For the first time in four years, there is real, tangible excitement.
For the the first time in four years, there is hope.
On the MHR Radio Podcast, Adam Malnati and I talked about how that was on full display in the Broncos 27-17 win over the Detroit Lions. In a game that doesn’t matter for 2019, you saw a glimpse of what Denver (6-9) could like in 2020 and you can’t help but think great thoughts.
Per the usual, I’m bound to forget someone, so please mention them in the comments.
The optimism all starts and stops with the rookie quarterback. The Drew Train got back on the tracks, and after a rough first quarter, wasn’t going to be stopped. On Denver’s first three possessions, it went three-and-out and ended in punts. After that, the Broncos followed with a touchdown, field goal, field goal, touchdown, touchdown. Lock finished the game 25 of 33 passing for 192 yards and a touchdown. Even more important, Lock improves to 3-1 as a starter and is the unquestioned quarterback of the future.
Denver knows who the No. 1 receiver is, but questions remain over who the No. 2 will be. Hamilton did his best to state his case on Sunday. Lock clearly has good chemistry with the young wideout and they built on the rapport with a fun showing. Hamilton led the Broncos with six catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
The Colorado Kid finished with 19 carries for 109 yards and a gorgeous 27-yard touchdown run. I’ve said it before, but it is so much fun to watch Lindsay play the game. And while Lock and the passing offense was rolling, Denver’s rushing attack was just as effective. As a team, the Broncos finished with 150 yards rushing on 33 carries. It’s just more fuel for the excitement fire.
Denver’s offensive line
For a unit facing so many injuries to play as well as it did, massive kudos. The Broncos line gave Lock time to throw and didn’t give up a sack while giving Lindsay and Royce Freeman lanes to run through. We’ll see what John Elway and the front office does to improve the offensive line in the offseason, but on Sunday, that unit did a helluva job.
The players deserve credit for the execution on offense, but the offensive coordinator gets an equal amount for the game plan and play calling. A game and performance like Sunday’s will also add to the relationship and trust Lock and Scangarello have going into a full offseason in preparation for 2020.
To add even more fuel to that excitement fire ... if Denver’s defense is able to get a consistent interior pass rush as it did on Sunday, watch out. Jones finished with either 2 or 2.5 sacks (depending on the outlet), four tackles (three solo), two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits.
It’s never easy to replace a playmaker and leader like Kareem Jackson. Marshall deserves credit for how he played. Marshall led the Broncos with nine tackles (five solo).
In his first season as a head coach, Fangio has faced injuries, game-ending heartbreak and blowout losses. Yet Denver can close out the regular season having won four of its last five games. There is excitement over the quarterback of the future, but I’m stoked that Fangio is with the Broncos and think he’ll only get better in 2020.
This is especially true on punt coverage. The problems of the last few seasons for Denver’s special teams remain. This needs to get addressed in the offseason.
The saying “Control your own destiny”
This saying needs to go away. Destiny is not something you can control, hence why it’s called “destiny.” A better way to say it: “This team controls its path.”