There were moments during the Broncos loss to the Chiefs that Denver seemed to have recaptured the Mile High Magic of yesteryear. The repatched secondary did it’s best “No Fly Zone” impression with Joe Woods mixing and matching coverages enough to keep Patrick Mahomes off balance while Musgrave kept Keenum under control enough for the rookie running backs to take over the game.
Then the wheels came off the wagon.
It’s easy to overreact to what will go down as the most painful defeat Denver’s suffered in the last 3 seasons, but at the end of the day few if any picked the Broncos to beat Kansas City team that had set the world on fire 3 weeks into this season.
If you’re a glass half full kind of fan, there’s plenty of reasons for optimism. The rookie class continues to impress time and again. Paradis, McGovern and Leary look solid in the middle and that Broncos D reached heights they didn’t seem capable of.
On the other hand, Keenum looks like a bit of a pumpkin at the quarter mark. His heart and leadership do little to mask 6 interceptions and the kind of limiting game a smart coordinator would do well to manage. Musgrave failed to do just that against a Kansas City run defense that looked like wet paper towel.
According to Football Outsiders stats, the Chiefs were allowing 8 yards off the left end of the line through 3 weeks, 5 and a half off the left tackle and 10.44 off right tackle. It showed, the Broncos backs were averaging 6.7 yards a carry. Yet they ran it 21 times while Keenum threw 33. Why?
The Broncos passed on Josh Rosen and Josh Allen in the draft for Keenum. Their storylines are only beginning and could ultimately prove to be a costly error in John Elway’s General Managing career.
As good as Chubb has been, Rosen has been the question eating at the back of my mind everytime I break down Keenum and the Broncos long term future. An elite pass rush can only get you so far in today’s NFL. You need a “guy.”
Again, I could be overreacting, but it’s clear Keenum isn’t it. The training camp hype fooled me and it stings.
Back before camp opened I did a long film review of Keenum’s tape over the years. I figured Keenum would be a similar player to Jake Plummer for the Broncos. High highs, low lows but an immediate answer at the quarterback position, even if he’s never a player that can carry a 5-win roster on his back to the postseason. He hasn’t been that, yet.
Maybe Chad Kelly can be that guy?
My opinion, but it’s too early to throw Chad Kelly into the lineup. However, if the Broncos lose to the Jets and eventually fall to 2-4? It’s time to seriously consider it. New York has the look and feel of a must win if Denver is going to do anything close to contend this year.
“I didn’t think [about] it at all,” Mahomes said. “I was just scrambling left, I felt Von on my back and I knew I couldn’t throw it with my right hand. I knew we needed the first down and so I kind of just like shot-putted it to Tyreek.”
Several Broncos players visibly and vocally upset with the soft coverage on 2nd and 30.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) October 2, 2018
One player on his way out:
“Where’s the blitz?? What are we doing?!?”
Chiefs at Broncos: Denver finds a new way to shoot self in foot in heartbreaking loss - Mile High Report
If you’re a masochist or somehow missed the game, MHR's own Tim Lynch gives a great summary of the fourth quarter here.
The Broncos rushing game showed up in a big way (when it was called), but the coaches come up short yet again.
6th winner right here.
This was an incredible jump cut. pic.twitter.com/DmFhe0rslx— Alexander Abnos (@AnAbnos) October 2, 2018
...and the unsung losers in black and white. Again.
“The clock said zero, but that’s not my job,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “(The ref) said he looked up and the clock was zero and the ball was gone. I disagree.”
You're a Chiefs fan. Stop.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 2, 2018
If it’s any consolation, Mitchell Schwartz had a heck of a game for Kansas City Geoff.
"The ref told us that the ref that was supposed to be watching it just missed it ... He told us that, the ref told us the guy that was supposed to be watching the clock just missed it.
Turner played decent considering Dee Ford aggravated his groin injury, but worth monitoring Veldheer's status going forward. Denver will need him against a good Jets defense.
Mahomes was 13-of-16 for 151 yards in the fourth quarter.
This won’t make you feel better Broncos country, but Mahomes looks like the kind of generational talent that will last a long time in a league that throws flags when someone sneezes on the quarterback.
This one will make you feel better: Royce Freeman is every bit as good as he looked when I watched his Oregon tape. He’s a special player.
I’ll be talking more about a lot of these things tomorrow for GIF Horse.
On to the rest of the West.
Rivers upped his record to 4-0 against San Francisco, with 1,213 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in those games. Rivers (51,504) also passed Hall of Famer John Elway (51,475) for eighth in career passing yards in NFL history.
Worst: The Browns got screwed
Can’t say I disagree. I watched big parts of the Browns-Raiders game and Kolton Miller got the same kind of help from the refs that Baltimore’s tackles did last week. In general the zebras were disgustingly bad in this one, which is barely news in 2018.
The thing is 16-20 teams can say the same every single week. It's a zebra league nowadays. https://t.co/NaBNzgqUOU— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 2, 2018
Jon Gruden has a snippy response to Derek Carr questions after Raiders' OT win - The Washington Post
“The start of this year and half of this game has been some of the hardest stuff I’ve ever had to deal with, because it’s frustrating things,” Carr told reporters. “I feel the best — physically, mentally, all of those things — that I ever have. But then I screw something up somewhere along the way. I’ll tell you this, though: one thing I just said and looked to our guys and said fight.”
Still think Gruden and Carr will eventually wind up with a messy divorce. Small peaks behind the veil like this reveal a situation that can’t feel rewarding for the Raiders quarterback.
Gruden’s trolling here. Simple as that.
