I skimmed through the Denver newspapers, and couldn't help but notice how no one bothered to draft a "report card" for he Broncos in the aftermath of their embarrassing 43-8 pasting suffered at the winged hands of the Seattle Seahawks. Having composed report cards after losses on multiple occasions, I can appreciate how difficult it is to conduct an analytical review after a devastating defeat. Therefore, I've decided to lend my skills for Bronco fans everywhere, and especially for the number of trolls that have infiltrated our forum over the past few weeks. Hope y'all enjoy! Here are my grades:
I. OFFENSE: Practically non-existent. The number one scoring team of all-time led by supposedly the greatest QB of all-time sewed their fate by putting up a scant eight (8) points for the game. This group couldn't overcome perhaps the most inept first quarter in SB history...as it had the ball for just 3:19 seconds of the 15 minute quarter. On the game's first play rom scrimmage, the Denver center snapped the ball far over Peyton Manning's 6'5" frame, resulting in a saftey. From there, the rout was on.
1.) QB: Even the Peyton apologists in the media will have a hard time reconciling this performance with the "greated of all-time" tag, which they crave to pin on him. For the game, Manning completed 34/49 passes for 280 yards, one TD, and two (2) interceptions. Though his 34 completions were a SB record, it was as hollow a record as all of those he set during this 2013 season. With his team down 8-0, Peyton was picked off by Seattle safety Kam Chancellor, on the last play of he first quarter. The turnover gave the Seahawks a first and 10 at the Denver 37. It took Seattle less than a minute to negotiate the final 37 yards, putting them up, 15-0. On the very next series, Manning's passing arm was hit by Seattle DE, Cliff Avril. This reduced Peyton's aerial to a wounded, floating duck. Seahawks' LB Malcolm Smith hauled it in, and raced untouched 69 yards into the endzone, upping the Seattle lead to a seemingly insurmountable 22-0. That was the halftime score, and things got no better for Peyton or his Broncos in the second stanza. An 87 yard kickoff return for a TD by Percy Harvin at the start of the half was the coup de gras, raising the Seattle lead to 29-0...and the rout was on. The Seahawks' game-plan of roughing the Denver receivers at the line, and getting just enough pressure from their front four to hurry Manning worked to perfection. Though other teams had tried the same formula previously, unlike those other teams, Seattle had the personnel to make it work. Having an enforcer at SS like Chancellor who stands 6'3" and weighs over 230 pounds, with coverage skills, certainly helped their cause: GRADE: F;
2.) RBs: Has anyone seen Knowshon Moreno? Did he miss the team plane into NY? His five (5) carries for 17 yards performance was a disaster. But, when compared to Montee Ball (6 carries for one (1) yard), Knowshon looked like Adrian Peterson. In desparation, the Broncos went to C.J. Anderson, who carried twice for nine (9) yards in garbage time. Thirteen (13) carries for 27 yards is hardly getting it done: GRADE: F;
3.) OL: Unforgivable bad snap past the 6'5" frame of Peyton Manning gift-wrapped two (2) points for the Seahawks, gave them good field position on their opening drive (which resulted in a FG), and squandered a chance to set the tone for the game with a long opening drive. That aside, this group that had protected Peyton so well throughout the regular season (allowed just 13 sacks) seemingly did it's job once again, in allowing just one sack. But, stats don't always tell the story. On several other occasions, Peyton was made to rush his throws, and had his arm hit while in the act of passing. This resulted in the aforementioned pick- six. Still, it was an adequate job overall of pass protection, unless your QB is a statute in the pass pocket...and Peyton is that. As also noted above, this group of Clydesdales couldn't pull their wagons well enough to open any rushing lanes for their "B" grade RBs, which spelled disaster: GRADE: F;
4.) TEs and WRs: The Denver TEs, Julius Thomas And Jacob Tamme, were targeted only eight (8) times, and had a combined six (6) catches for 36 yards. Their blocking prowess was negligable. At WR, Demaryious Thomas was targeted 18 times, and had 13 receptions (setting a SB record) for 118 yards, and scored Denver's lone TD. But, late in the third quarter, with his team driving and down 29-0, he had a terrible fumble after a 21 yard catch...which occurred after he began running after the catch. This turnover gave Seattle a first and 10 at their own 42. Approximately six (6) minutes later, their would finish a 58 yard march for a TD, to increase their lead to 36-0. Wes Welker was targeted ten times, and had eight (8) catches for 84 yards. He also caught a two point conversion pass. WR Eric Decker (one catch for six (6) yards), and was nowhere to be found. He likely played his way out of Denver with this performance: GRADE: D;
II. DEFENSE: Did a reasonably good job of keeping their team in the game during the first quarter. When you consider that two (2) points came on a safety given up on a bad snap by the offense, that this group held Seattle to two FGs in the redzone, and that four (4) TDs were pretty much a direct result of two Manning interceptions (one a pick 6), one Demaryius Thomas fumble, and an 87 yard kickoff return...the Denver "D" wasn't all that bad.
