Reflection after a cooldown period
Having been a lifelong Broncos fan, and having had the pleasure of watching Elway and even Plummer and Cutler play QB for us and experiencing good offensive football, I was excited for Manning. But i did have doubts on how quickly we would click and how he would come back from injury. I was suprised with how quickly it all came together and how our playmakers such as Decker, Thomas and others played.
The season started off rocky with a couple losses and I honestly wasnt suprised because of how the team and Manning were still gelling.
Enter the Winning streak.
I was on cloud 9 with how all 3 phases of the team were playing.
I was overly confident with the matchup against the Ravens, and I obviously cant speak for the players themselves but i think they were also. Peyton prepared with ice water and games wearing the glove. Knowshown had finally eaten some humble pie and did the small things right to earn his spot back in the Offense and was playing very good fotoball in the receiving game, running game and pass protection.
But with him getting hurt in the 3rd quarter I think, it made our change of pace back(Hillman) have to shoulder the loud and outside of a few good runs was not effective in keeping their D honest and helping make the distances for 1st downs shorter.
The imense cold was more then the team preped for, Receivers were dropping passes they would normally have caught and it showed in their play. The interception of deflection bounced right off of Decker's hands, Peyton was noticablly adjusting the gloves constantly throughout the game, and our guys looked stiff.
Obviously the Ravens had to deal with this also, but I think looking back they were the worst matchup for us in cold weather because they are used to playing in it also. But that is irrelevant...
The Defence that throughout the season was solid if not spectacular, looked off. It could have been that they were caught off guard by the air it out gameplan the Ravens showed up with, it could have been the cold effecting our players, it could be the Ravens just outplayed us. But I cant help but think the way we shut them down the first time around(just their offense specifically) that they were that much better then us. It looked like just a bad gameplan.
Also another thing I want to address is the heat Champ is taking. Did he play a TERRIBLE game, was it bad scheme allowing a 34 year old to be on an island with one of the fastest players in the NFL..sure
But dont all of a sudden call for him to change positions, the dude played great all year matched up against the best of the best and minus a couple plays he held is own against anyone he has been matched up against for us for the last 8 years.
If anyone should take heat, it is Fox/Del Rio... you see a player having an off game and still no help or changes were given to champ..
The injury it Knowshon or in general the inability to run is what hurt us, it wasnt the bad DB play by Champ or Raheem. Sure the play of the DB's is what allowed them to score, but we were not able to really drive on them when we need to.
Raheem Moore probably played the last deep ball in regulation worse then any safety ive ever seen, if he would just tackled the WR with the amount of time left and them having no timeouts it would have been tough for them to lineup and score a TD. But that is hindsight and I still think overall this year Moore played great for us, and dramatically improved and finally looked like a Safety we invisioned when he came out of UCLA.
I think also another injury that is being overlooked and was masked by the great pass rush we had all year was the loss of Quinton Carter which brought in Adams and Leonard having to play. He was looking very good last year when he played.
I obviously am disapointed in the loss, but if you would have asked me in the Offseason if i thought we would have played like we did this season i would have laughed and called you a homer.
I think having another offseason and more time for both sides to build chemistry with consistancy we will be better next year, I think the fact that we will finally have the same Defensive coordinator for consecutive years is being overlooked.
Having finally found a special teams ace in Holliday is great also, as I dont think during my life the broncos have had someone that is a legit threat when ever they kick it to him.
Here is to building off of this, using it as motivation, gelling as a team and coming back stronger than we were this year.