The Denver Broncos are one game below .500 and are about to take on possibly the best team in the NFL right now - the Los Angeles Rams. Most fans and analysts are not giving the Broncos a chance this weekend, but they aren’t Ultimate Fans now are they?
And that’s why we have Colorado-raised, Arizona-living but Broncos-born SaguaroBronco here to pick us all up and remind us there is hope - even if just a glimmer. After all, no one thought the Broncos could beat the Chiefs, and they darn near did (we won’t dwell on why they didn’t) - so if the coaches can pull their heads out of their you-know-whats (don’t worry, it’s a family show here) and scheme a bunch of running plays for the two best offensive players right now - Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay - and the quarterback can protect the ball and the defense can tighten up to protect their respective parts of the field, there are places to exploit the Rams’ few weaknesses.
Yes it will take a miracle - but that’s what we’re used to around here.
Week 5: Rams at Broncos
MHR - Ugh. Do we even need to talk about the Jets game? No :) But tell us one bright spot in that game that encourages you about the team.
SaguaroBronco: Let me explain how my weekend went last week - it’s Fall Break time in Arizona, so my daughter had the week off school and we went up to the White Mountains of Arizona to get away. Lleading up to the weekend, I checked 506sports.com to verify that the Broncos game would be televised in that part of Arizona (check) and that our rental place had TV that would pick up the game (check). Sunday morning, I wake up to rain that turned to snow (rare for this time of year, even in the White Mountain). But I’m planning to stay in and watch the game, so no problem. Twenty minutes before game time, the power goes out. Shortly thereafter, the cell data connection goes down, so I couldn’t even follow on GameCast (every once in a while, some data would push through so I’d see a delayed update on the score, but not know what was going on). About 15 minutes after the game ended, the power came back on and I saw the outcome.
So bottom line - I didn’t see any bright spots, but on the other hand, I didn’t have to suffer through the misery in real time either.
MHR - Case Keenum is not producing like we expected for $18 million/year. Where do you stand on the “bench him for Chad Kelly” spectrum?
SaguaroBronco: I’m on the side of that “spectrum” that doesn’t see much point in worrying about who is residing in the QB position when the OL seems to be incapable of pass blocking, and the coaching staff seems to be committed to an offensive game plan that refuses to utilize the strongest part of the offense (the run game).
MHR - Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay continue to impress yet continue to schematically be taken out of the game early. Broncos rank first in yards per carry average but 19th for percentage of run plays. And now we have the Rams who allow an average of 5.0 yards per carry. Do you think the coaching staff will figure this out yet?
SaguaroBronco: It’s the second most baffling part of the Broncos game planning this season (the bland predictability and unaggressiveness of the defense is the first most baffling part). It seems to be the one thing that the OL does well, and we certainly have gifted runners in both Freeman and Lindsay who are able to take advantage of good blocking and on top of that create their own gains by vision to see holes in the defense and decisiveness to exploit them. However, it feels like one running play getting stuffed at the LOS causes the staff to abandon the run and ask Keenum to pass 50 times in the game.
MHR - Vance Joseph noted that Max Garcia may be taking some of Connor McGovern’s playing time at right guard, presumably to improve our pass protection. But McGovern has been very good (other than last weekend) and our run blocking has been great. Do you agree with this potential move?
SaguaroBronco: Not at all - of all the potential moves that are out there to improve the direction of the team, replacing McGovern with Garcia (who wasn’t exactly HOF-level at pass blocking last year either) seems to be like 18th or 19th on the list of priorities.
MHR - Between Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton, it looks like a good future starting duo. How long do you think DT and Sanders will be here, and do you feel like the young guys will be able to replace their talent?
SaguaroBronco: I’ve not been on the #TradeDT bandwagon in the past. However, with his upcoming salary cap hit and lack of dead money next year, it seems like a restructure or leave type situation for him. I’d like to see him stay, but not at the cost of hindering the future progression of the team.
MHR - The Broncos defense is not what it used to be, but it presumably still has some elite players in Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr., Domata Peko and Derek Wolfe. But other than Wolfe and Harris Jr. last week, not too many of the defensive players showed up. Do you expect that to change this week after all the “soul-searching” by the players?
SaguaroBronco: I do. The rapidity of the decline in the level of performance of the defense, particularly with how they were able to perform six days earlier against the “unstoppable” offense of the Chiefs (a game I was able to watch kickoff to final whistle), speaks to more of a scheme and discipline issue.
As mentioned above, I didn’t get to see the game against the Jets, but the long gains that they gave up in both the run game and pass game generally occur when players are trying to do someone else’s job and forget about their own and/or are put in a position schematically where they are asked to do something for which they aren’t well suited.
I’m hoping that the “soul-searching” isn’t a player-only thing - the players may need to focus on doing their own jobs and trusting their teammates to do theirs, but the coaching staff also needs to put them in a position to capitalize on their talents and succeed.
MHR - Jared Goff is 16-4 under Sean McVay, and the common theme in those four losses was his completion percentage was less than 63 percent. The Broncos D right now holds opposing QBs to a 64.5 percent average completion percentage (but that number is trending in the right direction - 62.2 percent for Mahomes and 45.5 percent for Darnold). Can this Broncos’ pass rush/coverage make it a tough day for Goff, or will it be the other way around?
