By Marc Mandell

@mandell_w on twitter

360Sports Review on Facebook.

Great Knights of Columbus! That was a catastrophic meltdown by Denver, and a perfectly executed game by Oakland. What did you see on Sunday Night Football? I saw an Oakland Raider team that straight clocked the Broncos right in their moneymaker. The Broncos were out everything-ed. Out-coached, out-executed, out-played, out-you name it. The Raiders turned the Broncos brown-eye blue, to be sure. There were so many issues for Denver. For the sake of not making this a 5000 word count blog, I’m just going to focus on a few things here. So let’s take a quick look at what went wrong. No excuses necessary.

 

As the Raiders look down at the rest of the AFC West for the first time since 2011, they have to be feeling pretty good about things. With arguably the second best offensive line in the NFL, and one of the top young QB’s in the league, this team looks to be going places this season. The o-line of Oakland destroyed Denver at the line of scrimmage and imposed their will. Allowing the running backs lanes wide enough to fit a damn semi truck through. They completely dominated the Broncos. Not only did Denver look out willed, they played confused and with a great lack of discipline. Murray couldn’t be stopped all day. Oakland ran to the tune of 200+ yards. That’s a lot of yards, and oh yeah, 3 touchdowns to boot. It was hard to watch. Ground game: Oakland 1, Denver 0.

Derek Carr couldn’t miss either. He didn’t have an incredible game when you look at the numbers: 20/31 for 184 yards and 0 TD’s, but he was accurate due to his o-line giving him time so he could set his feet. The throws were timely, again because of proper protection, and he made the right choice. He called out coverage, adjusted the play pre-snap and set his offense up for success. His receivers didn’t hang him out to dry either… one handed grabs, completions in double or even triple coverage. Amari Cooper was quiet all game but he didn’t need to have an enormous game. Carr completed passes to, get this, 8 different receivers!! Carr was on point Sunday, and there is no reason to think that is going to stop any time soon. The offense around Carr played as a team, and that is why they won the game. Passing game Oakland 1, Denver 0.

The defense of the Raiders even played well. Ranked 29th to 31st in almost all categories and yet still, stifling and dominating. Just like Oakland’s offensive line, the D-line imposed their will on Denver’s offensive attack. Well not attack so much as a hapless puppy looking for a scrap of food. Inside out and front to back. That is what the Oakland Raiders defense used to shut down whatever offense that was displayed by Denver. Which if I had to guess was both bilious and sickly. Defense Oakland 1, Denver -1

Now on to our hapless heroes, the Denver Broncos. What is wrong with this team? What in the actual hell did we all witness on Sunday night? We witnessed an Oakland Raider team so eager to prove themselves, so willing to demonstrate what all the players in the locker room are feeling, that they came out and with the brightest lights and proved to the league that they are for real. Denver players and coaches, as well as the fans of said team, didn’t take them seriously. All I heard and read last week was how coach Kubiak wanted to get back to balanced football… an even split between passing and running. Well coach, that was big fat fail.

First possession, 3 passes and a 3 and out. Kick off the ball. Second possession, 3 passes and a 3 and out. Third possession, 1 run, 2 passes and a 3 and out. Noticing a pattern? Apparently, the brass at Dove Valley did not. They just continued on as if the team wasn’t falling behind. As if the team was winning! Denver didn’t even try to run the ball. 12 attempts! Like I said, out everything-ed. What I think is going on here is this…

Because the offensive line is struggling, the coaching staff doesn’t trust them enough to run the ball. No lanes, no running room equals no running game. And because there is no running game, the opposing defense can key in on the pass, forcing the offense into 1 dimension. Because the offense is now one dimensional, defensive ends and tackles can pin their ears back and go flat out at the QB. Because the QB is being blitzed and hurried he can’t make his reads, let alone get the ball where it needs to go. Because the QB can’t throw to the correct place at the correct time, it allows the defensive secondary, corner backs and safety’s, opportunities to jump routes and disguise coverages further confusing and frustrating the QB. The point to all that? No o-line means no offensive production. With out an offensive line that coaches can rely upon, this is going to continue to happen.

For those of you calling for Paxton Lynch, that is not only going to make this offense worse, even though it can’t get much worse, it is going to hinder his development. Dak Prescott, Derek Carr and Carson Wentz are playing well because of the offensive line they are working behind. That’s where it starts, and that’s where it ends. O-Line. Without one, your offense is kaput!

It wasn’t Trevors fault. Well, not entirely his fault. He made some bad choices and errant throws, but this offense has to establish the run game. It’s that simple. Lynch isn’t going to change that. Whether the coaches have trust issues with Booker or Bibbs or the O-line, without the run game this team is going to continue to struggle. No matter the opponent they face. Of course there were drops, which if I’m being completely honest, are getting very tiresome of. Couple that with a complete lack of a run game and a despicable offensive line and you have a recipe for failure.

The good news is that there is a lot of season left. The bye week is coming up after a match-up with Drew Brees and the Saints this Sunday. Personally I trust Kubiak and Co. to get it together. Lets just hope that the brain trust at Broncos HQ can get it right before its too late.

Thanks as always for reading folks. I’ll see you on Thursday with pregame match-up action, when Denver travels to New Orleans.

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