The O'Reilly Report

Broncos' Update contributor Dan O'Reilly talks about another disappointing loss for the Denver Broncos, one which may be fatal for the team's post-season chances.

Another REALLY disappointing loss. The Broncos waited until the fourth quarter to try to win the game, and after adding in Jake Plummer's fourth interception of the day, it became too late to win the game. And with it, almost certainly goes the Broncos' season. I have to hand it to San Diego, they played a great game, but it's still one the Broncos should have been more motivated for.

This game was a study in how to beat the Broncos - and it started with the lesson from the Oakland game. Contain the runners, keep Plummer in the pocket, and the Denver offense goes impotent. Add into the mix VERY poor special teams play, defensive breakdowns through a big part of the game, incredibly ill-timed penalties, and you have all the ingredients of a defeat that drives a stake through the Broncos' season.

Offense: F

I've come to the painful conclusion that Jake Plummer is not the answer in Denver. If he can't run out on a bootleg, he can't throw for diddly. I said at the beginning of the season that this was a BIG season for him, and opposing teams have learned that if you keep him in the pocket, he's a very poor passer. I'm sad about this, because I'm a fan of his. But he just isn't the guy to get things done. Frankly, if Brees does become available after this season, the Broncos should grab him. You just plain can't throw four interceptions (the last of which just plain killed the Broncos momentum) and expect to win.

As I've said through most of the season, the Broncos BADLY need help at guard. Ben Hamilton has been getting the tar beaten out of him all season long, and with the exception of Hamilton and George Foster, these guys are starting to get long in the tooth. Add to that the distinct possibility the NFL is going to outlaw all forms of cut blocking this year, and you have the makings of a disaster moving forward.

We need help at tight end. Dwayne Carswell just isn't getting the job done, and Jeb Putzier is too unseasoned to do it all. Putzier did have some sterling moments today, but Carswell dropped at least three balls.

If there's a bright spot in addition to Putzier, it HAS to be Ashley Lelie. He's come on very strong this year as he pretty much had to. Tatum Bell showed some great stuff today, too (GREAT acceleration!). But, frankly, I'm getting REALLY tired of "just wait until next year!".

Defense: C+

It disturbs me that the defense seemed to take the first 3 quarters off. Champ Bailey did play considerably better today, in spite of being burned earlier. Like the Oakland game, no pass rush with the basic four defensive linemen. It's REALLY bad that you have to blitz to get to the quarterback. That's not the kind of defense that's going to win you a lot of championships.

Bright spots: there can't be any doubt about Lynch's body being ready to play. He made some MONSTER hits today on people. Williams again showed what a great draft he was. Special kudos to Middlebrooks - he made some really timely plays to keep the Chargers receivers in check. And, of course, Al Wilson yet again.

Special Teams: F

The Broncos have been losing the field position battle all year, and this game was no exception. Penalty after penalty after penalty on kicks. Poor punt coverage. And REALLY poor kicking by Knorr, both kickoffs and punting. I'm not sure why Elam missed that early field goal (that would have made it a tie game towards the end), but it didn't really look like he should have.

Coaching: C

I'm not sure what a "C" really means in this context. I don't think either the offensive or defensive game plans were bad, they were probably pretty good. I thought the coaches made pretty good adjustments when they needed to. But the problem is players just plain aren't executing them.

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