Today was classic John Fox football.
Play tough defense. Shorten the game.
Don't give up huge plays. Manage field position.
It's a recipe that will keep you in the game until the fourth quarter. What it won't do, however, is ensure a victory.
To get the win, you have to make the big play when it's needed.
Tennessee made the big play. The Broncos' big play was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
You may not like John Fox's cooking. It may not be tasty. It might mean that the game will be in question until the final two drives each week.
Get used to it--oh, eat your veggies, too. John Fox wouldn't have it any other way.
Let's get to the Positives, the Negatives, and the Who The Heck Knows?
1. The Broncos' second drive of the game was helped along by some really stupid Titans penalties, but it was punctuated by some great throws by Kyle Orton. Sure, he threw a pick later on an overthrow, but that doesn't change the fact that he threw some nice lasers on the drive. I also put Orton in The Negatives today (see below).
2. You can't stop Brodrick Bunkley. You can only hope to contain him. After nine carries, Chris Johnson had nine yards. Bunkley was a huge reason why. In fact, the front line from Denver, including the subs like Ryan McBean, played about as well as you can play against the run. Robert Ayers and Jason Hunter were stout, too.
3. Von Miller played well yet again. He's already the best player on the Broncos--no insult to Champ Bailey. The Broncos should do everything they can to make this guy--not John Elway, not Tim Tebow--the face of their franchise. Miller is part intellectual hipster, part Mile High cyborg. This sounds ridiculous, but his run defense has been as good as any 4-3 linebacker in the league. If he hits double digits in sacks, I don't see how he's not an All Pro in his first season. He slithers through blocks and linemen have a tough time getting their hands on him. He's a special player, and after the game, he was as pissed off as I've ever heard him. That's what you want from your star.
4. Eric Decker played well yet again. He's like Eddie McCaffrey, sure, in the fact that he's a white dude wearing #87. But McCaffrey never ran this fast. Speaking of white dudes, Spencer Larsen made the catch of the day today. Duly noted, Mr. Larsen.
5. Last week, I said that Jonathan Wilhite had served his purpose on the earth. I was wrong. His purpose is to generate one sack per game off the corner blitz.
6. I have a feeling I'm going to be saying this a lot this year: Britton Colquitt should get some Pro Bowl consideration this year.
7. The Quan Cosby Show was dramatic, touching, and I like that I didn't have to watch Theo Huxtable complaining in the second act.
8. John Fox's decision to go for it on fourth down was the correct call. If you think otherwise, you need a lesson on everything from math to game theory. I'm not even going to take the time to explain Expected Points Value (EPV) to you. Look it up before you even think about posting some garbage about how dumb John Fox was today--that is, of course, unless you're a Raiders fan. Then blast away. You're expected to be as dumb as a box of rocks.
9. The Broncos were 8-of-15 on third downs today and 2-of-3 in the Red Zone. This is one of the better lines they've had in a long time, despite the loss.
10. The Andrew Luck / Matt Barkley / Landry Jones Countdown is now down to 13 games.
1. Putting Brian Dawkins in man coverage is no way to make a living on defense. The Titans were effective in exposing Ed Reed a week earlier in man coverage; they did the same today to Dawkins. Both guys are hall of famers, but both guys are a liability in man coverage this late in their careers.
2. Those that think luck has no place in football obviously didn't see Matt Hasselbeck throwing the football today. Sometimes you just loft the ball up and smile. Sometimes fortune grins back.
3. See Kyle Orton's tipped pass and return to #2.
4. The Curse of Brett Kern is alive and well. Guy is about to get a punt blocked and change the momentum of the game. A play later, he's the leading rusher for the Titans. By the way, I unfollowed Kern on Twitter after the restraining order. Apparently, you can't send someone 500 tweets in one hour without catching the attention of the authorities.
5. Joe Mays played a great game for the most part. Unfortunately, one of his few bad plays cost the Broncos dearly today. His failure to stay with TE Craig Stevens in the fourth quarter led to a huge play for the Titans on their touchdown drive. I find it difficult to be too negative, however. The guy was a bruiser today.
6. The Broncos still aren't blowing people off the football in the running game. The Broncos didn't lose because John Fox went for it on fourth down. They lost because they couldn't get one yard in the running game. If you can't grind out one yard on 4th and 1, do you really deserve the win?
7. Kyle Orton was neither terrible nor amazing today, but when you lose, you lose. I grudgingly put Orton in the negative category today. I thought he checked down much better today and threw some good passes in tight spots. Yet, he also had a brutal overthrow interception as the Broncos were driving early in the game and a tipped INT late. He's probably a wash, to be completely honest.
8. If you hear that the Broncos stupidly remained in two-back sets all game as a reason for their loss, you can dismiss it out of hand. The Broncos showed their 113 package eight times in their first three drives alone. It may not include the personnel they want, but at least they're not ignoring the package completely like you've heard.
9. Tell me you're not at least having a little bit of doubt about signing Ryan Clady to a monster contract.
10. The Andrew Luck / Matt Barkley / Landry Jones Countdown is now down to 13 games.
Who The Heck Knows?
1. Since Elvis Dumervil signed his monster contract for $61.5 million, he's played in 18 regular-season snaps. The guaranteed portion of Dumervil's contract is $43.156 million. Let's see, that works out to about $2.4 million dollars per snap. Thank you, thank you very much, Denver. I'll spare you the Elvis-is-a-great-person routine. Your Uncle Frank is a good guy, too. But if you gave him ten bucks to buy you a sixer of Dos Equis, and he hadn't returned yet, it wouldn't matter if he were the most interesting man in the world. You'd start getting pissed off.
2. Speaking of Dumervil, John Fox said before the game that Elvis was playing against the Raiders with one arm. Now that he's been out two games in a row (including today), I'm beginning to wonder if he's ever getting the second arm back.
3. Cortland Finnegan talking smack to Orlando Franklin? That's a death wish with Franklin playing the part of Charles Bronson and Finnegan playing the part of dead. Hey, Cort, just committ another stupid holding penalty, will you?
4. I don't have any idea what Hasselbeck was accusing the Broncos of doing to Kenny Britt. Rahim Moore made the cleanest play of the entire game before Britt put the ball on the ground in the second quarter.
5. It could be worse. The Chiefs are internally combusting. Adam Schefter said before the game that Todd Haley is on the hot seat. That's not exactly a scoop, good buddy.
6. I don't know about you, but does John Elway really need this many radio shows and pre-game interviews? I'm starting to wonder if the appeal of John Fox and Brian Xanders wasn't so much coaching gravitas and drafting genius, but their deference to Elway's massive need to get in front of the camera. What's Elway's title again? I can't remember. Let's just call him Emperor. Remember, render to Elway the things that are Elway's, and to God the things that are God's--if you can tell the difference betwween Elway and God.
7. While I was writing this sentence, the Buffalo Bills just came back--again.
8. I'm not saying the Broncos didn't have a great win last week, but Alex Smith and the 49ers just handed the Bengals a loss. Ouch.
9. The Tebowites just got a little louder. Pipe down already. You'll get your chance after the bye week.
10. Deion Sanders is getting divorced. Does this mean I only half to watch half of those DirecTV commercials now?
TJ Johnson can be reached through telegraph, ESP, Spanish interpretor, or via email: email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter if you want to see him mock "the man." He assumes you are following It’s All Over Fat Man on Facebook and Twitter, but if you are not, that’s nihilistic, man.