Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's going to be a long season (broncos)

Some quick thoughts about the Broncos/Raiders game last night after a short night of sleep (got home after 1 a.m., up at 5:30 am for a Tuesday morning meeting):

Pictured to the left is our Raider fan "friend" who was sitting in our section last night, reminding us often of how great his Raiders were and how bad our Broncos looked (this shot was after Sebastian Janakowski's record tying 63 yard field goal). I'm afraid Mr Raider fan is right.

Last week I made my annual bronco predictions based on the outcome of the 1st game. I wrote I'd be looking for these things in the first game:

"The Bronco pass rush has no doubt improved with Elvis Dumervil back and rookie Von Miller on the other side. How will this duo perform in "real" NFL action against an offense game planning against them, instead of the basic offensive schemes they faced in the preseason?"

The verdict: Oakland did an excellent job of scouting the Broncos defensive weaknesses. The answer to a strong outside pass rush? Run draws up the middle to the heart of the soft Bronco defense. After a big gain on a draw early in the game the outside pass rush of the Broncos wasn't as effective.

"Is the Bronco run defense improved? Last year the Raiders ran for 328 yards and 5 td's in their blowout 59-14 win at Denver. Monday night will be a good test for the Bronco defense."

The verdict: Not really. The Raiders Darren McFadden ran for 150 yards (a 6.8 yards per carry average). In the game's concluding drive, when the Broncos only needed a stop to give their offense a chance only down by 3 points, Denver could not stop the Raiders rushing attack.

"Will Bronco rookie right tackle Orlando Franklin hold up against the Raider pass rush? Franklin looked good in the run game in the preseason, but struggled in pass protection at times."

The verdict: Franklin did OK for a rookie. He was called for holding a couple of times but generally held his own in pass protection. Franklin was the least of the Bronco worries on offense last night.

The game really wasn't as close as the 23-20 final. The Raiders dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Kyle Orton, despite 304 passing yards, had one of his worst games as a Bronco (the "lowlight" being dropping the ball and turning it over to the Raiders when he had tight end Fells open for what could have been the go ahead score in the 4th quarter). The Broncos again showed a lack of a running game and had problems scoring in the red zone.

It wasn't all bad. Eric Decker had an amazing 90 yard punt return td and several good receptions. I wondered why the Broncos weren't throwing to Decker more (Eric only had 3 catches) with his teammates having trouble holding on to the ball. Decker's punt return style reminded me of Bronco great Billy Thompson in Thompson's rookie year. Thompson, not the fastest returner, would catch the ball and run it right down the field (with no "knowshon" dancing around). Decker showed that same style on his big return.

Still the Broncos looked bad Monday night. I suspect my two year streak of picking the final bronco won-loss record based on the results of the first game might end this year. I picked 5-11 if the Broncos lost to Oakland. As our Raider friend above would agree, 5 wins may be too much for this bunch.

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