The O'Reilly Report

Broncos Update Contributor Dan O'Reilly returns for another season of post-game commentary. Read what O'Reilly has to say about the Denver Broncos' 18-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

This was a lousy way to start a season. This was a Rams team that was outclassed by the Denver Broncos, at least on paper. The Broncos have better talent overall and they have better and more experienced coaching.

Yes, it's just one game and it's only the first game. But with the schedule the Broncos have early in the season, it's essential to get off to a fast start.

Next week won't come any easier, with the Kansas City Chiefs coming to town (hopefully quarterback Trent Green isn't seriously injured - that was a WICKED hit he took).

The Broncos defense came to play, but the offense didn't. Kudos do need to go to the Rams defense, they played an inspired game.

Offense: D

Five turnovers says it all. Quarterback Jake Plummer of 2005 was absent, and Plummer of 2004 took his place. A left-handed throw that a one-handed grab by running back Mike Bell prevented becoming an INT. A Plummer fumble (not all his fault - pass protection was questionable in the first half), and three INTs made it a long, drive-killing day for the Broncos offense.

It's not time to sit Plummer down. It still sits in the back of my mind - the Broncos coaches last year describing him as best when he "manages" a game. This was another game he couldn't manage, and it showed. That needs to change, and I think it will. With the upcoming schedule, it HAS to.

The line protection in the first half was questionable at best. They got better in the second half, but even with good protection, that didn't stop the mistakes. The offensive line will play better moving forward, as the blocking schemes the Broncos use are so complex that it just plain takes playing time to gel.

As for the Bell vs Bell contest, it's a draw. Tatum Bell showed some great flashes of quickness and breakaway speed (he had a couple of "WOW" runs in the game), while Mike Bell showed his ability to absorb a hit and still stay on his feet to gain the extra tough yards. As well as last year's platoon went (only a few missed games by Tatum Bell prevented the Broncos from having two 1,000 yard rushers), that's a very viable scheme for this year as well.

The receiving corps looked adequate today. Rod Smith had his usual excellent day, and Javon Walker showed a lot of promise (but his drops didn't help - how much of that was post-injury nerves?). The tight ends both played well, and show every sign of having great promise to be able to spread the defense.

Special kudos to Rod Smith, who recorded his 800th career reception during the game. The man is the epitome of hard work and a class individual.

Defense: A

An outstanding effort, one of the best I've ever seen a Denver defense turn in. Time after time they were put in a lousy situation and they made just about the best of it that could be expected. The Rams' offense isn't "The Greatest Show on Turf" as in past years, but they're still a good offense.

For the defense to keep them out of the end zone like they did, says a lot about the tremendous effort they turned in.

Special kudos to just about everybody. This was a great unit effort!

Special Teams: C

At least they got lots of practice on returning kickoffs. But their kick returns all tended to be short, and that needs to be improved. One thing that really helped the Broncos last year was their starting position on drives, and that simply wasn't there today. The kicking game was pretty good. However, that roughing penalty (and frankly, it looked to me like the guy was blocked into the kicker, so it should have been five yards and fourth down again) didn't help the cause.

Special kudos to Curome Cox. The guy just always seems to be where the action is on special teams.

Coaching: B

Several people have questioned the play calling. I guess I really don't. The Broncos showed they could move the ball well when they weren't stepping on vital parts of their anatomies. It wasn't the play calling so much as the play execution. The defensive game plan worked really well (save for a few breakdowns in the secondary).

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