You always try to find the positive.
But sometimes in life, it’s futile.
A little over 12 hours after the Denver Broncos embarrassed themselves in a 23-10 loss to the New York Giants, this is one of those times. There is no amount of spin or look-on-the-bright-side bullshit that can turn Sunday night’s performance into a positive. Some in the locker room used those same worn-out cliches to make this loss a little easier to swallow. But it all seemed meaningless when you consider the epic level in which the Broncos choked on national TV in this pitiful loss.
When you look at what looms for Denver – three-straight road games capped off with a home game against the New England Patriots – hunting for the positive feels even more pointless.
Here are the five things we learned from the Broncos loss to New York.
Defenses have Denver’s offense figured out
The secret is out on how to stop the Broncos on offense: Load the box and make Trevor Siemian beat you. Why the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Cowboys didn’t do that, I still don’t know. But the last three opponents have and you’ve seen the ugly results.
Denver has been atrocious on offense. Forget the yards; that’s a meaningless stat. The numbers that speak volumes about the Broncos the last three weeks are red zone, third down and turnovers.
Against the Buffalo Bills — Denver was 1-for-3 in the red zone, 6-for-14 on third down and had two turnovers.
Against the Oakland Raiders — 0-for-4 in the red zone; 5-for-16 on third down; 0 turnovers (yippee).
Against the Giants — 1-for-4 (with a garbage time touchdown, so it’s really 0-for-3); 5-for-17 on third down; three turnovers.
As Adam Malnati and I said on the latest MHR Radio Podcast, when you throw trash like that out on the field, you won’t win. It’s no coincidence then that the Broncos are 1-2 in those games and staring down the barrel of 0-4 in their next four. Of course when a team throws out a below average quarterback as its starter, there’s only so much an offense can do.
Trevor Siemian is not good
The definition of insanity is do the same thing over and over again, and yet expect different results. Denver has known what it has in Siemian for over a year, yet tried to convince itself that wasn’t the case. “He gives us the best chance to win.”
Meanwhile, the Broncos have botched the development of Paxton Lynch and still have no idea what they have in him. Is Lynch the answer? I have no idea. He’s started two games. What I do know is Siemian is not the answer and hasn’t been for over a year. He’s started 19 games yet people still want to see more and are all too eager to make excuses for him. Since the win over the Dallas Cowboys, Denver has played 12 quarters and scored three touchdowns.
There’s a reason the Broncos are predictable on offense. There’s a reason no matter what Mike McCoy calls, defenses are ready for it.
“After the first three series, we got him kind of shook because he wasn’t expecting what we were doing,” Giants safety Landon Collins said. “We watched a lot of film. He was just holding it too long and not letting it go.”
Added New York cornerback Janoris Jenkins: “Basically, we were playing ‘Cleo’ coverage and they ran a high-low route. He threw it to the flat and I broke on the ball. We were talking about it on the sideline that he was going to lock on and stare down the receiver. I told my coach what they were attacking us and he told me to one time sit on it and just take it.”
As noted earlier, there’s no secret codex to stop Denver’s offense. You load the box, make sure it can’t run the ball and make Siemian beat you. News flash: He cannot and will not.
The time has come for the Siemian experiment to end, as it should have prior to the third preseason game last season. But what’s even more frustrating than the Kyle Orton-esque performances is the lack of life. Siemian is a “captain” on offense yet after an epic fail shows about as much emotion as the android “Data” from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
Show some fire. Show some passion. Show you care. Show your teammates you care. There’s a time and place for cliches, but not after a humiliating loss in which you got smacked around. As a captain, that’s unacceptable.
DT and Wolfe are the heart and soul of this team
Compare the response of Siemian to Derek Wolfe.
The Broncos defensive lineman was pissed. Wolfe knew what Denver put on the field was unacceptable, and he said so. He didn’t speak in cliches. He didn’t hold his punches. Wolfe told it like it is.
After you get dominated in every facet of the game, give me a leader like that every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Give me a leader who holds his teammates and himself accountable. On a night in which there were no positives, Wolfe’s response gives one at least a glimmer of hope.
Derek Wolfe said the whole game was BS. Great stuff here. pic.twitter.com/q1JOQ1ZsEH— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) October 16, 2017
In line with that is Demaryius Thomas, who said what he needed with his actions and play. Thomas shouldn’t have even been on the field but gutted it out. My appreciation for Thomas shot through the roof after Sunday night.
In both instances, those are leaders your team can rely on.
Broncos coaches woefully unprepared
As we speak, McCoy is the Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Siemian has cut this offense’s arms and legs off, leaving McCoy to say, “It’s just a flesh wound.” And it won’t get better from here. As noted earlier, all teams will do is load the box and say, “OK, Trev, beat us.”
But as a whole, this is the second time in three weeks Vance Joseph and his coaches have been embarrassed by the opposition’s staff. What makes all of this more dumbfounding is Joseph said his team had “the best Wednesday practice of the season.” It makes one wonder what he actually saw, but also what they’re doing in practice.
This is ON Vance Joseph! Don’t kid yourself! coming off a bye week?Absolutely one of worst Broncos performances since Super Bowl 48 #Broncos— Todd Romero (@ToddRomeroTV) October 16, 2017
How a team comes out after its bye, at home, against a winless, beat-up team and puts forth that kind of effort on the field is an indictment on Joseph. Two of the last three weeks, the game plans he and his staff have produced make John Fox look like Bill Belichick.
As the season closes in all around this team, we will find out what kind of “leader of men” Joseph really is.
How much did the Broncos lose?
When you look at the rest of the AFC West, you can try to spin that Denver really didn’t lose that much given that two out of three of its division rivals also suffered losses. For those who take that approach, take off the orange and blue goggles. On a side note, as my wife said before she went to bed after the game, who would have figured that the only division team to get a win would be the Chargers?
By the time mid-November rolls around, the Broncos will sit at 3-5, maybe 4-4. It just depends on how hard you try to remain positive.