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Ultimate Fan: ‘Run. The. Ball.’ to beat the Chiefs

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It’s not rocket science, people. Run the ball down the Chiefs’ throats - and for the love of blue and orange - do not let Patrick Mahomes run down yours.

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Hey there Ultimate Fans...weren’t we just here?

Yes, yes we were. And we were talking about winning.

And so we’re going to do that some more! Broncos not only have a two-game win streak going, they are coming off a shutout win at Mile High, which always feels good.

And even though Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are coming tonight with a win streak at Mile High of their own, they are also coming off two straight losses and a depleted defensive unit that has already been...shall we say...dismal? Yeah, that works for me.

And it definitely works for our ultimate fan this week - JasonAult16 - who is in Denver for the game but resides in Kansas where he’s had to listen to Chiefs fans pretend they know what a complete football team is (psst, Chiefs...we know a little something about having a ton of offense and expecting the QB to carry the team...it doesn’t turn out like you think it turns out).

But enough about Chiefs fans; lets talk Broncos with a Broncos fan!

Week 7: Broncos v. Chiefs

MHR - WooHoo!!! Another win!! And a shutout at that! So what have you been saying to your KC neighbors when they point out “well, it was just the Titans.”
JasonAult16: Fortunately, I don’t have to say much to my Chiefs neighbors because they have their own problems to worry about as their football team is on a bit of a skid.

That said, that was probably a very appropriate plan for the Titans. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win, which has been in short supply in the Mile High City. With the short week, the idea of keeping things close to the vest and shortening the game was not a bad idea. Obviously, the offense will have to perform much better against Kansas City, but if you and I know that, then Vic and Rich know that too. I am expecting a MUCH DIFFERENT plan of attack for this game.

MHR - There were so many good things on defense against the Titans where it was clear they were working in sync - solid coverage that allowed a little extra time for the pass rush, inside push from the line to force the QB out of the pocket, a run defense that didn’t let anyone get a first down. But it will take more of all the above against Patrick Mahomes & Co. Which aspect of the Broncos’ defense needs to be on its A-game the most to stop this Chiefs offense?
JasonAult16: The pass coverage is obviously a big emphasis this week. The Chiefs receivers have so much speed that it doesn’t take much of a crack in the defense for them to be off to the races. You have to tackle well. You have to stay true to coverage assignments. It seems like the Chiefs have had multiple big plays and/or touchdowns this season on unfavorable down/distance situations (3rd and long, etc.), so when you can force those, you have to stay disciplined and not allow a stupid mistake like a penalty or missed assignment to bail them out.

MHR - Every week it seems a different defensive player emerges as the baller - and last week was a cornucopia of names - Alexander Johnson, Kareem Jackson, DeMarcus Walker to name only a few. Does it concern you that “Von Miller” isn’t among those names every week (asking this to help me settle a debate with Jess Place...I’ll let you know if you give the right answer!)
JasonAult16: Von is fine. With Bradley Chubb out, you know that Von gets extra special attention during the opponents’ game planning. You can get blanked in the sack column and still make a positive impact on the team. Von almost had a sack against Titans...and it was even with a two-man pass rush. Not sure I have ever seen that before...and man, was the Titans offensive line horrible, especially on that play. The center pretty much gave Von an “olé block” to allow him to hit Mariota. (editor’s note: ding! ding! ding! you got the right answer. So THERE, Jess!)

MHR - Interesting stat noted from Brandon Thorn: “Inserting Mike Purcell at NT, Johnson in at ILB and switching Jackson to safety in Week 5 has resulted in opponents going 0-6 in the red zone, totaling just 72 rush yards, 2.05 YPC, 0 rushing first downs.” Will this continue on Thursday?
JasonAult16: Sure, why not? It’s not like Melvin Gordon and Derrick Henry are awful running backs. Besides, the Chiefs seem to live and die with their air attack. They just aren’t running the ball that often, maybe due to their offensive line being shaky. You certainly have to watch for their speedy receivers coming from out of the backfield. Refer to previous response about their speed giving them a chance to bust open a big play. Still, I feel good about what the rushing defense is doing.

