Do you know why I love this series so much?
Yes, it’s partly because you all are brilliant :)
But it’s mostly because this post always, always, always makes me feel better about the team. Even with the built-in critiques of the team, your fresh fan perspectives (rather than stupid hot takes from the geniuses on Twitter or absolute nonsense from some local radio nitwits) are actually the reason we can have nice things.
So here’s to hoping that jmac-31’s good vibes - our fan from Down Under - will provide the karma this Broncos team needs for a few lucky bounces on Sunday and a win over the Colts!
Week 8: Broncos at Colts
MHR - Oye. Is it even worth asking about that Chiefs’ game? OK, let’s do it. A lot went wrong, but where do you think the most blame - and therefore the most attention to fixing - belongs?
jmac-31: “Oye” is correct; I’d rather not think too much about last week’s game. With a whooping like that, everyone has to cop some blame. It seemed like the team just wasn’t ready to play a primetime division game (which feels a little silly to say after the offense scored a touchdown on the opening drive). That is not good enough in the NFL.
MHR - Emmanuel Sanders is no longer a Bronco and there’s a chance Chris Harris Jr. won’t be after this game. How do you feel about those (potential) moves?
jmac-31: I’ve really liked Sanders’ game since he got to the Broncos. Speedy receivers are always exciting, but he also brought a lot of toughness to the field with his willingness to go up and get contested catches, often against opponents who were bigger than he was. However it appears he is not a great guy to have in the locker room of a losing team, which the Broncos currently are. You don’t want that rubbing off on the younger players, plus moving him on will open up more opportunities for some of those younger players to show if they got what it takes and hopefully develop their games. Combine all that with the good return they got for him, and I am pleased with the trade (plus it gets Sanders back into a great situation).
I’m not as sure on Harris. He started his career at the Broncos as an undrafted free agent so it would be great if he played his entire career here. He’s also one of the few really experienced players on the D, so losing him would create a massive hole in the team. However some of his comments earlier in the year suggested that he isn’t thinking about returning after his contract is up at the end of the season. If that is the case, it might be best to try to get a decent return for him now, even if it creates some short-term pain. My preference would be to keep him though, and hopefully convince him to stay with the Broncos beyond this year.
MHR - Without thinking specifically about facing the Colts defense just yet, does the current offense - led by Flacco, anchored at WR by Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton, behind Lindsay and Freeman at RB, and still relying on Bolles at LT - have the ability to be a winning offense as is?
jmac-31: Oooooooooohhhhh. I think the ability for the offense to put up a winning score is definitely there. They’ve shown throughout the season that they can make plenty of good plays; they’ve also occasionally put together good drives. The problem is doing that through most of a game. So far they have not been able to do that.
Of the guys mentioned here, Hamilton may be the key. With Sanders gone, he has a chance to step into more playing time and make an impact. No comment on Bolles.
We are just two days away from Justin Houston against Garrett Bolles again. So excited for this matchup lmao pic.twitter.com/IqqjEuA9P8— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) October 25, 2019
MHR - Despite losing their franchise quarterback in a shocking retirement at the end of preseason, the Colts are 4-2, proving what a few years of key drafting and savvy free agent moves can do - i.e., Jacoby Brissett for back-up and now starter; turned 2018 3rd pick into Quenton Nelson, Braden Smith, Kemoko Turay, Jordan Wilkins, and Rock Ya-Sin; claimed current starters Pierre Desir, Mark Glowinski, and Kenny Moore off waivers. What does this say about the importance of front office moves (and not just “coaching up players” or having the right scheme)?
jmac-31: Front office moves are massively important to building a good team. The more top end talent the front office can bring into the team, the easier the coaches’ jobs are (not that they don’t still have work to do). I’m not sure if I’m supposed to turn this into an Elway thing, but I’ve liked his last couple of drafts and while he cops a lot of flack for poor free agent signings based on talent or injuries, he doesn’t get credit for the great pick-ups like Kareem Jackson or Alexander Johnson.
MHR - Against the Texans last week, the Colts defense gave up a lot of successful plays and first downs but then did something spectacular to kill the drive - 5 of the 11 Texans drives ended by sacks or interceptions. How could this “bend-don’t-break” defense be a problem for the Broncos offense, or how can the Broncos take advantage of that kind of defending?
j-mac-31: Ah. I feel like “bend don’t break” defenses are exactly what could kill the Broncos. The offense and Flacco in particular have a habit of shooting themselves in the foot this season. If they can move down the field smoothly but then the D tightens up, we could see several interceptions or field goal-killing sacks in Colts’ territory. It probably also reduces the chances of big plays, which might be our best shot at TDs with Lindsay, Sutton and even Fant having the ability to break long runs. Having said that, it might allow the offense to get into a bit of a rhythm, which should lead to more than 6 points at least. (Now I’ve made myself mad about the Chiefs game again.)
