Two weeks is an eternity in the NFL.
It's time enough to get healthy; time enough to recommit to the running game; time enough--if you're Josh McDaniels--to regain the faith of an entire city, fan base, and organization.
To say that Josh McDaniels was coaching for his very job is to overstate the importance of today's game.
To say that today's game was just another game, however, is to ignore the obvious. Josh McDaniels--no, the entire Broncos organization--needed today's win.
They needed the win so badly that McDaniels brought in none other than John Elway to give the Broncos a pep talk earlier in the week; despite the disappointing off-field actions of DJ Williams, everyone must have listened.
If today's game is what we'll get from an inspired Broncos team, I say bring in The Duke for the remaining 7 games.
Welcome back to the AFC West, Denver.
While the bye week clearly helped the Broncos prepare today, there's not doubt this is a different team when Zane Beadles and Ryan Harris are in the game together. Running the ball may not statistically correlate to winning games, but it sure does help keep the other team from slobbering all over Kyle Orton in the box. It's also a different team with the emotion of Brian Dawkins on defense. Sprinkle in some timely zone blitzes, some amazing wide-receiver play, no turnovers, and only a few penalties, and you've got a real team here.
What is the biggest difference between this Broncos team and the team that was pasted by the Raiders?
On offense, execution in the running game. On defense, maintaining gap responsibility.
Let’s get to the positives, the negatives, and the who-the-heck knows. First, the positives:
1) Your eyes did not deceive you. Kyle Orton's QB Rating at the end of the 1st quarter was 154.9. He finished the day with 4 touchdowns and a 131.5 QB rating.
2) Your eyes did not deceive you. On their first series, the Broncos converted a 3rd-and-2--easily.
3) Your eyes did not deceive you. The Broncos scored on their first 3 drives--easily. Their run out a 113 passing package was a great call and a testament to Zane Beadles' individual effort in particular. In the first half, the Broncos favored 212 and 122 sets in the first half. These are run-heavy personnel packages.
4) Joe Mays and Mario Haggan showed great instincts in run support today. Haggan blew up two sweeps by playing fundamentally sound football. He took on blockers with his inside shoulder. This maintained his ability to make a play on the outside and forced the running back towards the teeth of the defense--textbook outside linebacker play. Oh, did I mention the guy had 3 sacks--in the first half?
5) Two weeks = a quicker Knowshon Moreno.
6) Matt Cassel's achilles heel--a lack of pinpoint accuracy--helped the Broncos early in this game. His poor decision not to throw the ball away on 3rd down to begin the 2nd quarter also forced the Chiefs to attempt a 52-yard field goal--a much longer field goal than they preferred. Thanks, Matt!
7) As a rookie center, JD Walton made his share of mistakes through the first 8 games; he'll continue to make mistakes in his next 7. Today, though, you saw what happens when he gets his hands on a defender. His hustle to make a touchdown-saving tackle on Eric Berry at the end of the 2nd quarter is yet another reason to like this kid.
8) Tim Tebow didn't just stick his head into the pile. He read the defense's pinch at the goal line, read his block perfectly, and glided into the end zone to make the score 28-0. Nice run, Double-T.
9) In the 3rd quarter, we saw from the Broncos possibly their best goal-line stand in 5 years . Even better was the number of offensive players who were running out to congratulate them.
10) Can Demaryius Thomas accelerate through a hole or what?
11) If Brandon Lloyd doesn't go to the Pro Bowl this year, the terrorists win.
12) Great use of zone and double-A-gap blitzes today by Wink Martindale. He kept just enough pressure on Matt Cassel. He's going to have to continue this for the rest of the year. Did they give up some big plays? Sure. But as we've said again and again, it's much better (and more enjoyable) to go down swinging.
1) Giving up 4 touchdowns to Matt Cassel is not meaningless.
2) Kyle Orton tried to force the ball into the end zone in the middle of the 2nd quarter. This pass should have been intercepted. Luckily, though, momentum remained with the Broncos. Orton made several of these throws today, so there are some things he can improve upon.
3) Jason Hunter, don't be a hero.
Fall on a fumble. Pick up the ball and run it back for a touchdown.
4) McDaniels trying to kick a 58-yard field goal to end the half was a questionable call in my view. The reason? Not the Eric Berry return. It was the 18 seconds remaining on the clock. That's 18 seconds of momentum for the Chiefs if they miss a rather difficult field goal.
5) Despite the pressure the Broncos put on Cassel today, don't get carried away, Broncos fans. This is still a front 7 that struggles without resorting to the blitz.
6) When Champ Bailey gives up a touchdown, do you expect me not to point it out? Still, Bailey finished with 9 tackles, so it's hard to be too tough on him.
7) Giving up 469 yards passing to Matt Cassel--even in scrap time--doesn't fill me with joy. If you're happy about it, you're drinking as much Kool Aid this week as you were dropping cyanide during the Raiders' blowout.
8) It's still going to take one hell of an effort to win the AFC West. At least now it will be interesting.
9) Seeing Broncos fans wearing CU Buffs gear in the stands is like showing up in a Bon Jovi leather jacket at a Motorhead concert.
Who The Heck Knows?
1) Strange razzle-dazzle play up 14-0. It wasn't really necessary, but you can understand the reason behind it. The Broncos wanted to continue to show the Chiefs something they'd not seen on film.
2) Terrible personal foul call by the referees on Joe Mays. Guy was simply blocking.
3) Terrible personal foul call by the referees on Mario Hagaan. Give me a break. There is no such thing as a defenseless wide receiver in the AFC West.
4) Weak Statue of Liberty call, Todd Haley. Just weak, bro.
5) Can you say, "First-Place Oakland Raiders?"
6) Did we have to show Tebow's throwing ability in a blowout win? McDaniels could have saved this for our friends, the San Diego Chargers.
7) Perrish Cox continues to get challenged. Sometimes, as was the case when he was beaten deep today, his technique is poor. Sometimes, as was the case when he makes a play on the ball, his technique is sound. Luckily for him, he's got the legs to keep up with anyone. The scales tilt in his favor a little more each week, however.
8) Why so many batted balls today from Matt Cassel?
9) Lance Ball suddenly makes an appearance. Looks like Josh McDaniels really meant it when he said Ball was part of his future plans.
Feel free to give us your gut reactions in the comments below. Enjoy the win, Broncos fans. This type of game doesn't make you a fan, but it sure as heck makes you feel great to be one.
Lastly, thanks to our friends over at Amazin' Avenue for giving us the idea to represent each Broncos game with a picture. Today's picture is that of Chuck Norris.