Losing can do a lot to a person.
It can make one angry enough to punch a hole in a wall; frustrated enough to shed tears; and bitter enough to start making excuses.
What some members of the Denver Broncos did after their 30-23 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday falls closer to the last example, but they do have at least somewhat of a right to be upset.
Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe was vocal with his complaints about the Chiefs’ tendency to block downfield on their highly effective run-pass options, when the quarterback keeps the ball to throw.
"What’s that cutoff point for an offensive lineman to be legally down the field in pass pro?" Wolfe said, via ESPN. "When is a guy offsides and when is he not? Is it 12 yards now?"
After reviewing the game film, there were a handful of instances on run-pass options where a Chiefs lineman or two was at least three yards downfield (anything beyond five yards usually draws a flag). Guard Cameron Erving moved to second level along a zone path on an RPO with 11:40 left in the fourth in the most blatant example of a player not actively sitting back in pass protection.
It’s understandable for a defensive lineman or linebacker to get upset if they have a hard time reading run or pass based on an offensive lineman’s activity when said lineman is charging at them, even though it’s a pass. It takes away a player’s ability to naturally read and react.
"Linemen are five yards downfield, how do we fix that? I don’t know," said Broncos coach Vance Joseph. "What’s the rule say? I don’t know. But we have to figure this out and that’s on tape. That’s on tape, I’ve seen it."
It’s not a simple fix. Linemen in an RPO call are taught to block it as if it’s a zone run. They’re designed to get the ball out quick, thus avoiding an illegal man downfield penalty.
Occasionally, it doesn’t go so smoothly — or a lineman gets a little too aggressive with his journey downfield.
"I’m not going to sit here and complain about the refs because we hurt ourselves. We had a ton of penalties," Wolfe said. "But at the end of the day they missed a ton of penalties on things that they had."
Penalties Wolfe considered missed included a huge one. The defender complained about what he considered to be a missed false start on a key play: Kareem Hunt’s 23-yard touchdown reception on a shovel pass from Mahomes.
"It’s supposed to be a dead play, the guy is offsides, the right guard (Andrew Wylie) is offsides," Wolfe said. "The right guard is offsides. I went to stand up thinking they were going to call it."
Instead, Wolfe was driven into the line and caught in the wash as Hunt raced through Wolfe’s since-vacated gap, hurdled a defender and scored a touchdown that will likely be in the annual highlight reel.
Review of the tape justifies what Wolfe claims. Wylie flinches just before the snap, but no flag was thrown.
In all, it’s likely more frustration with being unable to stop the Chiefs in a akey divisional game than anything. But the Broncos do have a bit of a point. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a closer eye on these details in future games.
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