For a second week in a row, the Broncos got a date with one the NFL’s best, this time from the AFC. Denver played host to the 2-0 Houston Texans. In the previous week, the Broncos dealt with team that has become more known for their “high-flying passing attack” in the Atlanta Falcons. Now the Denver Broncos had to try coral the Texan defense, lead by J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing and Jonathan Joseph.
Early on, the Broncos showed like they had put the tough loss and terrible officiating in Atlanta behind them and look to get the “home-cooking” going back at Sports Authority Field from Mile High.
On the Broncos first defensive play, DE Elvis Dumervil easily beat RT Derek Newton for his first sack, that also resulted in a safety. Things looked gravy for this team right off the bat and fans were thinking they were in for a wild ride.
Wild ride is what the Bronco fans got, but a ride that had left them leaving the stadium at the end of the day in dismay. Matt Schaub and the Texan offense got the reigns off and opened up on the Bronco defense. Matt Schaub then connected with Andre Johnson for a 60 yard TD catch on run. It was apparent that on the play, DB Mike Adams should have played deep but had rolled down on the out route leaving CB Tracy Porter beat down field giving Johnson day light for the easy score.
This play in it self describes the Broncos as a whole for the day, miscommunication and out of place. On the next touchdown pass of the day, Matt Schaub had thrown a three yard screen pass out to RB Arian Foster in which DT Kevin Vickerson found himself the one that was tasked with having to cover and track down Foster. Advantage, Foster, result, Broncos down 14-5. The troubles continued for the squad, even on the offensive side of the ball.
The passing game continues to look like a “work in progress”. The offensive line is struggling to give QB Peyton Manning time to look down field without pressure to make a play. The offense surrendered thee sacks and six QB hits. The line is dealing with injury currently as OG Chris Kuper is still re-coopering from a forearm fracture suffered in training camp/preseason. The Broncos also signed over the last week C/G Dan Koppen as insurance. Should the line continue to struggle with protection and C J.D. Walton not being able to comprehend audibles called out by Manning on the fly, I would not be surprised to see Koppen starting to get some reps with the first team in practices.
The receivers have their work cut out for them as well. They lack the separation and ability at times it seems to fend off DB’s to get room to make a catch. Proof, 12 pass deflections on the day for the Texan defense. The main guys in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker get hot and cold from series to series. One drive they can catch everything, and another they struggle. Six dropped passes in this game for the Bronco receivers, part of the issue may also be timing and chemistry. It is pretty obvious that the offense still needs to build that time and chemistry with Manning. There was plenty of passes that were made where the receiver did run the right route, got separation by just was a step behind in his route and Manning putting the ball where he thought his receiver would be when the pass was thrown; a habit that Manning developed playing in Indianapolis for his entire career.
On the Broncos second scoring drive of the day, Manning called a audible, looked to his left where Tamme and a receiver were in the area, by only five yards at the least, and the ball falls harmlessly to the ground for a Broncos incompletion, resulting in a field goal instead of a touchdown. Lastly, third down continues to be a problem for Denver. The offense converted 6 of 17 third downs while the defense let the Texans go 7 of 14 for the day. On the season thus far, the offense is only converting 39.5%, good for 15th in the league while the defense is giving up a whopping 50% on the season, 22nd in the league.
The season is young, but much work is to be made as the season moves on with the high expectations that this team is facing, this week, Denver has a chance to even their record as they face the 1-2 Oakland Raiders.