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Ultimate fan: Every Bronco has to bring his A-game to beat the Chiefs

It’s a tall order, but not an impossible one. Just consider last week.

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

WOO HOO HOO! Broncos win! Broncos win! Broncos win!

Oh ultimate fans, what a time to be alive. I know it’s been six days since the Broncos beat the Texans, but it was so much fun, I’m still celebrating.

In fact, it was soooo much, I’m all for doing it again. And again. And again. What do you say, Broncos?

Well, our ultimate fan this week certainly is in favor of it. And sure, he knows it’s a near impossibility...but so was beating the Texans and look what happened? If the Broncos can believe they can beat anyone, surely we can too. (and no, I won’t stop calling you, Shirley).

But I will call you awesome, just like I’m calling pootflute because he and I are clearly on the same page with this.


Week 15: Broncos at Chiefs

MHR – Two wins in a row, including a huge road upset to a playoff contender on Sunday. Describe your emotions about the Broncos from the beginning to the end of the Texans game.
Pootflute: Drew Lock’s performance against the Chargers had me really excited to see him play again, especially with a favorable matchup for the offense, but I wasn’t particularly optimistic that they’d keep up with Watson and Co. At 7-0 it obviously looked great, but many losses have started with promising drives this season. That feeling of impending doom flew out the window with Kareem Jackson’s fumble return. I was officially pumped. At 21-0, excitement began turning into astonishment. “What is happening?” When they came out and scored yet again to start the second half, I was in stunned disbelief. “Wow. Woooooooow.” At 38-3 the offense could take three kneel downs and punt every drive, and they would still win. To see that kind of domination of a playoff contender was extremely refreshing. Even better, the players are just as thrilled as we are. It very much feels like a corner has been turned with Lock at the wheel.

MHR - Scangarello brought a fantastic game plan to Houston last week, spreading the ball around, designing plays to pull defenders off and leave a guy open or in a one-on-one. Although his play calling has at times left much to be desired, Sunday was a different story. What is your confidence level in this OC moving forward?
Pootflute: There has been a lot to like. Scangarello has shown flashes of brilliant play design, which has been overshadowed by too-clever or too-conservative calls. I think the latter is easily explained by some limitations of the offense. Conservative play calls reduce the opportunities for opposing pass rushers to abuse our poor tackles. Against the Wattless Texans, he was able to open it up. Perhaps this also reduced the perceived need to get too clever. Having said that, it’s just one game against maybe the worst defense they have faced, so my confidence level is moderate. I’d like to see what he can do with a complete NFL O-line in front of his shiny new (NFL quality) QB.

MHR – This week’s matchup is no Chargers team, and although Deshaun Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins were a formidable duo, able to inflict similar damage as the Mahomes-Kelce-Hill trio no doubt will, the Chiefs defense will be a much tougher matchup for the young QB. How should Scangarello scheme for this week’s challenge against a strong pass rush and a much better secondary?
Pootflute: The Broncos need to be able to run effectively, but there are two problems. The first is no Jano. With Janovich, the Broncos reached 100+ rushing yards in 5 of 7 games. Without him, they managed it in just 1 of 6. The other problem - Andy Reid is no dummy. He knows the Broncos would love to come in and exploit the Chiefs’ run defense and will want to take that option away. He also saw what the Broncos did on the first play against the Texans. It won’t be so easy in Arrowhead. To Scang I would say, “don’t overthink it.” Reid is going to smell cute plays from a mile away. Give Lock some quick throws to establish a rhythm and keep the pressure out of his face. Make them respect Lock, Sutton and Fant to open up the run game. Easier said than done. It should be a trial by fire for Lock.

MHR – In the last matchup against the Chiefs, the Broncos’ running backs had almost no real success, despite a rather weak KC run defense. With more of a passing threat this time around, do you think Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman and even Devontae Booker will have better games?
Pootflute: I’m counting on it. In the first game, the Chiefs successfully forced the Broncos to be 1-dimensional, allowing their pass rush to tee off on Flacco for 8 sacks. The run game struggled from the start, and that was with Jano. It is imperative that the Broncos pressure the Chiefs’ pass defense early to give Lindsay and Freeman a chance. If they can do that, I can see a couple of Lindsay’s signature breakaways happening.

MHR - Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant took most of the receiving yards last weekend, but several others, including Tim Patrick and DaeSean Hamilton, had key catches. Do you see Patrick and Hamilton as viable options now that Fant and Sutton will garner a lot of defensive attention?
Pootflute: A better QB makes more receivers viable. So does a worse opposing secondary. The Broncos need Hamilton and Patrick to be viable options, perhaps more than I expect them to be. Both are catching fewer than half of their targets on the season. This problem was evident when a wide-open Hamilton dropped a pass with open field in front of him. Still, I think they both bring some good things to the offense, if not a legit #2 WR.

MHR - Garett Bolles mentioned after the Chargers’ game that the O-line’s goal was consistency after not allowing a single sack against the Chargers. And then against the Texans, Lock was sacked only once. First, what are your thoughts on Bolles - is he improving overall and do you think the Broncos should keep him around after his rookie contract, or is he hopeless and should be cut loose? Second, with Ron Leary in concussion protocol and JuWuan James still a question mark, how do you expect this line to hold up against Frank Clark, Alex Okafor, Chris Jones, etc.?
Pootflute: Bolles’ performance this season reminds me of last year, starting off poorly and improving near the end of the season. Overall though, I do think he has gotten better. He is certainly not hopeless. The Broncos have faced a lot of stud pass rushers this year, guys that will give any tackle in the league a hard time. They should keep him around if they aren’t able to acquire a better LT.