SaguaroBronco: They can - the question is whether or not they will. Part of it is being a little less predictable, bringing people in from unexpected points (which doesn’t just mean jailbreak blitzes that often leave someone isolated in coverage). I saw some of that against Mahomes before the defensive scheme seemed to devolve into trying not to lose rather than trying to actually dominate. Even though they frustratingly weren’t able to get to Mahomes with sacks, they were able to reduce his completion percentage and QB rating, especially prior to the 4th quarter. They can do likewise to Goff, but they need to be attacking rather than being tentative to do it.
MHR - Todd Gurley III is a beast and the Rams’ O-line is tops in the NFL. How do the Broncos stop Gurley if they just allowed over 200 yards from one running back and 340 from the entire Jets team?
SaguaroBronco: They were able to keep the running games of their previous opponents in check (other than the one run by Kareem Hunt on Monday Night Football). I think that each player on the defense needs to get back to honoring his responsibility within the defense on each play and trusting his teammates to do the same. I’d like to see the coaching staff be a little less predictable with their play calling as well and let the defense dictate to the opposing offense more rather than sitting back and reacting to whatever the offense wants to do.
MHR - Broncos will face a Rams team with their beloved former Super Bowl-winning coordinator. Do you wish Wade Phillips was standing on the Orange and Blue sideline this weekend, no matter how much money it might have cost Elway?
SaguaroBronco: I like Wade, but he has a history of starting out well and losing effectiveness as time goes along, so I wouldn’t expect that we’d be 2015 level with him on the sidelines now. I don’t think it was a money thing with him either - he’s in a good situation now personally that I don’t think he’d have seen in Denver. I think Elway thought keeping Phillips would have meant that we’d have lost the “up-and-coming” Woods - who seems more “down-and-almost out” now.
MHR - Not too many fans are happy with the team and most want to fire the coach, maybe the entire staff. Where do you come down on this?
SaguaroBronco: I wasn’t a big fan of his hire and I wanted him out at the end of last year. He seems to have “Peter Principled” out a couple of levels ago and I haven’t seen any glimmers that he’s learning from his mistakes or holding those under him responsible for theirs. I don’t see a future for him in Denver.
MHR - Which players will be playmakers for the Broncos this week?
SaguaroBronco: If they game plan logically - the offensive playmakers should be Lindsay and Freeman with a number of healthy assists from the Janobeast. On defense, we need a good game from the front seven (both run defense and pass rush).
MHR - CAN THE BRONCOS BEAT THE RAMS?
SaguaroBronco: Yes. I’m actually reasonably optimistic about the game. I believe the Jets game was an anomaly and they will be able to play the game close and have a chance to close it out at the end.
"We want to go out here and just change the narrative on us. We’re a hard-playing defense with a lot of great talent. We know we are. We just want to prove to everyone else that we are.”— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 12, 2018
» https://t.co/UfIninCRa9 pic.twitter.com/jVjPjcUfSd
Stats for Case Keenum? 20/28 for 275, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Stats for each Broncos RB? Freeman 75, Lindsay 88 (TD), Janovich 15 (TD)
Number of yards receiving/TDs for each Broncos receiver? Sanders 85 (TD), Sutton 64 (TD), DT 55
Longest FG for McManus? 44
Number of sacks to Keenum? 2
Number of sacks to Goff? 4
How many amazing blocks by Andy Janovich? All of them
Broncos player with the most tackles? Brandon Marshall
Broncos player with the most penalties? Garett Bolles
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1/3/2
Final Score? Denver 31-27
Favorite Broncos game EVER? SBXXXII because of what it meant, but there are many exciting memorable games that I’ve watched from the 70s to today
Team(s) you hate to lose to the most? Raiders
Team you love to beat? P*tri*ts
Favorite upcoming game this season? Cardinals (because I’ll be there with my daughter)
Toughest game on the schedule? This one against the Rams
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? CHJ
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Randy Gradishar
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Phillip Lindsay
Superstitions on game day? Not too many - I wear a Broncos shirt and usually eat and/or drink something orange.
Favorite sports movie? I don’t watch many - I’d rather watch a real game
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Now that Phil Simms and Jon Gruden are gone, I’d have to say Collingsworth.
Favorite sports cliche? I hate sports cliches (*editor’s note: lol, me too...the question is really supposed to mean ‘which one is your favorite to hate?’)
How did you become a Broncos fan?
I grew up in Denver in the 70s, so I grew up in my appreciation and knowledge of the game as the Broncos grew into their consistent level of excellence. Starting with the development of the Orange Crush that led to SBXII, through the Elway trade and Bowlen’s commitment to developing a consistent high standard of quality football (get him into the Hall) and continuing with the three Lombardis in Dove Valley, it’s been a great ride as a Broncos fan. I’m glad I got my fanhood start in Denver, but I’ve been here in Arizona twice as long as I was in Denver, and my love of the Broncos has never wavered (if McD didn’t break my fanhood, the current state of the Broncos won’t).
Which Bronco is it crucial that he has his best game Sunday?
This poll is closed