You Got Served: Simultaneous possession edition

Happy Thursday, friends.  I’m back from my trip to Cleveland, and I’ve dug out of the two-days-away hole at work, so I decided that it was time to get back on the horse.  So have you seen any cases of simultaneous possession lately?  I saw one on Saturday night at a wedding reception.

The bride tossed the bouquet, and the maid of honor and my girlfriend both caught it.  They both held it for a few seconds, before Laura deferred to the MOH and let it go, which was the right call.  The MOH was actually really gracious about the whole thing, and let Laura have the bouquet, which was cool until she left it in a hotel in Charlotte on Monday morning.

As for the garter, who do you think caught it?  I got my fifth one in my last seven weddings attended (starting in 2009).  I think we can safely say that I have elite garter skills.  To wit:

  • Good height (six feet)
  • Long arms
  • Quick reflexes
  • Sure hands
  • Good short-area quickness
  • Competitiveness
  • (Most importantly) Complete lack of superstition about the meaning of catching a garter at a wedding.

That’s #winning, friends.  After attending this reception, we left on Sunday morning to drive Laura’s car down to Florida, and I didn’t get to see any of the Broncos-Texans game live until we arrived at our hotel behind Bank of America Stadium with eight minutes to go in the game.

I finally watched the rest of the game on Wednesday night, and I have some thoughts, as you might expect.  In general, I was pleased with the team’s ability to match up physically with one of the best teams in the NFL.  The Texans are more polished and consistent than the Broncos right now, but I believe that Denver can beat that team.

1. Heading into the game, I was very interested in seeing the Broncos run defense.  I felt like the Texans offered a very good test, because they’re highly proficient at running the ball.

If you just look at the numbers, the Texans look like they ran the ball well.  They totaled 152 yards on 34 carries, and Arian Foster had 105 of those yards on 25 of the carries.  I would tend to exclude the 21-yard carry by Keshawn Martin on an end-around, since I want a test of the straight-up run defense, and that leaves 131 yards on 33 carries – an average of 3.97 yards per rush.  That’s still solid.

The film tells a different story, though.  Early on, the Texans ran the ball well against seven-man boxes.  Most of the time, they can do that against any team’s seven guys.  As the game went on, though, the Broncos did a better job maintaining gap discipline, and they really acquitted themselves well. 

I was especially impressed with the run-game work of the defensive line, especially Justin Bannan, Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson, Elvis Dumervil, and Mitch Unrein.  Those guys have held up very well against the run over the first three weeks of the season, which is a pleasant surprise after losing Ty Warren.

The linebackers were often out of position early in the game, but they did better as the game went on.  Joe Mays has been taking better angles this year than last, but he didn’t have his most consistent game on that score on Sunday.  Keith Brooking was also a bit up and down, but his downhill striking was helpful.

2. Everybody who was lamenting Peyton Manning’s arm strength a week ago seems to be silent now.  I was listening to John Fox’s weekly Tuesday visit with Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan on Sirius, and they all were basically laughing at the idea.  Manning threw the ball very well on Sunday.

3. The receivers were a mixed bag.  When Eric Decker was good, he was really good, but he had a couple drops, and the slide was pretty terrible.  In all, he proved to be better than Kareem Jackson, who mostly covered him.

Demaryius Thomas, however, mostly got dominated by Johnathan Joseph.  He also had two drops, and he mostly struggled to get separation.  The Forbes.com writer who said that Joseph is overpaid is a clown, because Joseph is an excellent CB.  To become a true number-one guy, Thomas is going to have to improve his separation technique to where he can be more competitive with the best cover guys in the NFL.

Brandon Stokley was excellent, and he continues to be a key player in the offense; the two TEs, Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen, were solid.  I’m a little disappointed in Tamme so far this season as a receiver, but I’ve seen him play better in the past, so I figure he can do it again.

