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Published on 09/29/2008 at Mon Sep 29 12:00.
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Larry Johnson vs. Broncos (Getty)
Getty Images

Chiefs 33, Broncos 19. Ugh. Let’s break it down.

10. Larry Johnson’s big run set the stage.
There are few things more demoralizing than seeing the opponent’s running back pop off 65 yards like nothing. Seeing him do it on the second play from scrimmage is worse. Things were already looking grim for the Broncos, but the defense stepped up and held the Chiefs to three.

9. Eddie Royal’s fumble gave Chiefs momentum.
That’s no way to get this explosive offense going. Royal’s fumble gave the Chiefs the ball back at Denver’s 26 yard line (more on that later), and the defense was called to make up for the Broncos’ mistake. They did the best they could, holding the Chiefs to another field goal. These miscues all led to something that has always spelled disaster for the Denver Broncos…

8. Arrowhead Stadium went crazy.
You cannot win in Arrowhead when the crowd gets into it. The Chiefs were on a 12-game losing streak and welcomed an undefeated Broncos team. Reports said there were more blue and orange jerseys and empty seats out there than there had ever been before. Chiefs fans didn’t believe they were going to win, but with an early lead and some big plays, the crowd started going nuts. This young Broncos team wasn’t ready for the throngs of Arrowhead.

7. Offense never got into rhythm.
The Chiefs had one of the worst rush defenses in the league heading into the game, yet the Broncos couldn’t get their ground game going. They could only muster 94 yards. Then they started getting cute, trying trick plays and reverses with Brandon Marshall that only led to another turnover.

6. Defense got tired by fourth quarter.
The defense played okay for three quarters, only giving up 16 points despite all the turnovers the offense gave up. In the fourth quarter, though, the Chiefs had their way with them. True, that final touchdown occurred when the game was simply out of reach, but the Broncos needed to hold them to zero points to help this offense. They didn’t get the job done. This defense has talent, but no depth, and it’s showed in the fourth quarters of games all season long.

Brandon Marshall Fumble (AP)
AP Photo

5. Turnovers led to great Chiefs field position.
The Chiefs AVERAGE STARTING FIELD POSITION was the Chiefs’ 47-yard line. Yup. Three yards shy of Denver territory. A combination of inconsistent kickoff coverage and turnover after turnover gave the Chiefs a short field.

4. Five field goal attempts is four too many.
Meanwhile, the Broncos couldn’t punch it in. I’m hoping NFL Replay picks this game up, because I’d love to take a closer look at this tape and see why. It’s obvious to me that the offensive line didn’t play as stellar as they have in games past – they still played well, just not dominant. Up to this point the offense has been as explosive as it is because the o-line has been dominating the point of attack. The running offense was putrid and they gave up their first “real sack” of the season. To the Chiefs. Likely the worst defense they had played against thus far. Unacceptable. I’m sure playcalling owns a big piece of this blame pie as well.

3. Jay Cutler can’t throw two interceptions.
Cutler was rattled this game. He was shoving opponents, shoving teammates, and just never quite settled down. For the second straight week, he’s forcing balls downfield, looking for the big play when he has short dump off yardage screaming for him. Jeremy Bates needs to really, really drill it into this kid that he needs to play better quarterback football. On the long interception, Tony Scheffler was wide freaking open up the middle for a huge gain. WIDE OPEN. That was a big play touchdown for sure. Instead of checking his options, Cutler locked onto Marshall and tried to squeeze a ball in. Interception. Horrible decision. He has to play better.

2. The Broncos weren’t ready.
This one falls on you, Mike Shanahan. It’s the Head Coach’s job to make sure the team is ready for every game, and they were obviously too busy listening to everyone talk about how good they are to buckle down and focus for an always-tough Arrowhead experience. The Broncos were cocky and overconfident – well, they’re humbled now. Maybe this is exactly the lesson this team needs. Football players can’t take any game in the NFL for granted.

