3-0. That was the benchmark. Didn't we say going into this season that the Broncos had to start 3-0? We had what looked like three easy games, well, easy compared to the rest of our schedule and if we had any hopes of making it into the playoffs we needed to take these three games.
I know, who said anything about playoffs? I can tell you that was the goal in Dove Valley before the season started, and I can tell you that is the goal now. It's playoffs or bust. That's how NFL teams work and as a fan, that's how I think. It might seem crazy but in a world where the Buffalo Bills are 3-0 and just handed the powerhouse New England Patriots their first loss of the season, crazy is exactly what the Broncos needed.
2-1. That was the next best option. If we lost one of the first three games we'd still be in decent shape. In fact, 2-1 seemed more reasonable. The Broncos haven't won back to back games in almost 2 years. 3 in a row may be asking too much for this new squad. 2-1 most likely lands in a tie for first place. Destiny is still ours to control.
1-2. This is our reality. Failing to walk away from our first three contests, two of which against "easy" teams at home, with only one win set up a real must win situation against the Titans at home... and a little over 24 hours after that defeat the realization of what this season could become is still weighing heavily on me, and most likely every Bronco fan who reads this.
So let me ask the question, what do we make of this? There's enough blame to go around, and boy are we good at dishing it out, but blame is looking backwards and this team must learn to forget and move forward. How do we get there?
Hey, at least we aren't 0-3... right?
On Disappointment, Redemption, and Board Game Etiquette
The question took me by surprise. Who would ask such a question the day after the new look Broncos won their first game. I imagine that for as many Bronco fans there are in this world, there are as many unique viewpoints about the Broncos. Such is the beauty of being unique as individuals. I'm not one to value "fandom" as a quantifiable attribute. To say one person is "more a fan" than another is so ridiculous it almost needs no address. BUT, the more I thought about it the more I realized that perhaps every fan must satisfy at least one requirement... they must desire that their team win. They cannot be disappointed in a
loss win. It feels strange to make that requirement because quite frankly, like peeking in Battleship or stealing from the bank in Monopoly while Grandma uses the lieu for the tenth time, it's just an unwritten rule that doesn't need to be explained. You just don't do it.
That said, I found the suggestion that fans were disappointed in a
loss win to be an offensive one and it was rather embarrassing for me as a fan to know that the first thing people wanted to know about the Denver Bronco fans after a win was how disappointed we were. Really? I had no idea what to say.
I take each Bronco game one at a time. Normally I let myself be disappointed in a loss or excited in a win until about Thursday, and then my attention turns to the next game and I begin to get excited all over again. Perhaps this would be the week that the Broncos turn the corner. Maybe this is the week I beat Grandma at battleship.
Let me just say this to Mr. Bena and Vic and Gary, and every member/reader here who felt the need to gauge the temperature of our disappointment after our win over the Bengals. This is one fan that is NEVER disappointed in a win and to be quite honest I have yet to talk to a fan who admits to being disappointed. Trust me, living in the Denver metro area and working in an environment where I talk to hundreds of different people daily no one has told me that they are disappointed that the Broncos
lost won. Not one.
Perhaps behind the anonymity of their internet screen names certain "fans" feel empowered to become dramatic and turn this young season into an MTV soap opera by expressing their disappointment with the success of our team in order to create a reaction, but perhaps they are also the kind of people that steal money from the Monopoly bank or hide cards in their whitey tighties during bridge night. It disappoints me that we attempt to hand them a microphone to create a story out of something that I don't believe even exists.
That being said, we are a fanbase that hasn't experienced a back to back win in 660 days. A lot of things happen in 660 days. Babies get born and learn how to walk. People complete half of their college careers. New iPhones get released and Comcast is just about done taking all your money before you are free of that contract.
By the time the Broncos hit the field on Sunday, October 2nd it will have been 666 days since our last back to back victory. Of course it is. If this sounds like the prelude to an M. Night Shyamalan movie I apologize. It was unintended. It is losing stretches like this that make a fanbase a little too superstitious. Is it so hard to believe that, considering our situation, that Bronco fans have been taught to be cautious about the encouragement of a single victory? Especially one that could have so easily turned into another heartbreak? Trust me, I was excited for that win, but as soon as that clocked ticked to zero I was damping my excitement and trying to get real.
The Broncos had work to do after beating Cincinatti and heading into Tennessee. Could we do what we haven't done in so long? Could we get that back to back win and the fantastic momentum that comes with it? Redemption is ours for the taking.
On the Titans, Losing, and Expensive Baby Shower Gifts
What happened on Sunday was heartbreaking. No two ways about it. Our team is better than this. It is. I believe it. The worst defense in the league last year is turning in game after game of impressive stops, turnovers, and 3 and outs. Denver is sporting the 16th best defense in the league after 3 games. This is the kind of progression that any rebuilding team wants to see.
The game of NFL is about consistency. Can a team do something for an entire game? It needs to happen both offensively and defensively. It's the beautiful thing about this game and it's why football, perhaps more than any other sport, is so reliant on the concept of team. For every Peyton Manning, that seemingly holds the key to their team's success, there are hundreds of different teams over history that won multiple divisions and Superbowls because of one thing... teamwork.
