Gut Reaction: Week 7 - Broncos @ Colts

The Broncos weren’t who we thought they were.

Instead of passing, they ran; instead of keeping the ball, they gave it away; instead of being aggressive, they were passive-aggressive—heavy on the passive coaching, heavy on the aggressive personal fouls.

The Colts' game plan was simple and recognizable, because it’s the same game plan the Jaguars used last week: press the Broncos at the line of scrimmage, play Cover 2 behind it, and force the Broncos into short passing gains. The Broncos took the bait. How many times did we see Manning float the ball tonight in the hopes of good things just happening downfield?

Although the Broncos mounted a late comeback, it was derailed by more of the same. The final result, a 39-33 loss, felt more like a beating.

At least we can put the undefeated talk to bed. The only fans doing that sort of boasting live in Kansas City.

The Positives

  1. For what it’s worth—which is nothing—the Broncos did not quit. Hopefully, that means something down the road.
  2. Kayvon Webster came to play. And remember, he’s playing ahead of someone who can cover, in Tony Carter, so that’s saying something. 
  3. Chris Harris and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie both did a decent job in coverage as well. Even so, I’d love to see Jack Del Rio use them in man coverage more often.
  4. Eric Decker was about the only Broncos receiver to get real separation today. So much for the white-and-gritty routine.
  5. It was a blessing in disguise getting down by three scores. It forced the Broncos to abandon Foxball. They should learn from it.
  6. Julius Thomas—that’s what basketball can do for you. You don’t get hands like that from bowling.
  7. Danny Trevathan is about as good as it gets when it comes to a coverage linebacker. He could have had another interception, which would still be leading the team, unfortunately.
  8. Wes Welker didn’t find space until the fourth quarter, but when he did, he made some amazing catches.
  9. Duke Ihenacho was again a tackling machine. He might as well be a linebacker.
  10. One silver lining? Maybe the Broncos realize they are one game back in the AFC West and start playing with some desperation.

The Negatives

  1. The Broncos came unglued early and often, led by the ridiculously ridiculous Kevin Vickerson. For the night, they ended up with 12 penalties for 103 yards. Perhaps they came unglued because they were outplayed and outcoached.
  2. Speaking of coaching, on the Broncos’ first drive, John Fox should have gone for it on 4th-and-1. Here’s the calculator, you can do the math for yourself, but going for it yields .85 EP (expected points) and punting yields -.30 EP. The breakeven is 47%. Peyton Manning makes that percentage on 4th and 5—in his sleep. The good news is, it took seven games for Fox to perfectly execute such a mental blunder.
  3. From there, the Broncos descended into the hell known as Foxball. The definition of Foxball: the conscious killing of the potential for momentum.
  4. Although Peyton Manning threw for three touchdowns, this was far from a good game for him. I’ve never seen Manning throw three worse consecutive balls than he did to end the first half. All night he faced pressure, true, but he did a lot of chucking with hope.
  5. Von Miller played better than your average SAM linebacker, but that doesn’t mean anything if you don’t get the sacks. Miller said he was going to unveil a new sack dance today. Perhaps he should have been focusing more on the actual process of getting a sack than the dance itself. Miller was also burned numerous times by the Colts’ play-action, which sucked him to the inside so that Andrew Luck could roll out and get space in the pocket. Von fell for it three times by my count, but I stopped counting when I punched the television at half.
  6. The Broncos struggled mightily for a strategy to cover the flats. Shaun Phillips and Robert Ayers, in particular, were victimized, but Del Rio didn’t adjust until halftime. When the Colts needed a play tonight, they attacked the flats.
  7. Any idea why you’d leave Julius Thomas one-one-one in pass blocking? That’s just bad scheming.
  8. Trindon Holliday is officially back on the naughty list. Why Holliday even fielded some of the punts he did tonight is a complete mystery. Sure, you take the Hyde with the Jekyll, but at what point in Holliday’s career does he stop indulging the dark side?
  9. Another point regarding Holliday’s fumble—recovering fumbles is pretty random. Still, the Broncos put it on the ground four times. Play with fire, as they say.
  10. I don’t have to tell you how bad Chris Clark hurt his team. The points speak for themselves.
  11. My good friend Doc Bear rightly pointed out to me that it’s no accident short-yardage running is a problem with Chris Kuper playing guard. One note I’d add: Kuper’s pass blocking was just as bad.
  12. Actually, it wasn’t just Kuper. The Broncos’ offensive line and Knowshon Moreno broke down early and often tonight.
  13. Wesley Woodyard, we still miss you.
  14. I’m not sure what it will take to put Ronnie Hillman’s ass on the bench for good, but if his latest fumble doesn’t do it, nothing will.
  15. How long will it be for Champ Bailey this time?

The Who The Heck Knows

  1. Tony Dungy gave away a few of Peyton Manning’s checks in the pregame (Omaha = on one; Carolina = pick route), but it really doesn’t matter because the checks can be replaced by any other term. Personally, I’m partial to “cleavage” and “bitchin” with Manning’s accent.
  2. This may have not have been a negative for you, but I just missed a new episode of The Walking Dead to watch this game. If God had not invented On Demand, I’d be freaking out right about now.
  3. Having watched the Chiefs barely escape with a win over the Texans earlier today, I was struck by how often the Chiefs double-teamed J.J. Watt—which is to say on practically all passing downs. It provides a window into their strategy against Miller and the Broncos.
  4. Another thought on the Chiefs: they relied on the blitz today to get to Texans quarterback Case Keenum on some key third downs. If they try that strategy (highly unlikely) against Peyton Manning, they are going to get roasted by Wes Welker and Julius Thomas.
  5. Awkward—Jimmy Johnson doing Rams highlights next to Howie Long as he describes Long’s son Chris getting kicked out of an early game for throwing punches. To make matters worse, Chris Long’s punch-out was punctuated by his flipping off the fans.
  6. Jeff Legwold warned before the game that Von Miller may not be the fast-twitch fiber guy he was last year due to the extra weight. You buying it? 
  7. You know what’s pretty annoying? Whatever Jim Irsay will tweet out in the next twenty-four hours.
  8. Andrew Luck said the Broncos were “one of the better teams in the league.” Notice he didn’t say they were the best. That’s because they’re not.
  9. Vontae Davis said the Colts prepared hard all week for Tom Brady. And that worked out just fine.
  10. It’s during a time like this you have to remember to enjoy the process as much as the result. For all of my bitching and complaining, I was entertained.

Let loose with your own list, Broncos fans.

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

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