Elvis Dumervil (Getty)
Getty Images

1. This defense is just downright awful.
I’m an optimist through and through – I really, sincerely believed this Broncos defense was much better than the Broncos defense circa 2007. Yes, they gave up big points and yardage to the Saints and Chargers, but I chalked that up to a couple of shootouts against two explosive offenses. That is, until yesterday’s game. This defense is one of the worst in the league.

The front four is small and lacks power. No one is getting after the quarterback. The linebackers are better than last year, but they’re still allowing a big play every single freaking game!

Here’s a nugget for you: the Broncos have allowed six plays of over 40 yards in four games this season. Last year, 2007′s horrible defense allowed nine ALL SEASON! That’s right, Broncos fans – in some ways, this defense is actually worse!

They need to play more disciplined football for four quarters. I’m ready to make a trade for a big time playmaker – give the Panthers a 2nd round pick for Julius Peppers, someone, anyone – stat. We were counting on our 2007 draft picks to make a big impact, and they’re just not cutting it AT ALL. Jarvis Moss cleanly escapes two plays and gets brick-walled BY THE RUNNING BACK. If you’re free from an o-lineman and you’re getting stonewalled by RBs, let’s just mark you a bust right now and move on. Get someone, ANYONE here who’s physical and pass rushes. Please.

The positives: Despite it all, the Broncos were only down by three in the fourth quarter. With only a few minutes remaining, they were down by seven, with an onside kick bouncing out of Spencer Larsen‘s hands. Some of you might not want to play the “what if” game, and that’s fine, but indulge me for a moment here. If Larsen holds onto that football the Broncos are given new life. Despite it all, they have the ball, down by 7, with only a few minutes to play.

I’m not sure if they go for two in that situation, but Cutler has shown the ability to shake off bad plays and even bad games to get things going for the win. It didn’t happen for us this time, but I still believe this is a good team – A PLAYOFF-BOUND TEAM – and one that can take these lessons and learn to focus for the games ahead.

Matt Prater is completely exceeding my expectations, Larsen played well, D.J. Williams continues to be a leader on this defense, and you know this offense will get back on track.

They’ve got a helluva challenge in Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, and New England in the next three weeks, and will need to show their 3-0 start is no joke before the bye.

  • LorDog

    “For the second straight week, he’s forcing balls downfield, looking for the big play when he has short dump off yardage screaming for him. Jeremy Bates needs to really, really drill it into this kid that he needs to play better quarterback football.”

    This is a HUGE point. I could not believe he escaped some of the throws he made the last two weeks and yesterday it finally caught up with him. Take what the defense gives you and play methodical football, not celebrity football.
    Finally, I don’t think event Julius Peppers could save this defense. We need more than ONE key defensive player at this point. It seemed like (much like last year) Champ Bailey was the only guy playing defense yesterday. Oh, and what about Jack Williams? Did he show he’s better than Paymah? I didn’t see it. How about Nate Webster? We NEED a SOLID MLB!!!!

    Another great article, Kyle!

  • HogBlog

    WHAT ABOUT SOME “D”?

    I’ve finally crossed over to the “It’s time for a couple of changes” camp. If we’re going to make glaring mistakes @ MLB…then we’d be better off having those mistakes/miscues made by Spencer Larsen. At least we’d be increasing his aptitude and knowledge. Webster’s a 9 yr veteran. What’s his true upside at this point? Make the move, we’re already going younger. If Royal, Clady, Harris, Hillis can start, then why not Larsen/Woodyard/Barrett. Could we really be that much more vulnerable? Hell, we might even be better. I dont believe we have anybody that hits harder than Larsen!! He looks like a young Erlacher. Just a thought?

  • kerry

    Hogblog-

    im with you about putting Spencer Larsen in. the kid can make plays. he showed that in the final preseason game against Arizona and he plays ST’s very well. good speed and he can hit.

