(London, England) After having gone through the toughest part of their season based on strength of schedule the Denver Broncos needed a break. Facing a 1-6 San Francisco team, now the only team of the Broncos previous eight opponents with a losing record, the Broncos folded. Representing the city of Denver as part of the NFL’s International Series the Broncos lost to the 49’ers 24-16 in London.
Fresh off of a 59-14 loss to the Oakland Raiders at home the Broncos now go into their bye week beaten, battered and torn. The two week break between games comes exactly at the halfway point of the season and after a four game losing streak. But with half a season still to go the Broncos may have suffered too many losses to save the season.
At 2-6 the Broncos are the exact opposite of where they were one year ago at 6-2. Typically at half-time during a game a team will make adjustments to address the problems from the first half. Likewise, the Broncos will do the same for the second half of the season.
“We have to make sure that this second half of the season does not mirror this first half,” said veteran Brian Dawkins. “It will change. It’s up to us. We have to take those things and make the plays that count when they count. It’s only going to happen if we decide it’s going to happen. It’s not going to happen if we’re worrying about or looking for anybody else to give us anything.”
Assigning blame and addressing faults can be a sticky proposition. Is it the execution of the plan or should the plan be executed and rewritten?
Head Coach Josh McDaniels stripped the Denver Broncos of its top two players, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, since his arrival to Denver. As it turned out it was an improvement.
Kyle Orton has out performed head and shoulders above Jay Cutler, now with the Chicago Bears. But in the win-loss column the two teams are similar over the past two seasons; 10-14 for the Broncos and 11-12 for the Bears.
The leading receiver for the Broncos is still named Brandon but the new sheriff in town is not Marshall, its Lloyd. Brandon Lloyd leads the NFL with 878-yards on 42 receptions and also leads the league with most catches over +40 yards. Brandon Marshall is ninth in the NFL with 47 catches and 588-yards.
In retrospect, it was widely believed that the biggest acquisition in trading Cutler was not getting Orton but the first round draft pick that Denver got in return. That came in the form of Robert Ayers, currently out with a broken foot. Ayers, through a season and a -half, has posted just 1.5 sacks.
Chosen just before Ayers in that same draft was running back Knowshon Moreno, 12th overall in the 2009 draft. Atypical of past Denver teams ‘” post Elway/Davis era ‘” the Broncos are currently dead last in rushing in the NFL. Whether it is an indictment on Moreno’s talent, the offensive line or the offensive scheme is something the Broncos organization will have to figure out going forward.
Against the 49’ers, again, the Broncos were one dimensional gaining just 59-yards on the ground to 369-yards passing. Moreno was the only running back used by McDaniels gaining 40-yards on just 11 carries. In comparison Frank Gore finished with 118-yards on 29 touches for the 49’ers.
With 1:54 remaining in the game, trailing by 8-points, Eddie Royal ran a punt back for 78 yards and a Denver touchdown. Due to a missed extra point earlier that left the Broncos just a 2-point conversion away from tying the game. However, Royal’s return was called back for an illegal block by Jarvis Moss.
“We had our chances,” Eddie Royal said. “We just didn’t make the plays when we could’ve.”
Still with 1:36 remaining the Broncos advanced to midfield but six plays later Kyle Orton was intercepted ending any Denver comeback.
The Broncos will return to action on Sunday, November 14th at Invesco Field against the first place Kansas City Chiefs. (Contact Lenn Durant at SportsFlash@aol.com)