The O'Reilly Report

Broncos Update contributor Dan O'Reilly weighs in with his grades for Denver's 19-13 overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Well, another game where the Denver Broncos let a win slip away. Once more, they get inside the 10 and can't punch the ball in with any consistency.

A fluke fumble on the 1 comes back to haunt them. A porous run defense and a disgraceful showing by the pass defense. This team has pretty much taken themselves out of the playoffs already this year, at 3-4. It's not necessarily the record, but does anybody here seriously see the Broncos going 7-2 to make the playoffs as a 10-6 team? Not likely.

For yet another season, they've turned home field advantage into home field disadvantage. Perhaps the next run of 4 of 5 on the road will allow them to actually win a couple of games, since they certainly don't take advantage of playing at home.

This whole thing, I might add, was made even more unbearable by the ESPN crew. For a time, it was so bad I had to mute the TV because I couldn't take the Favre love-fest any more.

Offense: C
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At times, quarterback Jay Cutler moved the offense very well. Considering his lack of healthy receivers and a patchwork line, I thought he did as well as could be expected. But once again, the Broncos have been settling for field goals instead of touchdowns inside the 10. Granted, the fumble was a total fluke (has anybody ever seen a pulling lineman bat the ball out of his QB's hands???), but the facts are what they are.

Defense: D
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The Packers generally stopped themselves, when they were stopped. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE, NONE, for giving up two long touchdown passes like they did. When the Packers weren't busy putting themselves in the hole with penalties, they were able to move the ball at will. No pass rush (again), and the pass defense in general was poor.

At this point, frankly, I think the Dre Bly trade has been much more hype than substance; the cornerback gives more and bigger cushions than a sofa store at inventory clearance time.

The other bust has been defensive end Simeon Rice. Personally, I think he does a better job of holding real estate on the bench than he does holding the real estate on the field, and if that's the case, let Jarvis Moss play. At least he doesn't have Rice's attitude and mouth, and he's been working his butt off to break into the lineup.

As for the run defense, well, what can be said that hasn't already been said? Green Bay has been renowned for having no running game, but the defense allows a 100-yard rusher. This run defense is absolutely horrible.

One other point about the defense: I have never see a defense look so out-of-sorts as this one did tonight when safety John Lynch went out. 10 men on the field one play, 12 men and a penalty the next, and 12 men and a timeout when somebody learned to count shortly after that.

It seemed clear to me that the defense was confused, they didn't know their jobs, and nobody was trying to take charge. A real Keystone Cops demonstration if there ever was one. And THAT reflects directly on the coaching staff.

Special Teams: A
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For a change, nothing really to complain about on special teams. Kicking was good, the return game was good, and coverage was good.

Coaching: C
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I thought the offensive plan was excellent. When the players executed it, they moved the ball pretty well.

However, it's halfway through the season now. The players have had several months to learn, digest, and implement defensive coordinator Jim Bates' system on defense. And the fact of the matter is, this team is playing worse defense now than they did last year, and have consistently played poor defense all year. Who's fault is it? Bates? Shanahan? Players? I dunno.

But somebody better figure out something fast, or at least let the rookies play full time. How much worse could they do than the vets have been doing?



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