Broncos vs. Patriots postgame critical analysis
After sleeping on this for a night and reading on a variety of opinions and point of views here, I would like to share my critical assessment of what happened in the game.
I have to point out that I don't have the luxury of having DVR to re-watch the game, nor do I have access to bird's view footages (I can sense BOR grumbling about this also).
And as far as assigning blame goes, it goes across the board, from execution, to playing to coaching. I am only going to key on a few critical aspects.
I think that first and foremost, the critical error that we made, and that was more of a decisive factor than anything else, was playing too much prevent defense.
Now I understand those who argue that holding a team to 17 points in regulation isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, all good defenses have the goal of always trying to shut down the opponents, no matter what.
And in this case, playing prevent against Orton is playing right into his hands because as an ordinary methodical quarterback, Orton is going to be quite content with the short and intermediate gains, and never lose patience doing that. Hence the 98 yard drive, and his first 300 yard game in quite a while. I noticed that McD had him throw a lot of comebacks and curls on the outside, taking advantage of the big cushion we give on CBs as part of the prevent philosophy. As proof of this, I point to Bodden having 11 tackles, which is never a good thing. You want LB's to have a high number of tackles, but never your CB's.
Also I am starting to notice that our defense is not suited to playing prevent well. They are young and hungry and prideful; not old, patient and methodical. To have this defense play in prevent is akin to buying a porsche and restricting it to city driving. It is my hope that we stop doing that soon- we showed last week that there is no longer the need to "build" or "evolve" with the base D. This D gets its motivation and energy from making a big stop, be it a sack, interception, fumble, or incomplete.
However this is not to say that our D themselves escape scrutiny or being singled out- a big number of tackles were missed, and contrary to what most pundits here say, we did make halftime adjustments, trying to bring a lot more pressure in the 2nd half with sub packages, particularly in the dime, however credit must be given to the Denver OL which is much stronger than I initially thought- they did well in handling 4 rush pressure. So I don't think it is as much the lack of pressure we brought on 4 men as it was the Denver OL doing a great job.
One cannot underestimate his influence on the game which, surprisingly enough includes the defense. One needs to remember that he actually started off with defense when he first started with the Patriots. I noticed in particular one run play where Dawkins sat and seemed to me to be waiting for a gap to develop when the Pats OL pulled on a sweep, and he shot it perfectly and killed the play, and that to me, meant he had to have been coached by McDaniels on tendencies. I am sure if I had the DVR, I would have been able to identify more plays.
BRADY AND EXECUTION
As far as indicting the offense, I think it needs to start with Brady. With only five 2nd half completion and being 0-6 on third downs, the onus is definitely on the Quarterbacks as those numbers point to QB execution more than anything else. There were overthrows, miscommunication and a lack of execution, including the Moss overthrow, but I think what stands out is the Welker incompletion. I believe Welker was going to do a short comeback to get the down, but read on the run and adjusted because there were no safety over the top, so he kept going and would have had the TD if Brady saw the same thing, but he stuck to the play called, instead of adjusting. Who's right and who's wrong? We can discuss this to death, but I think the significance is how Brady and his receivers are still having trouble being in sync. Execution was the glaring weakness on offense.
I think that again I have to point out that Brady is coming off a major surgery. We cannot keep overlooking this fact. We cannot try to look past it. As I've said in the past, there are a number of QB's who have never recovered from having knee surgery.
I believe it was generally agreed in the preseason by most pundits that we would have a slow start to the season, and that is exactly the case right now. Yet there are quite a few people who are panicking and being depressed. And I think that is unnecessary. We do not "need a lot of work" and we do not need to make some drastic change or fire someone. All we need is patience and the foresight that this is a 16 game season.
People are lauding Denver, the Jets, Saints and Vikings as the second coming, but I would rather be where we are, struggling to come together, rather than peaking too early, which may well be the case with those teams whose records put them in the spotlight and set the stage for more and more attention being focused on finding what their weakness is. Even as I write right now, the Dolphins have pretty much taken away the vaunted blitzing defense of the Jets by utilizing a heavy combination of wildcat and runs, and by my count there only has been a few blitzes and one jailbreak.
This is my long-winded assessment, and I invite you to disagree with it or comment on it, but please back your statements with facts or stats. I do not consider myself by any means an expert on football.. and in that regard look forward to constructive comments.
EDIT: I will add more notes and more reviews later on if there is more interest, but if this drops right off the board I will probably take it as a sign to zip it.
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