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Ultimate Fan: Broncos defense - especially No Fly Zone - will get back on track this week

And as the defense goes, so go the Broncos. Look for a W in the forecast.

Denver Broncos v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Thank goodness it is game day, Broncos Country, so we can erase last week’s debacle and “move on to L.A.” as they say.

SaguaroBronco is no stranger to the Ultimate Fan Guide, nor is he a stranger to our favorite team in Orange & Blue. And he’s got some outstanding thoughts on our team today.

A lifelong fan since the 70s, SB clearly loves some defense as CHJ and Randy Gradishar rank among his current and forever favorites.

Vance Joseph, Joe Woods and Mike McCoy all assure us the mistakes made in previous weeks are correctable, so we’re going to trust them and hope our boys show up to play this weekend.

And if they don’t, well...somewhere there is a whip to be cracked!

Week 7: Broncos at Chargers

MHR – Ugh. So the previous game was pathetic. Without dwelling on it too much, what major corrections do you expect to be fixed for this week?SaguaroBronco - Ack! It was more than pathetic. I'm hoping to see more passion on the part of ALL of the team.

What I saw Sunday night looked like a small minority of players looking like they wanted to seize a win (Demaryius Thomas, Domata Peko, and even on a couple of occasions, Devantae Booker), but the vast majority of players and coaches looked like they had returned from a vacation fortnight and were still functioning on island time.

This resulted in boneheaded decisions (Trevor Siemian), lapses in concentration (Isaiah McKenzie’s muffed punts, Brandon McManus’s missed FG), missed assignments (linebackers missing gap coverage and edge contain), and injuries (Emmanuel Sanders and Siemian’s injuries directly happened due to telegraphed inaccurate passes).

Body language was all wrong through most of the game, and the few who looked like they wanted to be there seemed like they were laboring trying to drag along the spirits of their lackadaisical teammates. Even the coaches looked like they were less than fully engaged - how could Joseph have been quoted at halftime as saying he was pretty good with where they were at?

I would chalk this up to a leadership issue that needs correction by the coaches, captains and unofficial locker room leaders. I'm not calling for a McDanielesque rant, but the “leader of men” needs to get the team focused and intent. I expect to see a return to players filling their role on the team looking like they're excited to be there, doing their job, and relying on their teammates to do theirs.

MHR – Trevor Siemian threw 50 passes on Sunday night, while the running backs carried the ball just 17 times. Were the Broncos right to give up on the run?
SB: No, and I don't think they should have abandoned the run against the Bills either. Balance is necessary to avoid becoming predictable and therefore easy to shut down.

It’s more than just run/pass balance though. There needs to be some variation in the run and pass play design and actual reading through pattern progression to find the available weaknesses in the defense. Giving the defense only a few plays to defend and keys to read makes their job much, much easier.

MHR - Two Giants defenders noted specifically that it was easy for them to find Trevor’s weaknesses - staring down his receiver and taking too long to throw. WIll Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa have a field day with this?
SB: Potentially. I think for many of the players, Siemian in particular, but I think there’s a common factor with the struggles of McManus, Watson, C.J., McKenzie (particularly this past game), etc. is trying so hard not to do it wrong that they are incapable of doing it right.

If Siemian focuses on what's going wrong (either due to his play or that of the teammates around him) he’s going to over analyze what he’s seeing (or thinks he’s seeing), fear failure on the part of his teammates around him (whether or not it’s actually happening on that particular play), and lock into his pre-snap read (whether it’s accurate or not), all of which will slow him down and cause the issues you noted.

If he (and others) can get out of their heads and just play like they know how to, it will make it harder for the defense to dictate the flow of the game.

MHR - What are your expectations for the Broncos’ O-line on Sunday - Is this slightly-less-messy mess of a line salvageable?
SB - I'm not sure what to expect. I have little confidence in Donald Stephenson based on what I've seen to date. Barbre seemed to step in adequately at LT when Bolles went out earlier. However, with two tackles injured and one seeming to present less resistance to the pass rush than a sheet of wet tissue paper, there's not much depth left.

MHR - Prior to the Giants game, the Broncos run defense was the best in the league - but a hungry Orleans Darkwa ran right through and over it. How do you expect the Broncos D to bounce back against Melvin Gordon?
SB: Who? Shreveport Darkwa? After their success against Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy, and Marshawn Lynch, who would have expected they’d have trouble stopping a backup from New York who probably few outside of the Garden State had ever heard of? I'm chalking it up to the general lack of intensity, certain players missing gap assignments (potentially trying to cover the job of less motivated teammates), and minimal tape to know tendencies (the Giants OL was significantly reshuffled prior to the game as well).

Unfortunately, the Broncos have a history of games where they give a heretofore relatively unknown player their moment in the sun. Who ever heard of Timmy Smith before SB XXII?

I recall a game against the Seahawks shortly after I moved to Tucson (must have been ‘90 or ‘91). We had a drafter in the office who was also from Denver so we’d talk about the Bronco games at work on Monday morning. I walked in the Monday after that game, and all Steve would say was “Rufus Porter? Rufus Porter ?!?” because Rufus Porter (who wasn't a well known name) had sacked Elway like five times during the game (one of which I think was a strip sack).

One might argue that Denver (with a significant assist from Crooked Bill Vinovich) gave Flacco his big contract in Baltimore based on the AFC Divisional game in Manning's first season with us. A lot of times, though, these performances seem to be aberrational events and aren't replicated continually by the Broncos opponent in their future games or by future Broncos opponents.

I expect the run defense to return to form against the Chargers.

