|12-29-2008, 09:35 AM||#1|
John Foneco !!
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Sooner Country
Defense was an abominable show, man
After another humiliation, another joke at their expense, there can be no more excuses, no more staff scapegoats.
In the most important game of their season, the Broncos gave up 52 points. Let's be honest: Their defense stinks. It had no business making the playoffs.
"They're going to make some changes," cornerback Dre Bly said afterward.
"That's what happens when you don't make the playoffs. When you have a lead in your division and you falter at the end, most of the time, changes are made. That's the way it is. I've been in this league 10 years and I know how it goes. But I can't sit here and say what changes are needed. That's for coaches to decide, and we'll see what happens."
They completed a historic collapse Sunday night before a national audience, blowing a three-game division lead with three games to play. After leading the AFC West for 15 weeks, they lost the division - and the playoff berth that went with it - in the 16th.
Sunday night, they revealed every flaw they have, all at once. The defense was abominable. The special teams were subpar. And the offense, forced by the defense to keep up with a shootout, repeatedly shot itself in the foot instead.
As important as any of that was the intangible quality that contributes to this sort of collapse - a lack of passion, a lack of belief, a lack of heart.
Mike Shanahan again took the blame for failing to adequately prepare his team. This is a smokescreen.
Shanahan's actual failing is in the area of personnel selection on the defensive side of the ball, a chronic problem that has only gotten worse with time.
Over the next few days and weeks, he will no doubt round up the usual suspects - injuries, turnovers, "consistency."
"Defensively, we've got a lot of work to do," he acknowledged Sunday night.
Evidently, it wasn't Jim Bates' fault after all. His successor as defensive coordinator, Bob Slowik, did no better, but he will not succeed Bates as a scapegoat. Shanahan said he won't make yet another change there.
If Pat Bowlen is not blinded by his long friendship with his head coach, he must examine whether this is the guy to build a championship defense.
Shanahan has had the final say on personnel for 14 seasons, and this year's defense might have been the worst yet. As brilliant as he can be judging offensive talent, that's how awful he has been judging players on the other side of the ball.
His 2006 and 2008 drafts produced some terrific offensive talent. His 2007 draft, which focused on the defensive line, was a disaster. As if to point up its failings, his first-round pick that year, defensive end Jarvis Moss, whom he traded up to get, didn't even dress Sunday night.
In his role as sideline spectator, he replaced Tim Crowder, the second- round pick in '07, who has been inactive for much of the second half of the season.
Following Sunday's final embarrassment, I asked Shanahan if it was time to acknowledge that the defensive failings have not been about coordinators or schemes but about talent.
"Well, we've just got to play our fundamentals better than that," he replied. "We've played good at times. So you go back to the drawing board and try to get better in a lot of different areas."
He simply will not admit that the root problem is his and his staff's evaluation of defensive personnel. It is an enormous blind spot holding back his team, and only Bowlen can force him to face it.
In the face of myriad defensive failings,Shanahan's sometimes explosive offense fell apart early. In its last chance to climb back into the game, down 24-6 near the end of the first half, the offense drove 56 yards to the Chargers' 14, where Jay Cutler threw an interception in the end zone.
Even as he set a new franchise record for passing yardage this season, Cutler was a perfect reflection of his team.
In the Broncos' eight victories, he put up a passer rating over 90 each time. In their eight losses, his rating was under 80 each time.
In his much-hyped matchup with rival Philip Rivers, he was never a factor. Rivers' rating was 141; Cutler's, 74.9.
Still, when the defense is giving up field goal, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown on the Chargers' first four possessions, the offense pretty much has to take too many chances trying to keep up. Cutler's career record as a starter is now 17-20, but it's hard to judge him too harshly so long as his defense is so helpless.
For Bowlen, the man in charge, this latest late-season collapse, the most embarrassing yet, should be a slap in the face. If he doesn't find the courage to face up to his coach's limitations, nothing is going to change.
that is not what I wanted to hear, it doesn't seem like he believes they need better talent