So often after games fans tend to overreact to a few things and far too often those things they are reacting to aren’t trends, instead they are merely one game situations or results. What fans should be looking for are trends, those things that persist through multiple games, because those are the items that are actually part of the teams consistent performance. Here in Facts, Trends, and The Overlooked we will look at the big story lines and some not so big ones, and see which ones are trends, which should be watched and which are merely one game anomalies.
Broncos Secondary is Weak Even When Healthy
– The Broncos have suffered some big injuries this season to the defensive backs, and have blamed the backups for the poor play of the pass coverage, along with a lack of pass rush, but even when healthy and now with Von Miller‘s return they have struggled. Since Von Miller’s return against Indianapolis the Broncos have only had 2 interceptions, which is tied for 29th in the league, they also haven’t had an interception since the bye. Against high caliber or efficient quarterbacks the Broncos secondary has had issues, healthy or not, Von Miller or not, this is something that is real, pay attention. Many will point to the fumbles forced by the Broncos defense against the Pats but few pay attention to the struggles of the safeties when it pertains to stopping the deep pass or the corners against fast wide receivers. While fans may be ignoring it, teams aren’t, as the results are beginning to show.
Peyton Manning Hasn’t Been the Same Since Jacksonville
– Peyton Manning is having a career year, there is no question about that, but that pace is slow, as expected, but it’s slowing for a key reason, Peyton Manning’s healthy and the Broncos offensive line. While the Broncos offensive line isn’t giving up many sacks (also expected when you have the least sacked active QB in the NFL) but Peyton is getting his, and that trend started in Jacksonville and it seems to have impacted his game. Up through the Jacksonville Jaguars game few teams played physically against the Broncos but Jacksonville started a playing the Broncos physically and teams have copied that since then. During the Jacksonville game and before Peyton averaged 74.17% completion percentage (1st in the league), 22 TD’s (1st in the league), 2 INT’s (Tied for 4th fewest in the NFL), 128.8 passer rating (1st in the NLF), 10.54 AY/A (2nd in the NFL) but since the Jags game Peyton is averaging: 61.95% completion percentage (17th in the league), 14 TD’s (Tied for 1st most in the NFL), 5 INT’s (Tied for 5th most in the NFL), 97.7 passer rating (10th in the NFL) and 7.80 AY/A (10th in the NFL). That drop off is huge and while Peyton is still playing at a good level, it’s not on the level you’d expect from Peyton or this team. The biggest thing is he is completing over 12% fewer passes and averaging almost 3 fewer yards per attempt, that’s crazy. It’s not crippling yet, but it should be noted, this could be a trend.
Not Likely a Trend:
The Broncos Offense Struggled Without Julius Thomas
– I’ve seen this idea floating around a lot since the Patriots game but after rewatching the end of the Chiefs game and the entire Patriots game, it should be clear that the tight ends actually played well, the issue was a poor game by Peyton. Joel Dreessen had one target and one potential touchdown taken away, and he was open, but instead of planting and releasing he ended up throwing a jump pass despite having the time to use his proper throw, there was no pressure within 5 yards. Virgil Green has never been used as a deep threat this season as Julius Thomas has been, despite being the same size and faster, but didn’t have a drop and actually was quite impressive as a blocker allowing 0 pressures on Peyton and Moreno averaged 7.5 yards per carry when running outside to his side, a large 1.4 yards per carry more than his average. And Jacob Tamme‘s impact was obvious as Julius’ pure-receiving replacement with 0 drops, 1 touchdown and 47 yards on 5 receptions. Between the 3 tight ends they allowed zero pressures (Julius allowed about half a pressure per game purely by himself) and the run game had their best outside running game of the season. Tamme also commanded the respect that Julius commanded, in terms of who was covering them.