Vance Joseph probably would have liked his first NFL win to be a little bit smoother than almost blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter. But on the other hand, a win against a division opponent in primetime should never be taken for granted.
That’s how Joseph felt win asked about it Tuesday:
“I’ll say this, it’s a hard league. Every win you get, especially at home in the division, it’s a good win. Absolutely, we want to finish better than that. That was sloppy and not who we want to be, but ultimately it is a win first against a really good opponent. [Chargers QB] Philip Rivers is a special quarterback. You give him a chance from half the field, it’s going to be a tough chore for you. A win is a win. We’ll take it. No apologies for that—none.”
The question that we posed in our MHR chat room and debated was: Should Broncos fans be encouraged that Denver held off the comeback and persevered, OR, are you concerned that they almost squandered a 17 point lead and had to block a last second FG to win?
Below are the candid, verbatim responses from our staff as we kicked around this question.
It's good to learn a hard lesson and still win the game, although it could lead to a false sense of accomplishment. Hopefully the coaching staff really works hard to ensure this kind of choke job doesn't happen again.
I go back and forth on whether or not this was a "choke job". If one of the three: A freak INT on a screen, a fumble that should've been overturned, and a blown Roby coverage, don't happen, we're not talking about this at all.
I'm torn between the two. McCoy's Chargers were notorious for finding weird, fluky ways to lose just like the interception and "fumble" last night. Seeing those happen to the offense worries me. It's hard to quantify a specific reason for being a pattern for the Chargers, though, and it's too early for it to be a pattern for the Broncos. Perhaps it's a lack of discipline and attention to small details? Or it could be simple bad luck. On the other hand, the game saving play was all about knowledge, skill, and execution. It was no happy accident. So even if there is some sort of bugaboo following McCoy around (unlikely), the Defense and Special Teams stand a good chance of making up the difference.
Ian St. Clair
Even coaches need moments to grow and learn, and this is one for Mike McCoy and his staff. The Broncos offense had the chance to bury the Chargers and McCoy morphed into Gary Kubiak. Finish opponents off when you get the chance. Have the faith and trust in your players to do so. The benefit is it happened in Week One and Denver still won. But the Broncos have to finish off opponents when they get the chance.
Watching #Broncos game again...Could have scored 30+..Had 24 in 3rd...Why didn't they?— Eric Goodman (@EricGoodman) September 12, 2017
CJ Anderson told me, "We took our foot off the gas."
Remember 2015 when the Broncos' defense won most of its games this way? Yeah, that season turned out pretty good, so I'm not worried. Not yet. But the fact that the defense could come through just when it absolutely had to is very encouraging, and the 17-point squandering won't worry me until we do that a few more times - well, like one more time. Right now, I'm mostly thrilled our offense could score touchdowns, make third-down conversions and sustain drives, so I'm not focusing on anything negative...that game Monday night went better than expected overall.
I'm neither concerned nor encouraged. It's Week One, things(shit) happen! They got the W and it's time to get into a groove and get ready for Week Two against a tough Dallas Cowboys team.
I'm not negative on anything either, but Vance Joseph damn near Jon Fox'd that game. After giving up those two touchdowns in a minute, Joseph shed his inner Fox and opened up the offense again leading a nice sustained drive. However, the misfortune continued with that 50-yard missed field goal from Brandon McManus. Sometimes, luck just bounces the wrong way.
I would be more concerned if the issues that caused the comeback were preventable. To St. Clair and Tim's points, the playcalling and stuff was preventable and needs to be learned from, but the freak bounce on the screen and the fumble are just that, freak things. So it's a mix of learn what you can from this, but don't read too much into it, for me.
This game absolutely should cause a somewhat healthy amount of worry to Broncos Country. Yes, it is just one game. It is also the first game of the year. I'm not completely freaking out, but what I noticed in the slip that occurred in the 2nd half of this game almost in the blink of an eye was a very real lack of focus. Now, is that on the coaches or the players? I'm not sure yet. But the team overall really looked to me like they were feeling quite proud of themselves and lost their edge. Hopefully the coaches jump on this opportunity in order to help sharpen that edge and keep that focus. Pat yourselves on the back when the clock hits 0:00 and you have the win. Until then, stay dialed into what you need to do on the next play.
There were some truly unexpected things in the Broncos season opener. No way I saw the offense coming out and looking as good as they did. Then, the sudden drop off ended up being a shock as well. Sadaraine is right. There was a prolific lack of focus on the part of the offense, and the defense seemed to follow suit. The play calling was bad, but do your job until the whistle blows. It was the best way to start the season. A win against a division rival is never bad.
The Denver Broncos covered exactly, Vegas had Denver -3 and the game finished with Denver winning 24-21. It could have been 27-21, but Brandon McManus missed that field goal. Vegas projected that. Vegas projected Trevor Siemian's four near turnovers (only one disaster came to fruition), Vegas projected Denver not being able to completely shut down Philip Rivers, but still picking him off. Vegas projected the Broncos needing to take a field goal when they started with three plays from Los Angeles's one-yard line with only a minute remaining in the 3rd quarter. Denver didn't just, 'take their foot off the gas,' they covered the spread when leading by 17 points in the 4th quarter.
A tidbit that I obviously didn't say during the Broncos 4th quarter on Monday night, Denver is 116-0 when leading by 17 in the 4th quarter. They are now 117-0 when leading by 17 in the 4th quarter. Philip Rivers scored two touchdowns in less than a minute of game time, a pass to Keenan Allen near the goal line and a touchdown shot at Travis Benjamin less than four plays after the Allen touchdown created by a Jamaal Charles fumble. See how easy it is to cover the spread? It took one minute.
Are you inferring some funny business, Ian?
No, haha. Pointing out that it's weird how things often work out.
Alright let’s put a bow on this discussion!
I think there’s legitimate points to be made on both sides. On one hand, you never snub your nose at a win in the NFL, and on the other hand, there are some concerns and learnings that need to be applied from this game moving forward. The real concern will be if this becomes a pattern.
For now, it seems like a fluke/one-time unfortunate end to an otherwise dominant performance from Denver.
What do you think Broncos Country? Wade on into the fray and discuss with us!