This is my segway into my "It's not all Kyle's Fault" section. So let me just put it out there. It's not all Kyle's fault. That was easy. He threw two TD's, threw two picks, failed to drive the Broncos down to a game-tying field goal or go-ahead touchdown, and eventually threw another gut-wrenching interception in field goal range to finish off all hope. He did hand the ball off just fine three times within 2 yards of the endzone and we just couldn't pound out two yards on three tries. But this is a told story. This is the same story. This isn't progression. I had no problem with the Broncos going for it on 4th and 1... but I had a real problem with them choosing to do, once again, the very thing they had absolutely zero success with a few seconds before. So it's not all his fault, but the fact that some readers will find this as a kind of consolation prize is disconcerting.
I'm tired of the excuses. I'm tired of this happening time and time again and listening to play-by-play breakdown of why one missed assignment, one failed block, one bad route, and one poor throw cost us a game. It's always one thing, and it's always THE ONE thing. This is football. It's never one thing. With 50+ offensive plays every game it's never one thing. Excuses. Not the sign of a successful football team.
Kyle is being given his chance to earn Pro-Bowl dollars and let me tell you, it bothers me to no end that I can't expect that out of him without hitting a wall of Orton apologists telling me he's better than everything my eyes, his record, and his stats show. It bothers me that they throw Tebow stats at me like it's supposed to prove their point. So there's my long and short of it, it's not Kyle's fault but I'm seriously tired of seeing this same product over and over and over again. As a fan, don't I have the right to say that much?
We're going to hear a lot of "it's just the first three games, there's a lot of football left" over the next few days. Don't fall into this trap. Any football fan knows that 3 games quickly becomes 6 games and 6 games becomes 10 games and before you know it your car is buried in three feet of snow, you're late for your wife's best friends' poorly planned baby shower, and the Broncos are officially out of it... but at least you have this sweet Tebow onesy in the back of your buried car that you dropped 50 bucks on NFL.com for because it looked good on a model baby. We don't want to be that guy.
Now is the time for the Broncos to make adjustments. What they are doing offensively IS NOT WORKING. Throw the ball down the field. Take some chances. Do something. Please. For the love please do something. It's about to get cold outside and I don't want to be sitting here in two months, writing another post-game review, asking why didn't we make major adjustments BEFORE we were mathematically eliminated?
This loss has to be that catalyst. I've not been impressed with Fox and McCoy's offense. Not at all. But I trust that even my untrained eye can see the need for a change. Now we're a huge underdog visiting a team that just won the Superbowl and we have almost nothing to lose. Can we be the next Bill v. Patriots? One game at a time. That's how I take this year. None of this "there's still 13 games left". There's one game left. Let's go lose Vegas some money.
On Tebow and Special Packages
I'm going to switch gears for just a minute and address the Tebow issue. All of you that read my stuff know that I'm a big supporter of getting Tebow into the offense and getting him some snaps. I'm also not a believer in this money/escalator nonsense that is potentially keeping him off the field. Can't prove it, but I just believe it. I also believe that when John Elway says that they have packages to play Tebow they have packages to play Tebow. I also believe that when Orton went down after taking a shot to the head and Tebow was the one with his helmet on on the sideline talking to the OC it says a lot about who is the real backup. I could be wrong, for sure, but a man's got to believe something.
That said, for as much as we have been trained to expect a loss when behind in the 4th quarter, we have seen what Tebow can do from 5 yards in. We know what he can do to the tune of a 100% success rate. Tebow scores TD's from 5 yards in. That's all he does. I understand to a certain extent the argument that to put Tebow in at the most critical time during a team's drive could take confidence away from Orton, but that's the kind of lousy namby pamby reasoning that has seemed to curse the offense from week 1. These are grown ass men. Let's not coddle to feelings. I totally understand the fan outrage in not playing proven talent in critical situations. How can you argue against it?
Our ancestors taught us, if you can't be a hunter you don't get to go on the hunt. Instead, you stay back and make socks or a fruit salad. This way everyone eats, and everyone has socks. At some point the Broncos just need to realize, perhaps we have the wrong people hunting and the wrong people making socks. This analogy also worked a lot better in my head.
Week 4 is a critical time in our season. We could go quietly into the night. Nobody would be surprised. It's the Green Bay Packers. But I think that the Broncos are in a situation where they have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to prove. Let's "make the adjustments". I can handle losing if we seem to be actually trying everything to win. No more excuses. No more looking backwards. Let's get a big win and start healing the fractures that are separating Bronco Country fans from one another. Let's quit asking how disappointed we all are in losing. Let's pick up the pieces of success we are seeing and finally put them all together.
I seriously don't want to be scraping off my car in December after the Broncos are officially out of contention wondering what happened to another Bronco season and why people would ever schedule a baby shower during the middle of a blizzard.
P.S. Tony Romo is showing us tonight exactly what I'd love to see out of my QB. Talk about leadership.