It’s only appropriate we have TWO ultimate fans this week to talk about the Dolphins’ matchup because if ever there’s a need for more fandom to push this Broncos’ team off its losing skid, it is now. Right now. Partly because this Broncos team really needs a win (sorry Scotty, Ian and all the rest of you #EmbraceTheTankers), and partly because all our ultimate fans who keep predicting improvement need to be rewarded :)
“We want to win a game,” coach Vance Joseph said Thursday. “We have five ball games left, and it’s been a tough, tough year so far. We want to win a football game so we’re playing the guys that can help us win.”
The guys who are going to help “us” win are Draco1986 and Crush who absolutely “crush” this week’s UFG, so don’t skim too fast because there’s a lot of gold in here (but I will tell you that the “Favorites” are a highlight, so whatever you do, don’t miss out on those!)
On to Miami...
Week 13: Broncos at Dolphins
MHR – Should we even talk about the loss to Oakland? I didn’t think so. But let’s play the ‘What if?’ game that I hate anyway :) If Trevor Siemian had come in earlier, do you think he could’ve gotten the offense moving sooner and in time to maybe tie/go for the win?
Draco1986: I think there is a pretty good chance, but a lot of that fell on the scheme and play-calling early on with Lynch. It was pretty obvious Musgrave was trying to make things very simple with just a couple reads early on. A whole different game plan with Siemian in there to start.
MHR - What did you think of the move to get rid of Mike McCoy and how do you think Bill Musgrave’s “offense” looked comparatively on Sunday?
Crush: I can’t say anything legitimate about Musgrave’s offense yet, between the sudden take over for McCoy and “adjusting” for Paxton, it’s impossible to actually see any of his ideas in action yet. After watching what he did with Carr, I am hopeful that he can really help us move forward, and really, at this point...all I have left is some vague hope for happy shiny future...
MHR - Where are you on the belief spectrum for this team - is there hope that a championship team is just one offseason away, or does this season expose some holes that will take a lot more time?
Draco1986: I tend to be a pretty optimistic person, and I still feel good about this team. I think the offense still has a long way to go, but a productive draft and free agency that gives the offensive line a big talent infusion goes a long way to making that unit acceptable. I still think Lynch can grow into something better; everyone is always so quick to write off young players until they finally put it together. The defense needs a stud ILB that can really cover tight ends and backs. With that, this defense eliminates the biggest weakness and helps the pass rush out again, like we had a few years ago.
MHR - What do you make of these losses since the bye - are they each because of different mistakes that easily could have worked in the Broncos favor? Or is this team just in total disarray?
Crush: I feel like McCoy’s plan was completely exposed against the Bills and we never recovered. Siemian, for all his faults, is a very smart player, and after looking like a young guy with possible potential last year - he was completely lost trying to effectively run this system, which makes me wonder about McCoy’s offense overall. For all my questions about Vance Joseph, there is definitely some honest truth to the idea that “we haven’t mastered the basics.”
MHR - I wrote a post this week noting that Vance Joseph still had the locker room but he didn’t have the confidence of the players in his coaching ability. What do you think of that and do you think VJ could still be successful as a head coach here in Denver?
Draco1986: I think there’s good reason for the players to have some doubts about VJ’s ability. This season has seen tons of mental lapses and an overall lack of attention to detail. Just players not being in the right place and a lot of dumb mistakes. A lot of that is on the coaching staff. VJ I think still has a chance to be a head coach. Its a big change from being a coordinator to being a head coach. And VJ was only a coordinator for a year. The learning curve is steep, but I’m hopeful VJ can do it.
MHR - Vance Joseph said Thursday that he’s not interested in playing young guys just to see how they do in exchange for putting together a game plan to try and win. Do you think this coaching staff is capable of a winning game plan?
Crush: Yes. We need a “KISS” strategy here. The reality is that the Miami Dolphins are are not very good, and, adding insult to that injury, they are - with few exceptions resigned to losing without Tannehill. Our team is talented but they have been lost in transition with too many new coaches and QBs. They respect Siemian and are hungry to rally around a win. It will happen.
MHR - In your view, what “went wrong” this season to start out 3-1 and then end up where we are?