“Nah,” Cook said. “We don’t care, ’cause it’s us against the world. That’s how we feel, you know? They’re supposed to be fans for a reason, fair weather or not. If you ridin’ with us, ride with us. If not, then, we’ll holler.”
J-E-T-S a M-E-S-S
Loser: Todd Bowles
Jets coach Todd Bowles apparently did, because after Jacksonville scored the first bunch of points, he decided that nothing he did mattered.
Trailing 25-3, Bowles had his team kick a field goal. Before the field goal, the Jets trailed by three possessions. After the field goal, they trailed by three possessions.
Trailing 25-12 with 4:33 remaining in the game, Bowles had his team punt on fourth-and-6. Before the punt, his team trailed by two possessions; after the punt, the Jets ran one offensive play.
Jets linebacker Josh Martin.
Martin's head injury was not specified, but most people have concluded that the injury was a concussion as Martin had already missed the first three games of the season with concussion symptoms.
Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne left Sunday's game with a stomach injury and did not return.
If Claiborne can’t go that’d be big for the Broncos. New York has been a top ten defense against wide receivers.
Look around the league
If you missed the weekend in it’s entirely because the Broncos weren’t playing and want to catch up this is a good place to start.
Dak Prescott Passes to Ezekiel Elliott Up the Seam for 34 Yards
Something I found trending on my Twitter today were Dallas fans laughing at those who questioned Jones taking Leighton Vander Esch in the draft, They happen to ignore that Elliott is currently the only skill position player opposing defenses care about. At all.
Andy Dalton Finds Tyler Boyd to Convert Fourth Down
I’ll talk about this more tomorrow for GIF Horse, but with the emergence of Cincinnati the early AFC playoff race looks like Denver is competing with the Titans, Dolphins, Steelers, and Chargers because the AFC North will have at least two teams.
Marcus Mariota Hits Taywan Taylor for Fourth-Down Conversion in OT
My brother ain’t wearing his Iggles jersey with the same kind of pride anymore.
Derwin James Forces the Game-Sealing Pick
James looks like he’ll be a stalwart at the position for years to come.
Seahawks Gain 5 Yards on Third-and-6
Lost in the news cycle with Earl Thomas’ bird: Seatte is the first team to convert 0 third downs and win a game in years.
Speaking of Earl, though.
It’s a bit dark to celebrate an injury to any player, but Denver is a bit lucky this trade failed to materialize. Thomas is one of, if not the best safety in football when healthy. The last thing Keenum needed was to play him twice a year.
By now I’m sure you’ve seen the bird. It was basically the center of the NFL media universe all day Monday. In black-white terms it’s a simple “player vs owner” contract situation that got messy and became really public.
My stance is a bit in the middle. You can’t fault the team for playing it safe and maximizing their return on a great contract with a Hall of Fame player, even if it didn’t work out. You also can’t fault Thomas for wanting more long term security. Fans lose sight of this, but unlike the NBA or MLB football players are playing on contracts with little in the way of security. Team’s can cut them with minimal financial damage but players have a short window of time to make the money they’ve trained their entire lives to attain.
Lastly, and this is merely speculative: I think this situation with Thomas and the public fallout is going to have a bit of a lasting impact on the perception of the Seahawks to prospective free agents going forward. Players talk across the league and everyone has noticed the way the Legion of Boom was dismembered.
Bobby Wagner on Earl Thomas: “If I was him, I’d be pissed off.” And then Thomas goes by on crutches, right leg wrapped. #Seahawks think it’s same type injury as his broken leg Dec 2016. @thenewstribune pic.twitter.com/TPYowohRwx— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) September 30, 2018
"If he doesn't come, then he's not a team player," the quote from Wagner read. "If he does come and gets hurt, then it's 'he shouldn't have came.' ... If I was him, I'd be pissed off."
Bell responded, "smh exactly...get right bro bro @earl ! I'll continue to be the 'bad guy' for ALL of us."
Which made the decision by Bell to return an interesting one, to say the least.
Each week that Bell stays away, he’s losing his weekly salary of $855,000. That includes the bye week, so it makes sense for Bell to report during the bye week and make the $855,000 without having to subject himself to any hits on the field.
So Bell will take two more weeks off, then come back after the Steelers’ sixth game and play the final 10 games of the season — if things go according to Bell’s plan.
But will he return to Pittsburgh?
Second, the Steelers could trade him before the Tuesday after Week Eight, when the window for doing so closes. Once he signs with the Steelers, he indeed can be traded, to any team. A tentative deal could be negotiate now, with the understanding that the trade would happen once Bell shows up.
Eric Reid wears an #IMWITHKAP shirt as he speaks to the Carolina media for the first time.
Reid spoke with the media for the first time since reaching a one-year contract with the Panthers last Thursday, but he declined to offer details about how the deal with Carolina materialized.
“Those circumstances have to do with my case,” Reid said of an ongoing collusion grievance against the NFL that alleges team owners intentionally denied him employment due to his public stance on social justice issues. “So you’d have to talk to my lawyers about that.”
Lastly, a peek at The Draft Network’s Monday Mock draft. In case you missed it, I spoke with Kyle Crabbs for MHR for a recent 3 & Out.
No. 20 – Denver Broncos
PICK: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Remember that time the Broncos wanted to invest in Case Keenum? Us too. That hasn’t gone so hot early on, meaning the Broncos will be back in the QB market a year after picking 5th in a loaded draft class. (That’s peak Elway, but I digress). Lock meets all the requirements to be coveted by the Broncos: big arm, prototypical build, modest but workable athleticism.
What say you Broncos Country?