  • Quicksilver

    Im not convinced that personnel is the biggest problem on this D, we had a hard time adjusting to the KC PASSING GAME! for crying out loud i get it if our run d still stinks especially without DR in the middle this week. but to keep letting Bowe get these touches and to keep the rook on him all game, just made no sense. who was Champ covering that was better then Bowe? I think our personnel is better than they are playing, and that the scheme needs to improve. we need to be able to make adjustments and become more fluid, this all seems like less of a player issue and more of a coaching issue. i agree that we need to get pressure on the QB, but better blitz packages could do that. could we use a dynamic DE, YES. But i am not convinced that this alone would fix our D woes.

  • kerry

    there is no way we could get Julius Peppers out of Carolina. if they were 1-3 instead of 3-1 then maybe they would wanna get rid of himm for draft picks. but they wont because they are winning. seriously we need alot more then one DE. a MLB, two safeties would be a start. McCree and Manuel arent gonna cut it. and neither is Webster at MLB. i seriously think we need to trade Moss away for something. he is getting tossed around like a paper weight out there. he gets stopped by the god damn RB!!! god trade him to Dallas for Bobby Carpenter or Marcus Spears. Dallas wanted to dump Spears last year. that or just stand pat with the picks we have and prepare for the next draft. the season isnt over by any stretch. we can still win and make the playoffs.

  • craig l.

    the D is not the problem. we all know we have bad defense, they showed it. but with all their shortcomings, we were still in the game in the 4th quarter.

    the problem with this game is cutler. royal and marshall had fumbles, we can overcome those. but in the 2nd half, you can clearly see that cutler was forcing plays. he was trying to win this game with one pass. it just doesnt work that way, he needs to grow up and learn how to be a better and let the game come to him.

  • T-Money

    Yeah.. Cutler had an off day. And when your defense makes a big play and gets a fumble but your offense gives it right back…. Your D will be out there for a long time.

    We need to keep the defense off the field as much as possible.

  • Scott

    Kyle- Nice work.
    My take was that Cutler was rattled. Period. It is interesting to note that the guy just looked pissed off and uncomfortable all day. I think the guys in the huddle were feeding off his bad vibes. When Jay is in a groove, his guys feed off of him. When he is off, the guys just don’t play at a higher level. What bugs me, is they need to run Pittman more. The guy is a beast with a high motor. All things considered. I like the look of our rookies. Man they are good. Mark my words, Spencer Larsen will be starting by next year. And I wouldn’t be suprised to see Denver utilize a 3-4 by next season. Our linebacker depth is too deep to ignore a 3-4.

  • http://81trucolors.livejournal.com/ Truman

    Also consider:

    1. As has been pointed out, Cutler continued the (2 game) trend of forcing the ball into places he had no business throwing.
    2. The Broncos haven’t yet committed to running the ball, which prolongs drives and keeps our defense off the field.
    3. Daniel Graham had a horrible game. He dropped a sure touchdown and another wide open ball.
    4. Broncos special teams gave up a big run at the worst possible time.

  • http://birty.blogspot.com mikebirty

    Not sure about Larsen being the answer – Jack Williams was the answer until Dwayne Bowe lined up on him. If we were 0-4 then sure why not.

    I’m not sure we need to scape goat on the defense. Everyone has looked good and bad this year – which I think is the annoying thing.

    Apart from the D line obviously which has looked terrible. Peterson played OK against the Chiefs but the line has been garbage for years. You have to look at some of the personnel decisions – Pryce, Berry, Warren – and wonder what could’ve been.

  • jchase8410

    I am 100% convinced that Denver’s biggest problem is the defensive scheme…You always hear about the “bend don’t break” style of defense, but how difficult is it to walk that line? This is the reason that the broncos give up big plays, and the reason any qb (Huard, really?) can sit back and pick apart the zone.
    I don’t think it is a personnel problem, the fact that our D-line blows not withstanding, AS MUCH as it is the play calling.
    So, Jarvis Moss gets stopped by a running back, why not send an outside backer from the same side? The) can only pick up 1 person. Zone defense works brilliantly, but only if you are able to rush the passer and hurry him into his throws.

