Re-Focused – Broncos @ Packers, Week 4

| October 6, 2011

Two teams on different trajectories played out a one sided yet very interesting game on the hallowed turf of Lambeau Field this past Sunday. The Green Bay Packers were aggressive from the get-go, as they went for it on fourth down in the red zone in addition to recovering their own first half onside kick. The Denver Broncos showed glimpses of what they may be capable of down the line, but they simply couldn’t duke it out with Green Bay in this shootout. Denver can walk away from this one knowing that they made some nice offensive plays against a strong defense, but this game was all about the Packers going into cruise control. Green Bay knows what this season is all about and they look like a team that is more than capable of defending their Super Bowl title.

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Denver – Three Performances of Note

1. It’s Miller time™

Now we’re not going back to the 1990’s and talking about the Indiana Pacers here, we’re headed to the Mile High City where Von Miller showed us once again why he is rapidly becoming one of the most feared defenders in the National Football League. Miller was once again exceptional as a pass rusher, feasting on a right tackle that was making his first NFL start. His play at linebacker, whilst not as impressive was still solid. If Miller was just stepping in as a situational pass rusher, in the same way that Terrell Suggs, another hybrid linebacker/defensive end did in his rookie season, then Miller would still be impressive; but the fact that he is combining that with strong play as a starting 4-3 strong-side linebacker in base packages is a little short of astounding.

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2. Bright spots in the receiving game

Brandon Lloyd was outstanding this week, as the Packers really struggled to cover him down the field no matter who they put on him. His stats were boosted by a big play on a flea flicker, but Morgan Burnett, starting now at free safety rather than at strong safety, struggled to contain Lloyd all afternoon. The flea flicker points out one of the only issue with the Broncos passing game, that Kyle Orton and Lloyd are a good combo, but down the field they don’t always get everything they should. Whether it’s a matter of timing or arm strength, Orton doesn’t always make the most of what Lloyd can provide. This week, Lloyd wasn’t the only bright spot in the receiving game, as Eric Decker continued his already impressive sophomore season. The two drops and two interceptions targeted to him where disappointing, but Decker showed an ability to get open and provide the underneath threat to Brandon Lloyd’s big plays. These two could develop into a perfect complement to each other.

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3. Struggles continue at guard

After a terrible rookie season as a tackle, Zane Beadles has moved inside as an offensive guard this season, and while he started his second season poorly, it’s not quite as bad as last year’s performance. To start the season, Beadles struggled as a pass protector, yielding three sacks, two hits and four pressures in the Broncos’ first two games, but now this week he struggled badly as a run blocker. The Broncos picked up 0 yards on two carries off his outside shoulder, and whether he was blocking BJ Raji or Ryan Pickett at the line or trying to pick up Desmond Bishop and AJ Hawk at the second level, Beadles just couldn’t make a positive impact on the running game. Beadles needs to step up in the coming weeks, or he’ll be on the outside looking in and that’s not an easy position for NFL offensive linemen to recover from.

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Green Bay – Three Performances of Note

1. Lighting up the skies

How do you stop Aaron Rodgers right now? For the rest of the season, this is a question that is going to be driving defensive co-ordinators insane. Although Tom Brady and Ryan Fitzpatrick are being heralded as early season MVP candidates, Rodgers has simply been doing what he does best; hitting big plays and leading a wide open offense to big numbers and big wins. If you think you can shut down his passing game, he can beat you with his legs, as he showed against Denver by running in two touchdowns. We know that this is a wide open offense, but the adjustments he is able to make on the fly is what makes his play special. Those adjustments, and the touchdown throw he completed to Greg Jennings to give the Packers a two score lead heading in to the half, shows the caliber of quarterback that Rodgers has become.

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2. Fighting for catches

What makes this offense close to unstoppable, is that unlike many other offenses in the league, the passing game isn’t predicated on one receiver. As much as players like Jordy Nelson and James Jones have frustrated Packer fans in the past, Green Bay has five legitimate targets at wide receiver that you simply cannot ignore on any play. In any other offense, Greg Jennings would have the opportunity to put up obscene numbers as the team’s go to guy. Donald Driver is still a dependable receiver who Rodgers can look to in a bind, and Nelson, Jones and Randall Cobb give Rodgers three other receivers who can feast on the single coverage that they will get. Oh yeah, they also have a guy named Jermichael Finley on their team.

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3. Stepping into the pocket

This game review is turning into an homage to Green Bay’s offense, but this game showed us why this offense works so well. On one hand, you have Rodgers and his ability to spread the ball around, but it’s the fact that his interior offensive line consistently gets him a sufficient amount of time in the pocket is what makes him so good. Sure, Rodgers was on the receiving end of two sacks, three hits and ten pressures off the edge, but the interior trio of TJ Lang, Scott Wells and Josh Sitton allowed nothing through the middle. As Von Miller in particular was getting around the edge seemingly at will, Rodgers was frequently able to step up and make throws because of the work of these three. This game was the perfect storm for Green Bay and when everything clicks like this for the Packers it takes a far better defense than Denver’s to stop them.

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Game Notes

● Rodgers collected three completions on three attempts for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns on throws targeted down the field.

● Only free safety Rahim Moore and corner back Andre Goodman played all 72 defensive snaps for the Broncos.

● Desmond Bishop registered seven defensive stops in this game, the highest of his career, topping the six he recorded in his starting debut in Washington last season.

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PFF Game Ball:

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

Bombs away; with a win this big you want to credit a lot of people but with Aaron Rodgers you’re starting to run out of superlatives for his performances, another exceptional display this week.

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