20 points to ponder...
1. They didn't do enough with the front 7
2. They've got too many running backs
3. Orton can't play this game
4. The offense will have to keep us in the games.
5. We can't score without Brandon Marshall
6. The defense will take a while to gel
7. Alphonso Smith was a wasted pick
8. Dawkins, Hill and Goodman to getting too old
9. Champ Bailey is over the hill
10. Josh McDaniels doesn't know what the heck he's doing!
11. We don't have the playmakers on this defense
12. The DL is a weakness
13. Doom isn't going to like moving to OLB
14. Buckhalter is over the hill and what the heck are they doing with the rushing game?
15. That darned Josh McDaniels thinks he's the smartest guy in the room! (right now, if he ever does, I will agree with him)
16. Andra Davis is too old and too slow and so is Mario Haggan
17. In fact, the linebacking corps isn't going to be able to handle it.
18. Mike Nolan? After the debacle in San Francisco, why the heck would anyone hire him?
19. This offense can't score any points
20. McDaniels doesn't know anything about defense
Ok, I'm done rubbing it in and I apologize to anyone that I've offended. Like, Jamie Dukes, Chris Collinsworth and (sadly), Mark Schlereth, all of whom went to great lengths to trot out ever-more vile adjectives to describe the degree of ineptitude that the Broncos were going to exhibit. They snickered and chortled about what a fool McDaniels was and what buffoons the Broncos would be. I want to thank them for getting Brian Dawkins thoroughly irritated. It was a nice thing to do: Cleveland will be sending you the bill.
Did anyone not see that the wretched Cincinnati Bungles, so dreadful that they actually lost to the Broncos at home, managed to beat a very solid Green Bay squad 33-27 on the road, in Tundra Town? Antwan Odom now leads the league in sacks, with 7. Rey Maualuga is the player that I thought that he'd be and the Cincinnati Bengals have a very solid team. But the Broncos stole their lunch and ate it in in front of the Big Cat fans, before Cincy did the same to the Green Bay Packers. Carson Palmer didn't have a spectacular game, but he did throw for 3 TDs. How many did the Broncos let him have? Ah, just one...
Some high points - Buckhalter had 76 yards on only 9 carries. Orton had a string of very bad passes, but the replay showed that a blitzing D lineman hit his bad hand (and possibly the finger - my replay wasn't that clear) just before that happened. Did he play well, start to finish? No. His completion rate was too low and he missed some open players. Did he get better? Absolutely. And, just so you know, he hasn't thrown a single INT and now has a starting home career record of 16-2. Folks can complain all they want about his faults - he's got some, no question. But it's all about winning, and he's managed to do that over and again. How? That's pretty simple.
He's got 506 yards passing with 2 TDs and O INTs over the two games (39 points, while the defense has given up 13). That's about his norm - he's always been good at taking care of the football. Does he miss at times? Sure. But he keeps his mistakes minimal - mistakes on a single play just don't bother me. Mistakes, like INTs or fumbles at cricial times, do. Orton is one of the most levelheaded guys that I've seen at his position. Small wonder that the players love the guy. He helps them to be productive and he doesn't do things tht take yards away.
Orton also had several good plays to move out of the pocket today. It's early and he's obviously still learning, but the progress in a week was easy to see. That's what I want from him over this stretch. I want to see visible progress and today it was right there to watch. Orton seems to know his main jobs - don't make it harder to win, don't make costly mistakes and don't get flustered when it doesn't go well. How much better were his feet? He didn't take a single sack, all day. That's the kind of thing that makes it easier to win games. You don't lose that many games when you do throw for 263 yards and you don't throw an INT and you don't take a sack. Orton also spread the ball to 8 receivers, and that makes it harder and harder to predict his movements if you're the defense.
Speaking of defense, can we talk about the defense? Can we stop? The job that McDaniels and Nolan have done putting them in a position to have success is just incredible. I expected to see a good unit, but this is beyond that. Are Cincy and Cleveland the two best offenses in football? Not even close. But each of them scored in the mid 20's during the game that they each didn't face the Doom Squad. This is something truly special. You can talk about last season and the turn-around by teams like Miami, but this is better than Miami. It's jaw-dropping to suffer through some film of last season (which is going to be circular filed later this week) and then to enjoy watching the Doom defense. Who are these guys? The pressure, the coverage, the ball-hawking and the tackling are something to be enjoyed.
How much better was the running game this week? Only good enough for 5.0 yards per carry and a total of 186 net yards rushing. Moreno looked like he's found his errors and fixed most of them. He made some people miss and he ran over a few: It's only his second NFL game and he's improving at light speed. Buckhalter might be an old guy with bad knees, but he looks like a powerful young guy with an attitude. Jordan was used for that he sould be used for - carry the rock late, running out the clock. Nothing wrong with that...
The wind was a bigger factor today than I expected it to be. Denver saw gusts over 40 mph. Prater missed two FGs - one badly - but the uprights were shivering in the blast. Some of the passes also seemed to veer off course on both sides. Josh Cribbs took 3 kickoffs for a total of 60 yards, which is very good, and 2 punts for 24. Peyton Hillis fumbled and was replaced by Alphonso Smith - McDaniels has announced that he's going to try to limit Eddie Royal's returns, since Royal is so much needed as a receiver. Royal saw 3 receptions for only 20 yards today. Jabar Gaffney led in yards with 82, while Stokley showed that Orton considers him the go-to man with 5 receptions.I'm not worried at all about the passing game.
One stat that I loved was our goal-to-go efficiency - 66%, 2 of 3. That's what I like to see. Hillis just took the ball quickly and and pounded it in - I wish they'd trusted him sooner. As the team comes together and there are numbers to analyze, I suspect that we'll see a lot more of that. The run blocking of the O line was a huge improvement, overall. No sacks and a 5.0 YPC for rushing tells me that last week was first-day nerves and most likely a fluke. The strong Denver line is still playing at a top level.
Wesley Woodyard had another good game and is wonderfully vluable in his nickel slot. Alphonso Smith continued to impress. My feed was a small box, so I can't give as much credit to many of the players as I should, but I'm sure that you can pitch in. Who really is catching your interest?
I'll be breaking down the film of the game over the next three days, and there will be more to see. Right now, I'm basking in the glow of a well-deserved 2-0. No one can call this one luck. The offense scored, the defense dominated and special teams mostly did a fine job. There's little enough to complain about, and none of it worries me. so, if I understand it right, we need to lose our next 14 our of 16, right? Because we all know that these guys can't play...
In your collective ear, oh ye media critics and pundit deniers. It was a total team effort and a solid team success. We're farther along than I expected, and the season looks good. The Denver Broncos look great, and this one is worth savoring.