MHR - Last season at home, the Broncos were one overthrown TD pass away from sending the Chiefs home with a loss. While not the most confidence-inducing bunch, the Broncos offense is clearly better than last year and is facing a Chiefs defense that ranks near the bottom - again. How should Scangarello take advantage of this?
JasonAult16: Run.The. Ball. Early. And. Often! I watched good chunks of the Chiefs last two defeats, and their defense was getting carved up big time. The Broncos are starting to get momentum with their offense, particularly with the running game. I look for Phillip Lindsay to have a big-time outing in this game. Running the ball with success will keep the clock moving and keep the Chiefs offense off the field. The Chiefs cannot afford to have another huge time of possession disadvantage if they want to leave Mile High with a win.

MHR - Last week I tweeted a comment that I loved how Scangarello was using his running backs in space, and a few replies were clearly anti-Scangarello and disagreed vehemently. How do you feel about our new OC - what improvements has he brought and where does he still need some work?
JasonAult16: Rich is doing okay. If you look at things in a vacuum, last week was clearly a step back, but as I mentioned earlier, I think certain parts of the cumulative game plan dictated that. Prior to last week though, it seemed like improvements were being made each week. I would like for him to push the ball down the field a little bit more. If Flacco can “make all the throws” (that phrase is starting to annoy me) like reports say he can, then let’s see it.

MHR - Chiefs’ best cornerback Kendall Fuller and best pass rusher Chris Jones are not going to play due to injury - how does that help in game-planning for the Flacco-to-Sutton connection? Is this perhaps a week to get Noah Fant into the mix too?
JasonAult16: Yes, Courtland Sutton seems to be on the cusp of being a big-time player in the NFL. I would love to see him continue his improvement this week. As I said in the last response, I would like to see a couple shots down the field for him.

I am hopeful for Noah Fant as well. It is so difficult for rookie right ends, so I am not writing him off yet but hope that he can keep grinding and building for success. He certainly seems to have the physical tools to realize his potential.

MHR - Chiefs’ offense will also be without running back Sammy Watkins and two starting offensive linemen. But there’s still our nemeses - Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Aside from the obvious, how can Fangio/Donatell use this to their advantage?
JasonAult16: If the run game does its job and forces the Chiefs into unfavorable down/distance situations, the pass rush pressure has to heat up. With the Chiefs having a couple linemen out, the pass rush could and should have opportunities hit Mahomes. Mahomes is still a baller and will do his thing, but his bum ankle will limit his mobility...and he probably won’t be helped by the short week either.

MHR - Dionte Spencer is FAST. Can he rip out a TD run on one of these returns? On the flip side, can the Broncos’ ST keep Tyreek Hill from doing the same?
JasonAult16: Sure. He had nice blocking from his punt return teammates for that long return early in the game on Sunday. He has done a great job. Keep it up.

As for Tyreek Hill, here’s the solution. DON’T PUNT AND SEND KICKOFFS OUT OF THE END ZONE. Since that probably won’t 100 percent happen, it will be imperative for the special teams unit to take cues from my advice for the pass coverage. Be solid and disciplined with assignments because one small crack could be the difference between a 5-yard return and a 60-yard return. (*editor’s note: docllv is totally fine with maybe, possibly a tackle on Hill that slams him to the ground kinda hard).

MHR - Short week, just walk-throughs at practice. After a very physical game Sunday and an AFC West rival looming Thursday, do you like this approach by Coach Fangio?|
JasonAult16: Yes. First of all, I hate Thursday night games because guys just aren’t able to fully rest and prepare for another physical contest in just a couple of days. I do like this approach that Coach Fangio is taking. By this point in the season, guys don’t necessarily need to practice tackling or having other physical-type reps as much. Besides, the big thing with this Kansas City team is the speed, which is something you just cannot replicate at all in practice. The key is to know what they are doing so that they execute the plan.

