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Broncos at Raiders: The No Bull Review

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The Denver Broncos fell 21-14 to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. A bad team faced a mediocre one and the chips fell about how you would expect. Here are my thoughts, analysis, and opinions on the game.

Denver Broncos vs Oakland Raiders Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

All I wanted for Christmas was a win against the Raiders. Sadly, our team isn’t even good enough to get that done even with them looking like a completely average team in 2017.

Denver was given the hope of a shiny, new QB and our defense was supposed to have all the tools necessary in order to shut down the Raiders.

But sadly, like most of the rest of the Denver Broncos 2017 season, the cake is a lie.

Defense

This game was a microcosm of the Broncos’ season defensively. For the most part, the defense played great NFL football. Then there were just about 10 plays here or there that cost us points that were enough to sink the Broncos.

The run defense was still pretty stout overall holding the Raiders to about 2.8 ypc. The pass defense was far less so as Carr had a pretty stout day picking on the depth guys from our secondary who are in no way as good as our starters.

Front 7

Shaquil Barrett had one of the most spectacular defensive plays we’ve seen from the Broncs defense this year. His technique in getting under the left tackle was as good as you will see in the NFL in what led to a strip sack of Derek Carr.

Zach Kerr had a great game on the front. He had the look of a guy playing angry and was doing his best to take it to Marshawn Lynch and the Raiders. His run defense was very strong throughout the whole game and really impressed me.

Brandon Marshall had another stinker of a game. He’s a guy that looks more and more like a liability each week always being one step behind or one half-second slow on breaking to stop a play. His pass defense has honestly fallen through the floor this season. The only reason it doesn’t seem worse is because the next best linebacker we have on the team is Todd Davis.

Von Miller is playing really solid football this year, but is anyone else wondering why we aren’t seeing more out of him? Seriously...he’s a league leading defender and one of the best pass rushers of the modern era. Are you seriously telling me all it takes is some double-team action to keep him under wraps? I know the team is in the tank this year, but I’d honestly expect better from a guy who is one of the best paid players in the league.

Secondary

Bradley Roby had to step it up after Aqib Talib gets ejected early. Without missing a beat, the Raiders throw on him and get a huge gain. Later in the 2nd quarter Roby had a great pass defense on a long pass followed by a great stop on a screen where if he missed, the Raiders would have converted a 3rd down. He also showed some decent tackling against the run in the game.

Justin Simmons made a great run stop on 3rd and 1 stopping Marshawn Lynch for a loss. He was active all day making great tackles both against the run and pass. In the 4th quarter he had a great pass defense on a TD throw that was picture perfect.

Langley got smoked for a TD in the red zone. That’s a pretty darn bad play even for a rookie. Really his whole body of work in this game was offal. He’s a far cry away from being ready to play NFL football as a cornerback. Hopefully this game is a wake-up call for him and gets him to double down on the training part of his job.

Darrian Stewart continues to have a rough year in giving up a deep TD pass in the 2nd half. I will say though that hit that he got flagged for against a WR over the middle was textbook-perfect defense and in no reality should have been flagged.

Offense

I understand the need to be conservative with a young quarterback, but I have to say the play calling early in the game was maddening. Bill Musgrave started off continuing the same path that Gary Kubiak and Mike McCoy had cut before him by running the ball as a predictable feature which caused the offense to bog down early and often.

I’ve gone on record saying I’m leaning toward Lynch being more of a bust than anything, but the offense to date has never played to his strengths using more run option plays and spread concepts. I did like the wrinkles they finally threw in on about his 3rd drive or so, but I wish we saw more zone read concepts used for the guy.

Quarterbacks

Paxton Lynch’s first pass of the game was way off the mark which was unfortunate since Fowler had 2 steps on his guy. His throw to Booker later in the 1st half was very good and in a place where only his guy could make a play. He also made a pretty good throw to Virgil Green in the end zone, but sadly Green doesn’t know how to catch, so it ended up being a pick instead of a TD.

