By Marc Mandell
@mandell_w on Twitter
360Sports Review on Facebook
Here we are guys! 10 down, 6 to go. How do you think the season has gone so far? Personally, I think it has been remarkably similar to last year. In all three phases. Here I thought that it’d be a different season on offense, and a not so altered defense. Special teams would be, well, special teams. So now that we are on the bye week, and Denver Broncos players are taking time off, I’m going to give some grades to the Offense and Defense, as well as a bonus grade for the coaching staff. Participation is always encouraged.
Offense. C-. Now we have heard at nausea, the deficiencies. While the offensive line has it’s faultiness, it would be irresponsible and lazy to blame all of the issues of the offense on the front 5 members. The QB has to play better. Trevor needs to get rid of the ball quicker and make better decisions. The 50/50 ball has been missing. I mean that, when DT is covered down the field, he is still open. Siemian needs to give him a chance to make a play on the ball. I also wanted to look at how this offense is playing compared to say, last year? I ask because I think it is safe to say that all of us were expecting a better show right? Well, just check this out. Here are the numbers for Peyton Manning 2015 and Trevor Siemian 2016 through 10 weeks.
Manning Siemian YD’s/pg 224.9 225.3 TD’s 9 12 INT’s 17 7 Comp % 59.8 60.1
Did you just pull the same face I did? What the hell are we looking at? I’ll tell you. We are looking at the same QB but for exact opposite reasons. All with the same result. One couldn’t throw the ball down field, the other won’t. One is afraid to make a mistake, the other couldn’t not. Whether it’s fear or lack of ability, we are witnessing the same stuck in neutral, flat, underachieving offense. It doesn’t stop there either. DT and Sanders’ numbers are frighteningly similar to last years (combined 8 TD’s both seasons). Even the damn receptions! Combined 112 at week 10 last year, to 109 combined this year. I understand that the WR is a dependent position but even still, Denver needs a spark somewhere.
The running game is the same kind of foul as last year, and again, just like the passing game, for a completely different reason. Last season it was 50% one philosophy, 50% of another and a 30% of the offense just being bacon. Yeah you read that correctly. It means that it never quite added up to anything other than a greasy mess that you couldn’t look away from! Kubiak wanted one thing and Peyton wanted another. This year it’s all Coach Kubs system, but it’s not executed with discipline and consistency. One year they chose a weird, cross-dressed hooker, the next they get the blonde bombshell they want, but realize they haven’t the money to pay for her. Meanwhile, the 3 other siblings in the division are all getting wise to their big brothers shenanigans, and beginning to catch up.
It comes down to playing as a team. Remember, without balance your offense has little chance of posting points, let alone winning games. The only difference between this year and last, is that the division has improved. Last year Oakland and San Diego were just treading water. Only KC was a real threat. So it’s not that Denver has necessarily regressed in 2016, it’s just, the competition has become, well, competitive. The only reason Denver’s offense gets a C-, and not a D–, is because of the resiliency and toughness that they have displayed. Getting your face caved in for 3 quarters just to turn around and put it back on the team that was guilty of the caving, is not something done easily. So overall the offense is essentially the same, but for completely different reasons. Equally baffling, and maddeningly frustrating.
Defense A-. This is fair right? They are struggling in the early part of games and have seem to have given up on stopping the run. To be honest I didn’t think that the loss of Malik Jackson would leave the kind of crack he did. He was the Broncos run stuffing Jesse. It seems it takes 2 or even 3 guys to replace what Malik did on his own. Because opposing offenses can set up run, they can play with a balanced attack. It is worth mentioning that teams with success on the ground against Denver are running a jumbo set. That means that offenses are using 6 or even 7 linemen against Denver’s defensive front. It gives the offense an advantage, basically turning Denver’s aggression against them. Forcing the Broncos to over pursue. So with the balance created from the opposing run game it leaves our secondary in a bit of a fog. They aren’t sure whats coming next. The reason for the A-? Even with the issue in the run game, Denver is still 5th in yds allowed a game and have 20 turnovers so far: 10 picks and 10 fumble recoveries. They are playing opportunistic defense and with a mostly disciplined defense. Third downs need to be cleaned up as they rank 24th in the league at the moment, as well as first drive points. For having an offense that continues to struggle and put the defense in tricky and compromising situations, I would say that this defense has done very well, and will continue to do so till playoff time.
Now coaches. Wade Phillips A, Joe DiCamillis B+ and Gary Kubiak B. Wade, the defensive coordinator, is doing a good job of staying prudent to a changing defense and evolving NFL. He isn’t stubborn by continuing to use a method that wasn’t working for his guys. Not to mention the shot he took on the sideline 2 weeks ago breaking a rib or two. Joe DiCamillis is the special teams coach that was interim when Kubiak went down with a migraine. I think he is doing pretty well. He is getting the new punter Riley Dixon dialed in, and after what we saw on Sunday against the Saints with that mind boggling blocked kick and run back, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Now for the Head Coach, Gary Kubiak. He is transparent in the interviews after games and at practice, and he is open with injuries and snap management. He also seems to be content with the offensive production, which leads me to believe, unlike Phillips, he is being rather stiff-necked. We haven’t seen a lot of creativity from the offense. Especially in regards to the run game. I am hoping that the Coach will take the bye week to maybe, open the gates a little bit. Perhaps give Siemian more options in the huddle, playing more jumbo and heavy sets on 1st or 2nd down. Or even more outside runs and an improved, or rather use, a screen game.
With a week left to prepare for the now flexed Sunday Night game against the Kansas City “Chefs”, the Broncos will rest, relax and then formulate an excellent game plan to shut down the Chiefs. We shall see at that time just how much of the bye week Denver used to improve their chances to make the playoffs. Seeing as how 3 of the 6 teams to make the playoffs in the AFC will come from just this division. I’ll have more on that game later this week. So for now, find me on twitter or Facebook and let me know what changes you would make if you were the head coach.
Thanks again for reading and I look forward to getting back with you guys later on.