MHR - Vic Fangio compared Patrick Mahomes now to John Elway back in his heyday. Do you agree with that comparison? Do you think the Chiefs will have the success against the Broncos the way Elway did against the Chiefs over his career - or will the Broncos be more competitive (asking for a friend)?
JasonAult16: The comparison is spot on. While I saw a good chunk of #7’s career, he was pushing age-30 by the time I was old enough to pay attention, so while he was still athletic and dangerous out of the pocket with a cannon arm, I did not get to see early/mid 20s Elway in all of that glory. But yeah, I have often thought, “So this must be what it was like for Chiefs fans to watch Elway” as I have watched Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is such an incredible athlete, and giving a nod to those who want young people to play multiple sports, there are plays that Mahomes makes that would not be possible without his baseball background. Coach Fangio was astute in his observation that Mahomes plays with “athletic arrogance.” As he said, that’s not a bad thing. That doesn’t mean to be a jerk on the field but instead to have the belief that you can do anything on the field and that the opposition cannot stop you. A minimally-confident quarterback does not make some of the ridiculously-amazing throws that Mahomes makes. Elway absolutely had that athletic arrogance as well. You don’t go 98 yards in the Dawg Pound without being a supremely confident athlete.

As for the other part of your question, I think that is actually an apples-and-oranges comparison because of the different financial structures of the NFL during the players’ careers. Elway played most of his career before a salary cap so he had groups of teammates stay together longer. Mahomes is certainly having major success right now, but he is also on a rookie deal that allows the Chiefs to put money in other places to build depth...but look what is happening when injuries eat away at that depth. When Mahomes gets his big contract extension this offseason or next, it will be interesting to see how Kansas City competes when they don’t have $25 million-plus to divert to a couple extra quality receivers, better offensive linemen, or more defensive depth. Seattle built the dominant Legion of Boom defense with Russell Wilson making peanuts (especially since he was not a first-rounder), but while the Seahawks have certainly been competitive, they have not been elite since Russell Wilson got his big money. Therefore, I think Mahomes will still have some success against the Broncos because of his ability, I don’t think he will be owning the Broncos for the next decade.

MHR - Speaking of comparisons, rumor has it that Chiefs fans like to downplay the 2015 Broncos because its offense needed the defense to help it win the Super Bowl - yet they have no problem heralding a team with a putrid defense that needs to be carried by its quarterback. I have a feeling you have a few things to say about that comparison???
JasonAult16: Laurie, you must have been reading my mind. It couldn’t have been that I asked you to set me up with this kind of question so that I could go on a major rant, could it? (Wink, Wink)

Okay folks, football is a team game. It takes all 53 guys on the roster to have a successful season. Sometimes, those great players happen to be on the defensive side of the ball. Whenever anyone in football (not even just Chiefs fans) talks about the 2015 Broncos, there’s always this attitude of “Well, that really doesn’t count because the offense was not very good and did not win games in a pretty fashion, so they had to rely on defense” - as if Broncos fans should apologize for that.

Yeah, the offense struggled and Peyton was limping to the finish line, but they did just enough so that the defense could ball out and wreak havoc on the opponent. Let’s think about the defense. If this were any other franchise not named the Denver Broncos that we were talking about, you could easily consider that defense to have four future Hall of Famers (Von, D-Ware, Talib, and CHJ) plus some other strong horses (no pun intended) with Wolfe, Ward, Jackson, and others.

Had the Chiefs won the Super Bowl last year, you would not have heard a peep about discounting that success because of a leaky defense that did just enough. It would have been all about how Mahomes and company scoring so many points was fabulous and exciting to watch. The Chiefs defense did some okay things but certainly was not awesome by any stretch of the imagination. This season, the Chiefs defense is some major hot garbage...though I think people around the NFL are starting to realize that.

