Posted Tue Sep 14th by Monty
There was a myriad of misfires on Denver‘s part in their 17-24 loss to the Jaguars Sunday, but none were as egregious as the Broncos’ lining up only 10 players on defense in the red zone midway through the third quarter. Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard easily hit tight end Mercedes Lewis for a 10-yard touchdown, and the Jaguars went on to win the game.
With the defensive captain, defensive coaches in the booth overhead, and the defensive coordinator and head coach on the sideline all responsible for making sure the right players are in the right formation on every play, how in the world did this type of gaffe occur?
• Inside linebacker Mario Haggan left the field after the first-down play (a run by Jaguars star Maurice Jones-Drew), and headed to the sideline to talk to trainer Steve Antonopulos.
So an injured/winded player got the ball rolling. We all saw Haggan walk off. Interesting, if not all that surprising. Go on…
• To replace Haggan, reserve linebacker Joe Mays came on the field at the same time Denver coaches called in the nickel package, with five defensive backs and only two defensive linemen, which sent Kevin Vickerson and Jason Hunter off the field.
Vickerson was the last man off the field, and to those outside the huddle was the easiest man on which to pin the blame. His teammates — particularly Robert Ayers — seemed to be motioning for him to stay as he left the field. But was it his role to be there in the nickel package?
• Nickel pass rusher Jarvis Moss had come on the field but ran off, perhaps in a miscommunication after seeing Mays in the huddle. No one replaced Moss.
Bingo. Sure, there was a miscommunication when Moss saw Mays instead of Haggan, but Moss’ role is to be the pass rusher in nickel situations. Whoever saw Moss run off the field should have raised hell (or, at the very least, a timeout signal), and Moss should have known his job.
And maybe Moss did know he was supposed to be out there. Maybe he saw Vickerson, did a quick count, and smartly stood on the sidelines. But why, then, wouldn’t he rush out when Vickerson went to the sideline?
• And no one — not linebacker D.J. Williams, the defensive player in radio communication with the coaches, not the coaches watching from the booth or the coaches on the sideline — realized the mistake in time to call a timeout.
One guy in a booth did — the play-by-play announcer, Kevin Harlan. If only the Broncos’ coaches responsible for being the eye in the sky would have done the same.
We’re not going to pin all the blame on Moss, although this type of mental mishap adds credence to the theory that it’s Moss’ mental shortcomings, not physical, that saw Jason Hunter usurp him on the depth chart. In the end, though, the coaches — particularly those in the booth — needed to be more ready and more alert. And defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale might want to consider leaving his sideline perch for a bird’s eye view.
Mistakes added up for Broncos in opener [Denver Post]