Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Clearly I Was Drinking the Kool-Aid……

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 29, 2008

Now on to the picks, where in the theme of unpredictability I start with a real shocker: a winless team will break out this week and beat an undefeated team.

Okay, so maybe I was half right.  I did predict that a winless team would beat an undefeated team today in the NFL.  Problem is, I picked the wrong one.  I really thought the Rams would be the winless team to break out, and that the Bills were the team in danger of falling into a trap.  Instead, it was my Denver Broncos of all teams that were at the wrong end of the biggest shocker of the day: a 33-19 loss to league doormat Kansas City. This came as such a shock to me that I am now out of my eliminator pool.  Maybe I was looking at the game through orange colored glasses, but I could not come up with a scenario where this Chiefs team would be able to beat the Broncos, even at Arrowhead.  This was the Chiefs’ first win in nearly a year, dating back to October 21 of last year.  How was I supposed to expect Kansas City to score more points today than they had in their first three games combined?  The answer to that question is maybe the Broncos defense really is that bad, in which case they have a problem.  Larry Johnson nearly had 200 yards on the ground, including a 65 yard jaunt on the second play of the game.  Johnson is of course a Pro Bowl back, one of the best, but he is running behind an offensive line that is a mess.  If there was ever a game for Denver’s defense to get back on track, it should have been this one.  Then again, it may seem strange to say this after they surrendered 33 points and 6.5 yards per carry to the Chiefs, but it was really the defense that managed to keep the Broncos in the game.  Consider:

– The Broncos held the Chiefs to a field goal after the aforementioned scamper by Johnson on the first possession of the game.  The Broncos proceeded to hold the Chiefs to another field goal after a quick fumble gave KC the ball at the Denver 26.

– The Chiefs’ average starting field position was the 46 yard line, which does not speak well for the special teams (more on that in a moment).  Even a mediocre offense (like the Chiefs) doesn’t need to do much to get a minimum three points with that kind of starting field position.

– One of Kansas City’s touchdowns came after a fumble recovery allowed them to start at the 2-yard line for a gimmie touchdown.  That is not on the defense.  

– The Broncos held the Chiefs’ to a 5-of-13 conversion rate on third down, and Kansas City only converted 1 of 4 in the second half.  

– Despite four Denver turnovers on the road, they were an onside kick recovery away from being in position to drive for the tying score from midfield with plenty of time on the clock.

Are you sensing a theme here yet?  The Broncos’ defense, while giving up gaudy numbers, actually dug in and kept the score closer than maybe it should have been.  The Broncos offense was guilty of four turnovers, including two that came right after the team actually started to build momentum.  Any team that commits four turnovers on the road will never win, period, even against a so-called bad team.  The Broncos’ turnovers gave Kansas City progressively more and more confidence, and the Chiefs’ were able to feed off their crowd.  Even if the fans aren’t buying tickets they way they used to there, the ones that show up still cause noise and havoc for visitors.  The Chiefs were able to feed off that with each turnover the Broncos’ offense committed.  

The Broncos were also guilty of red-zone inefficiency.  Denver ended up with no points on a 28-yard missed field goal near the end of the first half (to be fair, Matt Prater drilled two 50-yarders later in the game, so this is not on him).  The Broncos also couldn’t covert from the four yard line in the fourth quarter when they had a chance to cut the game to three.  To be a good offense in the NFL, you need to convert in the red zone.  Coach Mike Shanahan said in the postgame the Broncos were only one of four in the red zone today.  That will never get it done, especially on the road.

The special teams was atrocious once again.  The Broncos allowed countless Kansas City kick returns that set the Chiefs up in excellent field position.  This was a major issue last year and has continued to be a problem the Broncos have been able to get around until today.  It didn’t help that the turnovers also gave the Chiefs’ continued excellent field position, but those two things combined are never a good recipe for success.

This is not to say the defense was faultless at all.  Obviously they need to do a better job stopping the run.  Despite their efforts to keep the team in the game, the 65-yard run by Johnson really set the tone and gave the Chiefs’ confidence they didn’t have coming in.  The front four still has yet to put any pressure on any quarterback they’ve faced in the early going this season, and that’s a problem too.  The secondary has had issues, the chief one being that Champ Bailey does not have a chance to make plays when opponents keep throwing at the other cornerbacks, all of whom happen to be struggling at the moment.

This game proved that every game is unpredictable and you can never truly know how any game is going to unfold, no matter how clear it seems on paper.  The Dallas Cowboys joined the Broncos as surprise losers today, in a home game where they were a double digit favorite.  Three of the top four college teams lost this weekend (USC, Georgia, and Florida).  The important thing for the Broncos to remember is they are 3-1 at the quarter mark of the season.  Last year they were 2-2 at this point, so already there is overall improvement.  One game does not make a season for sure.  The Broncos still have the look of a good team, but perhaps today’s game was a much needed lesson for a young team about life in the NFL.


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