Why is it acceptable by football standards for an offense to be elite and a defense to be just okay...but there is something wrong when the roles are reversed with a dominant defense and an offense that struggles?

(Stepping off soapbox now)

MHR - I hate to ask this question because I’m superstitious and think I’ll jinx it...but what would a win over the Chiefs mean for the entire team? The defense? The fans?
JasonAult16: I can speak for myself in that I want this win really bad, first of all, because I will be at Mile High for this division showdown. Watching the Broncos lose in person vigorously inhales. I was at the Jaguars game, and that ending made for a LOONNNGGGG ride home to Wichita, Kansas. I also hate the Chiefs more than any team in all of sports, mainly because I live in south-central Kansas among so many Chiefs fans. I hate that the Broncos have lost seven straight to the Chiefs, especially four straight in Denver. The Broncos used to dominate the Chiefs in Mile High, but that has not been the case lately. We need to restore some order in this football universe.

As for the team, the reality is that the Chiefs are the top dogs until someone can knock them off. Getting this win gives the Broncos more confidence that they can play with some of the better teams in the league. Coach Fangio said that all games are measuring sticks but did acknowledge that Kansas City’s success as of late makes this a big game.

Predictions

Stats for Joe Flacco? 18/25, 200 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT (you know that one errant throw is coming)

Stats for each Broncos RB? Lindsay: 20 carries, 125 yards, 2 TDs; Freeman, 12 carries, 60 yards.

Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Sutton, 7 catches, 100 yards, 1 TD---Sanders 6 catches, 80 yards, 1 TD

Longest FG for McManus? No field goals because the Broncos score all TDs (how’s that for throwing down the gauntlet?)

Number of sacks to Flacco? One will probably happen at some point, but hopefully not too many

Number of sacks to Patrick Mahomes? 4

Broncos player with the most tackles? Alexander Johson

Who gets the first sack for the Broncos? Von Miller

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? ]2 turnovers

How many terrible defensive holding penalties will be called? With as much as the Chiefs throw the ball, there are bound to be a couple horrible calls made against our defense. Would not be shocked to see a roughing the passer called either since Mahomes is taking lessons from that QB in New England on being the league’s next Golden Boy

How many completely non-existent PI calls will be made? You know it’ll happen

How many holding penalties for the offensive line? 2

Final Score? The Broncos will end this stupid streak against the Chiefs with a 28-21 thriller! LET’S FREAKING GO!

The Favorites

Favorite Broncos game EVER? As I said in my article last season, if your answer isn’t Super Bowl 32, you are either wrong, lying, or too young to remember it.

Where were you the day the Broncos beat the Packers in 1998 in SB 32? I was a freshman in high school, watching that game at home in Stafford, KS. A family friend of ours was a Packers fan though was not annoying about it. I want to take credit Elway’s touchdown run off of play action because I was begging for that since the defense had to key in on Terrell Davis. I obviously remember the Helicopter Dive to be a big play, but I certainly did not remember thinking that the Broncos were definitely going to win after it. Many years of Broncos fandom cautioned me on that one. It was not until John Mobley knocked down Brett Favre’s final pass that I truly knew that we had it. I ran around my house, screaming in celebration. I might have even ran outside and yelled “GO BRONCOS!” at the top of my lungs. Such a great day!

Where were you the day Von Miller ripped the soul out of Cam Newton in SB 50? My good friend Travis January hosted a watch party at his house near Wichita. I was pretty sure that Von was going to be the MVP when he strip-sacked Cam Newton for the touchdown and then marked it down with a Sharpie when Von forced the second turnover to let the offense score the game-sealing touchdown. Yeah, Cam wanted NOTHING to do with trying to get that fumble. I also remember laughing at Cam being a big baby in the press conference...especially a couple months later when my alma mater’s then-conference foe Northern Iowa basketball players took the podium after a heartbreaking loss in which UNI blew a big lead late against Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament. If college kids can be gracious in defeat after a heartbreaking loss, then a professional athlete can take it like an adult too.

