Last week, Josh McDaniels said the Broncos weren’t tough mentally.
Early in the game today they were just plain stupid.
In the first quarter alone, the Broncos managed a stupid personal-foul penalty; several miscommunications in the passing game; a fumble despite covering the ball with two hands; and the most idiotic of all things in the NFL (or high school for that matter) - a botched field-goal snap.
The Broncos’ run defense and the Jets themselves—stupidly turning the ball over 3 times—kept the Broncos in the game.
But at crunch time, on a day in which the Broncos painted the town orange, the color yellow was the stupidest thing of all.
Was it a pass interference call on a desperate 4th-down pass by Mark Sanchez that cost the Broncos the game?
No. But it made one hell of a difference.
Was it the right call?
It doesn’t matter. The answer to that question won’t make you sleep better tonight. In fact, it hurts right in the gut.
Perhaps you can take solace in the fact that the Chiefs, Chargers, and Raiders all lost, too.
You will hear this week that the Jets came off a short week and that’s the reason they didn’t destroy the Broncos. Going back to 1998, there have been 162 games in which a team has faced the same scenario the Jets did today. Those teams have won the game 49% of the time. So the short-week excuse is just that—an excuse.
The Broncos played a tough game. It’s as simple as that.
Now, with excuses out of the way, let’s get to the positives, negatives, and the who-the-heck knows. First, the positives:
1) The Broncos came out in the first half utilizing a 104 empty-backfield set (1 RB, 0 TE, 4 WR). They also used the hurry-up offense. Great aggressive coaching moves by McDaniels. If Orton and Lloyd were on the same page, this coaching strategy could have translated into points. Then, to start the 2nd half, McDaniels switches to the 212 package (2RB, 1TE, 2WR) and crams it down the throat of the Jets in the running game.
2) You also have to like the moves the Broncos made on 3rd-and-long. The Broncos came out in a 203 shotgun package (2 RB, 0TE, 3 WRs). This is essentially the shotgun’s version of maximum protection. This formation was used specifically to counter the Jets’ zone-blitz packages. Great move again by coach McDaniels. And good blitz pickup assignments from the running backs.
3) The Broncos’ run defense. Great game plan by Wink Martindale. He blitzed Sanchez and put 8 guys in the box to prevent the Jets from establishing any sort of running game.
4) Kyle Orton’s pre-snap reads and toughness. He recognized the overload blitzes early and picked the hot receivers correctly. Because of the 203 packages, he had the time to get rid of the ball as well. When he didn’t, he either scrambled or he stood in the pocket and took his shots. What more do you want out of your quarterback?
5) Eddie Royal in space is like watching Michael Jackson do the Moonwalk for the first time—only with two white (and pink) gloves.
6) Champ Bailey = velcro. Bailey was also a major reason for the Broncos’ success against the run today. He came up against the run and forced the Jets to turn everything inside on many of their running plays to the outside. Why haven’t the Broncos re-signed this guy? Could Champ have looked like more of a Hall-of-Famer today? I’ll save you the .001 seconds of thought. No, he couldn’t have.
7) The growth of Perrish Cox—each and every week.
8) Syd’Quan Thompson’s cat-like reactions in zone coverage.
9) The creative use of Tim Tebow in the offense today. Tebow was tough, made a few smart decisions, and stuck his head right into the pile. Congratulations to Tebow for his 1st career NFL touchdown. It was a well-deserved score, and a testament to Tebow’s continued hard work.
10) Denver hit the 100-yard mark rushing the football today. In particular, J.D. Walton played well. His poor play ending the game is a bitter pill to swallow after an otherwise great performance.
11) Rex Ryan’s misinformed (stupid) challenge call on the Lloyd pass. The added bonus? The Jets had already burned a timeout earlier and lost their 2nd.
12) Rex Ryan’s misinformed (stupid) non-challenge on the touchdown pass from Orton to Demaryius Thomas.
13) Broncos fans were loud and proud today. For the first time this year, the TV looked like it was shaking.
1) Orton played well against an always-blitzing team from a gritty point-of-view. But the 5,514 back-shoulder and fade routes today were a little too cutesy. It’s also a major reason why he was 41.7% on the day with a QB rating of 71.8.
2) Knowshon Moreno’s arm strength. You simply can’t cover the ball with two hands and have a defensive back still manage to rip the ball clean out of your arms.
3) Lonie Paxton’s arm strength. You simply can’t snap the ball 3 yards behind you on a chip-shot field goal attempt.
4) Mario Haggan’s play left a little to be desired today. And he took a stupid personal-foul penalty in the first half. As a veteran, you’ve got to know better.
5) 9-man football on the Jets’ field-goal attempt in the 3rd quarter. That gets Fat Man’s WTF Award for the week.
6) Dan Dierdorf’s annoying voice and man crush on Darrelle Revis.
7) Dan Dierdorf’s annoying analysis and man crush on Darrelle Revis.
8) The Broncos’ running backs are still tentative from what I could see, outside of Tim Tebow.
9) Why run the ball on 3-and-17 in the 4th quarter? It’s almost like ceding a field goal or touchdown immediately to the Jets from an Expected Points Value (EPV) perspective. And with this offense? And with the kind of pass interference calls we were seeing? As you saw, eventually the field position and EPV of a move like this doesn’t play into your favor. The next team to score after this call was the Jets. While the call itself didn’t cause the touchdown, one has to criticize laying down on that play and giving up valuable field position at a critical juncture of the game. Josh McDaniels is not the kind of coach that plays not to lose; it was a surprising call.
10) A game decided by a middle-aged guy with a yellow flag in his pocket. Ugh.
Who The Heck Knows?
1) Brandon Lloyd’s lack of catches. If Orton puts the ball in a better position on a few of those throws, we are talking about Lloyd and another 100-yard game. Don’t believe the hype that Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie blanketed Lloyd. Didn’t happen. Dan Deirdorf wasn’t a wide receiver for good reason.
2) I’m convinced Matt Prater is the key to reducing global warming. Hook him up to the grid. His leg is electric. But he missed one he usually makes as well.
3) The Broncos got the ball in the 2nd half with a chance to really take momentum in the game. A missed opportunity in a game that depends so much on emotion and momentum.
4) Ryan Harris. Nagging injury? Or long-term concern? One thing is certain. Zane Beadles is improving each time he takes the field at right tackle.
5) An onside kick is only cool if you take advantage of it.
6) Denver was 6 for 17 on 3rd downs (35%). The Broncos could have done better, but they could have done a lot worse against all of the pressure they were facing today.
7) Anyone want to take control of the AFC West?
Feel free to give us your gut reaction in the comments below. It was a grueling and difficult loss. What did I miss or forget?