What it means: The bye week may have come just in time for the Broncos, especially for their 37-year-old quarterback, Peyton Manning. Manning has been battered over the past three games, having taken several heavy shots to body parts including his ribs, right arm and right shoulder to go with injuries to both ankles. Manning put together another four-touchdown day, but it was a struggle at times.
Stock watch: The Broncos have made it clear there is zero tolerance for fumbling, no matter what your potential might be in the offense. They showed it initially with Montee Ball's reduced role earlier this season after he put the ball on the ground and then took the next step with Ronnie Hillman being a game-day inactive Sunday against the Redskins. The Broncos did miss Hillman’s speed at times, but he won’t see the field again until he earns his way back into the lineup, and a big part of it will be how he handles being an inactive this week.
Mix-and-match: With the threat Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III presented as a runner in a read-option look, the Broncos often used a 3-4 set on defense to attempt to keep Griffin hemmed in. On plenty of early-down snaps the Broncos stood up Shaun Phillips and Von Miller at outside linebacker with three down linemen, putting Kevin Vickerson often over the center as the nose tackle. It worked well, as the Broncos repeatedly limited Griffin’s ability to get loose.
Bad timing: The Broncos can’t seem to avoid penalties at times when they will sting the most. Just before halftime the Broncos were flagged for 12 men on the field when the Redskins were lined up for a 30-yard field goal attempt. The penalty gave the Redskins a first down, and they scored a touchdown on the next play. Vickerson, who is the team’s most penalized player, was flagged in the third quarter for a late hit on Griffin. Given his recent run of flags, including a chest bump of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck last week, the Broncos took Vickerson out of the lineup, and at that point head coach John Fox had plenty to say to him.
What’s next: They have a long list of injuries with safety Duke Ihenacho (ankle) and tight end Julius Thomas (ankle) added to the list Sunday, so the Broncos will gladly take the week off to heal. They will likely practice Tuesday and Wednesday as the players head into the bye weekend.