  • http://broncotalk.net Joe

    This is how Denver exactly is. We kick ass when we play hard teams, but any team that blows (and the fans mark down as a automatic W), they go and get there asses STOMPED. Moss is in fact a bust, and I say we just cut his dumbass instead of wasting time and HOPING that he gets good. He’s undersized. He cant escape a block from the RB. He Blows. A BUST. Period. Lets trade his ass and a second round pick for someone whos a veteran and can actually do something. Man, I wouldnt care if we traded his ass, a first round pick, and a fourth round pick for Mario Williams from Houston. But to come back to reallity, that would never happen. But thats EXACTLY the kind of player we need. And another thing that is getting is old is wtf is with Boss Bailey getting hurt? I coulda swore that I saw him leave the field for a play because he got hurt. How is he such a puss? Its the NFL. Grow a sack and play some fu***** football. He especially looks bad when you compare him to his brother, Champ. Champ is without a doubt the man.

  • Jordan

    You won’t see a full time 3-4 soon because the weakside talent is flip-flopped. The DE (Doom) specialized in the pass rush and the LB (Williams) specializes in run stopping. From what I understand, for the 3-4 to work well, you need a run stopping DE who can take up blockers and a pass rushing LB who can plow to the QB (i.e. San Diego and Dallas). As such, we’ll only see Denver in a 3-4 in very specific situations.

    Also, the Bronco’s best DT (Roberton) left the Jets because he didn’t fit the 3-4. Marcus Thomas is talented enough to maybe develop into a nose tackle, but he’s not there yet.

  • Jordan

    I suppose in a 3-4, you could move DJ to the middle, but Woodyard isn’t built to be a pass rushing LB either.

  • Steve

    5-2-4 baby (logically the opposite of slowik’s failed experiment with the 3-4). robertson and thomas are solid against the run but stymied in pass rush by being doubled. get them alone against guards (sacrifice peterson at NT) and they will wreak havoc. solves for an undersized DL and no pass rushing LBs and an average MLB. pack it in with a 5-man line, let speedy DJW and boss roam behind the wall. riskier? sure. but more attitude, more pressure, and can’t get worse than 400yds and 30 pts/game.

  • BroncoFan18

    Ok now that I am finally over being mad about that loss yesterday, I think I can look at the game a little more objectively.

    1) First off, it wasn’t our defense that lost the game. In fact, I believe they kept us IN the game. Anytime your offense has 4 turnovers and only converts for a TD once in the redzone, you will lose the game. Our turnovers gave the Chiefs great field position. Give any offense the ball at the 50 and the best defense in the league will give up at least 3 points. Remember at the beginning of the game we held them to 6 points when it could easily have been 14. Our defense kept us in the game!

    2) Cutler played terrible. He’s trying to throw the ball to Marshall when he isn’t open. On a couple plays he had other recievers WIDE OPEN for big gains. Marshall is a great target, but Cutler needs to understand that there is a reason you have “option 2″ and “option 3.”

    3) I’ve said again and again that special teams is the secret to winning a game. Right now our special teams isn’t much better than our defense. They gave the Chiefs great field position (when our offense failed to do so) at crucial times in the game. Why is Andre Hall and kick returns? Get some speed back there.

    4) Bottom line? I guarantee if you take away even 2 of those turnovers we win the game. Our defense gave the offense a chance, but the offense couldn’t punch it in. So don’t lay into the defense too much. There are too many factors in a football game to blame the outcome on one thing (see Chargers game). Granted, we need a little more pass rush, but I think the defense is headed in the right direction. Our offense had a hiccup, but I think they will be fine as long as Cutler learns where to throw the ball, because we all know he has the arm to get it there.

  • 96isgone

    “1. This defense is just downright awful.
    …. This defense is one of the worst in the league.

    The front four is small and lacks power. No one is getting after the quarterback. The linebackers are better than last year, but they’re still allowing a big play every single freaking game!

    ….That’s right, Broncos fans – in some ways, this defense is actually worse!”

    Yep, that’s what I wrote here after the preseason games, and got castigated by the mob as a heathen for it……

  • kbn58

    Denver didn’t have a good day. But that was partly because KC played a good game. Give them some credit.

