It’s that time again, Broncos Country, when we take the best of the best in our fan base to help us rally around our favorite team each week, no matter the victory or defeat that could be looming.
The Broncos always play the Chargers tough - and vice versa - so this Sunday’s game at Mile High promises to be another good AFC West battle, no matter what the records are.
And here to bring this home for us is not just a veteran of the Ultimate Fan Guide but a long-time member at Mile High Report and a Broncos fan from the early days. In fact, his “how I became a Broncos fan” includes one of my favorite stories about a former Broncos’ player (Hall-of-Famer no less) and one I often love to share with other fans.
OrangeAndBluesBros also is one of my best “member editors” on here, never letting me get away with #&$! - which is perfect because I hate mistakes (including ones the Broncos make!)
So here’s to a win on Sunday!
Workin' for the turkey.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 28, 2019
Thanksgiving practice 's » https://t.co/CB19DmWrb4 pic.twitter.com/IsJoEYv8Xr
Week 13: Chargers at Broncos
MHR - It seems like just when this team takes strides forward, then it jumps way back. After the Broncos beat the Chargers and Titans to get to 2-4, then they fell hard to the Chiefs. After beating the Browns and competing with a tough Vikings team, they fell totally flat against the Bills. What are your overall thoughts about where this 3-8 team is right now?
OrangeAndBluesBros: The 2019 Broncos are headed for 8-8 (yes, I said that, stop laughing). This team could just as easily be 8-3 as 3-8 right now (losses to Raiders, Chiefs and Bills). Injuries are piling up, but the team is still putting up a fight (although it may not have seemed that way in Buffalo) and injuries can happen to other teams too. The Chiefs game was just bad coaching by giving the team off from any physical practice, and they came out cold. I bet Fangio won’t do that again. The Vikings game was because Cousins got hot in the second half and the Broncos defense seemed to get tired after playing only 31 and change minutes for the entire game (so don’t blame the offense for that one). The Bills game was just odd, maybe the weather and wind, but Brandon Allen should have been able to throw in the wind. That other Allen sure could. Again, the Broncos’ defense only played a little over 31 minutes, so basically split time with the offense. That was a team loss. Maybe Von Miller should just stop with the team parties during the season.
As an aside, my son’s teenage soccer team had an up-and-down season, and one week only 8 players showed up (due to injuries and family commitments elsewhere) to play against the league leader. Also, our coach was attending a wedding and unable to be there. If we didn’t have at least eight players, we would have had to forfeit, so play we did - all eight players, all game. The other side could have reduced its roster in the spirit of competition, but the team chose to play a full roster with substitutions. Our team played out of its mind, racing all over the field to cover missing spots, and kicked the other team’s ass. So the moral of this story is you play to win every time you step on the field, do your best against any competition, and let the chips fall where they may. No throwing in the towel.
MHR - Since the Broncos’ win over the Chargers in Week 5, both teams have only won two more games, and the Chargers are just above the Broncos in the rankings at 4-7. Do you want to see the Broncos get the win this Sunday, or are you aiming for a higher draft position and hoping for a loss?
OrangeAndBluesBros: I expect the Broncos to win this week regardless of whether it evens up the rankings with the Chargers. There are four more games to play after this one, so where the two teams stand on Monday morning doesn’t really matter in the long run. I’m just hoping and expecting and wishing and wanting the Broncos to sweep the Chargers this year. As far as taking a dive, that’s not good sports. You take the field, you go to win. Better drafting is more important than better draft position based on your wins and losses (of course, trading up and down is part of better drafting). Good teams seem to maintain their dominance just fine picking in the lower spots every year, and bad teams seem to stay bad even with high draft picks every year. Just pick a good one when you step up to the plate. Not all QBs picked high turn out to be good, and not all QBs picked later turn out to be non-competitive.
MHR - Signs are pointing to Drew Lock starting this weekend, but Fangio is likely to make the call Friday or possibly as late as game time. Do you have a preference for Brandon Allen or Drew Lock this weekend? How much should the state of the offensive line factor into this QB decision?
OrangeAndBluesBros: I’m expecting Allen to start and Lock to come in if the team is way ahead or way behind. If Allen stays in control of the game, I think he stays in the game. The percent difference in practice repetitions is more that Lock needed more practice reps just to be considered for a role on game day.
What I don’t want to see is a change to Lock if he really isn’t ready. I think we learned how bad that can be when Shanahan bumped Bubby Brister for Brian Griese. Although I liked Griese, he was too new and I was surprised Shanahan would skip Brister who played well in Elway’s absence the year before. The end result was Griese had a turnover and Terrell Davis went chasing the opponent with the ball as well as other Broncos and Davis got injured as a result, which pretty much ended his career (but he still got in the HOF, finally).
