So, why look at this game?
It's easy to pick any number of wins the Broncos have had against the Raiders over the years. Heck, Denver hasn't lost to them in seven consecutive games. However, I picked this particular game because of the commentary I've been reading on our current Broncos team. Things are not clicking like fans would like on offense and it's a feeling that not many Broncos fans are used to. What I'm offering is a little perspective. A look at the Broncos when the team was at it's absolute worst. Also, it's a reminder to the Broncos themselves that we got clowned in our own house and we owe the Raiders big time.
Coming into the week seven home game against the Raiders, the Broncos had just begun what ultimately became a free-fall. Sporting a 2-4 record, most fans thought that hosting the hapless Raiders would be just what was needed to get things back on track. Denver was coming off of a heartbreaking loss against the Jets, a game that was essentially decided by a blatant and ridiculous pass interference penalty at the end of the fourth quarter.
Fan favorites Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler, and Peyton Hillis had all been driven out of town by sophomore coach Josh McDaniels. These were the glory days of Kyle Orton, Brandon Lloyd, and Dan Gronkowski. I'd kick myself not to mention Correll Buckhalter and Laurence Maroney were also on the team. Incredible. Brian Xanders was the general manager of the team and John Elway as likely on a golf course somewhere.
On October 24, 2010, former MHR contributor Sayre Bedinger stayed up late after the game and hammered out this passionate response to the Broncos epic collapse. Here's a look at that game through Sayre's article.
Oakland at Broncos, 59-14 - Final
When the score moved to 21-0, I simply lost the ability to be mad. After last week's terrible loss to the Jets, and the blowout only one week before that at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, I simply couldn't bring myself to throw anything or shout anything. I just watched the game like it was any other.
I gave my good friend from college tickets to this Raiders game as a wedding present and he did what any good husband would, he took his father. They were at the concession stand getting beer and missed the opening kickoff. By the time they took their seats, the Broncos were down two touchdowns with ten minutes to go in the first quarter. Good thing they had beer. It was about to get even uglier.
The Denver Broncos, for the first time in my near 21 years, made me embarrassed to be a fan. So embarrassed, that I did not find the ridicule amusing in either a positive or negative way. So humiliated, that I honestly wondered what it would be like to have the number one pick in the draft.
When you can't even laugh at how bad it is, it's pretty bad. Personally, I remember melting into my couch with my arms crossed and incredibly upset. If Sayre of today could tell Sayre of 2010 what the Broncos did with that high draft pick (2nd overall) in the following year's draft, I'm sure that he'd struggle not to mimic Von Miller's trademark hip thrusting sack dance.
Obviously, I had plenty of knee jerk reactions, but this game was so humiliating, that I think everything I said during the game stands. I think Josh McDaniels is in danger of being fired. I think Kyle Orton is in danger of losing his job. One thing is for sure, those two were part of the most embarrassing loss I have ever witnessed. Pat Bowlen is the owner of a franchise which he is very, very proud of. The players and coaches today did not reflect that pride, and the shot of John Elway in a Raiders uniform on Sunday Night Football personified what it felt like to be a Denver Broncso fan today--sickening.
Josh McDaniels was fired, but not before completely embarrassing the organization and fans with a Patriots-style cheating scandal of his own. Kyle Orton lost his job to Tim Tebow late in the year and again the following year after being ineffective and, frankly, boring. The 'Elway in a Raiders uniform' thing I don't know anything about. Perhaps some late game time filler wherein the announcers mused what it would have been like had the Raiders traded for Elway instead of the Broncos. Who knows...
Back in early 2009, I suggested immediately after Mike Shanahan was fired that Josh McDaniels and Scott Pioli take over the Denver Broncos' organization. I had taken a liking to the Patriots' style of play and saw obviously what McDaniels had done with Matt Cassel and Tom Brady, and wanted the dude in town. I promoted his hire from the start, and was pretty excited when we made it official.
Whoops... Not that airing displeasure with the move would have changed anything. It's not like some guy goes digging through the MHR archive five years later and brings this kind of stuff to light. *cough, cough* Scott Pioli would end up in Kansas City and would later be the primary reason Peyton Manning wouldn't even consider Kansas City during his brief stint in free agency.
McDaniels proceeded to trade the Broncos' three premiere offensive playmakers in Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Tony Scheffler. I had no problem with this, and still don't. I think the Broncos rid themselves of some bad locker room guys, and replaced their positions and production adequately.
Cutler is still rotting in Chicago following the trade that shipped him out of town. Brandon Marshall has bounced around, Dolphins, Bears, and now Jets. Tony Scheffler retired in 2013. In retrospect, McDaniels was right to send these guys packing. Okay, maybe Scheffler didn't deserve it, but the other two certainly did. Getting rid of Marshall opened up the door for Demaryius Thomas and he's better than Marshall could have ever been had he stayed with Denver. Cutler? That guy deserves everything and more that the Bears fans throw at him... Insults and otherwise.
I have had the back of McDaniels from the very start, and have defended his every move with this team. Up until today, I believed that something would change, just given time.
Not only has nothing changed, the Broncos have now suffered three of the worst losses in regular season team history with drubbings at home at the hands of all three divisional opponents. The Chargers have obviously regressed, but the Raiders and Chiefs have both made decent improvement under their new management.
