Good morning, Broncos Country!
I’m not gonna lie. I was UNhappy on Monday night - not just because I really thought the Broncos would win but because the performance was such a huge letdown from my expectations.
But after some deep breaths and considering the film breakdowns by our own gurus Jeffrey Essary and Joe Rowles this week, I have stopped hyperventilating and have tempered my expectations back to reality - or at least closer to reality.
Rome was not built in a day and neither was a vaunted Broncos defense or stellar Broncos offense.
So I’ll be patient and recognize that it will take a little time - maybe even a few seasons with a few more additions (cough, ILB, cough) - to really showcase a true Vic Fangio defense in Denver.
But if there is one coach who needs to hurry the &$^% up and get a group of players up to snuff and do it now, it’s Mike Munchak.
That Front 7 out of Chicago is no joke, and if Broncos don’t want Joe Flacco in the ER by halftime, Munchak needs to work some Hall-of-Fame voodoo coaching magic to get this line in check.
Because if the Broncos’ success Saturday revolves around one thing, it will be the ability of the o-line to stop the pass rush that could come from a multitude of players - Akiem Hicks, Roy Robertson-Harris, Leonard Floyd, Khalil Mack...the list seems endless.
Vic Fangio said he didn’t know much about Khalil Mack before the Bears traded for him, “and then when we got him, and it was after a few days, and it was like, ‘Holy shit.’"— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 11, 2019
Fangio didn’t seem worried when speaking to the media, but those pressers are like political polls - they provide some interesting tidbits to take away, but they otherwise mean nothing.
Regarding his confidence in backup Elijah Wilkinson, who will sub for an injured Ju’Wuan James this weekend just as he did for part of the game on Monday night, Fangio basically said it’s all good.
“I think he’s been pretty damn good all training camp and preseason games,” the coach said. “Came in the other day and played well. Had a tough first play, got a little late off the ball, but we have total confidence in him.”
And he even downplayed the fact that Khalil Mack will be lining up opposite Wilkinson and Garett Bolles - a prospect Mack has to be drooling over.
“Obviously, those guys are really good accomplished pass rushers,” Fangio said. “I’m sure we’ll give those [offensive linemen] some help at times, but there’s going to be times like in any game they’re going to have to stand up and be able to block without a lot of help. Those are two tough guys to go against on the edges.”
Although Mack had zero sacks last week in the Bears’ losing effort to the Packers, the outside linebacker did affect 31 of 34 plays, according to one analyst’s calculations.
Khalil Mack didn't have a sack Thursday, but said OLB coach Ted Monachino: "Khalil played as well as I’ve ever had a guy play in a game. I know he would’ve preferred to impact the game more but from a down-to-down basis he impacted 31 out of the 34 plays he was in, in our favor."— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) September 10, 2019
Joe Flacco certainly knows what Mack can do - and he apparently is just planning to escape as unscathed as possible. Not that I blame him.
“We all know how good he is and what he can do to have his effect on a football game,” Flacco said before adding that he has “confidence in the guys in front” of him. “With players like that, they have all of the ability in the world to do some of the stuff they want to no matter what, and you just have to make sure when those things happen you minimize the damage and move on.”
Is it just me or does Flacco not sound quite as confident as he’d like us to believe?
The good news on the o-line is that Flacco and center Connor McGovern seem to be developing some great communication, which is crucial.
“It’s really good. Connor likes to have a lot of feedback on how things are getting back there, and I think he does a great job getting up to the line of scrimmage and making calls quickly so that we can kind of get the ball snapped and not waste too much time at the line of scrimmage,” Flacco said. “I think we’re getting better and better and we’re going to be able to do more and more things in terms of our cadence and things like that as the season goes on.”
And there’s also commentary out there like this proving that despite the rumors, the Broncos’ o-line is perhaps not abysmal.
