The O'Reilly Report

Broncos Update contributor Dan O'Reilly weighs in with his grades for Denver's 23-14 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

This was a disappointing, but not altogether unexpected, loss. The Jags finished the job the Raiders and Bills started, that of exposing the Broncos defense for what it truly is - porous to a painful degree. It starts with the 186 yards allowed on the ground by a variety of running backs (their quarterback, David Garrard, had 52 yards rushing!), and continues with the inability of the defense to stop Garrard from passing virtually whenever he wanted to. This all added up to the Jags holding a 38:42 to 21:18 edge in time-of-possession, while their offense ran nearly twice as many plays as the Broncos offense did. Simply put, the Broncos were outplayed in all aspects of the game.

Offense: D
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Dropped balls. Penalties at the most devastating times. Poor pass protection. Nobody expected the Broncos would be able to run wild againt the Jax defense, but by the same token, they DID expect to run for more than 47 total yards.

About the only bright spot here was Brandon Marshall. He's taken the challenge of becoming a go-to receiver and run with it. His acrobatic catch and run during the 2nd quarter was absolutely amazing - there were five broken tackles before Jacksonville finally brought him down.

Defense: F
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OK, I'll cover it again: 186 yards rushing allowed. Nearly twice as many offensive plays by Jax than Denver. Garrard went 14 for 20, 154 yards - when he had to throw the ball at all.

Yet again, the play of the defense was highlighted by poor tackling. The Bronco defenders did a great job of closing on the ball, but they wouldn't finish the job. I don't have stats for "yards after contact", but they certainly seemed to be very high.

In the interest of trying to find something positive, at least the defensive line was consistently putting pressure on Garrard. All three sacks came from the defensive line, and that's an encouraging sign, as that was one of the goals of the Jim Bates defense.

Special Teams: C+
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As devastating as Domenik Hixon's fumble was, it was the lack of coverage on kicks that again came back to haunt the Broncos. The 42-yard return that lead to the second Jacksonville touchdown was a killer. Yet again, the Broncos put themselves squarely behind the eight-ball by giving their opponent a short field with which to work - and on a day when their defense was already having trouble stopping them.

Coaching: C
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I have to give coach Mike Shanahan credit. That fourth down call on the Broncos' own 9 yard line was a gutsy call, and had tight end Daniel Graham simply held onto the ball, things could have turned out altogether different. The same with the attempted dive by quarterback Jay Cutler at the goal line. If your offensive line can't push forward for long enough to let your large quarterback over the top, you have some SERIOUS problems.

I'll also give some props to Bates, as he obviously made some defensive adjustments at halftime that slowed the Jags down some and held them to tqo field goals in the second half.

Next Week: @Indianapolis Colts
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I've seen some posting on various newsgroups that "this could be the wake-up call for next week in Indy". Well, based on the first three games of the season, this has every possibility of being a beating of the same scope as as that in the recent two playoff games against the Colts. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning may not beat the Broncos, but then again, he may not have to, as running back Joseph Addai is perfectly capable of shredding the Denver run defense. And if the Broncos bring up eight to stop Addai (and that didn't work today), Manning will shred them with the pass.



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