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View Full Version : The Third Wheel On The Tricycle Was Flat



Broncos Mtnman
11-26-2007, 09:36 PM
Ask just about any coach in the NFL, and they will tell you that it's very difficult to win road games if you fail to deliver in all three phases of the game...

Offense - Defense - Special Teams

Yesterday's game against the Chicago Bears proved this old adage to be all too true. Don't believe it? Consider this....

The Broncos offense produced 430 net yards and 34 points. The Broncos defense yielded only 240 yards (in regulation) and 20 points. Two of the three wheels were working just fine. But alas, the third wheel was flat.

Missing from these fairly strong stats are three special teams plays. Three plays that resulted in 21 points, allowing the Bears to stay in the game longer than the Broncos were able to withstand.

It's no secret that the Bears have one of the best special teams players in the history of the NFL. In two short seasons, he has scored 10 (including yesterday's game) touchdowns on punts and kickoffs, leaving him three from Brian Mitchell's NFL record.

Yet, according to Todd Sauerbrun, there was no reason to avoid kicking the ball to him. According to "Big Mouth Todd" (I'm changing his nickname), special teams players are paid to make tackles, so kicking to him should be no big deal. Too bad Hester didn't get the memo.

A punt return for 75 yards and a touchdown and a 88 yard kickoff return for 88 yards (both in the 3rd quarter - another record), along with a blocked punt that gave the Bears field position on the Broncos 17 yard line for an easy touchdown would prove just how wrong Todd really was.

"We didn't help, that's the most disappointing part about it," said safety Nick Ferguson, who prevented things from being even worse with two fumble recoveries on special teams. "The offense was moving the ball. The defense was holding. That third wheel on the tricycle was flat. It was just really flat."

Clearly, there were times when the Broncos still had a chance to win the game, not the least of which was the touchdown tying pass to Bernard Berrian on 4th and goal, but without a doubt, the not-so-special teams cost the Broncos a win that would have kept them tied for 1st place in the division.

This week's 4 downs...


The Good Stuff

1st - Jay Cutler. After a rough start (partially due to the lousy weather) where Jay would fail to convert his first four pass attempts, Jay would complete 17 of the next 27 for 2 touchdowns, an interception and 302 yards. His passer rating was a very strong 96.44.

2nd - Running game. What can you say about Andre Hall? After a big play last week (a 62 run for a TD) he would continue his big play ability with a screen pass that went for 65 yards, falling short of the goal line by 4 yards. He would rush for 98 yards and account for 167 total yards on offense.

3rd - Defense. I know an argument could be made about not stopping the Bears in the 4th quarter, but simple fact of the matter is the defense was once again strong against the run, surrendering only 122 net yards.

They held the Bears to 6 points on offense for all but 5 minutes. I know, the whole game counts, but this defense played pretty darn good. In addition, they would create 3 turnovers (2 fumbles and an INT).

4th - The receiving game. From the Brandon Brothers (Marshall and Stokely) to Tony Scheffler, the receiving corp proved to be the reliable targets Jay would need to produce a strong passing game. I hope it doesn't happen, but if Walker doesn't return to form, the Broncos can produce with these guys.


Most Glaring Weaknesses

1st - Special teams (well..... duh). As I have already written, the special teams, from the players to the coaches, single-handedly gave the Bears 14 points directly and 7 points indirectly. The two touchdowns given up by them would be the first time a Broncos team would surrender 2 touchdown runbacks in a game, let alone the same quarter. For the game, Hester finished with 282 return yards.

2nd - Third Down conversions. The Broncos went 1 for 12 on 3rd downs. What else needs to be said?

3rd - Fumbles. Though only losing one, the Broncos would fumble the ball three times for the second game in a row.

4th - Playcalling. It wasn't just the decision to kick to Hester. Shanny would once again appear to run when he should pass. The Bears were very weak in the secondary due to injuries. Yet, we still ran the ball more than we passed. I just don't get it.


The good news is that even though the Broncos are under .500 at 5-6, the AFC West (or Worst if you prefer) Chargers are only one game ahead at 6-5. The Broncos can make that game up when they play in San Diego on Christmas Eve. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

The Broncos still control their destiny. But there's no longer any room for error. Fortunately for the Broncos special teams, they won't face another player like Devin Hester again.

Let's see if they can get that flat fixed in time for the Raiders.

BMM

Medford Bronco
11-27-2007, 12:24 AM
Great analyis Mtn Man, I could not agree more

Tod Sourass should have a clue
even on the blocked punt if he goes down at his own 40 yard line, it might have given the defense a much better chance to stop Chicago who was struggling at that time on offense.

frenchfan
11-27-2007, 07:19 AM
Thank you for your great analysis, as usual, BMM.

I can't understand losing such a game... We should have won... But we didn't... We could have beat the Packs too... But we didn't...

As I see it, our team is not that bad, but can't kill the games... And, as you suggested, we don't usually use well the 3 wheels at the same time...

:salute:

Retired_Member_001
11-27-2007, 04:46 PM
Great article yet again Mtnman.

How about the nickname I created for him, "Todd Sourbrun"? ;)

Crush05
11-28-2007, 05:02 PM
Great read. You are really showing a different side of you.;)

omac
11-30-2007, 03:53 AM
Great article, broncos_mtnman! :salute:

I watched the game again, and have a few comments to add on the weaknesses ...