MHR - The Chargers are coming off an emotional win, thanks to a game-winning field goal in the final seconds. Does this concern you as they host a Broncos team that just suffered a tough loss?
SB: Full disclosure - I didn't see any of their game last week. However, I don't think last week's results by themselves are a predictor of future performance. The Chargers are a veteran team - I expect them to be able to stage a walkoff win when the situation presents itself. Denver needs to play a full 60 like they did the first 45 of the opening game in Denver. If they do, the Chargers won't be in a position to win at the end.

MHR - The Broncos squandered a chance to get a good home win before a tough three-game road trip, but this first one might be the easiest. How important is it for team morale to get a win on Sunday against the Chargers?
SB: Any time you get to prevent a single loss from becoming a losing streak (or to extend a winning streak), it's important for team morale.

I'm not saying a 3-3 record guarantees an unsuccessful season, but a win heading into the meat of the schedule would be a big mood and momentum boost.

MHR - Philip Rivers has been known for marching down the field, especially using TEs and RBs, to gain big passing yardage over the middle in open field. How confident are you in the Broncos linebackers to contain these types of plays and prevent big gains?SB: If it’s just the LBs out there trying to contain these plays by themselves, I'm not very confident at all.

However, the middle defense includes the safeties as well, and I'm more confident that the overall defense can limit the damage over the middle.

MHR - Although Rivers relied on Hunter Henry and Melvin Gordon for most of his passing yards, he still has weapons in Keenan Allen and Tyrel Williams. How will they fare against our No Fly Zone?
SB: Again here, I think it’s a matter of focus. Last week’s MHR coverage included a great analysis of the big plays the defense gave up and identified one of the major causes as infrequent but significant lapses in focus.

I saw it again on several plays this game as well (although not primarily on the NFZ this game), including Darkwa’s 47-yard run and his 19-yard run at the end, which effectively allowed them to run out the clock.

If the NFZ stays intent on doing its job (and not leaving their assignment and taking on someone else's), I think they can shut down the WRs.

MHR - Von Miller has averaged just one sack a game, but the quarterback he has sacked the most in his career is Rivers. Do you see Von having a big game against our favorite crybaby QB?
SB: I'd love to see it, but I'd be just as happy if it was Barrett, Wolfe, Stewart, Parks, or someone else breaking through and wrecking his day. I still fondly recall Robert Ayres impression of Rivers’ demeanor, even if I don't have many other remembrances of Ayres career in Denver.

MHR - Which offensive player for the Broncos needs to have a big week against the Chargers?
SB: Whoever they stick in the RT spot. They not only need to open holes for the RBs and keep a clean pocket for Siemian, but they also have to stay healthy throughout the game because the cupboard is pretty bare there.

MHR - Which defensive player for the Broncos needs to have a big week against the Chargers?
SB: Shaquil Barrett. Set the edge against the run and pressure Rivers against the pass.


Stats for Trevor Siemian? 19/28, 2TD, 0 INT

Number of carries/yards rushing/ TDs for Broncos? CJ - 20/76, 0TD; JC - 12/52, 1TD; Book - 4/23, 0TD

Number of yards receiving for Broncos receivers (whoever they are)? 240

Longest FG? 48

Number of sacks to Siemian? 3

Number of sacks to Philip Rivers? 4

Broncos player with the most tackles? Brandon Marshall

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 2 (1 Pick 6)/2/1

Number of times Von Miller is held? Every time

Final Score? Denver 31, SD 16

The Favorites

Favorite Broncos game EVER? SB XXXII

Team you hate to lose to the most? The Oakland/LA/Irwindale/Oakland/Las Vegas/?? Nomads

Team you love to beat? Any AFCW foe

Game most looking forward to this season? N*w Engl*nd

Game “definitely not most worried about” this season? I would have said the Jets, but teams from NY seem to be bad mojo for the Broncos this year, so - the Bengals.

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Chris Harris Jr.

Favorite Broncos player of all time? Randy Gradishar

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Domata Peko/ Garett Bolles

Superstitions on game day? Nothing radical - typically wear a Bronco shirt, plant in front of a TV (or listen on satellite radio if the Broncos aren't televised locally).

Favorite TD celebration? A tasteful Mile High Salute

Favorite Von Miller sack dance? I'm not a huge fan of excessive choreography - prefer a more spontaneous emotional reaction (although any dance resulting from a Cry Me a Rivers sack will be appreciated).

Favorite snack food during the game? Don't eat much during the game (chewing is too distracting), but may drink something orange.

How did you become a Broncos fan?

I grew up in Denver in the 70s, so my initial exposure to football coincided with the rise to greatness of the Broncos.

The mood in Denver during that first Super Bowl season and leading into the big game was special. I caught the bug of football in general, the NFL version particularly, and the Broncos specifically all at the same time.

Even though I've lived in Arizona about twice as long as I did in Denver, I'm a Broncos fan through and through. I made it through the dark days of the McDebacle (one of the few games I've been able to attend in person came during the season he was fired), but I've also been able to witness three Lombardi-winning seasons as well.


What are the "darkest days" you’ve witnessed as a Broncos fan?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    1960s - the AFL years
    (6 votes)
  • 4%
    Early 70s - pre Orange Crush
    (10 votes)
  • 28%
    Blowout SB losses in the 80s with Elway
    (63 votes)
  • 59%
    McDaniels "era" (it was almost too painful to call an era)
    (131 votes)
  • 4%
    Post-Manning era (for the record, if this is your answer, you know nothing of suffering!)
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    "Shasta" :)
    (3 votes)
222 votes total Vote Now