I can’t believe I hurried home from work to watch that.
The Broncos put on a show in front of a nationally-televised audience last night, alright. Just not the show they wanted. Instead, the rest of the NFL got to see how far away Peyton Manning and the Broncos are from being the dominant team everyone thought they were last week. What a difference a week makes!
Depending on who you believe, Manning was either weak-armed or weak-minded (or both), throwing three interceptions in his first three possessions. The game was basically over with 10 minutes to go in the first quarter. The defense couldn’t stop Atlanta from putting up 27 points, which was more than enough to drop Denver to a 1-1 record. The 27-21 final score didn’t accurately show the Falcons’ dominance, as the Broncos tried (and failed) to make a late-game comeback. Here’s what we learned:
Peyton Manning isn’t 100%
Even if you forget about the 3 interceptions, Manning’s passes looked weak and fluttery all night. He was fortunate that he didn’t have 2 more picked off. In the post game press conference, Manning accepted full responsibility for the loss, pointing out the obvious. The interceptions, all poorly thrown balls into coverage, were something I expect to see from a rookie quarterback, not a 13-year legend. Including preseason, Manning has now thrown 6 interceptions and only 2 touchdowns as a Bronco.
The Pass Rush is Non-Existent
The dynamic duo of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller were basically no-shows on Monday night. Rookie Derek Wolfe didn’t fare much better as Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan had plenty of time to make easy work of the defense. It wasn’t until the 4th quarter when Miller finally recorded a sack (and an inappropriate celebratory dance). And don’t forget, the pass rush didn’t get to Ben Roethlisberger until late in the game last week too.
The Broncos Were Out-Coached
While coach John Fox spent most of his time complaining to the much-maligned replacement referees all night, the other side of the field was busy game planning. The Falcons used innovative defensive strategies to confuse Manning and the Broncos offense, often lining up with no down linemen. The Broncos offensive line couldn’t contain hold back the Falcons defenders, which negated the over-hyped no-huddle offense the Broncos attempted for basically the entire first half.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but all of the sudden, the Broncos are looking a lot more like the 4-12 team of 2010 than the “Super Bowl contenders” we were all led to believe they were. And it won’t get any easier with the Texans, Raiders, Patriots and Chargers coming up before the bye week.
Grady De Luca is a contributing columnist for BRONCOSREPORT. Grady grew up in Illinois and attended the University of Illinois, where he studied communications. He moved to Denver in 2010 but looks forward to living back in Chicago soon. Grady’s views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of BRONCOSREPORT.com or our advertisers.