Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Bad Football in London

Posted by mizzou1028 on November 1, 2010

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

I know I’m in the minority on this, but I think the NFL London game is just a really bad idea.  I think it’s absolutely unfair to team giving up the home game, and I just think it’s a real distraction for both teams.  Road trips in the NFL are hard enough without adding several thousand miles to them, not to mention jet lag.  If the NFL wants to play preseason games overseas, fine, no problem, but I think it’s too much to ask teams to fly to England in the middle of October to play a regular season game, even if they do get the bye week after to recover.  Of course it’s inevitable the games will continue. Every game over there has gotten huge crowds, and Roger Goodell is strongly considering playing more than one game a season in England.  What I can’t believe is that the league would be foolish enough to put a franchise in London.  The travel just wouldn’t make any sense for anyone.  The bottom line is the league needs to do a better job taking care of its fans at home, particularly with a lockout looming and frequent non-sellouts around the league.

I do think the 49ers handled the situation much better than the Broncos.  San Francisco flew out immediately after their loss to Carolina.  They had a full week to acclimate and get adjusted.  The Broncos waited until Thursday afternoon to leave Denver, asking players to sleep on the plane Thursday night, and not arriving in London until Friday morning.  I’ve never traveled overseas, but everyone I’ve talked to who has says you need to several days to get used to the new surroundings.  I had one person tell me the third day is always the worst.  The Broncos’ third day in England was game day.

Perhaps the fatigue of travel was one reason the entire first half was frankly a display of bad, boring football by both teams.  The 49ers’ offense looked lost most of the half with Troy Smith under center, and wasn’t helped when star tight end Vernon Davis left the game due to injury.  The Broncos offense was even worse, settling for a punt in each of their five first half possessions.  I’m sure NFL didn’t have a 3-0 halftime score in mind when they picked this matchup to export to London.

Now that we got that out of the way, I want to make it clear I am by no means using this as an excuse for the Broncos’ loss.  For starters, the Broncos had two touchdowns wiped out by penalty.  The first one was a chop block called on Knowshon Moreno that ruined a perfect flea flicker touchdown to Jabar Gaffney.  The second was a block in the back that nullified an Eddie Royal punt return TD.  I can’t honestly say that I have an issue with either call, although Moreno didn’t have any intent whatsoever to chop block.  Unfortunately, intent isn’t part of the rule, and the officials did call it correctly.  This is a reflection of something that has plagued the Broncos all year: bad mistakes at critical moments in games.  The Gaffney TD would have given Denver a 14-3 lead.  Instead, they ended up settling for a field goal.  San Francisco went on to score a touchdown and tie the game on the ensuing drive, completely seizing any momentum that the Broncos would have had.

The Broncos also shot themselves in the foot on other occasions.  A Kyle Orton fumble in the fourth quarter led to a short field for the 49ers and what proved to be the winning touchdown.  A missed extra point by Matt Prater didn’t help matters when the Broncos were trying to mount their comeback in the fourth quarter.  Once again the Broncos were unable to get their running game going.  Moreno led the way with just 40 yards on 11 carries.  The Broncos ran the ball only 17 times compared to 40 pass attempts.  That kind of ratio is never a good idea for success.  The 49ers on the other hand continued to hand off to Frank Gore, and it paid off for 118 yards and a touchdown.  Orton ended up throwing for 369 yards for the Broncos, but in the end the lack of a running game proved to be fatal again.

The Broncos are now 2-6 at the bye week, the worst they’ve been at the halfway point since the dreadful 1999 season, which happened to be the first year post-Elway.  The Broncos ended that year 6-10, but they will really have to pick up the pace to even hit that mark this season.  During the bye week the top priority has to be figuring out the running game.  I’m not going to put all the blame on the backs, for the offensive line has been mediocre at best all year as well.  Without a running game, it really doesn’t matter what kind of passing numbers Kyle Orton puts up.  The defense has actually been ok most of the season, the Raiders game notwithstanding.  Josh McDaniels’ job is safe for now, but that could depend on whether or not the Broncos are a much better team in the second half of the season than they were in the first.

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One Response to “Bad Football in London”

  1. Doug Baker said

    I agree with you. The NFL is all about $$$$$$$ they don’t think about player health and safety. The only reason they came down on head to head contact is for image purposes. If they really cared about the players they’d spend more time and money to take care of ailing retired players. I know you and I disagree on this one but that is also the reason I do not want to see an 18 game schedule. I don’t want careers shortened by playing those two extra games a year, I don’t want to see more star players injured, I don’t want to see the Danny Woodhead’s of the world not get a chance to show their stuff in the admittedly boring pre-season, I don’t want more meaningless games at the end of the season where a team either starts their starters and risks injuries, or sits them and loses momentum, and I want the Super Bowl played between the two best teams, not the two teams with the fewest players on IR…

    But I digress…I can see playing in Toronto obviously, or even Mexico like the NFL did on year, but that London trip is brutal. I’m not sure it’s fair to either team really.

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