Gut Reaction: Week 9 - Broncos @ Patriots

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Son,” he said to me, “just remember, good fortune just means life is about to kick your ass.”

The Broncos were at the top of all the power rankings last week. In fact, many pundits were already predicting they’d win it all.

So much for that nonsense. Let the Patriots have the praise.

This Broncos team needs work, starting with more discipline. They take way too many penalties at the wrong times, their special teams play is a used paperback fraying at the edges, and their placekicker is spelunking inside his own head.

Luckily, the Broncos play Oakland next week. Everyone's head gets right against the Raiders.

The Positives

  1. Von Miller won’t show up a lot on today’s stat sheet, but he was once again the Broncos' best defender. I counted at least five hurries in the game.
  2. How do you beat Darrelle Revis throwing into the wind? Go all Kurtis Blow—throw an alley-oop and let Demaryius Thomas go up and get it.
  3. Forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal inside the red zone was huge in ensuring the Broncos stayed in the game until at least the second quarter. I swear that wasn’t a punchline.
  4. Never saw Chris Harris get beat today, even on the few occasions the Broncos put him on Rob Gronkowski.
  5. Julius Thomas is to tight ends as Dylan Thomas is to poets—no, not drunk and eccentric, but elegant and amazing.
  6. Malik Jackson is slowly becoming one of the best interior rushers in the NFL.
  7. No.
  8. No.
  9. Hell No.
  10. Don’t ask me again.

The Negatives

  1. I don’t care if you’re getting destroyed or not; as a defensive coordinator, any scheme that has Von Miller covering Rob Gronkowski in man coverage is the wrong scheme. Of course, Denver picked the wrong scheme all day long.
  2. Got Milk Matt Prater? Leave it to a shaky placekicker to force John Fox to go for it on fourth down. Here’s the thing—if you don’t have confidence in your kicker with the wind at his back at the 34-yard line, you’re never going to have confidence in him.
  3. The penalties are getting as old as the sweat from Gandalf’s crotch. It’s a fair question: is being a player’s coach just a euphemism for having an undisciplined team?
  4. There’s no getting around it. Peyton Manning’s interceptions broke bad, really bad. In fact, Manning was erratic for a lot of the game, despite his gawdy numbers. The Patriots followed the script—drop a lot of guys into coverage, try to disguise who drops, and be more physical than the Broncos’ wide receivers.
  5. So, do you think the Patriots watched the tape of Rahim Moore biting on mid-range routes over the middle? Yeah, me too.
  6. Who could cover Gronkowski? Absolutely Nobody. I saw Gronk getting so many free releases, I thought Brandon Marshall was his personal assistant.
  7. Despite the drops, Brandon LaFell took Bradley Roby to school, and it wasn’t the School of Rock, which I’m pretty fond of.
  8. Darrelle Revis is a beast of a corner and appears to be his old self suddenly. His ability to play trail-man coverage is uncoachable. You either have it or you don’t—sort of like exotic dancing.
  9. Not having Virgil Green in the running game hurt the Broncos more than they will ever admit. Getting so far behind didn’t help matters, but Ronnie Hillman rushed for 16 yards on 10 carries. That’s Milli Vanilli bad. That’s imitation running.
  10. Third down. Enough said.

The Who The Heck Knows

  1. The first rule of Fight Club getting your ass kicked on the road is you do not talk about getting your ass kicked on the road.
  2. How on God’s green earth can New England get a sack on a three-man rush?
  3. T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib had a lot of tackles, but they got shredded by the Patriots’ passing game. It’s a mixed bag, but mostly, that bag is filled with a pile of steaming dog crap.
  4. Wouldn’t it be funny if Peyton Manning and Tom Brady actually hate each other’s guts like a couple of beauty queens?
  5. John Fox told his team earlier in the week that the team that won the turnover battle would win. He was exactly right.
  6. File this under Pot Calling Kettle Black, but earlier in the day, the Chargers were an antelope trying to cross the interstate. The Dolphins were a tractor trailer that couldn’t slow down. The result? Roadkill.
  7. Unlike the drunk uncle that tried to touch you at your sister’s birthday party when you were nine, the Chiefs got sober, stepped out of their own vomit, and cleaned themselves up. Don’t look now, but they are 5-3.
  8. Once you see the drive charts from today’s game, you’ll realize why the Patriots scored so quickly so often.
  9. Wes Welker and Nate Irving both went down with injuries. If they need to sit against the Raiders, that’s fine by me. A practice squad could take care of the Raiders.
  10. If these teams meet again, will it be in Denver or New England? It makes a lot of difference, although you won’t hear the talking heads admitting as much in the next week. Expect ESPN to perform verbal fellatio on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick for another week or so.

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

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