So the Fangio-era starts off 0-2.
12% of all teams that have started 0-2 since 2007 have gone on to make the playoffs. Perhaps Denver can turn things around and go on a run. Stranger things have happened, and it wasn’t that long ago many in Broncos Country said this team looked far too good to finish with a lesser record than 2018.
Or maybe the 2019 murderer’s row of a schedule and the critical weaknesses are enough to sink the playoff talk. The Green Bay Packers made Kirk Cousins look like an $84 million albatross on Sunday, after all. Only 2% of all teams since 1980 have made the playoffs after starting 0-3.
This may sound crazy, but I don’t find the win-loss column near as discouraging as I did last year.
It feels like Fangio’s building towards something. There was a lot of improvement peppered throughout the Broncos heartbreaking 16-14 loss to the Chicago Bears. With New England comfortably running the 2019 NFL, Denver picked a decent year to rebuild.
Who knows, if the coaching staff can keep pushing the young players to develop and Elway has another good offseason, maybe they’re back in the thick of things in 2020.
Three big things before I get off and running:
- Yes, I know the 2019 season barely started.
- Denver’s needs are all projections, so if you want to argue “X will be here,” or “Y is going to breakout”, I’m not going to put up much of a fight.
- For this week’s projection, I followed Tankathon’s current pick order. That means for the first time since we started doing mocks Denver is picking 8th.
1st Round, Pick 8- A.J. Epenesa, Defensive Line
For those hoping for Tristian Wirfs or Andrew Thomas, blame the Bengals and Washington. Neither Justin Herbert or Tua Taigovailo were available, either. Barring a disastrous finish to their respective campaigns there’s little to no chance either falls outside of the draft’s top five.
So instead we grab the closest thing the 2020 class has to Justin Smith, a player Fangio had an incredible amount of success with during his run as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator.
Epenesa isn’t going to blow you away with his workout times or sack totals. Instead he’s the kind of world ender who spends his Saturdays creating terror. With the Broncos he’d step into the lineup in place of Adam Gotsis or Derek Wolfe as a defensive end in base personnel with the ability to slide inside and disrupt in the nickel.
Easy speed stab-rip rush by AJ Epenesa, who is my current EDGE1 for 2020. He’s dominant. pic.twitter.com/LrBi3Pmg0Q— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) July 8, 2019
P2nd Round, Pick 40 -
2nd Round, Pick 40 - Prince Tega Wanogho, Offensive Tackle
Missing out on the premier tackles at the top of the draft left me willing to reach a little if I have to at the top of the second. Fortunately, the Auburn tackle slides and I don’t have to.
Generally speaking, I prefer offensive linemen with a lot of experience so the 6’7” 305 lb Wanogho breaks a soft rule. He left Nigeria to play basketball in the United States when he was in high school and stumbled upon the game of football. An optimistic will tell you how high that means his ceiling could be, a pessimist will wonder how far he is from pro-ready.
I’m simply stating the fact that he may need Munchak to really coach him up.
On the plus side, the gifts he brings to the table are pretty incredible. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Wanogho ran a 4.64 40-yard dash without cleats in high school. As new to the game as he was that first year, he still played tight end and defensive end.
After converting to the offensive line in college, he brings that same basketball fluidity to his pass sets. He’s springy and smooth and shows natural power in his hands. TDN’s Kyle Crabbs calls him a big ball of clay, and he’s the kind of prospect I’d love to see Munchak get to refine into a future All Pro.
His health bears monitoring going forward as he missed Auburn’s game against Kent State last weekend and his status is considered day to day right now. It doesn’t sound too concerning, however, as he did dress and warm up with the team.
Prince Tega Wanogho returns to Auburn as one of the best pass-blockers at the FBS level. pic.twitter.com/cNNj5Sthrn— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 3, 2019
3rd Round, Pick 71 - Jacob Phillips, Linebacker
Going BPA with the first pick leaves me chasing needs a little farther down the board, and so long as Epensa can be difference makers out of the gate that’s a price worth paying.
Todd Davis’ status remains an open question with the way his contract is structured in 2020. If Elway moves on, linebacker is a glaring need. If he doesn’t, it’s still going to require some attention. In Phillips, Fangio would get a linebacker prospect who’s natural off the ball and looks more adept in coverage than the Josey Jewells and Corey Nelson types on the current roster.
This is where Jacob Phillips' length (6'4) comes into play in coverage. A true three-down backer. pic.twitter.com/3rfA4AHdQK— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) August 18, 2019
3rd Round, Pick Pick 72 - Jaylon Johnson, Cornerback
Isaac Yiadom’s missed tackle on Adam Shaheen Sunday made it clear why Vic Fangio considers tackling non-negotiable in all his defenders. That shouldn’t be an issue with this Utah corner. He’s a physical defensive back who brings the length and strength to be a reliable defender after the catch.
Johnson also mixes the ability to play within himself and read the passer to come up with big plays. An intriguing combination.
I was a little torn between Grant Delpit with my first pick but chose Epenesa as the BPA here assuming Justin Simmons is resigned. The decision left me chasing need a little more than I’d normally like farther down the board and that would continue a little into the last rounds of the draft, where I’d keep an eye out for a playmaking receiver and interior line help.
