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Day-after takeaways from Broncos-Rams


A handful of observations looking back at the Broncos' 22-7 loss to the St. Louis Rams:**

  1. Linebacker Brandon Marshall continues to be the linchpin of the defense. He played every snap and once again led the unit in tackles -- this time with a career-high 15, via 13 solo stops and two assists.

Marshall is the first Bronco with at least 28 total tackles in a two-game span since D.J. Williams in September 2007, when he amassed 29 total stops against the Jaguars and Colts. Marshall is also a reliable tackler; among all 4-3 outside linebackers with at least 35 tackles, he has the second-best rate of missted tackles, with one every 19.5 opportunities, according to The average rate of missed tackles for qualifying outside linebackers is one every 7.77 opportunities.

Tackles aren't everything, but Marshall has become one of the most effective 4-3 weakside linebackers in the league. His performances seem to grow more complete by the week, with improvement in coverage standing as a focal point of his development.

  1. A focal point of Head Coach John Fox's day-after press conference was the running game, which ended with only nine carries -- all by C.J. Anderson -- and one kneeldown for Peyton Manning.

"You just go how the game's going and we were down two scores quick, so (that) kind of takes out the run game," Anderson said. "Coach (Offensive Coordinator Adam) Gase has apologized for it.

"I'm the type of player, that whatever's called you have to go out there and execute."

But short passes to the running back (or backs) can have the same effectiveness and ability to sustain a decent drive. This was one area where the offense did make strides, and Anderson led the offense with eight receptions -- the most for a Broncos running back since Knowshon Moreno's eight catches on Nov. 10, 2013 at San Diego. Sixty-two of Anderson's 86 yards came after contact.

Check out the top shots from Sunday's game in St. Louis.

  1. Most of Brandon McManus' work this year has come on kickoffs, where he ranks second in the league in touchback percentage (75.4 percent), even though both of his kickoffs were returned Sunday -- from six and five yards deep in the end zone.

On the road, he has touchbacks on 52 percent of his kickoffs (13 of 25), but 23 of his 25 kickoffs have gone at least two yards deep into the end zone.

  1. With the continued emphasis on six-defensive back personnel groupings with T.J. Ward in the box and Quinton Carter back deep, No. 4 cornerback Kayvon Webster did not see any defensive snaps Sunday. Five defenders played every defensive snap: Marshall, cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib and safeties Ward and Rahim Moore.

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