This series has been and always will be about being real. I write these to lend my voice to Broncos Country on what we see in the games from and around our team.
That being said, my apologies, Broncos Country for skipping out on the final two games of the year. I’ve been on holiday break from work and from college courses and doing a lot of well earned resting and enjoying family.
But I did watch the games for what it is worth (though that isn’t much given the state of the season) and it is worth talking about the last two games because they say an awful lot about what is now happening with a new head coach search.
I still love this talented defense
I think the defense overall represented itself as well as it could in the final two games. I think there is still a bucket load of talent on this defense. Some of it is very young which is a good thing (Bradley Chubb, Adam Gotsis, Shelby Harris, Josey Jewell to name a few).
Let’s also remember that the best player on the team hands down is Von Miller and he’s still playing premiere football. He can talk about needing to do better all he wants, but what you saw this year out of him is probably the best you can expect out of him without a secondary behind him that forces teams to hold the ball another half second.
The main problem on defense
We have some pretty significant holes in the secondary that honestly cause Joe Woods to be unable to use likely half of his play book (and that’s the half he wants to be in over 60% of the time).
If you don’t have two corners you can rely on to lock down primary and secondary receiving targets, you can’t run man schemes. The back end of this defense has been completely predicated on that idea since before our magical 2015 season.
Denver lacked 2 corners of this nature the whole season long. Add to that Chris Harris Jr. going down to an injury and you have a grand total of 0 corners available to do the job that needs to be done to make this defense work.
Then add the safety situation in which was front and center in the final two games of the season. Darian Stewart has lost a step. It is what it is and he’s just not being on top of plays like he used to be. Maybe it has to do with the lack of ability at corner or the change in how the scheme is being executed with lesser talent, but he has looked slower to react and attack plays all year long.
Justin Simmons also seemed to take a big step back and wasn’t able to fly around the field like he did last season. Though to be fair to him, this defense has asked him to do everything from corner to both safety positions this year. If he’s going to be an impactful NFL safety, he needs to be able to focus on one position and get excellent at it instead of trying to be a versatile mediocre player like we saw this season.
I did like what I saw from Will Parks this season. He looks like a guy who got a fire lit under him when the Broncos traded for Sua’ Cravens. Even in the last two games he often times looked like the best player in the secondary.
I like nothing about the offense
Seriously the last two games of the year as far as the offense goes can fly a kite. Without Phillip Lindsay the team looked largely impotent. Sure, here and there we saw some sparks from some of the young players and from Case Keenum. But like much of the season, they were not able to consistently string together anything that looked like success.
The passing game looked like it was possessed by the spirit of a tired old Bon Jovi tune, “Living on a Prayer.” Our tight ends were flaccid. The running backs looked like a couple of JAGs. Our young, talented WRs looked like rookies.
I do think the offensive line is doing a pretty solid job (especially considering the loss of starters there). That’s the bright point from the last two games. I think Connor McGovern is a clear-cut starter in this league. I liked a lot of what Jared Veldheer put on tape as well as Garrett Bolles (minus the holding penalties).
But the biggest issue of all was the coaching
Front, back, and inside-out this coaching staff clearly dropped the ball this season. The Denver Bronco team has a lot of talent on it. It was not used well by this group of coaches. While I liked a lot of what the play calling on offense did with Phillip Lindsay and Emmanuel Sanders on the field, once those two guys were gone, they looked like what the overall Broncos season in 2018 was: impotent.
That could be because we have the completely mediocre starter in Case Keenum at QB. It could be because our rookie WRs need polish (they do...more on that when I do the roster review series). Whatever the cause though, my eyes tell me the coaches could have and should have gotten more out of this offense to win a couple more of the close games they were in this year.
And it all boils down to the head coach. I was talking with a buddy as we watched the Broncos get trounced by the San Diego Chargers and asked him one big question: “What one thing does Vance Joseph do at an above average level as an NFL coach?”
He and I both were speechless. I couldn’t think of anything...at least nothing that correlates to wins in the NFL. I think the best quality he has is that he can relate to the players. That means nothing to me in regards to winning in the NFL. I don’t care if you can relate to players. I, like most of Broncos Country I expect, care about winning football games.
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One of my favorite things about being a football fan is that the process is an annual one. Our season is over and now we get to look forward to a new beginning. I don’t like changing coaches as often as we have. I don’t like that we don’t have an answer at quarterback. But the opportunity is now upon the Broncos franchise to seek those answers.
And more importantly, we’ve moved on from the biggest problem the Broncos have had for the past two years. I think Pat Bowlen would approve of this move wholeheartedly.