Rookie guard Dalton Risner had “a stellar start to his NFL career,” according to PFF, earning an 84.2 overall grade and 80.0-plus marks as a run-blocker (80.3) and pass-blocker (83.3) across 62 offensive snaps. And perhaps most astounding, he allowed 0 total pressures in 35 pass-blocking snaps.
One bright spot for the @Broncos: rookie LG Dalton Risner (@Dalton_Risner66). pic.twitter.com/6BZxfaWQjx— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) September 10, 2019
So, Coach Munchak, if you could just spend a little extra time focusing on Bolles this week, maybe even Elijah, we’d all really appreciate it.
Especially Joe Flacco.
Which position/player will be most important for the Broncos to get a win Sunday?
This poll is closed
O-LINE (weren’t you paying attention)?
Von Miller & Bradley Chubb
Horse Tracks - docllv’s pick of the day
Throwback: The truth about George Halas and the NFL’s ban on black players - Windy City Gridiron
When the Bears wear their 1936 throwbacks, they will inadvertently pay homage to the NFL’s 12-year ban on black players. Historian @readjack examines the ban and the role George Halas played in its creation.
Horse Tracks - Broncos v. Bears
Breaking down the film of the Chicago Bears’ offensive disaster - Windy City Gridiron
To the surprise of many Bears fans, Matt Nagy’s "202" offense debuted to a disappointing 3 points in the team’s loss to the Packers last Thursday. But why? Robert S. investigates in his latest video breakdown.
Bears HC Nagy on Fangio’s skill as a defensive coach: 'Vic has a beautiful mind’
After a year with Vic Fangio as his defensive coordinator in Chicago, Bears head coach Matt Nagy says Fangio’s talent and knowledge as a defensive coach that parallels Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s offensive acumen.
How Elijah Wilkinson, once recruited to play D-line in college, has become one of the Broncos’ most versatile O-linemen – The Athletic
Former UMass coach Mark Whipple and Broncos O-line coach Mike Munchak explain what makes Elijah Wilkinson unique.
Update: Bears on preparing for Vic Fangio's Broncos
Lauren Screeden has the latest from Halas Hall after Mitchell Trubisky and his teammates spoke to the media prior to practice on Wednesday.
Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2019: Week 1 vs. Green Bay Packers - Windy City Gridiron
Each week I’ll break down the pass protection of the Chicago Bears and share my thoughts on where blame lies for each sack they allow.
Denver Broncos: Aaron Colvin should be pursued right away
The Denver Broncos have apparently been asking around about some veteran cornerbacks. Aaron Colvin just became the best one available.
Broncos place WR Tim Patrick on injured reserve, add River Cracraft
The Broncos have placed wide receiver Tim Patrick on injured reserve after he suffered a hand injury against the Raiders on Monday.
Trubisky: All mistakes Bears made ‘are fixable’
Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears have moved on from what he described as a “long weird weekend” and are focused solely on rebounding from their Week 1 loss Sunday when they visit the Denver Broncos.
'He's going to be big for us': WR Courtland Sutton impresses teammates with career night
Sutton set career highs in receptions and receiving yardage on Monday against the Raiders.
Horse Tracks - other NFL teams
The Winners and Losers of NFL Week 1 - The Ringer
Football is back, and Lamar Jackson has arrived. Plus: Melvin Gordon didn’t play and is a loser, Antonio Brown didn’t play and is a winner, and we’re hoping Kliff Kingsbury just didn’t know ties were a thing.
Gardner Minshew is the league's most interesting QB - NFL.com
Minshew is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. He's also the Jags' starting QB now.
Belichick addresses Antonio Brown sexual assault allegations - NFL.com
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said the team takes the sexual assault allegation against Antonio Brown "very seriously" while speaking with reporters Wednesday.
Chargers' Hunter Henry suffered left knee fracture - NFL.com
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry suffered a tibia plateau fracture to his left knee during Sunday's game versus the Colts, the team announced Wednesday.
Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes (ankle) practicing Wednesday - NFL.com
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will take his normal reps Wednesday in practice after suffering an ankle sprain in Sunday's win.