MHR - The Broncos’ offense suffered eight sacks last week. Eight. In one game. Is it possible for Scangarello to scheme this offense out of such calamity - especially with Justin Houston and Jabaal Sheard coming through our line? What would you suggest?
j-mac-31: It is definitely possible. Jacksonville came into Denver after a 9-sack performance and had 0 against the Broncos (who had given up 6 to Green Bay the week before). I think the real key is being switched on. A lot of the second-half last week it looked like the offensive line were surprised to be playing a game of football. If they go into this week’s game ready to play, focused on technique and prepared for a loud environment, they should be able to not be destroyed. Flacco getting the ball out quicker would help, and of course chipping from the tight ends. Also more Jano! Oh, and no abysmal fake punt plays.
MHR - Despite the 30 points given up in last week’s game, the halftime score was 13-6, and the Broncos’ defense forced two punts in the Chiefs’ first two drives of the second half (and forced five punts out of KC’s seven drives). So how do you feel about this defense? How many points does our offense need to score to help the D?
j-mac-31: I think the D is coming along nicely, especially considering the offense isn’t giving them much help. Fangio’s system is complicated to pick up, and I was certainly guilty of thinking the players would be more on top of it to start the season, but they seem to be getting it. The personnel changes bringing in Johnson and Purcell also seem to have helped better with the fit. There’s a perceived huge lack of talent at cornerback too, but since Yiadom got benched, they seem to be holding up alright. If Harris and Harris come back next year and Callahan gets on the field, there may not be any immediate glaring holes to fill - even ILB (although Trevathan and/or an eventual replacement for Davis would be handy).
The offense NEEDS to put up at least 20 points, but I would put 24 as the minimum number they should be aiming for.
MHR - Chris Harris Jr. will likely be in charge of T.Y. Hilton this weekend. Who wins that matchup?
jmac-31: Let’s call it a draw. Hilton will get away for a few good plays, but Harris will cover him well for most of the game.
MHR - Mile High Report published a few articles talking about trades of certain players. Where do you come down on the possibility of the Broncos trading Chris Harris Jr? And is there any circumstance in which you would trade - or even entertain the idea of a trade for - Von Miller?
j-mac-31: As I said above, I’d rather not trade Harris and hope that he comes back next year. He’s a very good player, a great Bronco and continuity on the defense will be really important.
I am willing to entertain trading Miller. But only if it involves a truly ridiculous package, that no team would actually give up. He is the face of the franchise. He’s still a really good player. And the dead cap hit would be awful. (I don’t think non-quarterbacks should be paid quarterback money, but he was so we have to deal with it - and the cap goes up by about $10 million each year).)
MHR - John Elway has said that Drew Lock is not ready (developmentally) to come in and play. Do agree with keeping Flacco as the starter all season - even if it appears mathematically impossible for the Broncos to make a run? Or is it better to throw Lock in there asap?
j-mac-31:If the team keeps losing enough that the playoffs are pretty much an impossibility, then Lock needs to be thrown in asap. We need to find out if he looks at all like a starting quality QB. If the Broncos get a top 5 or 10 pick, Elway and co can’t afford to have not seen Lock in at least a few games, IMO. It would also be handy to get him a taste of NFL action so he can get a feel for the game and he and the coaches can get a better understanding of what he needs to work on. The issue is with the ‘p’ in ‘asap’. He’ll definitely need at least a couple of weeks practice before playing.
Before last week’s game I didn’t think Flacco was particularly good or bad. There were certainly some bad plays but overall I thought he was solid and worth sticking with if the team wasn’t getting whooped. But last week he was absolute garbage.
I don’t mind the “Joe Cool” thing in general, but against the Chiefs he just didn’t look at all interested in turning the game around. He doesn’t need to yell and wave his arms around or whatever, but he should at least look interested and try to get his teammates going. If he keeps turning up (or not) like last week and/or the team keeps getting beaten badly, he needs to sit. If that has to happen at halftime this week, so be it. I don’t know much about Brandon Allen, but he can’t be worse than Flacco last week.
If they decide to make a change after a game and Lock isn’t on the 53 man roster or hasn’t practiced for at least a couple of weeks, I would really like to see Rypien get a run. Again, he can’t be that bad and may even show something for the future, even if it’s just as a solid backup.
As for the future, I really hope Lock is the answer. For one thing, there are so many really bad teams this year that the Broncos may not get a chance to get one of the top prospects in the 2020 draft. Also he’s our guy; I want our guys to succeed. And of course not needing a QB in the draft would allow the Broncos to focus on other positions.
