Report Card v. Chargers

Check out Denver's grades in the loss to the San Diego Chargers.


PASSING OFFENSE: D-plus - The critics who dogged Tim Tebow for his throwing motion and inability to make certain throws will have a field day with Sunday's tape. Of the three games, Tebow was at his least accurate by far. Tebow did squeeze in a 14-yard TD to Brandon Lloyd but hit on just 16 of 35 attempts and looked on Lloyd too frequently (14 targets) as he had trouble getting off his initial reads.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus - It's hard to grade too harshly when Denver ran for 146 yards on 5.0 per carry but consider that more than half that real estate came via Tebow scrambles. Some were effective designed plays, others were panic moves out of the pocket. Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball each had one breakaway run each but not much else via the more conventional handoff method.

PASS DEFENSE: B - San Diego's Philip Rivers was intercepted once and didn't throw a TD pass, which is progress given how he normally scorches Denver. Rivers still managed 313 yards with a makeshift receiving corps, especially after Vincent Jackson went out with an ankle injury. But with Champ Bailey out for Denver, the secondary represented itself well. And the Broncos produced a season-high five sacks.

RUSH DEFENSE: D - If the Chargers' Ryan Mathews comes off his difficult rookie season feeling good about himself, he can thank Denver's spotty run defense in large part. Mathews set career bests in carries (26), yards (120) and TDs (3). He consistently exposed Denver's biggest weaknesses all season long - a lack of solid form tackling and disciplined gap control.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus - Cassius Vaughn's 97-yard kickoff return TD was the third longest runback in team history and best since 1966. Denver even corralled a late onside kick that nearly cost them the No. 2 overall pick in the draft but didn't when two Hail Mary passes didn't connect. The biggest blemish for Denver was punter Britton Colquitt's line-drive effort that gave Antoine Cason steam for a 62-yard punt return and a couple decent kickoff returns.

COACHING: B - Denver's Eric Studesville deserves credit for keeping the Broncos a competitive team that played hard until the end - and not just vs. San Diego. Some of the coddling of Tebow in terms of play-calling was annoying if not unexpected in the early going of his interim tenure and again Sunday. But the team's overall effort was consistent. San Diego has consistently routed the Broncos in recent seasons but Denver rallied for 21 second-half points to make it a game. Studesville only won one game but won over the team and organization in his brief trial.

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