Gut Reaction: Week 8 - Denver vs. Washington

For as much scoring as the Broncos did in the fourth quarter, this game proved one thing:

Their defense is only getting better.

The Broncos bumped, pushed, and otherwise beat the hell out of Robert Griffin on their way to a 45-21 victory. Sacks don’t tell the story, although they did get to Griffin three times.

Jack Del Rio’s strategy of shadowing Griffin with Von Miller turned out to be just the right strategy. Griffin couldn’t put his strength—running out of the pocket—on display. And when he tried, there were orange jerseys waiting for him.

Now comes the bye week. The defense not only gets better, they get healthier too. And that should scare the rest of the league.

The Positives

  1. Wow, what an opening drive—almost reminds me of the Shanahan days when the opening drive was scripted. For the day, Manning added another four touchdowns, which puts him on a pace for something like 152. Also, where did we hear last week that the Broncos should use combo routes involving Wes Welker?
  2. Knowshon Moreno isn’t Reggie Bush, but his all-around game suggests otherwise.
  3. Von Miller didn’t look slow at all today. He flashed his 4.4 speed on RG3 numerous times. Del Rio chose to drop Miller more often than not as a spy, but even then, Miller still notched his patented strip sack. I hate to see Miller dropping, but when you’re facing RG3, it does you little good to go around him when he’s just going to step up into the pocket and run.
  4. Outside of Kevin Vickerson’s capacity to combust, the defense came to play—especially in the second half. They got caught on too many cutbacks early (including Miller), but in the second half, as my buddy Ted Bartlett noted, they started two-gapping.
  5. If there was a day in which being undersized but fast as a linebacker was needed, it was today. RG3 just couldn’t get his running game going, which stopped him from getting much rhythm. Danny Trevathan and Wesley Woodyard were flying all over the field.
  6. You won’t hear much about Mike Adams, but his versatility as a coverage safety really came in handy when the Broncos played dime.
  7. John Fox went for it on fourth down inside the red zone in the second half, proving that you don’t always have to compound your own mental errors (See Negatives, #4).
  8. Montee Ball’s touchdown run was a little bit Montee Ball, but more Earl Campbell.
  9. You can kick away from Trindon Holliday all game, but eventually “playing with” the sideline causes you to “jerk” the ball way too much.
  10. When he’s having a tough day at the office, what do you do with Demaryius Thomas? Get him in space and let him run.

Honorable Mention: Malik Jackson, Shaun Phillips, C.J. Anderson, Chris Harris, Louis Vasquez, and Terrance Knighton.

The Negatives

  1. Demaryius Thomas had DeAngelo Hall on him all game in press coverage, and you saw the result. If the Broncos are going to go places, Thomas is going to have to get a whole hell of a lot more physical. Manning’s last interception was as much about Thomas’s lack of physicality as it was Hall’s ball skills.
  2. I could say the same thing about Eric Decker. How many times is Decker going to try and run his route before getting off the jam? That’s exactly what the defensive back wants you to do, so he can use his hands effectively. Thankfully, the Broncos got him free using rub and pick routes.
  3. If you remove the first drive, the offense sputtered for most of the first half—mostly due to pressure. The Broncos moved the ball, to be sure, but just couldn’t get any rhythm. It also didn’t help that Washington possessed the ball for—well, forever.
  4. Duke Ihenacho had one of the easiest interception opportunities he’ll ever get. I guess we'll blame it on the sun.
  5. John Fox should think about developing a risk/rewards matrix for his challenges. Once again, he threw a challenge flag on a play that was relatively meaningless and relatively clear cut.
  6. 4th-and-3 at the Washington 43-yard line—time to punt with the most prolific offense in the history of the NFL? How damn ridiculous. Just for clarification, the Broncos are 4-for-4 on fourth down for the year.
  7. Not sure who is responsible (it appears as though it’s Quentin Jammer) for the 12-men-on-the-field call, but whoever is responsible should be traded to the Oakland Raiders.
  8. Getting both of your tackles pushed into your body just doesn’t feel good. Oh—it also causes your quarterback to fumble.
  9. You know that little voice in your head that stops you from doing stupid things like punching your boss or walking across freeways? Kevin Vickerson ignores his voice.
  10. I’m all excited Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie got a pick-six interception, but high-stepping for fifty yards is the height of dick moves.

The Who The Heck Knows

  1. Pierre Garcon’s catch in the first quarter was one of the best I’ve ever seen.
  2. Having watched the Chiefs for three straight weeks now, it’s pretty easy to see that when they need a big play, they rely on screen passes and trickery more than they do Alex Smith’s arm. Smith also checks to his backs as much as I’ve ever seen any quarterback. It’s just hard to imagine the Chiefs beating the Broncos in either one of their matchups this year. The Broncos’ linebackers are excellent against the screen game.
  3. Sylvester Williams was inactive again. Let’s hope that means he’s the next Trevor Pryce.
  4. Red is NOT Mike Shanahan’s best color, but it’s even worse when he’s losing.
  5. Chill out, Peyton. The fans were only yelling because the refs didn’t call the decapitation on Trindon Holliday.
  6. Kirk “Cameron” Cousins can throw the deep out, I’ll give him that, but he could use a little work on this short game.
  7. Matt Prater has not missed a single field goal all year. Not bad for an overpaid kicker.
  8. Peyton Manning said after the game that he could be listed on the injury report each and every week under “body.”
  9. Check out highlights of the Detroit-Dallas game if you get a chance. Calvin Johnson had more yards receiving in one game than Alex Smith has passing in three.
  10. Julius Thomas, get better fast. The Broncos are going to need you. And Orlando Franklin, way to be a gamer. Get some rest.

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

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