It’s never smart to overreact to an opening-day loss, but there are plenty of takeaways from today’s game. First, let’s start with the positives:
1. Eddie Royal. As advertised, he’s much stronger this year. And it was good to see how many yards he picked up after the catch. It’s clear that his move to the slot will pay dividends for Denver. Royal had 8 catches for 98 yards.
2. D. J. Williams. Williams was flying all over the field in both run and pass. Williams had 10 tackles today.
3. Kyle Orton. Although Orton took two sacks that he could have probably avoided by throwing the ball away, overall, Orton looked very mature in the pocket.
4. Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd made what seemed like 5 or 6 circus catches.
5. Broncos Secondary. For the most part, the Broncos secondary played well and kept the ball in front of them, despite facing a short field all day.
6. Matt Prater. Just like a year ago, the guy is money, especially from long distance.
And now the negatives:
1. Penalties. The holding call on the first drive from Beadles and two facemask penalties from Ryan McBean on Jacksonville’s 2nd-to-last drive were just killers. The first took away 3 to 7 points, and the 2nd contributed significantly to 7 more points for Jacksonville. Overall, Denver had 7 penalties for 70 yards, significantly higher than an average team does in any one game.
2. Pass Rush. For now, the skeptics are right about Denver’s pass rush. Their front 4 are, thus far, incapable of generating a pass rush without resorting to blitzes. David Garrard had way too much time in the pocket.
3. 3rd Downs. Last year, I mentioned how the Broncos needed to be over 40% on 3rd-down efficiency to be a playoff team. Today they were 3-9, or 33%. That won’t get it done at home and it certainly won’t get it done on the road.
4. Special Teams. The Broncos gave the Jaguars a short field so often today that the Jacksonville offense didn’t need to be efficient. The Jags had 163 return yards today and they scored 17 of their 24 points on drives they started at their own 40-yard line or better. In contrast, the Broncos’ average starting field position for the game was their own 25-yard line.
5. Rushing Offense. Although Knowshon Moreno did have a couple of nice gains, for the most part, Denver was mediocre in the rushing attack. Ryan Harris was out and the line is young, so there are some built-in excuses if the Broncos would like to take them. However, for the game the Broncos had 89 rushing yards, or an average of 3.6 yards per play. Not too awful, but not great either. If the Broncos continue this trend, Kyle Orton will have a good year statistically, but the Broncos aren’t likely to finish with a winning record.
Again, let’s not get too excited or carried away. The Broncos lost a road game in Florida under heavy heat and humidity. And Jacksonville played well and mistake free.
Feel free to leave your comments. Anything you liked or didn’t like from today’s game?