1st Down – Peyton Manning, Eric Decker, and Demaryius Thomas
Peyton and his receivers either look in sync or completely out of sync.
Two points to factor in: first, Peyton was out of football for a year. He expects a lot out of himself and we expect a lot out of him, but it’s time for both sides to realize this season is an ongoing project. Re-immersion into the NFL takes time. Second, Tim Tebow set the bar really low last year in terms of where wide receivers caught the ball. With Peyton throwing they almost seem surprised when the ball hits them near the numbers, so surprised they drop it. I believe in Charles Darwin and assume this problem will resolve itself in the near future.
Bottom line, the offense needs to show up before the 4th quarter.
2nd Down – Broncos Secondary
After the first week, most felt our remodeled secondary could hold up against great receiving corps. However, after another two games, that sense of confidence was diluted into a combination of helplessness and panic. A lot of the Broncos success depends on how well this group comes together. Maybe Captain Jack figures out an effective defensive scheme and the squad rebounds from two poor outings.
3rd Down – Penalties
Should have an asterisk next to it because who really knows what’s what anymore but the Broncos played like meatheads. Joe Mays Van Gogh’ed Matt Schaub drawing a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. No need to get into the lengthy list of drive extending penalties, 7 for 75 yards, but the Broncos defense already spends far too much time on the field.
4th Down – Defensive Line
Last week, I harped on the defensive line for not getting enough penetration. Naturally, on the first defensive play, Elvis Dumervil sacked Schaub in the end zone for a safety. Unfortunately, it was the only sack on the afternoon. Yes, I already called out the Broncos secondary, but, in order for the secondary to make plays, the line needs to pressure the quarterback more.
5th Down – Special Teams
Omar Bolden nailing the Texans return man before he even got the ball amazed me considering he returns punts on occasion and should have an intimate knowledge of those rules. Jim Leonhard continues to prove his best days as a punt returner are long gone. Throwing Decker in at the end made sense but he should have let it skip into the end zone, giving the Broncos more time and better field position. In other news, the Broncos kicking and punting game remains superb, thanks to Matt Prater and Britton Colquitt.
No need to mention the refs, although you have to appreciate how much love the actual NFL refs are getting from this whole debacle. Beyond our control and it’s probably only going to raise your blood pressure.
Something you can control: the upcoming election. Make sure you register to vote and tune in for the first presidential debate hosted by University of Denver next week.
Connor Grant is the sports columnist at 303 Magazine. He enjoys Mad Men, polarized Ray Bans, big mountain skiing, a good Old Fashioned, anything outside, and reading. When he isn’t rubber necking gear at REI, you can find him frequenting shows at Red Rocks, uncovering new electronic music, or discovering new tapas bars around town. Let go or be dragged. Try and keep up by following him on Twitter.