Gut Reactions - Week 7, Broncos-Raiders

Has there ever been a worse 1st half in Broncos history?

Not in recent memory.  Halloween came one week early in Denver. 

Before most Broncos fans had a chance to see Tom Cable’s frightening haircut on the jumbo screen, they were down 24-0. 

The defense ran confused; Kyle Orton threw confused;  Josh McDaniels was confused. 

But don’t confuse them with a playoff contender.  In arguably the worst division in football, the Broncos are the cellar zombies of the AFC West.  The season is effectively done. 

Perhaps the Broncos were thinking about what scary costumes they were going to wear in London next week.  So they decided to take an eyepatch from every Raiders player, coach, and fan, and put them on both eyes.

Expect a mass of fans to claim this day as the beginning of the end of the Josh McDaniels era.  Honestly, how can you blame them?  Starting 2-4 against the league’s toughest schedule is a forgivable offense.  Getting blown out by an average team at home is inexcusable. 

Fans on the other side will continue to give the same defense they’ve given for a year or more.  There are too many injuries; the system takes time;  the offensive line is young; McDaniels had to get his guys in place.

No matter what your view on the subject, expect to hear this: since starting 6-0, Josh McDaniels and the Broncos are now 4-13.  The Broncos’ record during this stretch puts them in the territory of the Oakland Raiders, which is better than they did during the game.

Now, I understand the NFL is a league of parity.  The “Any Given Sunday” rule absolutely applies.  Today,  there were many teams expected to win who either lost or played close games.  But that doesn’t describe this Broncos loss—it was record-setting. 

Let’s get to the not-really positives, the negatives, and the who-the-heck knows.  First, the not-really positives:

 

Not-Really Positives

1) Punt coverage was decent—yeah, I’m stretching again, but I needed something to write. 

2) Almost all of the fans remained in their seats until halftime—even though they felt like puking.  That’s a testament to the strength of the people of Colorado.  And to clean living.

3)  The Broncos in the hurry-up offense.  Unfortunately, the only time McDaniels lets Orton do it is at the end of the half or when the Broncos are down by 38 points.

4) The first drive of the 2nd half was one of the few drives all day in which the Broncos looked in rhythm. 

5) Knowshon Moreno still running hard in the 4th quarter. 

6) The Raiders didn’t set the record for most points scored in an NFL game.  They almost got it, but almost ain’t good enough, Raiders fans!

7) The Universe as we know it only seemed to end today.  We’ve still got 2 years according to the Mayans!

8) Tom Cable channeled his inner Mother Teresa.  For a guy that likes to knock around assistant coaches, I’m surprised.  He chose not to run up the score in the 4th quarter.  I’m going to be honest with you - if my team has 59 points, I’m going for the record.

9) The official honeymoon period for Josh McDaniels, by any Kool Aid drinker’s estimates, is now officially over.  This is good—in a sense.  Pat Bowlen can now get down to the business of evaluating this team, good or bad.

 

Negatives

1) The Raiders came out in a variety of sets and formations and surprised the Broncos with the passing game. They ran a 113 package, a 212 package, and a 221 package, all of which they passed out of.  The Jason Campbell scramble (I’m guessing the Broncos did not read our game preview about shadowing Campbell) and secondary miscommunications on Miller’s touchdown were bad.  The touchdown to Miller was actually a great call by Oakland when the Broncos were playing man, but not accounting for the Raiders’ leading receiver is terrible.

2) Orton’s read against zone coverage on the first play of the game was downright putrid.  What else is there to say?

3) Josh McDaniels found it necessary to bring out a Tebow package down 14-0.  Then down 24-0, he brought it out again.  How cute.  Why he did this,  I don’t know.

4) I know there are injuries, but why did the Broncos switch back to the 3-4 after stopping the run last week?

5) Apparently, fumbling, like flu, is contagious this time of the year.  Can we vaccinate the Broncos’ skill players against putting the ball on the turf?

6) Knowshon Moreno should have been ashamed of himself after celebrating a touchdown down 38-0.  Just put your head down and get to the sideline.

7) Someone forgot to tell the Broncos’ defense that the offense was trying to make a comeback in the 2nd half.

9) The comedic stylings of Dan Fouts. 

10) Marcus Thomas led the team in tackles today.

 

Who The Heck Knows?

1) Can you blame me for bringing up the fact that I voted for Bill Cowher?

2) I think it’s fair now to question the Broncos’ strategy of building the interior of their defensive line through free-agent pickups.  This junior-college approach to building a team is costly if it doesn’t work out.  Thus far, the working-out part just isn’t.

3) If you’re Josh McDaniels, do you begin to think about starting Tim Tebow now that your team is going nowhere?

4) Mike Shanahan getting to the playoffs before the Broncos? 

5) Down 59-14 and Kyle Orton is still on the field?  You’re either admitting that Tebow doesn’t know any of the offense, or you’re asking for Orton to get injured.

6)  In a strange time warp, I’m grateful I got to see Marcus Allen and Jim Plunkett on the field together—in the form of Darren McFadden and Jason Campbell.

7)  With this blowout, the Raiders ensured they moved up a few extra spots in the BCS rankings. 

8) After watching the Broncos and the Bears on the same day, is it possible that in the end, everybody loses on the Jay Cutler trade?

9) In case you’re wondering, the Broncos now need to go 8-1 in their next 9 games to have a chance at the wild card.  You weren’t wondering, were you?

10) Could the Denver Dream of the Lingerie Football League have beaten the Denver Broncos today?

Feel free to give us your gut reactions in the comments below.  I’m sure I’ll find some more positives after taking a look at the game tape.  Right now, though, if I missed something, I’m sure it was more of the bad.

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

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