MHR - Given the hugely disappointing loss to the Chiefs plus trading one of the better players to another team, how do you think this Broncos team will respond this week - especially an away game to a team they don’t generally play very well? What do you want to see from the team to indicate whether it has fight left in it - or whether it’s packing it in?
jmac-31: I really hope that last week hurts the players anywhere near as much as it hurts the fans. I hope that they come out fired up to put in a significantly better performance. I hope that the younger receivers come ready to show that they can play well without Sanders. I hope that they want to silence the home crowd early. I hope that they don’t think the season is over.
I think this is the week to see if there is fight left in the team. An away game, coming off an horrific loss is the perfect opportunity to show that you still want to play well and win.
MHR - What if...Broncos pull out wins in the next two games before the bye and are 4-5 at that point. Is there hope?
j-mac-31: There would definitely be hope. After the bye there’s home games against the Chargers and Raiders as well as the Lions. All winnable games and give the Broncos a good chance to move up to second in the division. And who knows how the Chiefs will go without Mahomes; I’m gonna assume they still top the division.
A quick look at the standings suggests that there are probably three other teams in play for a wildcard spot - those Raiders, the Texans and the Bills. Guess what, they’re all on the Broncos’ schedule after the bye. The Texans and Bills games are both away and will be very tough but could be the keys to a playoff spot.
Stats for Joe Flacco? 20/34, 195 yards, 0 TDs, 1 Int
Stats for each Broncos RB? Freeman: 85 yards, 1 TD. Lindsay: 60 yards rushing, 25 yards receiving, 1 TD
Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Sutton 70 yards, Fant 40 yards, Hamilton 35 yards, the rest 25 yards combined
Longest FG for McManus? 43 yards
Number of sacks to Flacco? 4
Number of sacks to Jacoby Brissett? 3
Broncos player with the most tackles? Johnson
Who gets the first sack for the Broncos? VOOOONNNN
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1 INT, 1FF rcovered by the offense
How many terrible defensive holding penalties will be called? Not enough on Miller
How many completely non-existent PI calls will be made? 3, but 2 going the Broncos’ way
How many holding penalties for the offensive line? 5, 3 accepted
Final Score? 23-17 Broncos win, baby!
Favorite Broncos game EVER? Super Bowl 50 (but Tebow v the Jets was exciting)
Where were you the day the Broncos beat the Packers in 1998 in SB 32? Looking that up, most likely at home with no idea of what American football actually entailed. It would have been the January 26 over here, which is a public holiday and I was in primary school at the time.
Where were you the day Von Miller ripped the soul out of Cam Newton in SB 50? On the couch extremely excited but barely nervous after the sack-fumble-touchdown.
Team(s) you hate to lose to the most? Raiders, Chiefs
Team you love to beat? Patriots, Ravens (my brother’s team)
Favorite game this season? Probably the Chargers - first win
Toughest game still on the schedule? Probably Vikings; in their house, early timeslot, coming off the bye
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Sutton currently
Favorite Broncos player of all time? [deep voice] Teeeeebooooooooooow
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Kareem Jackson - plays really well and with fire
Former Broncos player who most deserves HOF? Randy Gradishar
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? I don’t really dislike any of them, although when you get toward the bottom of the CBS ranks, they’re just not very good
Favorite game-day snack? Due to time differences I mostly watch the games on Monday nights up to 12 hours after it’s finished. I sometimes (often) get a packet of chips for the first half and some chocolate or something else sweet for the second half.
Superstitions on game day? It’s not really a superstition but I try to not find out the scores so that I can watch the game without knowing what’s coming.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
My brother and I started following the NBA in LeBron James’ rookie season and right before that started there was a back-page article about him over here. (Have I mentioned that I’m in Australia yet? No time like the last question.) My brother decided to barrack for the Cavs because of that. Halfway through that season I settled on the Nuggets because Carmelo Anthony seemed like the best rival for James.
I read the Denver Post a lot about the Nuggets and would pick things up here and there about the Broncos. When they started showing the NFL on free to air TV (cable is a much smaller deal over here) I figured I would watch it and needed a team. The Broncos seemed like the logical choice and I made a damn good decision, if I may say so myself.
Since our young Aussie fan had to "look that up" when I mentioned SB32 (lol), let’s help him out with some of the best players from that team. Which one should he go "look up" first?
This poll is closed
Not John Elway [if he doesn’t know that guy, there’s no hope]
Also not Terrell Davis [because surely you already know that guy too]!
"jmac-31" [some but not all of the above]