1.) DL: Though the Denver front line had a tough time in corraling QB Russell Wilson at times, it shut-down RB Marshawn Lynch (15 carries for 39 yards) cold. But, selling out on Lynch had it's drawbacks...as the DL applied little or no pressure on Wilson throughout the game. This at times allowed him to extend plays, and was the main reason why Seattle was able to convert 7 of 12 attempts on 3rd down. Getting no QB hits or sacks on Wilson certainly didn't help the cause: GRADE: C-;
2.) LBs: This group had it's problems maintaining containment on Russell Wilson, who scrambled three times for 26 yards. They also were asleep at the switch on the Percy Harvin 30 yard run down the left sideline, which set up the first of two Seattle FGs, early in the first quarter. They also assisted the secondary in a Pop Warner example of poor tackling in the late third through 4th quarter. Danny Travathan led the Broncos with 12 tackles, including seven (7) solos. Nate Irving had four tackles (three solos). Little else was accomplished by this group: GRADE: D;
3.) SECONDARY: It's tough to play from behind...especially from far behind. After the offense had all but spotted Seattle 22 points in the first half, the special team spotted them another seven (7). With that, you can imagine how the Denver defense had a hard time of keeping a still upper lip. This likely had something to do with all of the poor tackling that we saw relatively late in the game...after the Seahawks had been spotted a 29-0 lead. Safety Duke Inhenaco led the secondary with nine (9) tackles, including five (5) solos...and FS Mike Adams added six (6) tackles, all solos. Seattle WRs Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kerse combimed for nine (9) catches for 131 yards and two TDs. The Seahawks averaged 7.9 yards per pass play, to Denvers' 5.3 yards per play: GRADE: D;
III. SPECIAL TEAMS: When it comes to Special Teams, there are three things that cannot be condoned: muffing a kick, fumbling a return, and/or allowing a lengthy punt or kickoff return. The Broncos did one of these unforgivables on the opening kickoff of the second half, allowing Percy Harvin to race 87 yards untouched on a kickoff return. Already down 22-0 at the time, this upped the deficit to 29-0, which, for all practical purposes, ended any hopes of a Denver comeback. Unaided by the thin air in Denver, PK Matt Prater couldn't kick those automatic touchbacks. So, he tried to get cute with Seattle, and kicked short, hoping that he'd get a good roll. But instead, the ball hit the ground and bounced perfectly into Harvin's hands...and, with a couple of nifty cutbacks, he as gone. Denver return man Trinidad Holliday was okay on returns, and WR Eric Decker had a punt return for nine (9) yards: GRADE: F;
IV. COACHING: Though Seattle proved to have much better team, Denver still had the #1 scoring offense in NFL history. But, for whatever reason, the Broncos didn't appear ready to play. They lacked the eye of the tiger that Seattle had, and were obviously tight at the start of the game. Folks, you can't give up a safety on a bad snap, two TDs due to interceptions, a kickoff return for a TD, and have your star WR fumble away a chance to score, and expect to win. I don't know what the coaches did in the two weeks they had to prepare. Yet, it appeared to me that Denver came out scared. The game plan should have been to use Demaryious Thomas and Julius Thomas deep, and employ Wes Welker and Eric Decker underneath. Decker in particular was hardly used in this game. That said, the fact the Broncos couldn't run a lick on the Seattle "D" really hurt, and made their offense completely one-dimentional. On defense, the Broncos were constantly pushed into a corner by the pathetic play of their offense. Seattle had short fields to negotiate most of the game, and had 16 points directly handed to them by their "D", and special teams. Though Denver successfully shut-down Marshawn Lynch, they had no answers for Russell Wilson. The unexpected futility of the offense was too much to overcome: GRADE: F-;
V. PLAYER OF THE GAME: Though several members of the Seattle "D" and QB Russell Wilson played well enough to qualify, my choice is SS Kam Chancellor. The guy set a physical tone for the Seattle "D" early, tied for the team lead in tackles with 10, and had a key pick early...leading to Seattle stretching it's lead to 15-0.
VI. PLAY OF THE GAME: Percy Harvin's 87 yard kickoff return was nice...but the 69 yard pick-6 by LB Malcolm Smith was a back breaker...and put Seattle up, 22-0.
Here are the game stats: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=340202007.
As always, your comments and opinions are welcome...especially from you "visitors". Omaha to y'all!!