4. In general, I thought the offensive line did a good job in pass protection.  OTs Ryan Clady and Orlando Franklin handled tough assignments pretty well, especially Clady.  LG Zane Beadles and C J.D. Walton continue to look improved this season, and they also held up well in their inside protection assignments.

Obviously, Manny Ramirez struggled for the second week in a row, and he had a very tough assignment trying to block J.J. Watt.  If the 2011 Draft were re-done now, knowing what we know, Watt would probably be the third pick, over Marcell Dareus.  Ramirez is a marginal backup, at a position where the Broncos know they have questionable depth.  He’s doing about as well as he probably can, against guys are just much better than he is.  For the future, my hope would be that Philip Blake develops into the solid interior backup that I think the Broncos envisioned him as.  This year, though, they’re redshirting him.

5.  The Broncos had a couple of major busts in their safety play Sunday, but I actually didn’t feel like Rahim Moore and Mike Adams had bad overall games.  Moore seemed pretty aware of the action on the field, and he was usually where he was supposed to be, which is backed up by the fact that he made nine tackles.  I feel like he’s continuing to improve, and that his mental errors are decreasing.

On the Kevin Walter TD, it’s a little hard to tell what the coverage call was, but I think that Moore probably bit on the play-fake too much there, and that he should have had deep help responsibility.

Adams bit on the crossing route on the Andre Johnson TD and left Tracy Porter without help over the top, and that’s a bad thing.  He was solid in the rest of the game, though, particularly when he had man-to-man responsibility a couple times on inside receivers.

6. It’s easy to beat up on Porter for being the coverage player on both long TDs, but almost no CB could have prevented those plays by himself.  He had outside leverage, and both Johnson and Walter ran to the inside, leaving Porter in a trail technique and expecting help over the top that never came.

7.  Retired for John Elway

8.  I guess I had it wrong on the officials eventually caving.  I didn’t expect that the NFL would allow a debacle the magnitude of what happened Monday night, but apparently, the officials did expect that to eventually happen.  For the NFL, it unfortunately happened at the expense of a high profile team on a Monday night, and the pressure got ratcheted way, way up.

The interesting thing to me is that this is the first time that the NFL has really lost a PR battle in quite a long time.  I remember when the Tim Donaghy scandal hit the NBA, David Stern just basically shrugged it off, and the media let him get away with it. 

Until Monday, that’s what was happening with the football media too.  The Prime Cut that was posted yesterday about the NFL asking the FOX guys to go easy on the scabs doesn’t surprise me at all.  I think they always counted on being able to control the narrative, and that they were shocked to see it get away from them so completely and disastrously.

The lesson, which we’ve seen in a lot of situations, is that when you’re doing objectionable stuff, the resentment by media guys who are forced into lapdoggery just grows and festers.  Eventually, something egregious happens, and a critical mass is reached, allowing the entire media to turn on their former masters, practically instantaneously.  No one media person can do it alone, lest they get smacked with reduced access; but when they all do it, it's unstoppable, and it feels like a sea change.

For the George W. Bush administration, which did a massive amount of really objectionable stuff, the event that caused the media turn was the shoddy and non-empathic handling of Hurricane Katrina.  From then on, the media (other than FOX News Bullshit Mountain) was very unfriendly to the administration, and the change in narrative changed the course of history.

For the second-term Obama administration (and make no mistake, there will be one), I suspect that they’re eventually going to botch one of the many drone-based killing missions that they’re quietly doing in the Middle East, and kill some non-belligerents, and the media will turn on them for that.  It's bound to eventually happen.

The NFL learned the hard way this week that there are some things you just can’t spin, and that even trying to do so makes it much worse.  I give them credit for quickly recognizing the situation, and getting a deal done that ended up being a real compromise.

That’s what I’ve got for today; I’ll have more for you tomorrow, about the matchup versus the Raiders. Check back later today for Doc's piece on defending the Oakland running attack, which I think will be the key driver for the outcome of Sunday’s game. 

1.  I’m not in the arguing business, I’m in the saying what I think business.
2.  I get my information from my eyes.

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