Later in the 2nd quarter we got to see Lynch in the 2 minute offense which was quite disappointing. He threw a Tebow one-hop special to kick off the drive. He then threw another pass that would have been better suited to say the defender was the target that DT had to knock away. He wrapped up the drive by stepping up to run after outside pressure and getting sacked where he should have been looking to throw the ball with a short step-up.

I’m honestly pretty ticked off that Lynch injured his ankle. The guy needs to be on the field so the story can be written on him. Another injury just delays the organization from being able to put a nail in the coffin on what seems to be an entirely underwhelming QB.

Trevor Siemian got his shot to make a big return in the game after Lynch had an injury. He promptly threw 0-3 to end a short drive with his first 2 throws looking like absolute garbage. For a guy who has 2 seasons of NFL starting experience, I expect a hell of a lot more from a guy coming off the bench.

On his next drive, he started picking it up and finished with a very gutsy throw on 4th and 6 for a long TD to Cody Latimer. He led the team to another TD drive in garbage time (his specialty) which is probably going to encourage the team to play him more when honestly even in this game him stepping on the field was a complete waste of time and effort. Brock is in every way a better quarterback and should have been our backup this week.

Line

Ron Leary gave up a rare sack in this game and really played the worst game I’ve seen from him all year long.

Garrett Bolles had a couple of derpy moments as well giving up 2 sacks and I think 1 penalty, but his play outside of that was really strong. One bright light from the 2017 season is that we have a legitimate left tackle in Bolles from everything I’ve seen.

Allen Barbre isn’t anything special at right tackle, but let’s all take a moment to appreciate the guy for being all over the place this season at G and T for us. Also, for what it is worth he is the best right tackle we’ve seen on the team all season long.

Running Backs

Davontae Booker ran a spectacular route in the flat to get an almost TD in the first half. I’ve seen enough from Booker in the pass game to want more and more of his involvement catching out of the backfield. That being said, I’m not sure what the hype is about him in the run game after this week’s action. He got completely shut down out of the backfield outside of those 2 nice catches.

C.J. Anderson also underwhelmed in this one. It isn’t really news, but he’s honestly such an average NFL RB. He’s making it very very easy for the team to move on from him after this season as it will save them a nice chunk of change that could be better spent on a younger, more dynamic player.

Receivers

Virgil Green got three looks today and it is absolutely mystifying to me as to why. He’s not a good receiver and drops passes that hit him in the hands just as good if not better than Demaryius Thomas does. Want to use him to run block? Sure. But let’s be done with the nonsense idea that he is ever going to develop into a pass catching TE of any decent skill. It just isn’t his game and at this point it is damaging the team more than it is helping.

Those snaps honestly need to go to Austin Traylor, ASAP. He only caught 1 of 4 targets, but the thing you can say about him is that he’s young and has the potential to develop. This season is in the can. Let’s maximize our coaching time by getting the future on the field and coaching them up so they can be impactful for the 2018 season.

Special Teams

Jordan Taylor has a new reason for being on the team: the dude can field a punt. Seriously, some of the angles he caught them at were a little awkward and he did a solid job not derping the game away (you paying attention Isaiah McKenzie?).

Final Thoughts

Let’s put a fork in the Broncos’ season. It is done. The only thing as a fan to look forward to each week at this point is seeing some of our youth develop. This is just like the 4 - 12 season that saw Tebow finish the year for us. It is just about coaching and pride at this point. We have a couple of beatable teams on the schedule, so there’s likely to be a stop to this absolutely woeful streak of losses. But yeah...every loss now has turned into “at least that helps us get a better draft pick.”

I do want to say for you true orange and blue blooded Broncos fans that are still tuning in every week: God bless your souls. This is awful football to be watching and if Pat Bowlen were in a place to mentally follow what was going on, more heads would be rolling at this point or at least some ownership of responsibility would be coming out of the mouth of John Elway and Joe Ellis regarding the atrocity of the product they have put on the field this year.