Sunday, October 17, 2010
The Broncos played well enough to win today. Almost.
The Broncos, though, were betrayed by a lot of little plays that, in themselves, wouldn’t lose you a game. Taken together, they killed an opportunity at a big, home-game win that might have helped the Broncos in a week where the rest of the AFC West lost their games. Instead, they lost. Here’s why:
Bad snaps. A bad snap early in the game killed off the chance at a short field goal. A bad snap on the last offensive play of the day for the Broncos got away from Kyle Orton and ended up in a turnover.
Dropped passes. There were a handful of potentially game-breaking passes dropped by the receivers. Drive extending passes that would have left less time for the Jets to mount their comeback in the end. Not a lot of them, but enough that it would have made a difference.
Bad passes. Orton was chased all day and some of the resulting passes were ugly. He threw into heavy coverage, he threw nowhere near open receivers, and at least once he didn’t deliver the ball quickly enough to take advantage of an open receiver.
Offensive line play. This young offensive line is struggling mightily. They didn’t do much to help the running game, they didn’t do much to help Kyle Orton, and they aren’t quite getting the job done. This remains the Broncos biggest problem area.
Missed field goal. After making a 59 yard field goal, Prater missed a 49 yard field goal. Those three points would have made a huge difference at the end. Instead of needing the touchdown, the Broncos would have been playing a very different game.
Wasting turnovers. The Broncos had three take-aways and only managed three points. When the defense gives you those kinds of gifts, the offense has to do its part. Today--and for much of the season--the offense didn’t come up with enough.
Bad turnovers. The Broncos’ first lost fumble came when the Broncos had just moved themselves into scoring position. Like the field goal, another three or seven points would changed the tenor of the game. The second lost fumble was the play that ended the Broncos’ day (see number 1 above).
The running game is still broken. They were better today, but it wasn’t enough. Too many strong first down rushes were followed by weak second down attempts leaving the Broncos in third and long. The Broncos running game needs to be better.
It was fun to see Tim Tebow contributing and I hope they keep finding ways to work him into the mix. Especially given the Broncos’ rushing problems, having a QB on the field who can help with the running game isn’t something that should be wasted. His rushing touchdown was a nice run and a great coaching call.
It was also good to see that the Broncos defense (playing a good portion of the day in 4-3 instead of 3-4) didn’t fall apart with all of the injury problems. Young players really stepped up and Martindale had them well-prepared. There were a few ugly bits (the final pass interference penalty, for one, and Tomlinson’s two touchdowns both looked too easy), but, on the whole, they played well and should be commended for the effort. The bigger problems were on the other side of the ball today.
The Broncos aren’t really a completely hopeless team. There is talent on the team in all phases of the game and some of the players look like they have great futures ahead of them. Still, looking promising and having talent don’t much compare to winning games. The Broncos need to start putting together better efforts in all phases of the game and carry the effort from opening whistle to the last play of the game. Too many lapses, too many missed, little plays, and too many bad decisions are sinking this season.