November 25th 2005: The point is that if the Broncos play that way against Indianapolis, Cincinnati, or Pittsburgh they will get stomped on. The regular season is only half the battle.
This week we were able to get the answer to a few nagging questions. Such as What happens when you don't get the ball gift-wrapped to you on the other team's one yard line twice? OR What happens when your opponent doesn't fumble the ball and throw it to your players constantly?
I'm sure Jake Plummer will get the blame for the Pittsburgh loss by most of the good people in Broncos nation. The same people who were dying to give Shanahan credit for Champ's performance based upon Shanahan being the GM will undoubtedly give Mike a free pass on Jake. Not that any of this is Jake's fault though.
The New England game was the same thing that we've seen all season from this team. They play just well enough not to get beaten and then win a game based upon some collapse by the opposing team. New England decided to give the ball away five times and the Broncos came away with a win.
The coaching in the New England game was normal. In a 0-0 game in the first half Shanahan decides to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 3 yard line. The play call? A fade route to the corner of the endzone. A brilliant move which unsurprisingly failed to result in either a conversion or a touchdown.
So, after a week in which the Broncos cannot run the ball with any success and the opposing team passes for 341 yards you'd assume that the coaching staff would try to address those issues at practice right? Wrong
The Indianapolis Colts showed the world how not to stop Pittsburgh's offense. That is by crowding the line and putting pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. All that happens is they throw the ball deep to the sidelines on your corners in single coverage. Dan Dierdorff was sitting there circling Indianapolis players on the line of scrimmage and then showing Big Ben throwing balls to the sidelines. One would hope that an NFL franchise could find a coach that knows more than Dan Dierdorff. Apparently, the Broncos cannot. We decided to not change our defensive scheme and play right into the trap that Indy did.
The story was the same. Both Denver and Indy would crowd the line and stop the Steelers from running on first and second down. Then you'd get them in a third and long and try the same defense as before. BAM! Roethlisberger completes a pass to the outside for a first down. Five times the Broncos had the Steelers in a 3rd and 6+ and five times Ben Roethlisberger came out in the shotgun and completed a long pass for a first. We all have a female friend or have known of a girl that keeps getting back with an abusive boyfriend because they're convinced he's changed. That was the Broncos coaching staff on Sunday. "We're convinced that he won't beat us this time." Right after those words are out of their mouths Ben Roethlisberger is hitting Hines Ward for a 21 yard reception and the chains are moving.
The scoreboard is in no way indicative of just how badly the Steelers beat the Broncos on sunday. Pittsburgh gave up chances to score in order to punt, and ran the ball for the entire second half. The Broncos got blown out in their own house, plain and simple.
Mike Shanahan once again took a team of Super Bowl caliber and turned them into an underachieving squad.
Trevor Pryce said it the best in the lockerroom after the game. The regular season is just seeding for the playoffs. It doesn't matter.