Sunday, November 22, 2009

Broncos Gameday Recap: Game #10 - vs Chargers

It's lonely being the quarterback when you play as poorly as Chris Simms did today. I legitimately felt bad for the guy.

How has it all gone so wrong so quickly? A month ago the Broncos were undefeated at 6-0, and looking like a plucky playoff contender. Now they look inept, and all it took for them to lose all of their mojo and fire was four games. The latest dumpster fire took place this afternoon at Invesco Field. The Chargers came to town for a pivotal game that would likely determine the division, or at least put the winner distinctly in the drivers seat. The Chargers acted like the game meant something, the Broncos looked like they didn't want to be bothered. The result was a 32-3 drubbing of Denver by a motivated Chargers team which should now easily win the AFC West. The Broncos are more finished than John McCain's presidential chances. I suppose I could be more optimistic, as they are 6-4 with six games to play and they still could put it back together, I guess. But I'm not seeing anything that suggests that's going to happen.

Russ Hochstein's knee pops the ball free from Knowshon Moreno's clutches and into the end zone.

The day started out great. The Broncos took the opening kickoff deep into Chargers territory with seven consecutive rushing plays. Then, the very first time that Chris Simms dropped back to pass, it all went wrong. Saying that Chris Simms played badly is akin to say that General Custer had a bad day at the battle of the Little Bighorn. Chris Simms just looks awkward when he drops back, it's one of those things where you can't exactly say what it is, but you know it's all wrong. On his first awkward drop back he had the ball stripped and the Chargers recovered it, and from there on out, it was bad times for the Broncos.

Despite a strong first series in relief of Chris Simms, Kyle Orton never really made enough happen for the Broncos.

Simms lasted for three awful series, in that time his stats looked like this: 2-4 for 10 yards, a fumble, and he was sacked twice. Kyle Orton hadn't practiced all week due a sprained ankle, he was described as being about 60% healthy, and was only supposed to play as an emergency backup to Simms, but Chis played so badly, that Josh McDaniels decided he'd rather have Orton at 60% than a fully healthy Simms. Might be time for Chris Simms to consider another line of work. Kyle had a great first series, directing the Broncos to the very edge of scoring a touchdown. However, just as Knowshon Moreno was stretching the ball to try to reach it over the goal line for a Broncos touchdown, the ball was knocked free by an errant knee from Broncos Guard Russ Hochstein and it hopped into the waiting arms of Chargers cornerback Steve Gregory. At that point, I knew it wasn't my team's day.

Darren Sproles and the Chargers offense pretty much had their way with the Broncos defense.

The rest of the game was a blur of interceptions, Charger touchdowns, failed Bronco onsides kicks, LaDainian Tomlinson running over Broncos defenders, Broncos failing on 4th downs, Phillip Rivers tossing the ball to wide open recievers, and generally horrible play by Denver. The Broncos did manage to block an extra point one time which was fun, but this game can pretty well defined as a one-sided butt kicking. In honor of the Broncos effort today, I'm not going to put a whole lot of effort into trying to determine where it went wrong, as basically it went wrong everywhere.

Knowshon Moreno sees the ball and Denver's hopes to stay competitive fly away.

Positives from the game:

The running game:
Knowshon Moreno actually looked fairly outstanding today, apart from his rally killing fumble into the end zone in the second quarter which ended pretty much any hope I had for the Broncos today. Apart from that gaffe, he ran for 80 yards on only ten carries, and when you're averaging eight yards a run, it does make you wonder why he didn't get more carries than just ten. Correll Buckhalter also had a decent day, getting 35 yards on seven carries. Considering that the Broncos moved the ball to the 19 yard line fairly easily on the first drive with seven straight runs to start the game, it might have been nice if they tried to run more than just ten more times the rest of the game.

Jabbar Gaffney's Three catches for 55 yards qualifies as the performance of the day for Denver.

Jabbar Gaffney: Jabbar had one of his better days as a Bronco. He pulled in three catches for 55 yards. And yes, despite that being a rather modest showing, it may have been the best showing of the day for the Broncos. It was that atrocious.

In a fitting photo to summarize the game: Antonio Cromartie snatches away the Kyle Orton pass intended for Eddie Royal. In much the same way, the Chargers snatched away the AFC West division from the Broncos today.

Negatives from the game:

This was not a day that Chris Simms is going to want to relive over and over.

Chris Simms:
We'll start with the obvious one here. Chris Simms for some strange reason was given the start. He seems like an okay guy, but I don't think that he has a whole lot left in the tank. He played an absolutely awful game. His jersey number was appropriate today, because he played exactly like Number 2. Ugh.

Turnovers: Simms fumbled away the ball to end the first drive when the Broncos had driven into the red zone, then Knowshon Moreno lost one into the end zone on a weird fumble that was ever so close to a score, then Orton tossed an interception to Antonio Cromartie, then in the second half the Broncos tried to do a surprise onside kick that failed miserably, then the Broncos turned the ball over on downs three times. It was ugly. Very, very ugly.

Defensive effort: The appropriate comment here is, "What defensive effort?" The Broncos defense was playing like they took the Chargers minus about 28 points. If that's the case, then good news for them...because San Diego covered. One of the biggest problems in this recent slide for the Broncos is that they cannot stop the run. The Chargers actually had more rushing yards (203) than passing yards (145), and the result was a very lopsided time of possession. The Chargers had the ball for 37:52 while the Broncos just had it 22:08.

Pretty much everything the Broncos did was a negative today: There is really no sense in trying to establish blame here...there is plenty to go around. If the Broncos had only played better on offense, defense, and special teams, they might have had a chance. This once promising season is quickly on it's way to the dumpster, and if you saw a single ray of hope that they're going to turn it around, you were watching a different game than I was. That was depressing.

Final Thought:

Steve Gregory recovers a Knowshon Moreno fumble in the end zone.

Hope has flown. The Broncos MIGHT be able to make it to 8-8 or 9-7, although nothing is certain anymore. The crap team that I feared we would be watching in Denver took a few weeks to show up, but they are definitely now here. At 6-4, it's not impossible to get things going, but I'm not holding my breath. The Broncos have only a few days to recuperate and get ready for the Giants coming to town on Thursday night. I'm expecting yet another embarrassment. I had figured that the Raiders and Chiefs games were sure things, but with as poorly as the Broncos are playing, and the fact that those two teams took down the Bengals and Steelers today, I am taking nothing for granted. This team I cheer for feels a lot like Milli Vanilli after the lip-sync scandal. Things were going so great, and then BAM, immediately things were going terrible. Hopefully Josh McDaniels has a cure for what ails them, but I am discouraged. After a terrific September and October, the month of November leaves much to be desired.

LaDainian Tomlinson was a beast against the Broncos. You'd never think he was washed up if you watched him play today.

No comments: