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24 Nov 2005

Game Previews: ATL-DET, DEN-DAL

by Aaron Schatz

With the Lions and Cowboys both struggling in recent years, the NFL's traditional Thanksgiving contests have had trouble grabbing the public's attention away from the pumpkin pie. No problems this year, as Atlanta tries to salvage its playoff dream against Detroit and two division leaders match up in Dallas.

ATLANTA FALCONS (6-4) AT DETROIT LIONS (4-6)

(Thursday, 12:30 p.m., FOX)

Fans want to believe the winner of every football game is the better team or the one that really "wants it more." But the Atlanta Falcons are a lesson in the role of blind luck when it comes to determining the winners each week.

Two weeks ago, the Falcons were tied for the best record in the conference at 6-2; Two home losses later, they sit in third place behind Carolina and Tampa Bay in the NFC South. But the Falcons actually played better in losses to the Packers and Buccaneers than they did in victories over the Saints and Jets a few weeks before.

One element of luck, for example, is fumble recovery. Stripping the ball (or holding onto it) is a skill, but coming up with a bouncing oblong ball is usually random chance. In Weeks 6 and 7, when they beat the Saints and Jets by a combined 16 points, the Falcons recovered all four of the fumbles they forced, and returned two of them for touchdowns. On offense, the Falcons fumbled twice and managed to recover both.

But in the last two weeks, Atlanta's defense has not failed to recover a single opponent fumble, while the offense has dropped the ball seven times and recovered it only twice. A fumble in the last two minutes of Sunday's 30-27 loss to the Bucs led directly to Tampa's game-winning field goal.

Another element of luck comes on long field goals. NFL kickers have hit 60% of field goals of 45 yards or more this year, but the defense on the field has almost no impact on whether these difficult kicks are successful. Before last week, three field goals of 45+ against Atlanta had all missed. In the last two games, the Packers and Bucs tried five such field goals and hit every one.

The irony of Atlanta's bad luck losses is that the team seems to have remedied one of its clear weaknesses: the passing game. Michael Vick suddenly looks like a complete quarterback, not a great scrambler with an inaccurate arm. In his first six games, Vick completed 52% of passes for 4.8 net yards per pass, with one interception per game. In the last three games, Vick has completed 65% of passes for 6.6 net yards per pass and has not thrown a single interception.

Vick isn't the only hot passer entering this contest, however. Through Week 9, Detroit's Joey Harrington had completed 55% of his passes for 4.5 net yards per pass. Since his top receiver, Roy Williams, returned from injury two weeks ago, Harrington has completed 68% of his passes for 6.7 net yards per pass.

The ground game is where the Falcons will have the advantage in this game. Only Seattle averages more yards per carry, and Detroit is just average against the run, allowing about 110 yards per game Meanwhile, after leading the league in rushing yards in the second half of 2004, Detroit's Kevin Jones has struggled all season, so the Lions may be unable to take advantage of Atlanta's porous run defense, ranked 28th in yards allowed per carry.

In the end, Atlanta is a mediocre team that loses to good opponents but usually beats bad ones. On Thanksgiving, they can give thanks that Detroit is one of the latter.

DENVER BRONCOS (8-2) AT DALLAS COWBOYS (7-3)

(Thursday, 4:15 p.m., CBS)

Since a Week 1 upset at the hands of the Dolphins, the Broncos have won eight of nine games, and their only loss came by a single point. Their offense and defense are both balanced between the run and the pass.

Even Denver's most obvious early-season flaw, third-down performance, seems rectified. According to Football Outsiders' Defense-adjusted Value Over Average system (DVOA) - which breaks down each play of the season and compares it to the NFL average based on situation and opponent - the Broncos ranked just 27th in third-down offense and 28th in third-down defense during the first six weeks of the season. In the past five weeks, however, they've improved to seventh in third-down offense and second in third-down defense.

Denver's remaining Achilles' heel is an inability to stop opposing offenses in the red zone. The DVOA system ranks them 32nd in red zone defense, in part because they have yet to force a turnover inside their own 20. And Dallas quarterback Drew Bledsoe rates higher than any other quarterback this year when it comes to red zone efficiency, partly because he has no turnovers. (The Dallas running game, however, is below average in the red zone.)

With 14 touchdowns against seven interceptions, Bledsoe has been a surprising success as the Cowboys' quarterback, and the running game seems back on track with a healthy Julius Jones joining rookie Marion Barber for a combined 124 yards per game. But the Cowboys are winning games mostly with their defense -- and it is a defense whose strengths Denver can neutralize and whose weaknesses Denver can attack.

After struggling last season, the Cowboys have turned their defense around with a pass rush that ranks near the top of the league in sacks per pass play. But only Indianapolis has allowed fewer sacks than Denver. When the opposing quarterback gets the pass off, Dallas's secondary has been exceptional in covering second and third receivers, but mediocre against top receivers and tight ends. That's fine with Denver, since veteran Rod Smith and tight end Jeb Putzier are having solid years while second receiver Ashley Lelie has struggled.

And while DVOA ranks the Cowboys fourth in pass defense, it also ranks them 21st in run defense, which means they'll get a heavy dose of running back Mike Anderson (though his backfield partner, Tatum Bell, could miss the game with a bruised shoulder).

What could possibly mitigate Denver's clear advantage over the Cowboys? The crowd at Texas Stadium. Denver is unbeaten at home this year, but just 2-2 on the road.

This article appeared in Wednesday's edition of the New York Sun.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 24 Nov 2005

29 comments, Last at 26 Nov 2005, 7:10pm by Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan

Comments

1
by bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 5:06am

I don't want to badmouth a clearly very good Denver team, but traditionally, and this year seems to be continuing that tradition, they have a super HFA at Mile High (or whatever it's called these days), but struggle on the road. Not the mark of a champion, eh? (I'll show a Colts bias by pointing out that of their last 14 regular season road games--maybe more but I am just using 2004 and 2005--the Colts lost only one, at Foxboro to start 2004 against the defending SB champs, and have won 13 road games in a row--so much for being a soft dome team, and "dome-field advantage"). And the Broncos' schedule has been so far weighted toward home games with six.

I don't see too much promise for them against playoff bound teams away, and in the playoffs, so far it looks like another trip to Indy, where we can use our experience with the old SAT to say Pats:Colts::Colts:Broncos. I know the first part of that changed this year, but Denver has about five more years against the Colts to equal the Colts former misery vs the Pats.

2
by R.J. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 5:27am

I assume you're not counting last year's Colts regular season away loss in Denver?
Anyway, I think this "Denver is bad on the road" stuff is a little overdone. Last year regular season on the road Denver was 4-4. In 2003 regular season on the road Denver was 4-4 (including a fairly dominating 31-17 win AT Indy). In 2002 on the road Denver was 4-4. I'm noticing a trend -- not great, but not really "bad" either.
The Broncos have played two playoff games on the road in that time. Those were bad games for them. So bad that it's hard to not "overcount" them when considering Denver's road record. Which is where I think this perception comes from.

3
by X Coach T (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 5:42am

Ok Bobman,

I don't get the feeling that you have been on this website much. Denver has been blasted for weeks about the past--or moreso the last 3 years. The truth is that the numbers all show differently this year. They lost 2 on the road--game 1 and a last second play in which the team owner was on his death bed (matter of fact --both owners were).

Denver is far from overrated--even it they get beat today at Dallas. Dallas and Detroit have a huge advantage on THanksgiving. Short week every year and no travel. But no matter what happens, this Bronco team is proven so far to be better than the past years. Much more efficient and they are getting pressure on the opposing QB, a problem they couldn't solve last year.

As far as Indy goes, Peyton has beaten the Broncos the last 2 years in the playoffs. Denver has struggled against him because #1 he is the best QB in the NFL and #2 their defenses have been weak vs the pass. The Colts at home may not be beat this year--no weather problems, turf, and they have improved at the running game and defense. But still they have not really had a tough schedule so far. JAX and CINN were good tests but we will see how they do in the weeks coming.

Go Broncos!

4
by Buck Turgidson (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 7:45am

Re: the 2004 Colts loss at Denver in week 16 , having their playoff spot secured they rested many players . I think Manning saw 3 snaps . The game was an anomaly , otherwise , the Colts would be breaking the Pats record for consecutive regular season wins . Is it 21?

5
by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 8:43am

It's amazing to me how much better Harrington looks when Roy Williams is 100 percent than he does when Williams is absent or hurting, which, unfortunately, is pretty often. My guess is Harrington won't be a Lion next year. Whatever team signs him needs to have a receiver it feels is really dependable, because Harrington needs to have that one guy he can go to as a security blanket.

I think Denver is probably the second-best team in the league behind Indianapolis. But I agree with those who think it's pretty unlikely that the Broncos would beat the Colts at Indianapolis in the playoffs. Obviously, we're getting way ahead of ourselves if we're looking that far into the future, but while I don't think they're going 16-0, I do think the Colts are going to have home-field advantage, and I think all the teams that are likely to challenge the Colts are teams whose style of play isn't as well-suited to domes.

6
by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 12:13pm

Aaron:

Missing from your article is Jake Plummer's history playing AT Dallas, which is just terrible compared to his overall record.

2001 - 25 of 41 for 233 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
2000 - 20 of 31 for 180, 0 TD, 3 INT
1999 - 16 of 33 for 111, 1 TD, 3 INT
1998 - 14 of 33 for 166, 0 TD, 0 INT
1997 - 13 of 22 for 148, 0 TD, 0 INT

Its hard to win many football games with those sort of conventional stat lines. He's got to do better today to win.

I pointed this out earlier on FO, but Jake Plummer throwing interceptions is strongly correlated to games against Miami (8 in 3 games), San Diego (10 in 7 games), @ Kansas City (7 in 4 games), Cincinatti (5 in 2 games), Atlanta (10 in 4 games), Green Bay (7 in 2 games) Seattle (6 in 3 games), Washington (15 in 10 games), Baltimore (4 in 2 games), and @ Dallas (8 in 5 games). That's 76 interceptions (over half his career total) in 40 games (under 1/3 of his career total). Plummer also tends to struggle in these games with passing in general.

Denver's schedule of @ Dallas, @ Kansas City, hosting Baltimore, and @ San Diego, and will be the real test this year of the new and improved Jake Plummer to see if he shaken these monekys off? So far, he has not shown that in facing Miami, San Diego, and Washington earlier this year. Teams since then have tended to be ones he has done better against (NYG, Philly, Jacksonville, Oakland) or had never played much before (NWE, NYJ).

7
by krugerindustrialsmoothin (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 12:33pm

Andrew,

Damn you for making me be the voice of reason here, but those games you cite were 4 years ago! Since the biggest debate around here these days seems to be, how much should a game 10 weeks ago count? that really is ancient history.

anyways, happy turkey day from all of us in the Great White North.

8
by mark (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 2:01pm

The biggest thing working agianst plummer when he has faced dallas in the past is the team he'd played for. Arizona was a Dallas doormat, actually an nfc east doormat, so I'm not sure Plummers stats from those games mean much anymore.

9
by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 4:03pm

Wow, that was a quick hook for Harrington, who wasn't playing badly at all.

10
by Craig B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 4:26pm

Whenever my backs are getting seven yards a rush, I like to throw every time on first down too. Hey Ted Tollner, in case you haven't noticed you don't exactly have the K-Gun receivers here. Your playcalling STINKS.

11
by Another Craig B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 5:00pm

The same Craig B as before, actually, but I noticed there's another Craig B here.

Is there another team in football that would run a tailback off tackle on 3rd and 9 on the opposition 30? I love the Falcons.

12
by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 5:25pm

krugerindustrialsmoothin:

Plummer has always played well against the Eagles, right from the start of his career, even though he hasn't faced them since 2002. Want to guess how he did this year????

The citations of struggles with Miami, Washington, and @ Kansas City go right up to this year. We will soon see if it is any different for @ Dallas for Jake.

13
by krugerindustrialsmoothin (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 5:53pm

Andrew, I understand what you are saying, but don't see the correlative effect there, Given that a guy is playing with entirely new personel against a team with entirely new personel, are you saying that he is unable to play in Texas Stadium? hates the color Blue? I'm not following.

14
by Nathan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 6:57pm

Which begs the question, is there a QB that has a good record against all teams not of the color blue, and a terrible record against teams with the color blue.

I think we may have a new insight into the outcomes of games.

15
by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 7:28pm

Ooooo and Plummer just threw his first pick in 8 games @ DALLAS as predicted by me.

What are the chances????

16
by krugerindustrialsmoothing (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 8:33pm

a quick check of the Defensive secondary stats seem to indicate that Dall has the 4th ranked pass D, and are infact 1st and 3rd against opposition #2 and #3 receivers. I don't mean to beat a dead horse here, but it really doesn't seem like huge longshot to predict a pic there.

Though frankly, you could say that he will throw one with his left hand while moving right while under DeMarcus Ware and I wouldn't be too impressed either, maybe a little, but not overly so. cheers.

17
by noahpoah (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 10:50pm

Ron Dayne!

18
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 11:15pm

*grin* I love it! Ron Dayne!

Oh, how will they write this up? :-p

19
by Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 11:40pm

Well Andrew--you the man (ha)

Jake didn't play well, in fact the Broncos didn't play well. Does anyone who comes to Dallas on Thanksgiving?

Please look up these stats before you blaim Jake for the poor play of the Broncos. How does Dallas fair on Thanksgiving--being that they always get to play at Home? How do they do when they get to play a team that sucks on the Sunday before at home? They had no travel in the last 10 days. Huge advantage.

The game showed signed of two teams that rely totally on their hall of fame coaches to prepare them. Add to it that they had only 1 or 2 practices to prepare.

Game Stats--2 turnovers a piece, penalties were out of hand for these two teams. Unaggressive play to win in regulation (out of both teams). There just wasn't time to prepare and Denver (and Jake) is at the biggest disadvantage because they had to travel.

But wait, Jake managed to not make anymore mistakes while guiding his team to a win. The TD drive in the third quarter was a masterful job by Jake. Two 3rd down conversions that were all Jake-and a long 2nd down run.

Broncos never trailed.

Bottom line, Bledsoe didn't outplay Jake and the Broncos won! Count that stat for Jake please.

20
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 12:33am

***Does anyone who comes to Dallas on Thanksgiving?***

Minnesota in '98.

***How does Dallas fair on Thanksgiving–being that they always get to play at Home?***

I'm not sure how you would come up with something conclusive. I believe Dallas has won Thanksgiving something like 58% of the time. But, Dallas has been a great organization for the most part. So, if they win 58% of the Thanksgiving games, I'm not so sure that's anything different from what they usually do at home.

**How do they do when they get to play a team that sucks on the Sunday before at home? They had no travel in the last 10 days. Huge advantage.***

Dallas just played their 3rd game in the last 11 days and had to travel to Philly in the first game.

Before the salary cap, I'd say Dallas had a slight advantage as teams were able to keep the same players for the most part and these players would be used to the hectic T-day schedule. Now with attrition being so rampant in NFL rosters, I think Dallas gets hurt by having to play 3 games in 11 or 12 days.

***penalties were out of hand for these two teams.****

Was it me or were there a bunch of missed offsides on Denver early on?

***Unaggressive play to win in regulation (out of both teams). There just wasn’t time to prepare and Denver (and Jake) is at the biggest disadvantage because they had to travel.***

Doesn't Bledsoe have the same disadvantage? What's a plane trip from Denver to Dallas....two hours?

21
by Tom O\'Neill (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 1:08am

Bronco fan here, and I gotta say, they played an awful game tonight compared to the way they've been playing this year, and were semi-lucky to come out with a win. Admittedly, Dallas also played a pretty mediocre game, so overall it was a wash between them. The home field advantage was noticible for Dallas, as the crowd really helped turn the momentum of the game on several occasions. The Broncos were really flustered by the crowd throughout most of the game, as evidenced by the conservative play calling and the countless stupid penalties. I feel for Cowboys fans who had to endure this loss because of a missed field goal. The same thing happened to Denver against the Giants when Elam missed a short field goal late in the 4th quarter that would have sealed the win.

Shannahan was happy with the win and Parcels was happy with the effort, but I guarantee that neither coach is completely happy with their team's performance. Overall, I give both teams a C+/B-.

22
by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 1:36am

krugerindustrialsmoothin:

"Andrew, I understand what you are saying, but don’t see the correlative effect there, Given that a guy is playing with entirely new personel against a team with entirely new personel, are you saying that he is unable to play in Texas Stadium? hates the color Blue? I’m not following."

Sometimes, a Quarterback has a stadium and team where he just always struggles in the game, even if his team wins.

Except for 2004, Donovan McNabb has personally had just terrible games against the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas.

