For three consecutive weeks, the Denver Broncos have had the chance to capitalize and take control of their own destiny in the AFC West and the conference’s playoff race. Unfortunately, for the third consecutive week, they decided to flush such an opportunity down the toilet and embark on the painful slide to irrelevance with a 29-19 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. It’s all over but the crying, and it’s time for some deep reflection as to what direction the team should head in the coming weeks. Whatever decisions are made there, especially offensively, could have a huge impact on what the team could shape up to be next season.
A different week, but a similar story was quickly etched in stone. It didn’t take long for the Broncos to morph into their own worst enemies. On the second drive of the game, Jamaal Charles’ strip-and-fumble courtesy of Marcus Peters put them in a 7-0 hole early. Just a few series later, the Broncos’ defense had a rare mishap in coverage, as Travis Kelce was able to blow by Darian Stewart and give the Kansas City Chiefs a 14-0 lead.
From the get go, the Broncos were tremendously outmatched. There was a hope, perhaps a fools’ hope — that the offense (after weeks of pitiful play) would somehow turn the corner and do enough for Denver to secure victory. But of course, that wasn’t going to happen and a self-inflicted avalanche of errors would prove to be too much for the Broncos to overcome. That seems to be the ongoing theme for this team and their 2017 season.
Like most weeks, the first half was borderline torture to watch. Though in the muddy sea the Broncos traveled through all night, one thing was crystal clear: Trevor Siemian demonstrated that without question — he is woefully inadequate and unfit for command as the Broncos’ starting quarterback. Through two quarters of play, Siemian amassed a treacherous stat line, completing just 5-of-14 passes for 56 yards with not one, but two ridiculously errant interceptions. He ended the night completing 19 of 36 passses for 169 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions — a truly pathetic performance padded with garbage time stats.
"It's not a Trevor problem." Joseph must have seen a lot of great things on tape in that first half from the #Broncos QB. "It's just a flesh wound." It's clearly now a Vance problem. #BenchTrevorNow pic.twitter.com/8bjzP4uah5— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) October 31, 2017
For as disastrous as Denver’s offense was their special teams was equally as awful. Whether it was terrible punts, horrific punt coverage or fumbling the ball on returns — their efforts were their own unique tragedy. But if you are someone who loves small victories, at least Brandon McManus didn’t miss a kick tonight and finally appeared to get out of his first half of the season funk. On a serious note, when two out of three phases of your team are operating at a sub-par level, you aren’t going to win many games in the National Football League.
It might not be reflected in the final score at first glance, but the Broncos defense did their job for most of the night. Despite being put in terrible position due to the lack of efficacy by the offense, the Chiefs only scored one offensive touchdown and had to settle for five field goals. Rookie phenom Kareem Hunt was held in check all night long, and virtually no receiver outside of Travis Kelce did anything of merit offensively for Kansas City. The Chiefs only converted 2 of 12 third downs and had just 276 net yards.
If I were the Broncos defense, I’d be absolutely livid. It’s an absolute disgrace that a defense like this is being wasted due to a deplorable offense. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be a fly on the wall in the Broncos’ locker room. But what is even harder to imagine is enduring the rest of the season without a change at the quarterback position. Believe me, there is a lot wrong on offense, but as long as Siemian is calling the shots under center, the Broncos won’t ever amount to anything.
At 3-4, the Broncos will now travel to face the NFL’s best team in the Philadelphia Eagles before returning home to host the always tough New England Patriots. If I had to bet my bottom dollar, I’d wager the Broncos will be 3-6 in two weeks time and will cement themselves as a candidate for a top ten selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. Let’s hope that if they do secure a selection that high, they will use it on a player who can actually make things happen on offense.
Stick a fork in them, Broncos Country. This season is as good as done for Denver — and that’s just the sad reality of it all.
Hart’s Quick Hits
- Trevor Siemian played terrible, but the Broncos' rushing attack was quite impressive against the Chiefs. The trio of Anderson, Booker and Charles helped rack up 177 total yards and the team averaged 5.2 yards per carry. With a rushing game that strong, you would expect whoever the starting quarterback is to be able to make plays, but that appears to be too much of a task for Siemian who struggled all night long.
- There isn’t much time left before the NFL Trading Deadline, but if John Elway isn’t burning up the phone lines in pursuit of a competent right tackle, it’s a signal that the team has already mailed it in for their 2017 campaign. Menelik Watson proved once more than he doesn’t deserve to be a starting tackle in the NFL and was routinely exposed in pass protection by Justin Houston. Watson wasn’t the only offensive lineman who struggled keeping the Chiefs’ edge rushers at bay, Garret Bolles had a rough go of it as well.
- Shane Ray had a few good plays in his return to the gridiron, but Shaquil Barrett should be given back his starting job. Barrett’s play was much better in comparison and appeared to be the more consistent player throughout the night’s festivities. I would ease Ray back into the rotation and let him be a role player until he is fully healed and back in football shape.