The O-line is beat up and may not be able to protect the QB very well. So the real question is, who do you want to see injured - Lock, Lindsay, Freeman, somebody else if Lock comes in and makes a lot of errors? At least Allen is more mobile than Flacco, so escapability shouldn’t be the factor to decide on who plays. If Lock gets a serious injury now, it could set back his availability next year. So, trust the coaches and be patient (and cross your fingers). It is far easier to see a QB’s progress playing behind a good line than watch him run around behind a bad line. What happens if Lock spends all his time trying to escape defenders and doesn’t look good, so the Broncos draft another QB high instead of an LT, then Lock beats out the new guy next year? Don’t keep looking for a bone in the water that’s bigger than the one in your mouth.
MHR - Against the Chargers in Week 5, Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman combined for nearly 200 yards rushing. Do you see them being able to have the same success this weekend? And do you think that will be important to establish early?
OrangeAndBluesBros: The Chargers are coming in healthier than last time and ready for what happened last time, so I don’t expect the same kind of game. Rather than trying to establish the run early, I’d like to see the Broncos use the element of surprise, by going long and following it up with runs. I always liked Shanahan’s downfield attacks early in the game back in the day, which kept the defense on its heels the rest of the game. Certainly, use the run game, but keep it balanced.
MHR - What would your advice be to John Elway about the future of Garett Bolles?
OrangeAndBluesBros: Draft an LT with talent, keep Bolles on the team, try him out on defense (I was impressed on the turnover where Bolles went after the ball carrier, fell down, got up, and kept going after the ball carrier). Bolles has some speed and an aggressive style that makes me think he would be great on defense. Maybe he just got into a role on offense in college and wound up in the wrong position. I like Bolles. I just don’t like him at LT, but he’s still better than Russell Okung (the holding calls at bad times is a major reason why we let Okung go, and now look where he is - on the Chargers, if he plays).
MHR - Austin Ekeler is the best receiving back in the league right now. How could he be trouble for our injured linebacker corps and how can the Broncos’ defense stop him?
OrangeAndBluesBros: He has been trouble for a lot of teams and will be trouble for the Broncos. But the Broncos practice against Lindsay, so they should have an edge in dealing with Ekeler. I don’t have a guess on who the Broncos should put on him at the linebacker level, but there aren’t many choices. It would be better if the Broncos can get to him before he breaks through the line on running plays and put a DB on him on passing plays (he’s not that big at 5’10” and 200 lbs., just fast, like Lindsay).
MHR - Philip Rivers has said he loves to play in Denver because he loves being the villain to such an anti-Rivers crowd. Assuming Von is healthy enough to play Sunday, how much pressure will Rivers get from the Broncos D? How much from the Mile High crowd?
OrangeAndBluesBros: The irony is that we feel like the Chargers stadium, whether it was in San Diego or now in LA, is like a second home field for us and Phillip Rivers feels like Denver is a second home field for him because he plays well in Denver. However, Rivers’ weakness is pressure, and he folds up like an accordian under it, throwing interceptions or fumbling, and doing it more as the game wears on. He appears to be worse now. Also, his contract is up this year and the Chargers don’t seem to want him back. So, maybe the Broncos can just bid goodbye to Rivers with a lot of hugs on the field during the game. The Broncos fans in the stadium can get in on the action too by yelling loudly “Good Bye Rivers” every time he lines up for the snap. And, of course, after he throws, yell “in-com-plete” or “INT.”
Philip Rivers deciding how he wants to finish a game pic.twitter.com/avLlt119ly— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) November 19, 2019
MHR - Chris Harris Jr. has struggled a bit against the No. 1 wide receivers this season. How do you expect him to do against the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Mike Williams, and do you believe Harris Jr. has lost a step or just doesn’t have enough help around him to make it easier?
OrangeAndBluesBros: Maybe CHJ will have a reality check on his contract demands based upon his play this year and after seeing Kareem Jackson play well for less money (not much less than he’s making now, I know, but a lot less than CHJ seems to be demanding). I’m not a play analyst, so I’m going only by what I’ve read here on MHR about his struggles. He has Justin Simmons and K Jack back there, so the only help around him that may be an issue is the other CB, which has been a problem, but not so much for CHJ. The LBs seem to be doing ok, especially with Alexander “Dino” Johnson in there. So, I’m just not sure where the problem is. I don’t think CHJ has lost a step. It may just be communication. In any event, CHJ will have his hands full with a big receiver like Williams, but he will get in his licks.
MHR - Although CHJ has struggled, Justin Simmons is having a great season. If you only get to keep one of those two next year, which one do you choose?
OrangeAndBluesBros: Simmons is a must because of his younger age and quality of play. CHJ should be a must, but only if his contract demands are reasonable. Don’t make me choose.
MHR - Broncos are heading into this game with a slew of injuries, including to Alexander Johnson. How big of a blow will it be to not have him on the field Sunday?
