Gut Reactions - Week 12, Broncos-Rams

Tuco_01

Wrecks, sighs, and videotape.

The wreck: losing at home to a team who is in rebuilding mode.  

The sighs: the Broncos' continued futility to convert on 3rd downs, lack of quarterback pressure, inability to tackle, and  turnovers (on both sides).

The videotape: The Rams' offense seemed to confuse the Broncos after their first drive with their normal misdirection and bootlegs; their receivers and tight ends had more space than Buzz Lightyear. Their defense, as Brian Griese pointed out from the radio booth, confused the Broncos all game, blitzing eight defenders on one play, only to drop eight defenders in coverage the next.

Quick, someone call Steve Scarnecchia and get him back on the payroll (and rolling footage).  The Broncos could have used six more minutes of film today.

Despite a late surge, some luck, and some conservative play calling by the Rams, the Broncos' season took another shot to the chin today.  

I'm sure things can get worse (the schedule looks tough), but I have a hard time believing it.  This week Josh McDaniels had to apologize to the owner for the 2nd time this season.  Does this performance against the Rams merit a 3rd?  I'm beginning to wonder just how much longer Pat Bowlen and Joe Ellis are going to be able to keep the peasants from storming the castle.  Will they succumb to the pressure?  Did the inspired 4th-quarter play of the Broncos make a difference?

On 850 KOA's pregame show, Adam Schefter expressed doubt about Josh McDaniels remaining as coach with the Broncos by the end of the year.  Schefter believed that McDaniels needed to start winning immediately and often to prevent a turnabout from management.  This is the same guy who earlier in the year had said that the Broncos would never be in the business of paying three head coaches.  

When a guy like Schefter is starting to express these sorts of sentiments, it's beginning to get a lot like creepy, everywhere you go.

Now, on to The Positives, The Negatives, and The Who The Heck Knows?

Positives

1) Scripting Plays.  Josh McDaniels has done it for three straight games.  I think he likes the comfort of the script.  In a week with just a few distractions, and with a young offensive line, scripting plays seems to result in good execution for the offense.  Apparently, practicing the same plays over and over makes you better at them.  Who knew?

2) JD Walton, Zane Beadles, and Ryan Clady got great push on the first touchdown run.   It's too bad the Broncos fall behind so often.  There's a running game in there somewhere.

3) Kyle Orton continues to ball-fake with the best in the league.  He also correctly identified when and where he faced man coverage.  Unfortunately, when the Rams got pressure, the ball was either tipped or off target.  This prevented several big plays in the passing game early and forced Denver into field goals.  It also contributed to the putrid 0-for-4 on 3rd downs in the 1st half.   For the game the Broncos were 1 for 9.  Ball fakes do not a big-game quarterback make.

4) On some plays, I swear that Joe Mays looks like Mike Singletary.   How do the Broncos turn that into an everyday linebacker or fiery leader?  Or is the guy a one-hit wonder? 

5) Brandon Lloyd will make this list every week.  Win or lose, the guy is poetry in motion.

6) Eric Decker lives!

7) Thank God Elway the Broncos showed some fight in this game.   But without Elway late in the 4th quarter, did you really think the Broncos were going to win this thing?

8) See # 7.

9) See # 7.

10) See # 7.

Negatives

1) Brian Dawkins should know that things work in this order: 1) Tackle; 2) Strip the ball.  Unfortunately, he did it in reverse.  

2) The Rams did a good job adjusting on both offense and defense after their first drives.  On offense, they went sugar huddle and put Bradford on the move (as the Denver Post indicated in its preview of the game) out of a lot of run-heavy personnel packages (Two back and two-tight end sets).  He's no Mike Vick, but I was surprised by his ability to move in and out of the pocket.  His QB rating at the end of the first half was 135.1.  On defense, the Rams decided they'd had enough of Kyle Orton picking them apart.  They brought all kinds of pressure successfully on 3rd downs.  

3) Robert Ayers made a great play on his first tackle of the game. After this, though, he got caught taking some bad angles; the outside edge was compromised numerous times as he overzealously pursued the play from the backside, only to discover the Rams were purposely showing his side significant misdirection.  Shall we chalk it up to rust? Or did he just forget contain?

4) Wink Martindale tried put pressure on Bradford on 3rd downs today.  Bradford simply hit the right receiver.  If you combine that with the poor tackling and the after-catch yards the Rams had today, you can put your finger on the reasons why the Rams pulled away late in the 1st half.  Oh, and the Rams were 5-of-9 on 3rd downs.  

5) When Jamal Williams gets more tackles than the linebackers, what does that say about your linebackers?

6) How many times is DJ Williams going to miss the tight end slipping behind him this year?  If you remember the Broncos-Raiders game (which, of course, you do), it was like deja-voodoo all over again. 

7) Eddie Royal was a ghost today until the 4th quarter.  A ghost with a fumble, but a ghost nonetheless.  Makes one wonder if Kyle Orton looks for Eddie enough during the game. 

8) Peyton Hillis Knowshon Moreno fumbled - again. Also, even healthy, he appears unable to break open-field tackles like a top-12 pick.  

9) The age of the Broncos' defense is--well, it's old.

10) The Broncos allowed Sam Bradford a record-setting day today in yards passing.  It's good to know the Broncos defense continues to set records.   

Who The Heck Knows

1) DJ Williams in open space against the run = great linebacker; DJ Williams caught in traffic = brutal. 

2) If I'm Champ Bailey, I'm getting the hell out of dodge.    

3) How many fumbles immediately after contact did the Rams have today?  I counted 5,398,102.45.  How about you?

4) Perrish Cox being beaten that badly deep in the first half?  Give me a break.  Cox is as fast as they come in this league.  The wide receiver pushed off worse than Michael Irvin. His pass interference call? ´¡No sé nada de nada!

5) What happened to the no-huddle?  Not that it makes a huge difference, but the Broncos do play at altitude, and Kyle Orton has shown success in running it.  Did I mention that the Broncos play at 5,280 feet above sea level?

6) Yes, I'll bitch about the referees if I want to!  

7) Jay Cutler and the Bears are in 1st place.  Crap.

8) Peyton Hillis had 3 touchdowns and 131 yards today.  What does that have to do with the Broncos?  Nothing.  It's just salt for those empty wounds, Broncos fans.

9) Right now it looks like the Broncos would pick in the top 10.  Amazing as it seems, 3-8 doesn't put them in the top 5.

10) Tim Tebow.  Tim Tebow.  Tim Tebow.  Whew!  And here I didn't think I would make it through a Reaction without mentioning that guy.  

Feel free to give us your gut reactions.  What did we miss or get wrong? 

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

Agree, disagree, just like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter so I can quit my day job.

Mark it ZeroGut Reactions

2014 Offseason

Offseason coverage