Draco1986: First and foremost I think a lot of the blame is on Mike McCoy. His schemes failed repeatedly, and there seemed to be an absolute refusal to actually help the offensive line either with screens or more 3 step drops. That failure cascaded down, as players started pressing and not just doing their jobs. It has continued a bit with Joe Woods still being unable to find the right mixture on defense to really clamp down on the team's deficiencies. Some of the blame does have to go on John Elway, for being unable to plug the hole at RT, and not having a better option than Donald Stephenson as the swing tackle with Menelik Watson having his injury history.
Broncos NT @DomataPeko's incredible 123 consecutive games played streak that spans 9 seasons comes to an end this week due to injury. Streak was longest among NFL DLs & 3rd among all defensive players. pic.twitter.com/pituyuEmdP— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) December 2, 2017
MHR - Moving “on to Miami,” the Broncos D will be without Aqib Talib (who will be sitting on the sidelines with some extra bling) and without Derek Wolfe and Domata Peko who are out for injuries while Todd Davis and Shane Ray are questionable. How does that impact the No Fly Zone as well as the previously stout run defense?
Crush: I would love to see Talib melt down crab boy’s gold into sad mini #15’s that the No Fly Zone can wear on the bottom of their shoes with the rest of the manure and dirt, but that’s just me. As for playing this week, I don’t see Cutler really testing the no fly zone aggressively. The Dolphins simply aren’t that motivated to play with him under center, even on the occasional times he decides to put in some effort. Miami lost a lot of their running game threat when they traded Jay Ajayi earlier this season and I think our backup run defense will prove strong enough to allow Von Miller and Cutler to meet frequently in the backfield.
MHR - What is your expectation for this team this weekend against the Dolphins. Do you want the Broncos to win? Think they can win? Hope they will lose?
Draco1986: I think Denver can win. Both teams started hot, but have really lost any momentum. I do hope Denver can win.
MHR - How do you feel about Trevor Siemian starting this week? Do you think he’ll be able to build on his fourth-quarter play last week or do you expect it will be more of the same that we saw in the games right after the bye?
Crush: Siemian is definitely the one to watch this week, IF, and it’s a big capital IF, it was truly McCoy and the “system” and he just needed a better game plan - he should look great against Miami’s weak secondary. Simply put, there are no excuses to not get this done.
MHR – Ah, Jay Cutler - every Broncos fan’s favorite ex-QB to make fun of. Given the toilet bowl-ness of this game, how could our buddy Jay make this matchup the most enjoyable for everyone - another Wildcat play? A temper tantrum? Five interceptions? ;)
Draco1986: Five picks would be nice.
MHR - If you could swap one Bronco player for one Dolphin player just for this weekend’s game, who would it be and why?
Crush: They already took an injured AJ Derby off the wire 2 weeks ago so, I would be more than happy to use Ndamukong Suh to clog the middle while Peko and Wolfe are out. As long as we are pulling out the magic dust, if it is actually more than just a temporary swap? I would move to steal Adam Gase back to be our QB coach again in a heartbeat.
MHR – With Donald Stephenson and Connor McGovern on the right side of the line while Ron Leary is out, what is your projection for how often Miami’s Ndamukong Suh will get at the quarterback? Will Trevor Siemian be on the sideline by the second half?Draco1986: I’m going to guess Suh gets three pressures and a sack. Hopefully Musgrave plans around that a bit though.
MHR - What do you think of the Broncos’ running game plan every week? How would you rank our three running backs and how would you like to see them used this week?Crush: Great running teams require great O-Lines, and while ours is improving, we definitely are not there. I think Booker is the only RB to return with the team next year so I am definitely hoping he continues to improve.
MHR - If you were coach this weekend, what kind of basic plan would you put together on offense and defense to beat the Dolphins?
Draco1986: The Dolphins have been vulnerable through the air this year, especially against Tight Ends and slot receivers (26th and 30th by DVOA). I’d like to keep seeing Austin Traylor involved, so some roll outs where he and maybe Emmanuel Sanders have a combo going to pressure the Dolphins corners and linebackers. I really think going back to some of the screen concepts we saw last week will also help the re-shuffled line. I think that pressure to the edges can open up some run lanes where the Dolphins haven’t been great either.
MHR - Which player matchup intrigues you the most this weekend on both offense and defense?
