With sufficient time having passed since the final whistle in Foxborough, here are some additional thoughts and reactions I have concerning the Broncos 31-21 loss to the Patriots:
- Willis McGahee doesn’t deserve scorn. Yes, the fourth down drop and red zone fumble were huge mistakes. I’m willing to bet no one needs to remind a veteran like McGahee of this as he’s more upset with himself than any of us could possibly be with him. McGahee has been a workhorse for this team and just had things go wrong at the wrong time. The mistakes were costly, but the Broncos were in a likely insurmountable hole before they occurred.
- I’m probably one turnover away from “uh-oh this is a crisis” mode with Demaryius Thomas. The talented receiver had some big catches on Sunday, but none that overshadow the fact that he’s literally “dropped the ball” on two huge plays in back-to-back weeks. Given his still formative status in the league, another big faux pas could see his minutes or targets reduced, and that could be damaging to his confidence as a developing player.
- Related…Thomas’ two nice catches near the sideline proved the Broncos’ don’t have to rely on the middle of the field for big completions. However, for the offense to truly have a downfield threat it’s going to take more than one receiver. Eric Decker continues to get swallowed along the sidelines. The long distance strike has to be able to come from either receiver to keep defenses reeling.
- No easy fix for defense. New England has Denver’s number. Sunday’s display made it apparent the Patriots’ have no respect for the Broncos’ talent on defense. The hyper-tempo offense took scheme out of the equation, forcing the Broncos to get by on skill and instinct alone for much of the game. By the time Jack Del Rio was able to refocus his troops, enough damage had been done. This defense can probably win games against a fair amount of teams, but still doesn’t appear to have the chops to stand up to the league’s elite offenses.
- Peyton Manning still gets the nod as the best quarterback of his generation in my book. Sunday’s game was a perfect example. While Manning kept an overmatched squad competitive, Brady had a full system of weapons and a workmanlike defense to keep everything on schedule. Not to discount some truly talented Indianapolis Colts’ teams, but this has been the story of Manning and Brady for the past decade. Both are all-time greats, but one has had the benefit of a superior system throughout his career.
- On a similar note…did anyone else find it irritating that Josh McDaniels received even a glimmer of credit for the New England offense? How is anyone in the league supposed to keep a straight face while praising that guy? Outside the New England machine, McDaniels took a near playoff team to 4-12 in less than two years as head coach, and then took his skills to St. Louis where his offensive coordination led the Rams to a dazzling 2-14 record. Usually it’s an exaggeration when fans say, “I could be just as successful as Coach X with all that talent to work with,” but in the case of McDaniels, don’t you have to think it’s a little true? Call me bitter, go ahead, but that’s what I think…