Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

What a Puzzling Team

Posted by mizzou1028 on December 1, 2008

Here’s all you need to know about the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the 2008 Denver Broncos: my record predicting their games this season is 4-8, and I have misfired on seven in a row.  When it looks like the Broncos should win, they lose.  When it looks like they have no hope, they figure out a way to win.  Such is the nature of the NFL these days, where every game is unpredictable.  How can anyone try to predict games in a league where home teams went just 2-10 today?  Think about that for a second.  Home field advantage is clearly not as important as it used to be (for starters these newer stadiums are not near as intimidating for opposing teams), but that’s only part of it.  The league is getting more and more unpredictable because there are fewer dominant teams and more parity.  

This Broncos team in particular is just downright baffling.  Fresh off a 31-10 home loss to one of the worst teams in the league, the Broncos went on the road to Giants Stadium in the rain, to a place where they have never played well against either the Jets or Giants, and beat maybe the hottest team in the AFC 34-17.  The Jets had won five in a row and were coming off road victories against the Patriots and Titans.  

For all of the injuries the Broncos have sustained this season, 7-5 is a heck of an achievement.  The Broncos are down to their fifth running back, yet Peyton Hillis ran for 129 yards against a Jets defense that completely shut down the Titans vaunted running game last week.  You’ve got Eddie Royal, who was doubtful with a toe injury that has been nagging him for six weeks, making a terrific first quarter catch and turning it into a 59-yard touchdown while tiptoeing down the sideline and managing to stay in bounds.  He finished with five catches for 84 yards.  You’ve got linebackers dropping like flies, but here is Mario Haggan, signed off the practice squad just two weeks ago, contributing a key sack of Brett Favre in the third quarter to force a Jets field goal attempt in the red zone when New York was threatening to climb back in it.  Or how many guys nationally have heard of Vernon Fox, who had all of three tackles this season coming into today.  Fox jump started the Broncos’ momentum in the first quarter by alertly scooping up a Jets fumble and returning it 23 yards for a touchdown.  (Side note: why were the Jets trying trick plays, in this case a reverse, when it is pouring rain and the ball is slick?)

Some other thoughts from today’s game:

– It seems as though how Jay Cutler goes, so go the Broncos.  Last week against the Raiders Cutler completed just 43 percent of his throws and finished with an awful 49.8 quarterback rating in a blowout loss.  Today, Cutler completed 63 percent of his passes, throwing for 357 yards and finishing a rating of 94.8.  Sure, the quarterback’s fate dictates the outcome of games for most teams, but it seems particularly true for Cutler

– The Broncos were able to win the turnover battle again today (2-1).  This is not rocket science: the Broncos are now 6-0 when they win the turnover battle and 1-7 when the lose it.  This is not shocking, and is a reflection that the Broncos won today in part because they took care of the ball and didn’t make dumb mistakes

– I remember now why I can’t stand New York teams.  Jets fans actually had the audacity to boo when the Broncos defense suffered injuries on three straight plays in the third quarter (Spencer Larsen, Ebenezer Ekuban and Dre’ Bly).  Ironically, all three plays were catches and runs by Leon Washington, and that drive culminated in a Jets field goal after they stalled in the red zone.  Jets fans apparently thought the Broncos were faking injuries to stop Favre’s momentum on that drive.  Ridiculous.  Does any Jets fan out there want to answer me how arrogant a fan base must be to actually believe a team would fake injury in any case? Seriously I want to hear from a Jets fan why booing an injury was thought to be appropriate here.  The Broncos have been pulling guys off the street to play a variety of positions for the past six weeks.  The entire starting linebacking core was already out coming into this game. They were so banged up two weeks ago against Atlanta they needed Larsen to play both ways.  Mike Shanahan was wondering if he had anyone left to play defense in the fourth quarter.  You really think the Broncos actually wanted to lose key defenders while the Jets were going in for a score?  Especially when they already came into the game missing several key guys?  Please, grow up Jets fans.  At least Broncos fans aren’t dumb enough or immature enough to boo opposing team injuries.  For the record, Larsen didn’t return after his injury.  

– I am more and more convinced that Tony Scheffler’s presence is vital to the success of Denver’s passing game.  His ability to stretch defenses was sorely missed during his three game absence due to a groin injury, all losses.  The Broncos have won three of four since his return, and there are more opportunities for Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal.  The Broncos haven’t had a tight end to stretch the defense like this since Shannon Sharpe.  

– Kudos to the offensive line, and that’s not just for today but all season.  I really believe Ryan Clady should get consideration for rookie of the year.  He has not allowed a sack and has only been called for one penalty all season, absolutely incredible for any left tackle, not just a rookie.  The Broncos’ other tackle, Ryan Harris, is also in his first year after missing his rookie season last year due to injury.  The line as a whole has allowed just seven sacks and has been vital to holding the running game together in the wake of all the injuries at running back.   

This might just be the best coaching job of Mike Shanahan’s career.  He has an extremely young team, which partially explains the up and down nature of their season, yet he has the Broncos in the division lead by three games with just four to play.  Next week the Broncos get Champ Bailey and D.J. Williams back on defense, and Selvin Young should also return to help the running game, although Hillis has done great in Young’s absence.  The good news is the Broncos’ win today just about guarantees the AFC West champion will not be 7-9.   The Broncos and Chargers both have a game remaining against hapless Kansas City, plus they still have to play each other.  The Broncos are home to the Chiefs next week, and Denver’s humiliating week four loss at Arrowhead ought to be enough motivation for the Broncos to roll.  Then again, based on the unpredictable nature of their season, another letdown might not be out of the question.


3 Responses to “What a Puzzling Team”

  1. Bryan said

    I completely agree…but the are not puzzling as such but you never know with them…….I think this is most cumbersome team to choose it as a pick….. as it correctly said that whenever the fans hope them to win they loose and it seems that they loose they somehow mannage to win…. but their play is surely amazing…… undoubtedly

  2. Doug Baker said

    I am just thrilled that the Bronocos won the game and left the Patriots slim, fading hopes for a playoff spot alive!

  3. mizzou1028 said

    The Patriots do have a somewhat friendly schedule down the stretch, so they definitely still have a chance. One game back of either the division or the wild card is an uphill climb, but very doable.

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