Whisenhunt unambiguously deserves the blame for our loss to Denver

Predictability in KW's play calling destroyed us in this game. Below are split stats showing our play outcomes by certain play calling patterns. Here are the stats through the first three quarters. He had to abandon his failed game plan by the 4th quarter since we were down three scores.

Predictable Stuff:

  • Runs on first down. KW loves it, been doing it. Did lots of it Sunday. DEN was expecting it and crushed it.
  • Facing 2nd and long (8+ yards to go), passing. Often following a failed first down run.
  • Facing 3rd and long (7+ yards to go) passing. Really not too much you can when you are in this situation, but we were often in this situation as direct result of: failed first down run, failed second down pass = bad 3rd down situation.

First Down Play Calls: 11 plays; 9 runs, 2 passes

  • 9 runs, outcomes in order: 5, 1, 0, 0, 3, 1, 2, 2, 0. I will call 3YD+ a success and less a failure. So 7/9 failed, 2/9 succeeded. 14 yards gained on 9 plays for 1.6 YPC; after the first success (5 YD run): 9 yards on 8 carries: 1.1 YPC. Staggeringly awful.
  • 2 passes; 2 for 2 (2 YD and 3 YD). One success and one failure. Not great but better than the runs.

Second Down Play Calls when facing 8+ yards to go: 8 plays; 5 passes, 3 runs

  • 5 Passes: -8 (sack), -6 (sack), 5, 0, 5 (2 sacks, one 5 YD completion, incomplete, 5 yard scramble): 2/5 successes; 2.5 YPA
  • 3 runs: 3, 6, 2 (2/3 successes) 3.7 YPC; odd, when they are not expecting it, we are OK.

Third Down Plays when facing 7+ yards to go: 5 plays; 4 pass, 1 run (all failed)

  • 4 pass calls: 3 incomplete passes, 1 completion for 5 YD but negated by OPI (all failures) 0.0 YPA
  • 1 run: 8 YD gain on 3rd and 17. (failure)

Not much you can in 3rd and long and very long (of the six, four were 12+ yards to go), but of those six 3rd and longs, 5 times followed a failed first down run; four of the times followed failed 1D run, failed 2D pass combo. So KW was digging us into a deep hole and Del Rio was happy to drop the dirt on our heads.

Pretty dismal. But a fair question is that perhaps we were really bad at running and passing in general, so while these stats look very bad, perhaps they are representative of general malaise during the first three quarters. Not so.

Run plays not on first down and not on 3rd and 10+ (these are failed plays that yield decent yards, so excluding):

  • 4 runs: 3, 16, 6, 2 (3/4 successful); 6.8 YPC

Pass plays not on 2nd and long or 3rd and long (these include first down passes, listed above):

  • 7 plays: 6 for 6 with a sack. Completions: 3, 5, 3, 7, 2, 19; 6.5 YPA
  • So 5/7 successful; 2 failures = sack, 2 YD completion

In summary, through 3 quarters:

  • Predictable 1D runs: 9 runs, 1.6 YPC
  • Other Runs: 4 runs, 6.8 YPC
  • Predictable 2nd and long and 3rd and long passes: 1 for 5 for 5 YD (1.0 YPA), 2 sacks, one non-play due to OPI
  • Other Passes (from above): 6 for 6, 6.5 YPA, one sack (5/7 successful; failures = 2 YD completion, sack)

So when KW was not following a highly predictable play calling pattern, our offense was OK. Not great, but solid and probably enough to keep us in the game. And I find it damning that once he had to abandon the run and let PR pass, in the 4th quarter, here were the stats:

4th Quarter Stats:

  • 16 passes, 2 runs (including a 5 YD PR scramble)
  • Passes: 11 for 16, 173 yards (10.8 YPA), one sack (-4)
  • Runs: 2 for 11 yards (including a PR scramble), 5.5 YPC

Some of this may be due to softness in DEN defense initially, but the game was not a blow out so do not think so. This comes back to trusting PR. The run-first mentality that failed for three quarters put the offense in a hole and did not allow the offense do what it does best: throw the ball. We can run, too, but if they are taking away the run, why not pass? DEN is a stronger team but we had the talent to beat them. KW chose a plan that has had success over recent weeks and stuck to it stubbornly in the face of failure. That obstinacy was the largest factor in our loss.

I am grateful for the new offensive scheme and wonder what our offense will look like post KW, but this game (and prior games where he followed similar patterns but with less dire results) says to me that he has a material blind spot that will stop the offense from reaching its potential. I am hopeful the next OC keeps the good but does not keep the bad.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Bolts From The Blue community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bolts From The Blue editors or SB Nation.

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