OrangeAndBluesBros: After preseason, his story of being out of football after a great college career, and the Broncos needs in the middle, I was anxious to see him on the field in a game and would have liked to see him come in sooner than Fangio brought him in (more than I wanted to see Lock). Fangio is slow to pull the trigger on new guys like Johnson, Purcell, and maybe Lock. But the difference with Broncos play now and before Johnson was in has been terrific. If he is out, it could be trouble against another opponent like Houston next week, but not as much against the Chargers. If Johnson needs more healing time, I’d rather see him get it this week than next week.
MHR - What part of this team (personnel-wise or scheme-wise or both) gives you the most concern for the future? What part gives you the most hope?
OrangeAndBluesBros: Before the season, we got all this lip service about playing players to their strengths and developing schemes to fit the players, but it seems we are looking at yet another “this is my scheme and the players will have to learn it” situation. If Fangio didn’t have the players to play his scheme, maybe he could have come up with a transition system. Maybe he did and I just don’t see it. The defense is complicated and depends highly on communication. The players are learning, but some of them may not even be here next year. I hope Callahan gets better and recovers from his foot injury (I don’t know why they can’t remove a bent screw from his foot and start over) so we have another CB for Fangio’s system.
On offense, Scangarello is learning to be an OC. I think he has some interesting plays, but sometimes chooses the wrong play at the wrong time. My biggest concern for the future is getting the right players in the offseason to run the kinds of schemes the offense and defense want to run. A talented LT would be a huge improvement, as would getting Lock more development and the ability to read defenses. Maybe he has that talent but hasn’t shown it because he hasn’t played, but he’s a rookie, so I’m not expecting a high degree of ability there. Back in the early 70s, the refrain was “we’re just a few players away from being competitive.” There we are again.
#Broncos Fangio said Lock “has made progress everyday. He has gone from 10 reps to 42 a day so he should be getting better. And he has.” #Denver7 pic.twitter.com/h8Zbq25zwu— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) November 29, 2019
Predictions (I’m not a stats guy, so these are wags)
Stats for Brandon Allen? 19/25, 303 yards, 2 TDs, no INTs.
Stats for Drew Lock? Drew who? Ok, how would I know with nothing to base it on?
Stats for each Broncos RB? Lindsay, 17 carries, 105 yards, 4 receptions, 30 yards, 1 TD; Freeman, 13 carries, 52 yards, 1 TD.
Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Sutton - 8 receptions, 108 yards, 1 TD; Patrick - 5 receptions, 80 yards, no TDs; Hamilton - 6 receptions, 53 yards; Lindsay - 3 receptions, 62 yards..
Longest FG for McManus? 53 yards
Number of sacks to Flacco? 1 (while standing on the sidelines)
Number of sacks to Philip Rivers? 7
Broncos player with the most tackles? Derek Wolfe
Who gets the first sack for the Broncos? Wolfe
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 3 INTs/2 FF/2FR
How many PI calls will the refs miss? 3
How many holding penalties for Garett Bolles? 4
Final Score? Broncos 23 - Chargers 20.
Favorite Broncos game EVER? The Drive
Favorite win over the Chargers? The last one.
Where were you the day the Broncos won the AFC West in 1977? Washington, DC watching on TV.
SB32? Washington, D.C. (second time in D.C.), hosting SB party at home.
SB50? Florida, watching on TV
Team(s) you hate to lose to the most? Raiders, Patriots
Teams you love to beat? Raiders, Patriots
Favorite game this season? First Chargers game, first win.
Toughest game still on the schedule? Chiefs in Arrowhead.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Gone (Sanders), warming up to Fant and Dino.
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Floyd Little
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? No favorites yet.
Former Broncos player who most deserves HOF? Randy Gradishar, but Steve Atwater is up there too (would love to see them both get in this year).
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Phil Simms.
Favorite leftover from the Thanksgiving Day meal? Stuffing.
Superstitions on game day? No real superstitions. My “Lucky Shirt” has been lucky, then unlucky, and lucky again. Mostly I just make sure I’m wearing orange and blue.
#OTD in 1968 future Bills WR Marlin Briscoe throws for 4 TDs and 335 yds as the Broncos defeat the Bills & HB turned QB Ed Rutkowski, 34-32. The Bills led with 26 seconds left on a FG, however a 59 yd pass to Floyd Little, a face mask and a 12 yd FG won it for Lou Saban's Broncos pic.twitter.com/oxmh4Y8eVx— ThisDateInBuffaloSportsHistory (@BuffSportsHstry) November 24, 2019
How did you become a Broncos fan?
I moved to Denver for school in 1971, read all the warm stories about players in the local papers (Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post), and had enthusiasm from new friends who were Broncos fans spill over to me. Then I had Floyd Little in one of my management classes (he was preparing for life after football) and he took the whole class to the first Denver Broncos MNF as his guest with seats near the 50-yard line because it was a night class on Monday and he had to play but didn’t want to miss class, so class was cancelled. He even played softball with us at a school picnic in the spring. I was a Broncos fan before that, but I’ve been a loyal Broncos fan ever since.