Team(s) you hate to lose to the most? Kansas City. I hear about it from my friends in the area.

Team you love to beat? See previous question.

Favorite game this season? The Titans game since I was there, hopefully topped by this one

Toughest game still on the schedule? Kansas City at Arrowhead is always tough, but the last four in December (at Houston, at KC, Detroit, Oakland) could be a difficult way to end the season

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Von Miller and Chris Harris

Favorite Broncos player of all time? John Albert Elway, Jr...favorite athlete ever of any sport

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Dalton Risner. He’s a heck of a player but an even better dude. You certainly want talented players on your team but it is really cool when they are good people too. Dalton is certainly one of those, and he has even liked a couple encouraging tweets that I have sent him. He is a Kansas State grad, which hits home with me since my in-laws are also K-Staters

Former Broncos player who most deserves HOF? As much as I want to say Steve Atwater (who absolutely deserves it too), I have to mention the anchor of the Orange Crush defense, Randy Gradishar, as most deserving. Woody Hayes called him the best LB he ever coached. But again, since Randy played in Denver and not Dallas, Pittsburgh, or somewhere like that, he continues to not get his due respect from the not-so-fine folks in Canton.

Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Collinsworth can be smug and annoying. Phil Simms used to annoy me too.

Favorite game-day snack? I have buddies who are on a Broncos Text Chain together (shout out to Matt Ziegler, Travis January, Eric Overmiller, and Chad Steinkamp!). When we have gotten together for games, a couple of the guys are really skillful on the grill. The deliciousness of that meat has been known to cause us to say some inappropriate things about how tasty it is.

Superstitions on game day? Now that I have an 18-month old son at home (named DENVER of course), I make sure Little Guy is decked out in a Broncos outfit. He likes it when I play the Broncos Fight Song on my phone. My wife and I are expecting another baby in November, this one a little girl...though she unfortunately won’t have a Broncos-referenced name. My wife let me choose Denver’s name, so she picked Dakota for our soon-to-be daughter. I already have a few outfits for Baby Girl to wear for the final stretch of the season.

How did you become a Broncos fan?

I am a lifelong Broncos fan because of two men, the first being Loren Ault. Dad became a fan when his much-older sister moved to Denver and sent him a Broncos t-shirt when he was a kid. Dad followed the Broncos through the 70s and into the 80s when I was born in August 1983. That was right after this dude named John Elway was traded to the Broncos. As I mentioned, John Elway is my favorite athlete ever and the second major reason why I love the Broncos so much. I admired his grit, competitiveness, and never-say-die perseverance throughout his career, especially when he struggled to get that elusive Super Bowl title. A scrawny-kid in the middle of Kansas learned many lessons by watching #7 do his thing. It is a bucket-list item for me to meet him before one of us leaves this Earth. If any of you fantastic readers out there can help make that happen, I would be forever grateful.

I am fortunate enough to have Broncos season tickets now, though I never got to share that with Dad because he passed away two years before I got the tickets. Every time I have gone to a Broncos game since his passing, I pause to pay tribute to him during the national anthem, pointing to the sky afterwards in remembrance of him...always with some reflective tears in my eyes. I am excited to share this love of the Broncos with my children as they get older. It’s not even just about the football part of it but more so about spending time with loved ones.

Thanks, Laurie, for giving me another opportunity to do this again this season! It was fun! GO BRONCOS! BEAT THE CHIEFS!

Poll

Love the tribute to your dad! Who owes their fandom/Broncos loyalty to one of these awesome people?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Dad
    (61 votes)
  • 4%
    Mom
    (8 votes)
  • 7%
    Grandparent
    (13 votes)
  • 2%
    Sibling
    (4 votes)
  • 28%
    John Elway
    (47 votes)
  • 6%
    Peyton Manning
    (10 votes)
  • 13%
    "Shasta" :)
    (23 votes)
166 votes total Vote Now