Hate to tell you, 2010 Sayre, but it gets much worse. To find out more about the Josh McDaniels cheating scandal, click here. Short Version: McDaniels videotaped the 49ers walk-through in London and still lost the game. The guy couldn't even cheat well.
Josh McDaniels has had control of this team for two years, and he has put himself and the Broncos in the spotlight with various different moves. He led this team to one of the more exciting starts in team history with a 6-0 mark through the first six games in 2009. Since then, this team has been absolutely abysmal, and has shown little or no sign of improvement.
Remember Lonnie Paxton? McDaniels signed him to a 5-year $5.53 million contact. For a long snapper! Someone who makes a ridiculously stupid deal like that has interests other than his team's on his mind.
I have not lost hope in this season, because my glass is always half full. Seven games is not quite long enough to throw in the towel, especially considering the division we play in. However, the way we played against the Raiders exposed tons of weakness on this team, and I'm not talking about fundamentally. The Broncos have been overmatched physically, they have been out-coached, and they have been ill-prepared for almost every game this season.
Lots of Broncos fans did throw in the towel. By halftime of the Raiders game, the stadium was practically empty. Sayre wasn't wrong, that team had many issues -- many of which lingered with the team through its Super Bowl run. When you look at Sayer's complaints, they are the same ones that people had last year when the Broncos ran John Fox off. Perhaps the fundamental changes Elway wished to have addressed from the moment he took over were ignored by the Fox regime. Having a record setting quarterback hides the ugliness pretty well.
Statistically, they are one of the worst first quarter teams in the NFL. To me, this shows a lack of preparedness. It also shows a lack of intensity. The Broncos used to be a team that could score on the first drive every time. The first play scripted by the Broncos today was an interception taken for a touchdown. The second one was a fumble recovered for a touchdown, which was only called back because of a mistake by the officials.
Thus far in the 2015 season, the Broncos have scored 9 first quarter points. That's not good. Although, this year I don't believe it's due to a lack of preparedness or intensity. Believe me, Kubiak and company want to return to the days of scoring on the first drive every time. It's anomalous that we've broken with the last few years and struggled. Here's hoping that this Raiders game is just what the doctor ordered to get everything back on track.
The Raiders do one thing well--run the football. The Broncos were not prepared today to stop the run. I understand that we are without Dawkins and Ayers, but are they going to take our run defense from worst to first? The Broncos seemed to not have too much trouble executing against the run versus the Jets, so what gives? Darren McFadden looked like the next great thing on Sunday, and the Raiders marched for over 300 yards on the ground.
300 yards on the ground?! Darren McFadden? Rest easy my Broncos friends, Denver's defense isn't going to allow much of anything from Oakland's offense. Oakland does one thing this year and that's schedule easy opponents early.
I cannot blame one person for this loss. From our coaching, to our players, there was but one player I thought that played well on Sunday, and it was Knowshon Moreno, who by the way is a stud.
Moreno was great in the passing game, catching three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed 14 times for 53 yards and should have had a touchdown, but we mistakenly passed the ball from one yard out on two straight plays.
There's your stud for the week. The rest of the organization falls in the dud column. The Broncos did not value their fans whatsoever on Sunday, and they need to make things right in the 49ers game on Sunday.
With Hillman and C.J. Anderson splitting first team reps in practice this week, the Broncos are still trying to figure out how best to execute the run game. The defense will again be the stud in this game. It's also very possible Manning will find himself this week and return to prior form. Anyone can dream...
We should have crushed the Raiders. This game was absolutely ours for the taking. We were desperate for a victory, hosting a team that had just lost to a previously winless 49ers group. The Broncos were a unanimous pick for a victory.
It did not happen. For the second straight year, this team cannot execute when it needs to most. Against Jacksonville, we missed a chance to tie with an interception at the end of the game. We blew it against the Indianapolis Colts. We blew it against the Jets. Now, we blew it against the Raiders, and we got blown out.
We will crush the Raiders. This game is absolutely ours for the taking. Sure, our wins thus far have been a lot closer than most fans would like, but the fact remains that the Raiders are still only in their 13th year of rebuilding with a long way yet to go.
I'm going to skip over a bit Sayre's article since it doesn't really tie into this week's game against the Raiders and has more to do with the depression of a horrible season in the making. If you want to continue reading his original article, click here. However, there is just one more bit I'd like to look at.
Right now, the Broncos are on track to be picking sixth in the 2011 NFL Draft. They have dealt away their 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th round picks. Through other trades, they have six picks in the draft. I don't think the Broncos need to re-build the entire roster, but there are a few things that I think need to be done.
For as bad as the 2010 Broncos were, they had essentially hit their ceiling in this Raiders game. Sure, they'd go on to win against the Chiefs and Tebow would beat Kubiak's Texans, but there wasn't much to be proud of. This 2015 Broncos squad has an incredibly high ceiling. Denver has already pretty much disqualified itself from a top three pick in next year's draft. This is Peyton's year to make some noise with a defense that can carry him. We've had some tough opponents early on and now's our chance to work out whatever kinks we need to going forward into Green Bay and New England later in the year. The Broncos need to remember how to score. What better a team to get back into the groove on than a team who not so long ago destroyed us by 45 points? Let's get a little Pey-back fellas!