With a rout of the Arizona Cardinals ten days ago, the Denver Broncos were optimistic about being able to build off their win and gain some much needed momentum. In order for that to happen, they had to travel on the road to face the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium this afternoon in a must-win game.
After four quarters of fierce battle, the Broncos lost to the Chiefs 30-23 — effectively putting their postseason hopes to rest. Here are five things we learned from today’s game.
1. The Broncos’ hopes at reviving their season are over
With today’s loss to the Chiefs, the Broncos are now 3-5 at the season’s halfway mark. You can kiss winning the AFC West goodbye and the chances of a wildcard birth are basically on life support. Perhaps last week’s win against the Cardinals gave Broncos Country a sense of false hope, because today’s outing reinforced what kind of team Denver has been all season long — a terrible one. Do you really think this team is going to win most every game in the second half of the season? Ha! It’s time to accept the fact that the season is over and that most importantly, that the franchise is far away from competing for postseason play and Super Bowls anytime soon.
2. The downfall of the Frequent Fly Zone continues
For most of the season, the No Fly Zone has turned into the Frequent Fly Zone. Some games they are up, some games they are down — but it’s safe to say there have been far more downs than ups this season in respect to the Broncos’ secondary. That was certainly the case today as the Frequent Fly Zone was shredded by Patrick Mahomes and his arsenal of offensive weapons. That being said fifth-year cornerback Bradley Roby and back-up safety Will Parks (starting in place of Darian Stewart) were the primary culprits in the unit’s struggles this afternoon.
My biggest issue was with Roby, who gave up several big plays in today’s game, in particular a 41-yard reception by Tyreek Hill and the drive-completing touchdown to Travis Kelce in the second quarter. Moreover, he had a rough third quarter allowing multiple first down catches. It wasn’t a particularly good look for a player who is in the final year of his contract and hoping to get a big-time payday on the free agent market. Nothing he has done this year should signal any remote interest in the franchise retaining him long-term. Expect the Broncos to use a high draft selection next April to replace him.
Bradley Roby exploited on both #Chiefs big plays on that drive. He is the epitome of inconsistent. Story of Roby's contract year has been one step forward, three steps back.— Chad Jensen (@ChadNJensen) October 28, 2018
3. The Broncos’ penchant for penalties killed multiple drives
Bill Musgrave had a great offensive game plan and was quite creative in the way he decided to attack the Chiefs’ defense. Unfortunately, the Broncos’ penchant for penalties (especially in the second half) killed multiple drives and wiped out a handful of 20-plus yard plays that should have led to points on the board. In fact, every offensive lineman for the Broncos registered a penalty this afternoon.
Self-inflicted woes have been the overarching narrative for the team’s offense this season and today’s issues were consistent with that. It’s hard to win games when you continuously shoot yourself in the foot. Alas, that has been about the only thing fans have come to accept from the offense this season — the Broncos routinely shitting the bed and being their own worst enemies.
Broncos LT Bolles going to get his qb hurt. He gets a holding call and pre snap penalty damn near every gm. pic.twitter.com/oTEAehayDZ— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) October 28, 2018
4. Case Keenum proves once again that he is a journeyman quarterback
Fans who were hoping Case Keenum would replicate his success with the Minnesota Vikings this year would have had better luck playing the Powerball. The only ‘perfect’ thing for the Broncos this season is the unfortunate fact that Keenum has thrown a pick in every single game. It’s crystal clear that he isn’t the long-term savior for the franchise, but what is unclear is what John Elway and the Broncos’ brass will do this coming offseason to improve the position. Until that problem is solved fans should only expect mediocrity. Unfortunately, that might be a problem that can’t be solved this offseason.
5. The Broncos’ rushing attack was strong despite Royce Freeman’s absence
The Chiefs aren’t known for their quality run defense and rank among the league’s worst in that regard. However, the prospect of the Broncos’ having success on the ground was questionable with rookie Royce Freeman sidelined from today’s game due to injury. Even with him being out of the lineup, Denver had no issue running the ball. Undrafted rookie standout Phillip Lindsay continued to impress while third-year pro Devontae Booker had several quality runs of his own. The two combined for 173 yards on 27 carries. If there has been one continued bright spot in a lackluster season for the Broncos, the production from their youthful running back stable has certainly been it.
So Broncos Country, what were your five big observations from today’s game? Sound off in the comments section and make your voice heard!