Crush: Siemian vs Miami’s secondary - I need to see “something” real here. And Von Miller vs Cutler - Jay should have collected his money from the safety of the concussion protocol for another week, I don’t think he makes it to the 4th quarter.
MHR - In your opinions, what is the best-case scenario for how this season plays out - embrace the tank or win as many as possible?
Draco1986: I never embrace tanking. It has such a chance for backfiring (look at the Browns, Jaguars etc for years), and it makes life way too rough on my wife and dogs for us to keep the skid going. This QB class has great potential, but Denver has to fix the O-line for any QB to have success.
Crush: Winning is a habit, and it takes time to develop - We need to return to solid fundamental football and master the basics, particularly on special teams and offense. Return to winning now, so that we have a better foundation ready for next year. Losing is for losers, it’s that simple. Tanking for draft picks is a suckers bet - it demoralizes the great competitors on a team, discourages and decreases free agent talent interest and is still just a “best guess” on draft day. Just No.
Predictions - Draco1986
Stats for Trevor Siemian? 22/31, 286 yards, 2 TDs and a pick.
Stats for each Broncos RB? Booker: 15 carries, 78 yards, 1 TD; CJ: 12 carries, 52 yards; Charles: 5 carries, 22 yards
Number of yards receiving for each Broncos receiver? Sanders: 4 catches, 92 yards; DT: 6 catches, 58 yards; Traylor: 5 catches, 48 yards
Longest FG? 41 yards
Number of sacks to Siemian? 3
Number of sacks to Jay Cutler? 5
Broncos player with the most tackles? Justin Simmons with 8
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 2/0/0
How many muffed punts for the Broncos? 0 this week (Don't make me a liar guys)
Final Score? 24-10 Denver
Predictions - Crush.
Stats for Trevor Siemian? 20/30, 225 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs.
Stats for each Broncos RB? Booker 15/65, 1 TD; CJ Anderson 10/35; Jamaal Charles 4/18;
Longest FG? 47yds
Number of sacks to Siemian? 3
Number of sacks to Jay Cutler? 4
Broncos player with the most tackles? Justin Simmons
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1
How many muffed punts for the Broncos? 0
Final Score? Broncos 28, Miami 13.
The Favorites - Draco1986
Favorite Broncos game EVER? I think this changes each year, but right now it was being at the game where TD got his 2000th yard.
Team you hate to lose to the most? The Chiefs. Out here in Chiefs country I hear about it for weeks.
Team you love to beat? Pats. They’re just so smug.
Favorite game this season? The Dallas game. A coworker is a huge fan, and it was nice to get to win our lunch bet.
Game you think will break the Broncos losing streak? This one. No better time than now.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Derek Wolfe
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Shannon Sharpe
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Domato Peko. Guy has such a great outlook on life and has been huge in the middle.
Superstitions on game day? Fly the flag a few hours before game time, wear my Elway Jersey before the game, pull on my Blue and Orange Converse shoes and put on my Wolfe jersey for the game.
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Cris Collinsworth. The guy’s voice just grates on me.
Favorite sports cliche? They should just go out and execute
Favorite sports movie? I’ll stick with football and say Friday Night Lights. Although Rocky is the best overall.
The Favorites - Crush.
Favorite Broncos game EVER? Super Bowl 50 - because I can still feel the love.
Team you hate to lose to the most? Raiders
Team you love to beat? Patriots
Favorite game this season? Cowboys
Game you think will break the Broncos losing streak? This one!
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Vonnnnnnnnn
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Floyd Little
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? SWAG Kelly, because why not hope?
Superstitions on game day? I KNOW that they can hear me screaming through the TV, and I am always there with words of “encouragement”
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? All of ESPN
Favorite sports cliche? Iron sharpens Iron
Favorite sports movie? Miracle - from “the Miracle on Ice.”
Denver, where have the times gone? https://t.co/HbSAFK4rX4— Denver Broncos 365 (@DailyBroncos) December 1, 2017
How did you become a Broncos fan?
Draco1986: I was born into it. My grandparents become season ticket holders in the late 70s and I became enamored with the game and the team. I couldn't imagine rooting for any other team.
Crush: I was born that way.
Who has the better day defensively against the opposing QB?
This poll is closed
Von Miller/Shaq Barrett
Ndamukong Suh/Cameron Wake