The Denver Broncos are on the board with their first win of the 2019 season. They played the Los Angeles Chargers well in their 20-13 victory on Sunday, but it was the defense that truly shined. While the offense had a great first half, they kind of disappeared in the second which put the pressure squarely on the defense and for the first time all year they made the plays that needed to be made.
Could this be the first win that turns things around? Probably not. It is still clear this team is a work in progress, but the coaches and players are starting to figure out how to get things done. I would not be surprised if this team fought their way back to .500 before seasons’ end. I think a lot of us would feel good about 2020 if that were to happen.
In this game, we have given out our first game balls of the season. And the first game balls in eight long games. Here were the standouts from Sunday’s big win.
As I told on Adam on the MHR Radio Podcast, one of the characteristics that makes the undrafted running back so popular is the grit and heart he plays with. Both were on full display for the Broncos when they needed it most on third-and-14. Lindsay wasn’t going to be denied and he did what was needed to get Denver in field goal range to make it a two-score game. He finished with 114 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown, plus four catches for 33 yards. - Ian St. Clair
We might be witnessing the changing of the guard at the wide receiver position in Denver. With 4 catches for 92 yards and a highlight reel catch and run for a TD, Courtland Sutton is slowly becoming the Broncos number one receiver. He made his mark early in the game, but it is obvious that defenses have to account for him at all times. He definitely earned this gameball. - Adam Malnati
Courtland Sutton TOUCHDOWN! #Broncos 14- #Chargers 0 #DENvsLAC pic.twitter.com/votoQ7tbyP— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 6, 2019
Mike Purcell’s name isn’t all over the stat sheets tonight, but that just makes it a great example of why football goes beyond the stat sheet. Purcell’s presence added beef in the center of the Broncos’ defensive line that played a major role in keeping Austin Ekeler from repeating Leonard Fournette’s exploits from Week 4. That, and an early Broncos lead, forced the Chargers into a one dimensional offense that just couldn’t get it done. - Taylor Kothe
Kareem Jackson was simply magnificent back at his target position at safety. He was a powerful force against the run and the pass. What stood out me the most in this game was his ability to diagnose the play either pre-snap or within a second of the snap and attack. This game showed me exactly what Vic Fangio wanted to do when they brought Jackson in to be a safety. Hopefully the coaches are able to coach up the young corners so that Jackson can stay back at safety where he clearly belongs. - Sadaraine
I love you Kareem Jackson. Hell of a play saves the #Broncos from points. pic.twitter.com/ftavCq6Sjp— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 6, 2019
While the offensive line did not play as well this week as it did the week before, Risner continued to be the best player on the offensive line. He was a beast pulling and opening holes for the mostly dominant running game and he did not allow one of the three sacks we allowed (and only one of the six QB hits).
.@ReemBoi25: "I try to be a piece of the puzzle. It's not about me, it's not about that guy. It's about all 11 of us out there. If we're all on the same page and all bringing energy, I think we can feed off one another and it shows in our play the way it did today."— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) October 7, 2019
Flacco was pressured on 61% of his passing attempts, which the highest for a winning QB since Andrew Luck did it in 2016, when the Colts OL was terrible. In a game where the other four OL starters had issues, Risner really shined. - Joe Mahoney
Justin Simmons was really good. Want to see the All-22, but the fact that the secondary held Keenan Allen down speaks well for Chris Harris as well.
I know Jackson was already mentioned as well, but sliding him back today helped Simmons look even better and helped Denver withstand the loss of Bausby. The way Fangio’s defense works you need to be able to rely on the safeties to come up and help against the run and vs. passes over the middle. Until today the team couldn’t do that. Now they can. - Joe Rowles
Malik Reed rushes Rivers into throwing an interception to Justin Simmons. #Broncos first takeaway of 2019! pic.twitter.com/TYKJjoH7Zh— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 6, 2019
Andy Janovich. Another classic “no stat” guy whose presence on the field made a huge impact on the game. Enough of one to garner favor from the guy running the offense on teh field. “[Janovich] definitely makes a difference. Andy knows exactly where to be every single play. He gets in the huddle, breaks and knows exactly what to do,” Joe Flacco said. “All the little movements that he does to get himself into position. You just don’t have to waste time and effort coaching somebody like him. He’s on top of everything, and obviously the physicality that he brings and creating some of those holes is huge.” - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
What a debut for Johnson. After playing zero defensive snaps for every game to start the season, the coaching staff had finally seen enough of veteran Corey Nelson. With that chance, Alexander Johnson did not disappoint. He made a critical interception in the end zone, nearly had himself another later in the game, and ultimately was all over the field in this game to help keep the Chargers offense out of the end zone for the entire game. - Tim Lynch
Alexander Johnson with his first career interception. #Broncos D continues the shutout! pic.twitter.com/IWSIpT8iIi— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 6, 2019
Aside from notching his first win as an NFL head coach which earns him a game ball itself, he also has handled the 0-4 start extremely well and by the looks of it, managed to keep the locker room together. The players, especially the veterans, have continuously praised Coach Fangio even in the midst of their losing streak and it’s pretty easy to see why the players love him.
When he was handed the gameball from John Elway in the locker room after the game, Vic immediately turned and gave it away saying “it’s for the players”. Well we can give out as many gameballs as we want here at MHR, so this one belongs to you, coach. You’ve earned it. - Jeff Essary
Vic Fangio got the game ball, but immediately gave it to his players, specifically Alexander Johnson.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) October 7, 2019
Von Miller said that’s Vic Fangio “100 percent.”
“Deflect all the light to his players. He’s a great coach. He’s been coaching us great.”
John Elway awarded game ball to Vic Fangio for first win. Fangio gave it away as re-gift to ILB Alexander Johnson.— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) October 7, 2019
Fangio: “I don’t look at it as my first win. I look at it as first win for 2019 Broncos. Hopefully we can start getting a few more here.” #9sports