  • kerry

    we do not have the guys to run the 3-4!!!! does nobody realize this? the 3-4 is centered around a massive nose tackle. which we have none. Marcus Thomas weighs about 315. most NT’s in this league run around 340. like Kris Jenkins, Casey Hampton, Vince Wilfork. and we dont have the big DE’s to go in the 3-4. Jarvis Moss and Dumervil as 3-4 DE’s?? HAHAHAHAHA. they would get tossed aside like rag dolls. we dont have a big man who can play 2 gap. the 3-4 needs to be forgotten about. we dont have the personel. it took the Patriots 3 years to build the D-line they have. all three of them are first round picks. and Shanahan isnt gonna take three years to build a D-line to run the 3-4. if this team wants to play defense they need to get back to the Larry Coyer zone blitz scheme. thats the defense we had in 05 when we had one of the best defenses in football.

  • So Cal Den Fan

    One loss and here comes 96isgone with I told you so Bull Sh%#.Where were you when they were winning? Sitting back waiting for this loss!
    Ok our D didn’t played like we wanted them to but I don’t think you can fully blame the D. Like Scott said Cutler tried to win the game with one throw.He needs to take what they give you. Forcing the ball will only get you into trouble.In the saints game there were a hand full of plays where if he threw short instead of going deep there was open field in front of them.Cutler is young but the sooner he learns from his mistakes the better. So all you haters(96is gone) don’t throw the season away because of one loss!! From a True Fan! Go Broncos!!!

  • broncofan

    we need to run the ball more…give selvin young more carries
    we need a pass rush bad…..they dont even collasp the pocket
    (a pass rush will make the d-backs look better and cause more turnovers….just look at the giants in the playoffs last year)
    special teams is terrible
    why is andre hall returning kicks on kickoffs?
    i bet jack williams prolly could return kicks…he has the speed

  • rcsodak

    What’s even worse about Carr’s int, is KC only had 10 MEN ON D!!!!!!
    Methinks even Jake would have thrown to the uncovered man.

  • Quicksilver

    wow 96 thanks for showing up after a loss, to bad you where to chicken to poke your head up after we beat down real teams. one lousy game and your in for an “I told you so” kiss off bro.

  • Chooch

    One HUGE thing that bothers me about this defense is a lack of tackling philosophy. DB’s and LB’s are going for this strip in the wide open field or going for the interception rather than the stick. Dre Bly is all too often a perfect example of this failed strategy. I realize the value of the turn over and Dre has done a great job at making those happen. However, if there is no one behind you to make up for your mistake then you sacrifice huge yards. Champ seems to be the only one that can hit. Here’s an idea! Put that Larsen kid from Arizona that laid that massive hit on the Chiefs punt returner on as a safety. Make those receivers and backs pee a little every time they come across the middle

  • T-Money

    Just so everybody knows….

    16/4 = 4

    Denver 3-1

    3-1 x 4 = 12-4

    It was a perfect time to take a loss. It gives everybody a gut check, and the best part about losing to KC (if i can ever say that and actually mean it) is that we SEE THEM AGAIN.

    Don’t lose hope just yet.

  • Chooch

    Just so there’s no confusion. What I was getting at in a round about way is that the Broncos could use a heavy hitter in the backfield. We need a hard hitter in that safety spot like the days of old when Steve Atwater was knocking heads or John Lynch in his much younger years.

  • flbronc

    god, think about it… if we had croyers 05 defense back and they played the same that they did the year he got the can we’d be thinking conf championship or superbowl… not questioning if we’ll make the playoffs.

  • Person

    We do need to be think Defensive Ends and NOT IN THE DRAFT!

    We need to be thinking solid running backs, because you can’t really succeed on play action if the run game isn’t there.

  • 96isgone

    Quicksilver and socalfan…

    I’ve posted on here since my posting before the season started….don’t know why you missed them….

