blocks out on the field. Zane Beadles wasn’t far behind.
  5. Poor Kayvon Webster. These days, all the guy does is get picked on. I still think the kid has a future as a quality cornerback in the NFL, but he’s admittedly going through a rough patch right now.
  6. Something tells me Trindon Holliday is being a little too careful. That’s what a week off does to a guy. It gives him a chance to hear what people are saying and get inside his own head. There’s no reason why Holliday needs to fair catch a punt at the five-yard line—ever. Holliday gave the Broncos horrible field position twice in the first half.
  7. On the Chargers’ second scoring drive, it simply appears as though Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was playing zone while everyone else was playing man. Worse, the Chargers ate up 6:36 of clock on their scoring drive.
  8. I’m not seeing it—the whole Paris Lenon thing. Imagine there’s no defense. It’s easy if you try.
  9. While Holliday didn’t do himself any favors, Britton Colquitt (again) could have hit his punts much better at altitude.
  10. Nate Irving’s offsides penalty normally doesn’t make this list, but it does when it costs your team a lot of clock.

The Who The Heck Knows

  1. Let’s see, you can’t facemask, but you can rip off Montee Ball’s helmet?
  2. Don’t think we didn’t notice, Philip Rivers. Ten minutes before the game, Rivers was sleeveless. Once the temperature dropped, so did Rivers’ climate-controlled courage.
  3. Eric Decker understands the first rule of public relations. Whatever question they ask you right before the game, you answer the question you wanted to answer.
  4. Jeff Legwold continues to beat the drum that Von Miller hasn’t played well for more than a quarter at a time. To be honest, I’m starting to agree.
  5. As hilarious as the Mike Shanahan saga has been over the last few weeks, watching the NFL Network crew howl over Shanahan’s decision to bench RG3 in pregame was pretty damn funny. I agree that Shanahan has a bigger ego than the Grand Canyon, but it’s as though Michael Irvin had just discovered Shanahan had a criminal record.
  6. It was cool to see Terrell Davis giving high fives to fans before the game.
  7. There’s still no definitive word on Derek Wolfe. I’m not optimistic, but it sure would be nice to get him back in time for the playoffs. The way the defense is playing now, any pressure on the quarterback will be a welcome addition.
  8. I hate to blame this game on a short week, so I won’t. See what I just did?
  9. Something you may not have noticed--the Chargers did what the Broncos usually do, which is to end the half with a score and begin the next half with another.
  10. Yes, that asshole Bill Belichick now possesses control of the #1 seed. And no, he's not losing to the Dolphins, Ravens, or Bills.

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

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