1st - Special teams (well..... duh). As I have already written, the special teams, from the players to the coaches, single-handedly gave the Bears 14 points directly and 7 points indirectly. The two touchdowns given up by them would be the first time a Broncos team would surrender 2 touchdown runbacks in a game, let alone the same quarter. For the game, Hester finished with 282 return yards.

The sad part about this is, for a whole half, Special Teams played pretty well, all factors considered; kickoff - Hester: 4 yards; punt - Hester: 7 yards; punt - Hester muffs: Denver recovers; kickoff - Hester: 11 yards; kickoff - Hester: 23 yards; punt - downed at 24 (plus a 10 yard penalty to make them start at the 14); punt - downed at 22.

That's only 1 return of more than 20 yards; all else were 11 yards and below, plus they even recovered a touched ball. That's pretty darn good against the most dangerous returner in the game.

Unfortunately, they made 2 big mental errors; the punt for a 2nd return TD by Hester, and not getting protection for Sauerbrun during the blocked punt.

I now don't include the 1st return TD as a mental error, as so far, they have been containing Hester pretty well. After Hester did return that for a TD, though, they should've decided to play safe and not kick to him at all, and specially not in the middle of the field. They should've just given the Bears good field possition, but force them to work for their points, which they could not do much of most of the game. Sometimes, you have to cut losses .. they already gave him 7 points; take that and don't give him any more, even if it means sacrificing field position.

The 2nd mental error was when an illegal formation forced them to re-punt the ball, when the initial punt was pretty good. O'brien says he was signaling to bring in protection, but he wasn't seen/heard; if they had a timeout, he could've at least called for one, or do anything else ... I don't know much of the rules here ... maybe take a delay of game, anything to stop the punt. He did nothing and allowed the defender to get to Sauerbrun untouched. That was just stupid.

So that's only 2 mental errors on the kicking team, but unfortunately for Denver, they were huge, and nullifies all their effectiveness, specially in the 1st half.


2nd - Third Down conversions. The Broncos went 1 for 12 on 3rd downs. What else needs to be said?

Not a major excuse, but the field conditions were terrible. A lot of Cutler's early passes were off target; maybe the ball was a bit slick and more difficult to grip. The field had everybody falling down. Cutler's only interception came from Marshall falling to the ground. On one 3rd down pass, Marshall fell to the ground again before catching the ball. It was tough for runners to make a decisive cut without falling.

For a lot of the game, though, we didn't need a lot of 3rd downs, as we were converting a lot of big plays. Offensive playcalling at the end, though, became very predictable when Denver was trying to use up clock. So when you go run, run, pass, tough to convert when the defense knows whats coming.

Broncos Mtnman
11-30-2007, 04:04 PM
Great article, broncos_mtnman! :salute:

I watched the game again, and have a few comments to add on the weaknesses ...



The sad part about this is, for a whole half, Special Teams played pretty well, all factors considered; kickoff - Hester: 4 yards; punt - Hester: 7 yards; punt - Hester muffs: Denver recovers; kickoff - Hester: 11 yards; kickoff - Hester: 23 yards; punt - downed at 24 (plus a 10 yard penalty to make them start at the 14); punt - downed at 22.

That's only 1 return of more than 20 yards; all else were 11 yards and below, plus they even recovered a touched ball. That's pretty darn good against the most dangerous returner in the game.

Unfortunately, they made 2 big mental errors; the punt for a 2nd return TD by Hester, and not getting protection for Sauerbrun during the blocked punt.

I now don't include the 1st return TD as a mental error, as so far, they have been containing Hester pretty well. After Hester did return that for a TD, though, they should've decided to play safe and not kick to him at all, and specially not in the middle of the field. They should've just given the Bears good field possition, but force them to work for their points, which they could not do much of most of the game. Sometimes, you have to cut losses .. they already gave him 7 points; take that and don't give him any more, even if it means sacrificing field position.

The 2nd mental error was when an illegal formation forced them to re-punt the ball, when the initial punt was pretty good. O'brien says he was signaling to bring in protection, but he wasn't seen/heard; if they had a timeout, he could've at least called for one, or do anything else ... I don't know much of the rules here ... maybe take a delay of game, anything to stop the punt. He did nothing and allowed the defender to get to Sauerbrun untouched. That was just stupid.

So that's only 2 mental errors on the kicking team, but unfortunately for Denver, they were huge, and nullifies all their effectiveness, specially in the 1st half.



Not a major excuse, but the field conditions were terrible. A lot of Cutler's early passes were off target; maybe the ball was a bit slick and more difficult to grip. The field had everybody falling down. Cutler's only interception came from Marshall falling to the ground. On one 3rd down pass, Marshall fell to the ground again before catching the ball. It was tough for runners to make a decisive cut without falling.

For a lot of the game, though, we didn't need a lot of 3rd downs, as we were converting a lot of big plays. Offensive playcalling at the end, though, became very predictable when Denver was trying to use up clock. So when you go run, run, pass, tough to convert when the defense knows whats coming.

Great points!!

:beer:

omac
12-01-2007, 04:32 AM
Great points!!

:beer:

Thanks man. :cheers:

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