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Broncos vs Bengals: The No Bull Review

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The Denver Broncos fell short of victory for the 6th game in a row. Here are my No Bull thoughts on the game, the team, and the near future for the Orange and Blue.

Cincinnati Bengals v Denver Bronco Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Broncos couldn’t even overcome what was a 3 - 6 team with one of the worst offensive lines in the game.

It has to be said that the Broncos look every bit as hapless as the only team with a worse record in the AFC...the Cleveland Browns.

For a team with such a high pedigree and history of winning, this season is to date plainly pathetic.

Defense

I saw a lot of good defense played for most of the game by the No Fly Zone. Sadly, what is the story of the season is that there are some holes in this defense that teams are finding and flogging away at while the coaches and the players fail to adjust.

The funny thing it really is just a few plays here or there that is costing the defense. For the most part, the secondary is still absolutely killing it. Execution is the key and it seems to have been thrown down the well this season.

Front 7

The unit as a whole was back to being absolutely fantastic against the run. Mixon was held to 20 carries for 49 yards which works out to be 2.5ypc. That’s smothering run defense.

Shane Ray is so bad at actual dynamic football. On the TD pass, the scoring route very obviously went right by him and instead of holding down his side of the field where there was no outside help, he just rushes the passer ignoring that the defense had no help behind him on that side of the field (which he’s sucked at all season long). Also, anyone who wants to chirp about his sack...go right ahead and cheer for that coverage sack that he took roughly 4 seconds to get done. I’m not impressed in the least by it.

Derek Wolfe’s sack was a great display of good push by the whole line which forced the QB to step up into a pocket that was disappearing. He has a superb TFL late in the 2nd quarter that was raw, unadulterated power shoving his blocker back and pulling down the runner far behind the LOS. He ended the day with 5 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL, and 2 quarterback hits. That’s a bad-ass day for a defensive end in this defense.

Domata Peko absolutely dominated up front. His play has been a real treat to watch if you enjoy trench warfare in the NFL. He had two big TFLs and was the leading tackler for the Broncos in on 6 for the day.

Secondary

Bradley Roby shows some pretty lackadaisical play on a 3rd and 3 getting caught flat-footed and giving up an easy TD as he let a speedy guy get right by him. One of those plays wasn’t bad enough. Late in the 4th quarter, the Bengals go back to the Bradley-Roby-can’t-cover-3rd-and-short well with the exact same route for another TD. This, ladies and gentlemen is the corner that the Broncos are likely going to overpay. Does he have good plays? Sure. But he has more bad than good that hurt way worse than the few good pass defenses he brings to the table. I’d have a hard time giving him anything close to a #1 CB contract when that time comes. Let some other team be the sucker for his underwhelming play.

Our big 2 corners both looked superb. I was honestly a little surprised to see throws heading to the guys that Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, Jr. were covering. But you know bad football teams sometimes don’t give a hoot who the defenders on. Unfortunately neither of them got a good opportunity to get a pick.

Has anyone else noticed that Darian Stewart’s play has really cooled off this season? They’ve moved Justin Simmons to the free safety spot, but the cost has been less production out of D-Stew sadly from what I’m seeing. Stewart really has a head for the game and his role shift doesn’t appear to afford him as many opportunities to read and break on plays.

Offense

We only turned it over twice. That’s still a positive note, right? At this point, the offense just looks like a bunch of underachievers with no potent weapons and no real teeth. Want to know why Mike McCoy isn’t calling plays for our beloved team any longer? It has to do with the lack of improvement from week to week after teams got ahold of some good film and shut this offense down starting in week 4.

I was completely wrong on McCoy sadly. I thought his past spoke to a coach that would tailor his offense to his players and sadly we’re seeing that that is not the case with some of the whispers slipping out of Dove Valley.

Quarterbacks

Brock Osweiler had yet another mediocre game. I’ll take that honestly. He didn’t give away turnovers like Oprah gives away cars. That’s a positive for this season. In what looks to be Brock’s last real shot at getting a starting gig in the NFL, he’s not quite done enough from what I’ve seen to take a step forward. The good news for him is that he’s shown that he has value as a backup quarterback and it will keep him employed in the NFL for a good number of years.

I really thought he had a nice 3rd down scramble early to get a first down. Showed great pocket awareness. Later at 3rd and 4 inside the 10, the play execution was absolutely terrible. Brock throws the almost pick-6 on a throw that never should have happened. The receivers executed the route concept terribly and regardless of the pass rush, Brock should have tucked the ball and taken the sack on that play.

Line

Early in the game the offensive line really set the tone well with winning the push battle up front in the run game. The pass blocking was still somewhat spotty though. Garrett Bolles especially had a rough day.

Running Backs

Davontae Booker put together a solid game. I especially liked what I saw from him in the passing game lined up wide on 3rd and 2. He made a great catch to move the chains and was pretty effective in catching 5 passes on the day. His running wasn’t fantastic, but it did have flashes here and there.

I’m pretty bummed for Jamaal Charles. For a guy that has flashed often skill on the field, I can’t help but wonder what is the thing keeping this team from using him more. It probably has to do with how much losing is going on and the team wanting to focus more on developing young talent than risking a great NFL player like Charles.

Receivers

Demaryius Thomas continues his standing as the NFL’s leading #1 WR on a team with the most drops that hit him square in the hands. I know he played well overall and caught a TD, but For The Love, can you stop dropping passes that hit you in the hands. It is maddening to see a guy who gets paid so frigging much of this team’s salary cap play like a #2 WR.

Virgil Green has an even worse drop in the 2nd quarter as the pass hits him square in the numbers and he lets it bounce away on what would have been a 1st down conversion. I’m pretty sure we can put to bed any of this nostalgic talk about his skill as a pass catching TE. He doesn’t have it, and sadly his blocking this season has gotten worse to boot.

Austin Traylor just got pulled up to active duty this week. Either he’s a true undiscovered gem or our tight ends are just that bad. He had some pretty solid catches in the game. I’m hoping we see a lot more of him in the coming weeks.

Special Teams

Shaquil Barrett made a really great punt block early in the game. This guy continues to impress me with his play week after week.

Riley Dixon absolutely nailed a punt inside the 5 that dropped straight down and popped straight up making it easy for Fowler to get it downed in bounds. It sucks that I’m dropping praise about the punting game, but what you gonna do when your team has lost 7 straight and you are looking for good things to say anywhere?

Final Thoughts

Sign me up for the 2018 season, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t get me wrong now. I’ll still be cheering for every player on our team to have success and win games. But dearest heavenly goodness...the football we’re seeing out of this year’s team is awful.

Win, lose, or draw, I’ll still be here knocking out reviews, but I think the tone may lighten up a bit in the coming weeks and there will be a lot more laughter from me as a fan about this team and what happens from here on out. I’ve seen this story before...starting off strong with a back-up quality QB and tanking out to end a season 4 - 12. That got us a high draft pick and one Vonnie B'Vsean Miller Jr. Good things can come from seasons like this. Sadly, we have to suffer through a lot of bad football to get there.