What’s with all of the mental errors?

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Okay, so it's not that happy of a Friday, given what happened last night.

Let's open with something of a longwinded rhetorical question, and no, this is not in any way a suggestion that John Fox be fired. Not even close.

Over the past couple of seasons, we've been highly critical of Fox's fourth-down decisions, whether they be punts or field goal attempts.

Often, the counterargument is that Fox is not making the play calls, or that he is a great motivator who has the pulse of his team, rather than a micromanaging technocrat. He just wins!

Well, guess what - the Broncos lost last night, at home, to an inferior, but more intense team, that made far fewer mistakes.

All year long, the team's Achilles heel has been mental errors and sloppiness.

Sure, they haven't been great defensively, especially with their increasing pile of injuries. But this is not one of those classic great offense/ghastly defense squads.

Rather, it's a historically great offense, with a so-so defense, and an overall propensity to make huge mistakes - in the form of fumbles, dropped passes, and costly penalties.

Fumbles caught up to Denver at Indy and New England.

Huge special teams errors were covered up by wins over KC (a 108-yard KR by Knile Davis) and Tennessee (Leon Washington's 95-yard return).

But they were front and center at New England (Trindon Holliday's muffs, the fateful game-ending turnover), and again last night (Holliday's two first-half mistakes, Nate Irving's offsides penalty).

(BTW, how many times have we seen the highly paid Britton Colquitt come up with a huge field-position-flipping punt in the Mile High air this year? Yeah, we can't recall very many either.)

Penalties have littered almost every game this season, often of the procedural or disciplinary variety.

Okay, so here's that long ago promised question:

When your coach is a motivator type like John Fox, isn't your team supposed to be characterized by playing with unwavering intensity, and relatively free of mental errors?

Broncos News

Kayvon Webster will undergo surgery today to repair a thumb injury he suffered last night.

Shaun Phillips says the loss will make the Broncos a better team.

Denver was shut out in the second and third quarters - the first time all season that they've gone scoreless in consecutive quarters.

Broncos Analysis

Sam Monson says that although San Diego gashed Denver in the running game, it wasn't thanks to superior run blocking.

Joan Niesen agrees that it's all about the details for these Broncos, and she says the Patriots are noticeably better in that department.

Chris Chase reminds us that Thursday nights are tough, and that the Chargers aren't exactly a bad team, while Benjamin Hochman thinks this is still a SB squad.

As TJ had suggested to me last night, Paul Klee says it's easy to get flagged for 12 men when you don't know who's playing defense for you anymore.

Andrew Mason says late regular-season losses have been a strange calling card of recent SB winners, and he revisits his three keys to the game.

Mark Kiszla and Frank Schwab think Peyton Manning can't be anything less than great for these Broncos to win, but that might be a bit of a stretch.

Meanwhile, Kevin Acee shoves Kiszla's "Milquetoast Mike" tag for Mike McCoy - which apparently upset many in the Chargers organization - down his throat.

News

The NFL and DirecTV are reportedly closing in on an extension to their lucrative Sunday NFL Ticket deal, which was scheduled to run out after next season.

Jay Cutler will start for the Bears against Cleveland on Sunday.

Mike Shanahan

Hilariously, conflicting reports have RG3's mindset in the wake of his benching as either extremely angry or disappointed.

Even Mini Shanny admits the decision to sit Griffin didn't really take football into consideration.

Judy Battista thinks there's not a sympathetic figure to be found in the whole situation, while Ashley Fox says it's all Dan Snyder's fault, and Jason Whitlock thinks RG3 needs a healthy serving of humble pie.

Analysis

Mike TanierJudy Battista, Peter King, and Brett Michael Dykes preview the rest of the week's games.

All-22 analysis: Matt Bowen revisits Week 14 and looks ahead to Week 15; Doug Farrar evaluates Jets DT Sheldon Richardson; Robert Mays studies Bucs LB Lavonte David.

Jim Trotter thinks it's unwise to dismiss rumors that Jim Harbaugh could end up coaching the Longhorns.

Bill Barnwell dissects the roster moves that turned around the Panthers.

Surprisingly, Julius Thomas actually ranks #9 among tight ends in pass blocking efficiency, while Virgil Green unexpectedly ranks all the way down at #30.

Maths

Pete Carroll apparently needs the benefit of historical precedent to understand why it would have been better for his Seahawks to have let the Niners score a late touchdown on Sunday, so Chase Stuart provides him plenty of it.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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