2005 - 13 of 26 for 131, 0 TD, 0 INT
2004 - 15 of 27 for 345, 4 TD, 0 INT
2003 - 11 of 26 for 126, 1 TD, 0 INT
2001 - 16 of 32 for 129, 1 TD, 1 INT
2000 - 16 of 28 for 130, 1 TD, 2 INT
1999 - 7 of 17 for 49, 0 TD, 1 INT

I would call those sort of performances totally uncharacterisitic of McNabb's actual abilities, but, there it is nearly every time he is in Texas Stadium, a ~50% completion percentage and sub 135 total yards performance.

Tom Brady has struggled every year except 2003 he comes to Miami to play Miami like he does no where else.

2005 - 21 of 36 for 275, 2 TD, 2 INT
2004 - 18 of 29 for 171, 3 TD, 4 INT
2003 - 24 of 34 for 283, 2 TD, 0 INT
2002 - 17 of 31 for 240, 2 TD, 2 INT
2001 - 12 of 24 for 86, 0 TD, 0 INT

Brady has 58 career interceptions in 74 games. 8 of them are at Miami in 5 games. He has 15 career games with 2+ interceptions, and 3 of them ar @ Miami. I don't know what there is too it, considering the differing rosters and coaches of both teams over the years, but there it is.

No I can't explain why this is, but it seems like every quarterback has a house of horrors like this where things just don't seem to go right for them.

23
by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 1:56am

Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan #19:

"Well Andrew–you the man (ha)"

Frankly, I couldn't have been happier with how this game turned out. Denver and Plummer played just horrible, just as I predicted, while Dallas gets to suffer another late game meltdown resulting in a loss. The Jake Plummer pick was especially satisfying from this point of view. You could see as soon as he chucked the ball up in the air that the old bad Jake had snuck out for a moment of Farvian gunslinger madness that would end in tears. Yet ultimately, it didn't matter despite Dallas scoring on the possession.

However, when this end of series occurred in the 4th quarter:

2-2-DEN49 (2:25) J.Jones up the middle to DEN 48 for 1 yard (D.Veal).
3-1-DEN48 (2:00) D.Bledsoe pass incomplete to T.Glenn. Quick out left end; D. Williams closest defender.
4-1-DEN48 (1:57) M.McBriar punts 48 yards to end zone, Center-L.Ladouceur, Touchback.

I yelled at the screen on 4th down - come on Parcells, you old coward, go for it! Its 4th and 1 on your side of the field with under 2 minutes! - As soon as the punting team came on the field, I turned to my father-in-law (Browns fan), two of my brothers-in-law (Browns fan and Steelers fan), and a family friend (Redskins fan), and said, watch, Dallas just lost because they are giving up. The family friend and I offered money on this outcome, but no one wanted to take us up on it.

"Bottom line, Bledsoe didn’t outplay Jake and the Broncos won!"

Exactly! By rights, Dallas should have won this game by 10 points in regulation. However, bottom line, Billy Cundiff cannot kick, and Drew Bledsoe cannot correctly read zone defenses, and continues to throw stupid picks on quick slants, especially to the right.

The Drew Bledsoe to the Burger King Interception and Return for 6 Moment of the Game:

1-10-DEN40 (8:21) D.Bledsoe pass intended for D.Campbell INTERCEPTED by C.Bailey at DEN 35. C.Bailey for 65 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

"You go Champ!"

I swear that an opposing DB either takes a Bledsoe pick or nearly gets one on this play every game.

24
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 11:32am

*Dallas Fan here*

I thought the Cowboys played very well on defense, especially considering they were playing w/o their starting CB and had a 3rd string ILB starting, who has barely played in his career.

Offensively, I liked the gameplan, but once again their playcalling once they get near the red zone drives me nuts. Parcells seems to have a belief that "real good teams run the ball in the red zone" or something of the sort. But as Aaron Schatz pointed out in the latest rankings, they are 30th in running in the red zone, but 1st in passing in the red zone.

After the past two weeks, it was good to see the team play pretty decent today. Hopefully the offense will get better once Patrick Crayton comes back.

25
by Jeremy Billones (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 4:19pm

"I swear that an opposing DB either takes a Bledsoe pick or nearly gets one on this play every game."

