Broncos vs. Falcons: Sloppy Play Shows Denver Still Work in Progress
The Denver Broncos wasted no time showing how good they could be with a 31-19 Week 1 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. They took even less time in Week 2 to demonstrate they still have a bit of work to do if they are going to become a Super Bowl contender.
The Atlanta Falcons (2-0) intercepted three Peyton Manning passes and recovered a Knowshon Moreno fumble, all in the first quarter on Monday night. The turnovers led to a 13-0 lead, but Atlanta had to hold off a late rally for a 27-21 win over Denver.
Manning has recovered from a three-interception performance before, but being with Denver made the odds a bit longer.
Peyton Manning is now 1-15 in his career when he throws at least 3 interceptions. Only win was 2009 against the Broncos.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 18, 2012
Perhaps the only effort that was worst than the Broncos' first-quarter performance was that of the officials. They missed several calls and seemed confused when attempting to clarify and overturn rulings.
The blunders killed the pace of the game and kept players from developing any rhythm.
Fans are accustomed to the first half of an NFL game being completed in 90 minutes, but Monday's game was still in the early stages of the second quarter at that point.
Many analysts believe that the NFL isn't concerned with the quality of officiating, or lack thereof. The speculation is that Roger Goodell and the owners believe the popularity of the game will override poor calls and long delays in the game.
Steve Young on the NFL's position re: replacement officials: "They don't care."— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) September 18, 2012
The fact that fans are more interested in talking about officiating issues than Manning's rough start to the game shows how big of an issue this has become.
But there are issues in Denver that go beyond Manning's interceptions.
Manning plays at a fast pace and is accustomed to making adjustments at the line. He spent years gelling with his teammates in Indianapolis, and they certainly had their growing pains.
Denver's offensive line looked confused and flustered when Manning was attempting to run his no-huddle offense. The noise in the Georgia Dome certainly didn't help, but the Broncos didn't look prepared or comfortable as an offensive unit.
With an expected three years to make his mark in the mile-high city he doesn't have the luxury of time, but the offense still need to learn to play at his speed.
There was a communication breakdown early in the game that led to Manning and running back Willis McGahee failing to meet for a handoff in the backfield. Manning fell on the ball but was visibly concerned with his teammate not being where he was expected to be.
The next play was a poorly thrown, wobbly pass. It was underthrown into triple coverage with no velocity that seemed to slide out of his grasp as he threw ball.
That throw became Manning's second interception.
Mike Klis of the Denver Post shared the thoughts of several players following the loss in Atlanta. Brandon Stokley feels the offense "is a continuous work in progress. It's something we're going to have to keep working at, the entire season."
They have plenty to learn from after their first loss on the young season. The comparisons between Denver and the officiating were numerous and not flattering.
Can't wait to see Denver and Philadelphia in the Turnover Bowl. Not sure what's worse: The Denver offense or these refs.— Clark Judge (@ClarkJudgeCBS) September 18, 2012
Denver's defense played well despite surrendering 27 points to Atlanta. The turnovers certainly aided the Falcons, as did some head-scratching calls.
But a secondary that handcuffed the Steelers in Week 1 seemed to be a step behind in Atlanta.
Part of that is attributable to the amount of pressure the front seven was able to apply. Matt Ryan had the time to make plays and it allowed his receivers to find openings.
Denver has the luxury of playing their next two games at home, but they face the powerful offense of the Houston Texans next week. This will be a good test for a Bronco defense that could succeed or fail with how well they pressure the quarterback.
Despite a rocky performance in Atlanta, the defense will be strong enough to keep Denver in games.
The team as a whole will go as far as Manning takes them, or at least as far as his teammates let him.
The offense still needs to grow and develop into a cohesive unit. There were ample signs on Monday night that they have work left to do, and it needs to happen sooner as opposed to later.
The San Diego Chargers are off to a fast start, and Denver can't afford to let them open up a lead in the NFC West.
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