The one good thing about the frustrating loss to the Rams four days ago is that the Broncos have a chance to erase that one sooner rather than later with a Thursday Night Football win over the Cardinals tonight.
But will they?
Returning to the Ultimate Fan Guide, draco1986 believes they will. Whether he’s buying the trash talk from Von Miller, selling the doom and gloom from much of Broncos Country or just hoping the Broncos can pull it together against what should be an inferior team, we don’t much care.
The point is that the Broncos should be able to win this one in spite of bad coaching just by running the ball, stopping the run and not getting boneheaded penalties. Is that too much to ask? We don’t think so.
Week 7: Broncos at Cardinals
MHR - Talking about this team feels like a constant nature v. nurture debate - is it coaches or is it players? Is it scheme or is it performance? But the answer is always “both.” So what responsibility of this mess is Vance Joseph’s, what is John Elway’s? And how do we fix it long-term?
draco1986: I think Vance shoulders more of the blame at this point. John puts the team together, and while it hasn’t always been perfect, this team has a lot of talent. But Vance is the one that has to utilize it to its potential. And so far, I dont think he’s done that. A lot of it I think comes down on the offensive staff failing to put together a game plan that takes advantage of the talents. If the offense is more consistent, it’s going to improve the defense.
MHR - The Cardinals are 1-5, have coaches on the hot seat, and are playing at home. The Broncos are 2-4, have coaches on the hot seat and are playing on the road as 2.5-point favorites from Vegas. Do you agree they have the advantage here?
draco1986: I think so. It’s a short road week and that always makes things especially difficult. But this team has talent, and they’ve competed against likely the two best teams in the league. Von is showing some fire, which I think this team needs from him.
MHR - 58 offensive plays. 41 passes (60% completion rate). 17 rushes (5.3 ypc, 1st in NFL). What gives???
draco1986: I defended the ratio against KC because I thought the situational choices demanded it, with the amount of two-minute offense we ran. This past week though, I think Keenum and Musgrave out-thought themselves. The Rams brought men down into the box and challenged Denver to throw on them, and it didn’t work on enough plays. Case has to hit throws to punish teams when they do that.
MHR - We know Case Keenum is better in play action and our running backs can get the yards. But the Cardinals secondary gave up a ton of yards to Vikings receivers last week. How would you game plan our offense this week?
draco1986: I think you have to establish a running game early. The Cardinals rank 14th in DVOA against it, and it’s a spot the offense can exploit to help protect a re-worked offensive line. The passing game should feature a lot of quick-hitting plays and Jeff Heuerman over the middle, two other places Arizona has struggled this year. Keeping the passing game quick should again help the line against some good pass rushers, and let Case just play instead of overthinking.
MHR - Among the bright spots this season have been the rookies, four of whom are regularly contributing - Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman, Phillip Lindsay and Bradley Chubb. What kind of hope does it give you to have these young guys showing great stuff already?
draco1986: It first gives hope that our ability to evaluate college talent and make the right choices on draft day is trending in the right direction. And secondly it gives hope that this team has a lot of talent on it, and when things get going it’s going to be scary.
"It’s something we’ve got to get fixed in a hurry.” - Pres. of Football Ops/GM John Elway on stopping the run pic.twitter.com/qen63hIhoY— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 16, 2018
MHR - WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THIS DEFENSE???
draco1986: One of the biggest issues I’ve seen this year has been misplays by the safeties. The scheme we have relies on them to be active and make plays in the run game and the passing game. Justin Simmons and Darian Stewart have not been able to do that so far. There also has not been consistent play from Todd Davis or Brandon Marshall so far, and those guys have to step up. Lastly, the coverage calls continue to not help out our secondary and take some pressure off by letting them play more press - so guys aren’t getting a free release 10 yards down the field.
MHR - Of the Cardinals, Von Miller said the Broncos were “going to kick their asses.” Do you believe him? And how does the Broncos D actually do that?
draco1986: This is the most fired up I think I’ve seen Von in years, and I think it’s needed. The defense has the talent, the guys just have to make plays.
