Given the hope and hype, Monday night was anticlimactic. To say the least.
How a team responds to a tough loss, and one to open the season, is always a good indicator of things to come. Will the Broncos put the Week One loss behind them, get to work and get better? Or will they let Monday’s defeat become a trend?
On the MHR Radio Podcast (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify), Adam Malnati and I want to see how Vic Fangio and his coaching staff respond. Will they make the adjustments they need? Will the players take what they did in the second half and build on it?
Needless to say there are a lot of questions and no answers, but that’s why we love the Broncos and sports.
Chicago: Twenty-eighth in overall offense (254.0 yards), 28th in rushing (46.0), 23rd in passing (208.0) and tied for 31st in points (3.0).
Denver: Twenty-first in overall offense (344.0 yards), 21st in rushing (95.0), 17th in passing (249.0) and tied for 25th in points (16.0).
Chicago: Second in overall defense (213.0 yards), sixth in rushing (47.0), fifth in passing (166.0) and tied for third in points (10.0).
Denver: Sixteenth in overall defense (357.0 yards), 13th in rushing (98.0), 17th in passing (259.0) and tied for 14th in points (24.0).
Here are the MHR staff’s keys to Sunday’s game.
Red zone offense
Joe Flacco and the Broncos offense moved the ball fairly well — they only had two three-and-outs, and the other drives averaged 10 plays per drive. Once they got inside in the 20-yard line is when it went to hell. To wit: Denver had 14 plays inside the 20-yard line, six inside the 10. Per our Joe Mahoney, here are those six plays: sneak for one yard (from the two), 1-yard touchdown pass, incomplete, incomplete (DaeSean Hamilton drop), run for no gain, and a sack. The Broncos had four trips inside the red zone and kicked three field goals. Oakland had the same amount of trips inside the red zone and scored three touchdowns. That needs to get better on Sunday, and what will help is the play calling from Rich Scangarello. No need to get cute, use trick plays or overthink it. Ride the momentum of what your offense is doing well and build off of that. MOAR touchdowns! — Ian St. Clair
To piggy-back off of Ian, the NFL is all about third down and red zone. How you play on those will determine how effective you are overall. On Monday, Denver was horrendous in both areas. The Broncos have to improve on that to have a shot at being competitive. Lastly, disguise. Mitchell Trubisky is a young quarterback who can be forced into turnovers. Get out of your base coverages and disguise some looks to confuse Trubisky and force errors. — Jeff Essary
Offensive play calling
It’s time for Scangarello to put on his big boy pants and call an NFL offense. No more of these trick plays or exotic red-zone looks that we’d see at the junior college level. Focus on what works and pound the shit out of that part of the playbook. Flacco was looking fairly good and the run game got going late, so build on that and go get things on track for the 2019 season. — Tim Lynch
Play with passion
Fangio needs to get off his jogging pants clad butt and light a fire under this team. Play with passion and stop overthinking everything. This team needs an Aqib Talib to go bonkers, and the only guy I can imagine is Emmanuel Sanders. Go rip some necklaces guys! — Kevin Gillikin
Get Sanders involved early and often, so that he and Courtland Sutton can stress Chicago’s secondary. Sanders shouldn’t be getting his first catch with 2 minutes left in the first half. — Taylor Kothe
Manage down and distance
The Broncos are going to need to manage the down and distance better. The Bears defense gave the Green Bay Packers offensive line a lot of issues on passing downs, and they’re miles ahead of Denver’s blockers. — Just_JoRo
Game planning needs to be better. Both sides of the ball looked unprepared. — Adam Malnati
No repeats of Monday
Don’t pull the same shit the Broncos did against the Raiders. Oh, and block Khalil Mack. — Scotty Payne