The 2016 season playoff hopes didn’t go out with a bang, but with a whimper on a cold, rainy, windy night at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. This wasn’t the end to the season that the Denver Broncos team was needing, but it was the end they deserved in retrospect.
Our defense looked like a shell of its former glory allowing too many big plays and not being able to make the big turnovers happen that led to so much success for us over the past couple of years.
Our offense looked like some of the hottest garbage in the NFL in 2016 and it has for weeks. Broncos Country’s playoff hopes went up in the smoke of the ineptitude of our offense.
I don’t know what went wrong in this game. Not having Brandon Marshall and T.J. Ward shouldn’t mean that much to a team as deep as ours is with defensive talent. Yet here we are with another tight end making our defense look silly and a quick running back leaving our defense in the dust.
Miller on the edge versus Hill needs to get upfield and make him cut inside instead of letting him get the outside. I did love his early rush in the 2nd half where he laid Smith on the ground hard. It was the kind of quality hit that lets a QB know they have a whole lot of football left to play. Von still played a heck of a game, but KC has learned that if they can keep a lead and run away from him, it really limits how much he can get involved.
Corey Nelson on 3rd down gets a wallop on Alex Smith that makes his pass hang on him. It was a superb blitz by Nelson who was very active all game with Brandon Marshall out. He led the team in tackles and forced a fumble in a valiant effort.
DeMarcus Ware played so well this game being held fairly constantly (no flag of course) and causing the QB to rush his throws.
Justin Simmons made a great play on a poorly thrown lobbed ball to get an interception. I loved how he attacked it in the air to make sure the catch was his. In the 2nd half he makes a great pass defense over the middle against a TE poking the ball away as it got there. He made another play later in the 3rd quarter where he blazed into the backfield for a TFL. Simmons was one of the bright spots in this turd of a game showing that we really did get a good player this year and have a safety of the future waiting in the wings.
The Chiefs did a great job of keeping our best two defensive backs Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, Jr. out of the game as they didn’t challenge them much at all unless it was on safe short yardage checkdowns.
As we had so many times before in 2016, we put the game in the hands of a scrub 2nd year 7th round draft pick and asked him to win by throwing not 30, but over 40 times. What makes this one hard to swallow is that the ground game was actually functioning with a 4.5 yards per carry average even though the coaching staff chose to only use that option 14 times.
For whatever reason, this offense is broken. The line needs vast improvement (just as it did at the end of last season), the running game needs a boost, we need more involvement from our tight ends in the passing game, and our quarterback play has to improve in a big way.
Trevor Siemian was once again asked to throw early and often. His throws being just a yard off here or there led to some really sloppy looking failed drives early (another feature of the 2016 Bronco offense). With the weather being terrible, it is unfortunate that we needed to ask so much of a young passer with a slippery ball and conditions that made for poor down field accuracy. On the plus side, the slippery ball also kept him from having about 3 more INTs than he ended up with as he tossed the balls to defenders that couldn’t hang onto them.
I pointed out earlier this year that Siemian had the look of a decent backup QB. Decent may be a stretch at this point. Siemian can run an offense. He can throw a NFL pass. He can even hand the ball off well. But he doesn’t have the accuracy, moxie, variety of throws, or athletic ability that makes me think he is the answer to any question the Broncos have at QB. He’s had a year to work and improve and at the crux of the season, he has been figured out, sorted, and put away by multiple NFL defenses.
Donald Stephenson is not a decent option at right tackle. His biggest contributions to our offense are sacks and penalties. This game was no exception in either half of the game.
I thought the rest of our offensive line made a fairly decent showing of themselves. Max Garcia especially played the best football of his year in orange and blue. I don’t know if that amounts to enough in the grand scheme of his future on the offensive line, but it was a positive.
Devontae Booker got some action in the 2nd drive of the game and in back to back plays had 10+ yard gains. It was some of the better running he’s done all year. Later in the 1st quarter he drops an easy screen pass lob that hits him in the hands (blame it on the weather) that would have gone for big yards. His open field running was really impressive and is the kind of thing you want to see coaches scheme their offense to make use of. Sadly, near the end of the game he fumbled horribly while trying to carry the football out in his hand instead of protected near his body.
Justin Forsett did a great job driving with his blockers to score our first TD of the game. It was an example of good form in a short yardage situation by our whole team. I liked what he brought to the field for us and in his short time with the team, I’d like to see him stick around especially if we continue running the Kubiak offense.
Jeff Heuerman made good 3rd down conversion squirting through defenders to get past the sticks. Down our two starters, he really showed up well for the team and looked good running smooth routes down the field really throughout the whole game.
Jordan Taylor runs a really smooth route and got a big gain out of his one solid opportunity in the game. I’d still like to see him on the outside across from DT with Sanders in the slot as a nice wrinkle every now and then. He’s the one depth WR that I really think has a bigger future in the NFL.
Demaryius Thomas had one of his worst games for the Broncos this season. With everything on the line he was targeted 8 times, caught 3 of the passes, and averaged only 6.7 yards per catch. I’ll listen to the argument that the passes on those target weren’t necessarily great, but I think a star WR making $14 million should show up a bit better than this.
Kalif Raymond looked so positive as a returner for us early on, but alas he coughed up the ball late in the game and left me wondering if we’ll ever get a returner who we can trust that has some kind of upside or at least ball security that we can lean on for our special teams.
Brandon McManus was a small bright spot in this game nailing a 52 yard field goal in terrible conditions that was as impressive of a kick as any I’ve seen this season. Sadly he was robbed of another opportunity to make a difference when our team decided to go for the dumbest fake field goal attempt I’ve ever seen called. With a playoff appearance still possible only down by 11, the 4th and 10 fake run in field goal range was a special kind of idiotic play calling from our head coach.
As a fan of the Denver Broncos, I’ve always judged seasons as successful or not based on whether our team has made the playoffs or not. There’s no bright side to this year for us in my opinion. This team had the talent in place to be able to make the playoffs. We underachieved for what we could have and should have accomplished this year.
Lots of questions about our season are spinning about my head now. I’ll have a lot to say in the coming weeks as we end our season on where we go from here, what caused our season to fall below expectations, and likely moves we will see as the Broncos look to take the next step toward getting back into the playoffs in 2017.