The Denver Broncos did their best to hang with the undefeated Los Angeles Rams, but when it was all said and done they were defeated 23-20. This afternoon’s loss was their fourth in a row after starting the season off with two impressive wins. This year’s team looks to be embarking in a similar journey to last year’s squad. Unfortunately, we all know how that story ends. Brace yourselves for another down season, Broncos Country — and remember — it’s only the middle of October. Here are five things we learned from today’s game.
1. The Broncos’ rushing defense is trash and was exploited again
Remember when the Broncos had an elite defense especially against the run? Sure you do! Unfortunately for that was forever ago. Last weekend, Isaiah Crowell had a career game and this week Todd Gurley decided he would have the best single-season rushing game of his career as well. He unquestionably had the largest impact for the Rams’ offensively, racking up 208 yards on 28 carries with two touchdowns. It was the second consecutive week where the Broncos’ front seven were absolutely owned in the trenches and put forth an absolutely unacceptable performance.
There are a lot of issues with the Broncos’ defense that need to be addressed, but the sub-par play of starting inside linebacker’s Todd Davis and Brandon Marshall is certainly one of the most glaring. Often hesitant or late getting into their gap, they were isolated and exposed by the Rams’ offensive line all game long. It’s hard to imagine the team picking up their team option on Marshall and paying him $9 million next season and even keeping Davis around for $5 million. That being said, their poor efforts to date are one of the reasons why I believe inside linebacker is one of the biggest long-term needs for the franchise moving forward. The 2019 NFL Draft has a lot of quality talent at the position and presents a prime opportunity for Denver to use a premium selection on a difference-maker at the position to start alongside Josey Jewell next season. Oh, it would also be wise of them to take advantage of a deep defensive line class too.
I’ll say this: it’s bad enough that the @Broncos appear on the verge of losing their 4th-straight. But when it’ll be a 3rd-straight of surrendering 100+ yards to a RB - and the last 2 games you’ve given up 200+ to Isaiah Crowell and Todd Gurley, coach Vance Joseph is in TROUBLE!— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) October 14, 2018
2. The Broncos’ running game was completely shut down
Most weeks myself and all of Broncos Country have been extremely upset with the lack of commitment to the running game, but it just wasn’t working for Denver this afternoon. The Rams have struggled defending the run all season long, but were able to limit the impact of rookie running backs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay. Offensive guard Ronald Leary exiting the game early on due to injury didn’t help matters, but Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh were forces on the interior of the Rams’ defense that dealt the Broncos’ offensive line a lot of losses in the trenches.
3. Self-inflicted woes continue to be Broncos’ bane
Over the course of their four-game losing streak the Broncos have been their own worst enemies. Whether it was Emmanuel Sanders’ taunting penalty at the end of the first quarter that likely took a touchdown off the board, holding penalties by Garett Bolles (league leader in that category since 2017) and Max Garcia (remind me why he got the start) or horrific play-calling and execution on third and fourth down situations — the Broncos’ can seem to get out of their own way. They lack discipline, consistency and have absolutely no rhythm on either side of the ball. I can’t help but wonder if today’s outcome would have been different without their self-inflicted woes, especially had they opted to kick a field goal at the end of the first half instead of going for it on fourth down.
Broncos continue their trend of getting in scoring position (inside 40) then have penalties pull them into impossible situations.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) October 14, 2018
4. Bradley Chubb emerges with an impressive performance
The franchise and its fan base had high hopes for rookie outside linebacker Bradley Chubb when he was the fifth overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. While he has been quite most of the season, he emerged in today’s game against the Rams with a ferocious performance. He had three sacks and made a few quality plays in the running game — showing everyone why he was considered one of the best players in the entire draft. While fans still may be upset that the Broncos passed on a potential franchise quarterback for his services, they should be happy with the fact they ended up with a blue-chip defender who will be cornerstone of the defense for a long time. Congratulations to Chubb on an awesome performance!
5. Subtle silver-lining: At least it wasn’t a blowout
Most of the staff and Broncos Country predicted a blowout, but that didn’t transpire. It’s always hard to find silver-lining’s in losses, but the team fought hard and didn’t crumble against the league’s best team. That likely won’t change the overall course of events for the rest of the season and probably won’t save Vance Joseph’s job, but it was at least nice to see them be competitive against the Rams. Maybe, just maybe, they will get back on track four days from now when they take on the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football.
So Broncos Country, what were your five big observations from today’s game? Sound off in the comments section and make your voice heard!