    We didn’t beat down real teams: we beat the woefully pathetic Raiders, got a gift from Hochuli, and a missed field goal for the other win. Explain to me again how those three wins were “beat downs” from “real teams” again?…lol

    “Ok our D didn’t played like we wanted them to”….and when, other then one stop, have they played like you wanted them to? As I said after the preseason, “they’ll be one of the worst defenses in the league”…guess what? So far, I’m right. Nice cliche with the “hater” comment, though….lol. As I said before, I’m a realist. This team obv had a poor defense, and Shanahan did little to improve it. I stand by that comment. This team would be 1-3, except for the two above mentioned plays….and staring down the barrel of 1-6…….and FYI “a True Fan!” isn’t necessarily someone who thinks their team is the best and always gonna win.

  • So Cal Den Fan

    Hey 96 I never said we had a great defense. But we have to go on with what we got. Unless your gonna break out the check book and sign someone else.I thought Jay had a bad game and everyone seemed to feed off that, however I still believe we always have a chance to win as long as we have #6. With you being a realist and thinking we have such a bad team may be we can start a petition and have the broncos not even play another game this year and settle for 3-13. So we don’t have to read any more of your blogs on how bad of a defense we have and we were luck to get 3 wins. We wouldn’t want to bother you on sundays with a bronco game seeing as we suck! And FYI a true fan never gives up on their team no matter what happens unless your a raider fan.Hey Quickersilver don’t take any of his crap !!! Go Broncos.
    A True Fan !!!!

  • 96isgone

    “So Cal Den Fan { 09.30.08 at Tue Sep 30 22:33 }) Hey 96 I never said we had a great defense. But we have to go on with what we got. Unless your gonna break out the check book and sign someone else.”

    cmon, at least try to debate the topic…. if we “go on with what we’ve got”, we’ll be looking at the worst defense in the league and miss the playoffs. That what you want? I advocate moving from this bend don’t break zone and utilize the speed of this defense by going to a more agressive blitz/press coverage that more suits the talent on this team. How’s that?

    “I thought Jay had a bad game and everyone seemed to feed off that, however I still believe we always have a chance to win as long as we have #6. With you being a realist and thinking we have such a bad team may be we can start a petition and have the broncos not even play another game this year and settle for 3-13. ”

    I guess i shouldn’t really expect much more then silly throwaway crap like that from you….

    “So we don’t have to read any more of your blogs on how bad of a defense we have and we were luck to get 3 wins. We wouldn’t want to bother you on sundays with a bronco game seeing as we suck!

    Sigh, I’ve watched almost every Bronco game since I moved here in 95. We’ve had some great teams. But it’s been a loooooong while since this team has been good. I’m tired of wallowing in mediocrity. Apparently it doesn’t matter to you, as long as you carry the flag and go rah-rah….good for you…..

    And FYI a true fan never gives up on their team no matter what happens unless your a raider fan.Hey Quickersilver don’t take any of his crap !!! Go Broncos.
    A True Fan !!!!

    Well, I guess I shouldn’t expect anymore then that from you. No discussion of the team, it’s needs, why the defense plays so poorly, the long time since the glory days, etc, etc…..if your definition of a true fan is that….may I introduce you to the Chicago Cubs?

  • So Cal Den Fan

    Ok where I begin ,I can see your point with the D and agree with you we need to blitz more I really don’t like this rush 3 and drop 8. We end up dying a slow death, just like the saints game. We let them back in the game,we should of killed them.For a long time it seems like we get a good start and lay back and stop scoring points and the other team gets back into it. I’m not sure if it the play calling or the execution sucks. I want to win now too, we have a good group on offense now I think we need to start adding to the defense.I also think the offense was just as at fault as the defense. We can’t get turnovers and then give it right back our defense can’t be on the field all day and it show even more in the 4th. We need to address some of the players this off season we need some new safeties and some d line that can get to the QB we have good LBs but if we blitz more that should put more pressure on the Qb and will cause some TO and shorten the field for Jay, Iwould love some moves to get a dlineman or two like we did during the good ole days. I think we both want denver to win we just look at the team in different ways you look at them at what they are not and I look at them as what they could be.
    Go Broncos!!!!