|09-26-2007, 05:47 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Broncos Get Away From What They Do Best
Broncos Get Away From What They Do Best
By Andy Benoit, NFL Contributing Editor
(Sports Network) - Every industry has its prosaic keys to success. In real estate, it is location-location-location. In the food service industry, it is keeping the customer happy. In pro football, it is winning the turnover battle, running the ball, and stopping the run.
The Denver Broncos did none of these things against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Broncos snapped a 10-game home winning streak in the month of September by turning the ball over three times, rushing for just 47 yards (the franchise's fourth lowest total in the Mike Shanahan era), and giving up 186 yards on the ground. All this explains the lopsided 38:42 to 21:18 time of possession in favor of the Jaguars (not to mention the 23-14 final score).
"That's what we usually do to people," said Shanahan of Jacksonville's ball control. "They did it to us."
"It was frustrating," said tight end Daniel Graham. "They moved the ball pretty well on our defense. They couldn't get off the field and we couldn't stay on the field. As a team, we didn't play good at all."
The turnover and rushing struggles on offense are an aberration (Denver came into Sunday's contest plus-one in the turnover department, and Travis Henry led the league in rushing after the first two games), but the failure to stop opposing teams on the ground is an issue that has plagued this team since the start of the preseason.
"We say it every week, we have to tighten things up," said linebacker D.J. Williams, who replaced departed veteran Al Wilson in the middle this season.
"But at some point you have to put your foot down and stop teams from running the ball."
In Week 1, Denver allowed 112 yards to Marshawn Lynch and the rest of the Buffalo Bills. In Week 2, they gave up a disheartening 200 yards to LaMont Jordan and his Raider teammates. On Sunday, Jacksonville's 186 rushing yards came from a trio spearheaded by Fred Taylor (84 yards) and flanked by David Garrard (52) and Maurice Jones-Drew (37). In all, the Broncos are now surrendering an average of 166 yards on the ground per contest.
The lack of execution may still be growing pains from Jim Bates's new system. Bates' defensive philosophy centers around a simple concept - big-bodied defensive linemen occupy blockers and allow linebackers to make plays - but its myriad nuances make its implication somewhat complicated. It doesn't help that the Broncos are still feeling out personnel up front. Veterans Sam Adams - who has been terrible through three weeks - and Simeon Rice were late additions (Rice, in fact, didn't come aboard until September). And rookies Jarvis Moss, Tim Crowder, and Marcus Thomas are, well, rookies.
JOHN LYNCH UPDATE
On a positive note, the pass defense has been outstanding for the Broncos, thanks to cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly. On a negative note, veteran Pro Bowl free safety John Lynch missed most of Sunday's loss to the Jaguars with a strained groin. His status for Week 4 is still uncertain. Lynch's absence would maybe compromise the effectiveness of the pass defense, and it certainly wouldn't do anything to help the ailing run defense.
"It's always tough when you lose one of your starters," said Mike Shanahan. Should Lynch be unable to go, the Broncos would have to rely on Curome Cox, a solid special teams player and dime back but an unproven - and presumably shaky - every-down player.
A better option in centerfield might be nickelback Domonique Foxworth, though he is recovering from an ankle injury.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is healthy and flashing the raging God-given skills that make him a future star in this league. Marshall caught seven passes for 133 yards on Sunday, both career highs. The former fourth-round pick out of Central Florida is a physical, 6'4', 230-pound athletic specimen who has the speed to stretch the field and the physique to go over the middle. He has also impressed as a blocker thus far, a trait commonly held by elite Denver wideouts.
Undrafted rookie Selvin Young has overachieved as a pro, but that doesn't excuse his costly first half fumble against the Jaguars. Young coughed up the ball while fighting for extra yards after making one of his two receptions on the afternoon. On the ground, he was one of many ineffective Denver rushers, generating just seven yards on two carries.
The Broncos travel to Indianapolis to face a Colts team that has owned them in the RCA Dome in recent years.