Thoughts on the blowout loss to the New England Patriots in Foxborough (In no particular order):
- Before I get into the game, I have to say that this season was an outright blast. I haven’t had this much fun watching the Denver Broncos since the 1998 campaign. With all the ups and downs, and considering where they ended up compared to where they started, it was a season I will remember for a very long time. The playoff victory over the Steelers is a game that will be replayed forever and was obviously the highlight of an improbable year. Despite the fact the Broncos didn’t even compete in the big loss to the Patriots on Saturday, the 2011 season was a huge success for this franchise. Denver proved they are good enough to compete with most teams in the league and win the AFC West Championship, but it is very evident that they still have a lot of work to do in order to beat the elite teams. The talent gap between the Broncos and the best clubs out there is still too large, but I have the utmost faith in John Elway and I believe this is a team moving in the right direction.
- With all the positive things that Denver accomplished this year, it was disappointing to watch them go down without putting up a fight against the Patriots. The Broncos got outplayed in all phases of the game and they were outcoached on both sides of the ball. I don’t think we have to worry about the assistant coaches getting hired away anymore; their performances on Saturday were embarrassing. Mike McCoy reverted back to his uninventive and uninspiring self. It goes without saying that the Broncos had to abandon what they wanted to do early because the score got out of hand quickly, but there was once again no creativity in the play calling. There were several instances where Denver ran the same play twice in a row with no success, and they also stayed in a very conservative mode when it had become laughable to do so. The offense isn’t going to win any awards for their effort, but the defense actually made them look pretty decent. Dennis Allen’s crew absolutely no showed in the biggest game of the year and they gave up a staggering 509 total yards. They allowed the New England tight ends to torch them more than they did during the regular season matchup and that is quite an accomplishment. At the end of the day, the Broncos got beat on all fronts by a much better team.
- You have to give New England credit for their game plan. They played an up-tempo offensive game and they consistently ran plays that got the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands almost immediately. That tactic negated the Broncos pass rush which is the strength of the defense. On the other side of the ball they had someone in Tim Tebow’s face all night. They never let him sit back there and get comfortable when he wanted to pass and when he ran the read option there was usually someone on him before he could make his read. The Patriots had a superior scheme all the way around.
- To state the obvious: Tom Brady is really, really good. He was on point all night and it would have taken a perfect game from the Broncos to hang with him.
- Getting behind big early in the contest will kill any offense, but at this stage of Tebow’s career Denver is not built to come back from large deficits. Once New England got up by 3 scores the game was effectively over. I think Tebow played okay, but he didn’t have a chance when the game got out of control so quickly. I am excited to see what Timmy can do in 2012 with an entire offseason and training camp.
- The Broncos put forth possibly one of the worst displays of tackling I have seen this year. David Bruton missed several key tackles that resulted in first downs, and he was not alone.
- Denver defense: No sacks and 1 tackle for loss. That pretty much sums up the night. They actually did win the turnover battle, but that didn’t matter one bit in this game. One positive was the ruckus Von Miller got into late in the contest. It had no bearing on anything, but at that point it was nice for the fans to see that they still cared.
- I think the rash of injuries the Broncos have suffered in recent weeks finally caught up with them. There was only so far this team could go without Brian Dawkins in the defensive backfield, and with the losses of Eric Decker and Chris Kuper, it was just too much. Not to mention that Quinton Carter was hurt during the game on Saturday, Von Miller has been playing with one hand, and Elvis Dumervil was fighting off a minor knee injury. A team without much depth such as the Broncos cannot consistently overcome that many injuries.
- One of the worst sequences of the season occurred right before halftime. Denver got the ball after the 2 minute warning when they were down 28-7. They really needed to put something together at that moment if they were going to have any shot of winning the game. In essence, it was the most important series of the entire season, and the Broncos responded with a 3-and-out that took only 48 seconds off the clock. Naturally, The Patriots took over and easily scored a touchdown with 5 seconds left to make it 35-7. Ball game.
- Some people were making a big deal out of the fact that Denver deferred after winning the coin toss and started on defense. I agree that in hindsight starting on offense may have been a better idea, but no one thing would have changed the outcome of that game on Saturday, particularly the coin toss. New England could have scored 70 points if they wanted to. I thought it was classless that the Patriots were running a hurry up offense and chucking the ball late in the 2nd half, but towards the end they finally took their foot off the gas. That’s the only reason the score stayed in the 40′s.
- Denver obviously has to acquire a lot more talent in the next few off-seasons, and one of the most interesting positions to watch will be at safety. Denver has several young players at that position but they largely underperformed throughout the season. I am curious to see what the front office does with Rahim Moore in particular.
- If you watched all the games this weekend then you saw some of the amazing performances by tight ends. Vernon Davis of the 49ers, Jimmy Graham of the Saints, and both New England tight ends made huge impacts in their games. A big tight end that is a matchup problem for the defense is a must have in the modern day NFL, and a go to guy like that can be a savior for a young quarterback who struggles with accuracy and consistency. The Broncos absolutely need to find a beastly tight end of their own to help Tebow out.
- It’s great that the young guys on the team got to experience the highs of a playoff win and the lows of a playoff loss. Those experiences will be valuable going forward for everyone, especially Tebow.
- It was an awesome 2011 season and I hope you all had as much fun as I did. Mile High Monday will come out year round, so keep checking PredominantlyOrange.com to follow your favorite team and hear the latest from around the NFL. Go Broncos!
- Make sure to follow me on Twitter so we can talk Broncos football every day.
Topics: AFC West Championship, Brian Dawkins, Chris Kuper, David Bruton, Dennis Allen, Denver Broncos, Elvis Dumervil, Eric Decker, Foxborough, John Elway, Mike Mccoy, Mile High Monday, New England Patriots, Quinton Carter, Rahim Moore, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady, Von Miller