The O'Reilly Report

Broncos Update contributor Dan O'Reilly shares his thoughts about the Denver Broncos most recent loss to Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons.

This was a tale of 2 Broncos teams: the one that came to play in the 1st quarter, and the one that took the field at the start of the 2nd quarter and played the rest of the game. For one quarter, this team looked like it was going to take Atlanta to the cleaners. But then came the rest of the game, where the Broncos looked like the Bad News Bears of the NFL. Poor decisions by Plummer (again), untimely, drive-killing penalties, missed tackled, missed blocking assignments, dropped passes - all of these contributed to a second straight embarrassing loss.

Before we get started, let me address the issue of penalties. I had a strong feeling that Denver's OL in particular was going to be under the ref's microscopes. The disparity in penalties was big and obvious. I'm sure if you asked the NFL (or the officiating crew) they would say it was called fair. I'm not so convinced. For example, how could the official call Lepsis for holding when he was behind Lepsis and the QB was mostly in the way? I think this team is going to be getting lopsided calls the rest of the season just to "encourage the others" about blocking practices, for example. And that's sad, that the officials will have that large a say in the outcome of games. OK, OK, so I'm paranoid. But, like Henry Kissinger said, "even paranoids have enemies".

Offense: D
Plummer seems to be quickly regressing to how he played in Arizona. Great, he had 4 TD's yesterday. But he also had 3 picks, 1 of which was admittedly a tremendous play by the Atlanta defense, but the other 2 were just plain terrible throws on terrible decisions by Plummer. As I understand Plummer's contract, the club has an option on him after this season. And frankly, if there's somebody better waiting in the wings, I think I would give serious consideration to not exercising that option (this, from a strong Plummer supporter over the last 2 years). Granted, there's no guarantee that the Broncos score if he doesn't turn over the ball, but by the same token, his INT's led directly to 17 (over 40%) of Atlanta's points. The question is, of course, "will there be somebody better"?

However, it wasn't just Plummer. Great play by the receivers - except for the 7 or 8 balls they dropped (including the one by Watts in the end zone). For the second straight game, the Falcons could rush 3 and still get to Plummer, just as Cincy did last week. The rushing game was nonexistent. And when something DID get going, an untimely penalty usually managed to choke the drive off.

On the good side, the WR's as a group (Smith, Lelie and Watts) were pretty darned impressive. I'm actually feeling pretty good about our WR corps now, after the questions at the beginning of the season.

Defense: F
Champ Bailey was right: somebody was going to get spanked. Unfortunately, it was the Denver D again for the second straight week. The tackling was absolutely abysmal. Atlanta scored 3 times on long plays, both running and passing. It seemed like the D had no spy on Vick (tell me that ain't true - they HAD to have a spy on him!). I don't care if the QB is somebody like Vick - you don't give up over 100 yards rushing to the opposing QB! The pass rush was ineffective, even though it seemed as if the Broncos were blitzing on every pass play. 31 unanswered points in less than 2 quarters of play isn't playing like a good defence, let alone a great one. Heck Atlanta didn't even have a 3-and-out until the 4th quarter!

Special Teams: C
They were OK for what they were. Nothing special but nothing that really hurt the team (in contrast to what the O and the D did).

Coaching: F
This was the second game in a row that the Broncos were out-coached. For some reason, it took them over half the game to adjust to the idea that Atlanta was going to use Vick as a pocket passer on first down. There were a lot of big 1st-down plays there. Second, why did this team give up on the run so quickly? 19 rushing plays for a team known for rushing? How can you possibly expect to keep the other offense off the field if you're not chewing up yardage on the run? And I think the run was there: Droughns made some big runs early (even if they were called back by penalties).

One other thing about the team "not being motivated". If you can't get motivated after the Monday night debacle, if you need a coach to GET you motivated after something like that, if you need help to get motivated every time you step on the field, they you have a problem. Period. Coaches can (and should) help with that, but it shouldn't be incumbent upon them to get each and every player jump-started for the game.

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