The OL has its work cut out for it against the Chiefs. I do not expect them to hold up for long in pass protection. They will need help from Scang and Lock to limit the effectiveness of the rush. It’s doable if everyone brings their A-game.

MHR – Now back to Drew Lock. After his first performance, the praise was more in his leadership and ability to help the Broncos get down the field and score a few points. Then after his three touchdowns and more than 300 passing yards last week, most everyone was ready to call him Denver’s franchise QB. Where are you on the “Drew is the future” scale - all in or still want to give it some time? How much will this game this weekend tell us about Lock’s future?
Pootflute: When everyone was clamoring for Lock to start, generally saying we “must see if he’s the one,” I said that his performance in these final weeks will not tell us if he is. I stand by that assessment. It’s like Fangio said, you can get a false negative or a false positive. Having said that, the chances are looking pretty darn good. His performance against the Chiefs may decide whether it’s time for me to buy a Lock jersey, but it won’t tell us if he can keep it up for the foreseeable future. For now he has me more excited to watch the Broncos than any QB since PFM left us.

MHR - Obviously Patrick Mahomes is freakishly good and has basically owned the Broncos’ defense every time he’s played them. How does the defense stop him? Is it possible despite not having Derek Wolfe and Bradly Chubb to rely on? Can Von Miller and Jeremiah Attaochu put enough pressure on Mahomes to cause mistakes?
Pootflute: If I recall correctly, the Chiefs had some key OL injuries last time. At full health it’s a tall order for the Broncos’ mangled defensive front. It’s possible, and I think they’ll find some success, but I expect Mahomes to get his yards in the end. Looking through my orange-tinted glasses, the defense can bend but not break and hold them to enough FGs to keep us in it.

MHR – Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons have been playing well all year, and Jackson earned Defensive Player of the Week for his monstrous game back in Houston. How important could this tandem be in stopping Kelce this weekend?
Pootflute: We need an encore performance from Jackson. The secondary in general has been playing unreasonably well for how thin they are, Simmons and Jackson being a huge part of that. They need to be playing out of their minds to take Kelce out of the game with Hill and Watkins also flying around. I expect the obligatory blown coverage or two in the secondary to give KC 7-14 points.

MHR - Punting for the Broncos has been generally mediocre to poor (though, thankfully there wasn’t as much punting last weekend). What would be a bigger priority to address in the offseason - a new punter or a new ST coach? (or neither)
Pootflute: From where I’m sitting it sure looks like we need a new punter. If the offense goes 3 and out at the 25 I feel like the other team will get it at midfield. It puts unnecessary pressure on the defense when you have such a disadvantage in the field position game. I miss having a reliable punter.

MHR - I am a huge fan of this head coach (so there’s really only one way to answer this question), but seriously, what do you think of Vic Fangio and how he has handled the team through a rough season?
Pootflute: To me, one of the most important qualities in a coach is the ability to inspire the players to go out there on game day and give it their all. When they leave the locker room they should be “ready to run through a brick wall” for their coach, as Joel Dreesen once said of players under Kubiak. Observing from afar with an untrained eye, I see this quality in Fangio. In the midst of a season that is all but lost, the players still come out with something to prove, and celebrated 5-8 like it was a playoff berth. That has me excited about Fangio.

MHR - Kareem Jackson has been doing a segment every week called “KJackTV” where he interviews teammates on silly topics, so I’m going to start my own version and ask you a bunch of ridiculous questions too:

Which Bronco most likely listens to Elvis? Garett Bolles

Which Bronco probably spends the most time on his hair? Phillip Lindsay

Which Bronco probably spends the most time on his ensemble before going out? Von Miller

Which Bronco secretly likes romantic comedies? Bradley Chubb

Which Bronco is most likely to call out a reporter for a stupid question to his/her face? Derek Wolfe

Which Bronco can name all the Disney princesses? Courtland Sutton


Stats for Drew Lock? 20/28 for 210 yards, 2 TD 1 INT

Stats for each Broncos RB? Lindsay - 15 carries for 80 yards, TD, 2 catches for 6 yards; Freeman - 14 carries for 60 yards, 4 catches for 30 yards, TD

Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Sutton - 80 yards, TD; Fant - 38 yards; Patrick - 25 yards; Hamilton - 18 yards

Longest FG for McManus? 45 yards

Number of sacks to Patrick Mahomes? 3

Number of sacks to Drew Lock? 4

Broncos player with the most tackles? Jackson

Who gets the first sack for the Broncos? Attaochu

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1 INT, 1 FF, 0 FR

How many terrible defensive holding penalties will be called? 2

Which horrible no-call at the end of the game will it be this week - for or against the Broncos? Roughing the passer when Von Miller gently cradles Mahomes in his arms

Final Score? I could never predict a Broncos loss. 27-23 BRONCOS!

The Favorites

Favorite Broncos win ever? SB50, an iconic SB MVP performance by a future Hall of Famer, PFM’s well-deserved 2nd ring, and Elway’s first SB as a GM… just the first

Favorite Broncos coach ever? That Shanahan guy had a pretty good run

Team you hate to lose to the most? The Patriots

Favorite game this season? Easily the Texans game

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? That’s a tough one. Von Miller is the easy answer

Favorite rookie/young guy on the team? Dalton Risner

Favorite Broncos player of all time? Another tough one. John Elway is the easy answer

Favorite football-themed movie? The Waterboy, of course

Game-day ritual? I always eat breakfast on game-day

How did you become a Broncos fan?

By being born in Colorado, naturally!