MHR - Although David Johnson has been underwhelming this season as the Cardinals hot shot RB, the Broncos have found a way the last two weeks to give opposing running backs their career-highs in yardage. If you were Joe Woods, how would you scheme the defense to account for Larry Fitzgerald and rookie Christian Kirk but not give up huge yardage to Johnson?
draco1986: I think Denver has to stay in their base look a lot this week. Running nickel has been bad overall, and part of it is the desire to bring in an extra rusher like Ray or Barrett. We need to keep the big men on the field though to lock down the opposing line from getting to the second level. Play more press man and take away any quick throws Rosen would have and help give the pass rush time to get home against a Cardinals line that ranks 18th in adjusted sack rate.
MHR - Bradley Chubb had a three-sack game last week. Do you expect him to build on that this week facing a beat-up O-Line and a rookie QB? How can the combo of Von and Chubb wreak havoc?
draco1986: I think it’s a great start for him. Like I said above, I think the Cardinals’ line is vulnerable to a good pass rush. Let these guys get after it. I will say I’d like both of them to be disciplined in their rush so they don’t create big lanes for either Rosen to escape or for there to be some delayed runs. But the opportunities will be there I think.
MHR - Which players will be playmakers for the Broncos this week (one on offense, one on defense)?
draco1986: I think Phillip Lindsay makes a big splash this week. The Cards have given up some big plays to running backs, and Lindsay is explosive enough to take advantage of any opening. On defense this week its going to be Von. He made the statement, and he’s paid to be the playmaker. I think he steps it up this week.
MHR - It seems waaaaaaay too early in the season to be talking about coaching changes, QB changes and whether to do either now or later. Where do you stand on these issues
draco1986: I think it is too early. We’ve played some tough teams, and I think we had a let down game in New York. A win this week puts us back on the path and gives us 10 days to find a way to win in KC. I think a loss though does make the question come to the forefront. I’m not big on firing a coach midseason except in the case of malfeasance. The coaches you would want to bring in aren’t available anyways, and Joseph still seems to be well liked by the players. As for Case, if we drop this game in Arizona I think you almost have to see if Chad Kelly is a guy you want to try and develop,
MHR - What are you hoping to see out of the Broncos on Thursday night?
draco1986: A team that is fired up and focused. A team that comes out and fights for the whole 60 minutes and puts a boot down on a team that is not as talented as they are.
Stats for Case Keenum? 14/20, 220 Yards, 1 TD
Stats for each Broncos RB? Lindsay: 15 caries, 105 yards, 1 TD, 5 catches 62 yards; Freeman: 11 carries 76 yards, 1 TD; Booker: 5 Carries, 18 yards, 1 catch 8 yards
Number of yards receiving/TDs for each Broncos receiver? DT: 1 catches, 29 yards; Sanders: 2 catches, 32 yards; Heuerman: 4 catches, 64 yards; Sutton: 1 catch, 25 yards
Longest FG for McManus? 38 yards
Number of sacks to Keenum? 2
Number of sacks to Rosen? 3
Broncos player with the most tackles? Todd Davis
Broncos player with the most penalties? Max Garcia
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1 pick for the defense
Final Score? Denver 27-Arizona 20
Favorite Broncos game EVER? A Broncos win over the Chiefs when Clinton Portis ran wild. I had gotten a chance to sit in a suite at the game, and a lot of the folks were Chiefs fans..
Team(s) you hate to lose to the most? The Chiefs. Living now in Chief’s country I hear it for weeks
Team you love to beat? The Pats. I just don’t like them.
Favorite upcoming game this season?
Steelers. Its two great franchises and it’s a critical game.
Toughest game on the schedule? The next week in KC. Past that I;d say in LA against the Chargers, because every division game is now a must win.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Phillip Lindsay. I’ve watched him tear things up now for my two favorite teams.
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Matt Lepsis. Great underrated part of the offense for years.
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Besides Lindsay I’ve been a fan of Chubb.
Superstitions on game day? I’ve got a lot. Same outfit, fly the flag, get everyone dressed up. Getting my little girl into though is the best new tradition.
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Chris Collinsworth. He just sounds vapid.
Favorite sports cliche? They need to dominate the line of scrimmage. It’s where the games are won and lost.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
I’m a lifer. The family has been fans as long as I can remember.