I seem to remember, back in the day, reading an article on how Joe Montana and the 49ers were going to improve their offense over their previous season. They went back and looked at Joe's 8 INTs, and discovered that 4 of the 8 had come on the same play call. So they took it out of their playbook.

26
by Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 11:50pm

Andrew,

Appreciate your comments regarding the Bronco/Dallas game. I like how much you like to point out you are right. And your were but the sarcasm about the travel day is a bit out of line.

ESPN did a story on the radio Thursday morning regarding this very issue. NFL players are guarenteed one day off before the next game. Then travel days are limited in work out time. Sleeping in a hotel and the two hour flight all side to the favor of the home team that gets 2 full days of practice, go home, see the wife and kids--sleep in their own bed, wake up and casually make their way to the game. I believe that makes for a lack of preparation and that is the key ingredient to success for these two teams.

Dallas and Bledsoe get the advantage.

Yakusa RIch,

Denver was playing their third game in 11 days also--and two of them were away. Again, advantage Dallas. As far as, the percentages for thanksgiving day, thanks for the information. I didn't know the exact numbers but I assumed they were better than that. Again I say, Dallas outplayed Denver just like Denver outplayed NYGiants but the result was the same. That is the breaks. I said on this website three weeks ago that Denver would be fortunate to go 3-0 in 11 days with two road games (Oakland and Dallas). They did it but really didn't deserve it.

As far as Andrew's predictions on Jake @ KC: we will see how he fairs at KC next week. In my opinion, 10 days to prepare for that game should prove Jake understands his role, the system and the goal much better than he has in the past.

Go Broncos

27
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 2:10am

Re #25: I seem to remember, back in the day, reading an article on how Joe Montana and the 49ers were going to improve their offense over their previous season. They went back and looked at Joe’s 8 INTs, and discovered that 4 of the 8 had come on the same play call. So they took it out of their playbook.

From what I understand, that's common practice. Shanahan and Kubiak do it with all of their QBs, at least. I don't know about the rest of the league.

28
by Andrew (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 3:40am

Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan #26:

I think Jake understand his role, its a matter of team execution to keep him out of Shanahan needing to call upon him to bring the team back and push them ahead in scoring quicker than they would ordinarily go.

In the Denver games I've watched it seems like a very simple game plan - run the ball a lot, and take your time, trying to score on every drive and prolong drives as much as possible, until the team is up 3+ scores on the opponent, then sit on the ball and run the clock out, taking additional scores as the opportunity presents itself while limiting throwing to the absolutely necessary amount and no more.

The real test will be Jake and team vs. the KC crowd noise to execute the plan without confusion.

Kibbles #27:

"From what I understand, that’s common practice."

Apparently not with Bledsoe. We all know the Burger King commercial where the King plays Deion. However, every game I've seen Bledsoe in, he ends up in a situation like this where coach calls for a quick hitch or slant against a zone defense, usually on 3rd and long, but sometimes on 1st and 10, usually to the QB's right, and it results in an actual interception and return, or a near interception. Maybe this is just too common a play to be removed.

Just this year he did it in both Philly games, in the Denver game, in the San Francisco game, in the Seattle game, etc.

29
by Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 7:10pm

Andrew,

I don't think you can say a game plan is that simple. Before the game Thursday, Parcells said the key to beating Denver will be making Jake read and check to his 2nd or 3rd receiver. He seldom has to throw to them because Shanahan/Kubiak strategize so well. Parcells said that even week to week the Broncos run similar plays but the read is programed to be different.

In other words, Jakes role is to become much smarter every week about the opponent and the game plan than he has in the past--this is something that Jake doesn't do naturally. I watch the Broncos every week and Jake looked out of sorts from the 1st play Thursday. You may attribute that to being in Dallas but I don't. The short week and little preparation time was the cause for poor performance.

As you said, we will see next week vs. KC but I believe it was pretty bad at Oakland (crowd noise, rival team, etc..) but I guess we still have our doubters.

Parcells comments seem to indicate that the preparation is much more complilcated than "run the ball a lot, and take your time, trying to score on every drive and prolong drives as much as possible, until the team is up 3+ scores on the opponent, then sit on the ball and run the clock out, taking additional scores as the opportunity presents itself while limiting throwing to the absolutely necessary amount and no more".

If that were true, why do teams practice during week 12? The game plan is already done, huh?