Fans of the Denver Broncos want something, anything to get excited about.
Since the organization is on the verge of its third-straight losing season, that’s getting harder and harder to come by. Given how the Broncos have played the last game-and-a-half, that sentiment only grows. Enter the Los Angeles Chargers (4-7), whom Denver beat 20-13 in Week Five for its win of the season.
As Adam Malnati and I discussed on the MHR Radio Podcast (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify) winning is secondary at this point. The question on most peoples’ minds when it comes to Sunday’s game: Will Drew Lock start and play? He may not contribute to success on the field, but it will bring an excitement factor the Broncos haven’t had in over three seasons. If Denver rolls with Lock, the team may still take a step in the right direction for the future.
LA Chargers: Thirteenth in overall offense (363.6 yards), 26th in rushing (86.7), fifth in passing (279.9) and 23rd in points (20.4).
Denver: Twenty-seventh in overall offense (302.8 yards), 16th in rushing (110.5), 29th in passing (192.3) and 29th in points (17.5).
LA Chargers: Fifth in overall defense (317.5 yards), 20th in rushing (112.3), fourth in passing (205.3) and 11th in points (19.8).
Denver: Tied for eighth in overall defense (321.1 yards), 21st in rushing (113.5), fifth in passing (207.5) and tied for ninth in points (19.7).
Here are the MHR staff’s keys to Sunday’s game.
Pick the Lock
Start and play Drew Lock. The season is lost at this point so it makes no sense not to play him. The Broncos need to begin the process of figuring out what they have in the rookie quarterback. — Ian St. Clair
The key to this game is to see what you have in your QB and young players. Nothing else. I don’t care if Denver is mathematically eliminated yet or not. This team isn’t making the playoffs, so winning is secondary to developing players, and that’s what they need to be focused on. Continue to develop Noah Fant in the play action game, get Tim Patrick worked in, intentionally target DaeSean Hamilton since he’s been neglected by the QB most of the time, and for Floyd Little’s sake, start Lock. — Jeff Essary
Sign Justin Simmons
Get an extension signed for Simmons. The game will be what it’ll be. Hopefully we see Lock play and can start to evaluate the future at QB. The team’s future, at QB and otherwise, is more important than winning a fourth game in a lost season. In the spirit of that, “locking” in Simmons for the next four-six years by the end of the week would be a far more important victory than the one the Broncos could win on the field this Sunday. — Taylor Kothe
Don’t injure Philip Rivers
I actually think Denver can win this and the key will be to make sure that Rivers doesn’t get hurt. The guy is toast and Von Miller with zero knees could still force a few bone-headed mistakes from the quickly aging QB. Do I want the Broncos to win? I plead the 5th. I just want it to be fun to watch so that I don’t hate myself for staying up until 2 a.m. to witness another puke-fest. — Kevin Gillikin
Run the ball
If Denver wants to win this game, two things are going to be really important:
- They Broncos will need to lean on the running game early and stick with it to keep Brandon Allen or Lock out of situations where the Chargers can just tee off on the tackles. Garett Bolles is woefully overmatched against LA’s edge duo and he’s a disaster waiting to happen.
- Fangio needs to protect Davontae Harris in coverage. He’s overmatched as the No. 2 corner, but there’s no real alternative at this point. Luckily, LA has issues protecting Rivers, so if Miller and the blitzes can keep the veteran quarterback off balance the pass defense shouldn’t turn into a shooting gallery. — Joe Rowles
Shut down Von
Shut down Miller for the rest of the season. He probably isn’t really injured, but why risk it? — Adam Malnati