I’d also look for opportunities to grab sliding talent at halfback, defensive back, and quarterback.
What grade would you give this draft?
This poll is closed
A - I love it!
B - I like it.
C - I’m dead inside.
D - You blew it.
F - Grabbing a pitchfork!
Your Broncos Links
”That’s my kind of coach right there.” - Von Miller
The up-tempo passing game is nickel and diming the Denver Broncos to death. They have to find an answer to it and fast.
Thirteen of Mitchell Trubisky’s 27 passes against the Broncos on Sunday were out in fewer than 2.0 seconds. Over the course of Weeks 1 and 2, 26 of 53 passes against the Broncos were released in fewer than 2.0 seconds.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 16, 2019
What else can he say? After more holding penalties than we can count, Garett Bolles is left wondering what he has to do to succeed in the NFL.
I’ve had terrible games & been the dog of the town. It sucks. Trust me, as a human being I feel for what Bolles is going through.— Tyler Polumbus (@Tyler_Polumbus) September 16, 2019
That said, Im bothered more by him saying he doesn’t agree with the calls & reputation he has built around the league than his actual performance
There just aren’t many options for replacing him.
A timeout that should never have been accepted saved the Chicago Bears from defeat in 16-14 victory over the Denver Broncos.
Did the Bears deserve a timeout here? It’s VERY close. pic.twitter.com/PqJvksaarO— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) September 15, 2019
The Broncos fall to 0-2 for the first time since 1999. Here’s what we learned in the gut-wrenching defeat.
From what seemed a win to a “what just happened” loss on Sunday, the Broncos start 0-2 for the first time since 1999.
Great play by Chris Harris Jr. in man coverage on Allen Robinson.— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) September 16, 2019
Love how quickly he uses a hand to establish contact/position, reads the ball, and times his jump perfectly for the PBU pic.twitter.com/qnK6svCwYU
Fans have little patience left for Garett Bolles. The Denver Broncos saw the third-year tackle commit error after error on Sunday.
Even though the Denver Broncos lost to the Chicago Bears, Vic Fangio proved that change is coming to Mile High.
Mitchell Trubisky didn't complete a pass further than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage until the final throw to Allen Robinson pic.twitter.com/ROruPKKlvi— Dan Pizzuta (@DanPizzuta) September 16, 2019
NFL Draft News
OU football: The evolution of Jalen Hurts from ‘thrower’ to ‘passer’ — a knee, an inch and a little Lincoln Riley | Sports | oudaily.com
“He looks like a guy that could play in the NFL.”
10. DENVER BRONCOS (PROJECTED RECORD: 6-10) - LB/S ISAIAH SIMMONS, CLEMSON TIGERS
Denver experienced some heartbreak in bidding farewell to LB Devin Bush in the 2019 NFL Draft -- remember, they traded out of the 10th pick to pick up extra picks. They’ll get quite the linebacker at 10 this time around in Isaiah Simmons. Imagine Simmons prowling on the second level in nickel packages! Is he coming, going, covering tight ends? Scientists don’t even know. I’d love to see Fangio get his hands on Simmons in 2020.
We look at what some successful NFL teams are seeking at wide receiver and how there are some 2020 NFL draft prospects who absolutely fit that profile.
Everyone is worried about Trevor Lawrence. The sacred son of every college football fan, the messiah for any number of NFL fan bases yearning for the No.1 pick in 2021, the next evolution of Clipboard Jesus — Lawrence came into the year with expectations rivaled only by Andrew Luck at Stanford, but he’s not been the clear star he was ticketed to be. At least not by the numbers.
Looking ahead to the Green Bay Packers
The Packers got a win on Sunday afternoon, but all the news from the day wasn’t positive for Green Bay. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that first-round pick Darnell Savage was in a walking boot after the game.
I said after Week 1 he looked like a top-5CB in the NFL. Today did nothing to change my mind https://t.co/AxS7WQA1ux— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) September 15, 2019
Early in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings, safety Raven Greene landed awkwardly after a run by Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. Greene laid on the field for a few minutes before a cart came on to take him to the locker room.
Putting up 21 early points is a very good thing. Expecting your defense to hold it for three quarters is not. Between poor play calls, lackluster routes by the recievers and indecision by Aaron Rodgers, this offense looked very pedestrian for the second week in a row. Minnesota’s defense is very good but the Packers were facing a depleted secondary and back up’s on the offensive line. A win is a win, but eventually the inability to move the ball and score is going to cost this team a game.
“It looked,” Rodgers explained, “from my vantage point that it might have been a positive, questionable spot for us, and under two minutes that’s a booth review. So I just wanted to get us on the ball quickly.”
A look around the rest of the AFC West
The Referees On one drive, the Chargers scored two fantastic touchdowns, and both times the referees called them back on phantom penalties. Neither penalty was remotely defensible and the fact that they were eventually followed by a turnover was arguably the difference in the outcome of the game.
The list of boneheaded mistakes that cost the Chargers is lengthy: Two missed field goals by replacement kicker Ty Long, two TDs called back by penalties, another penalty wipes out a turnover, Austin Ekeler fumbles at the 1-yard-line, Philip Rivers throws INT with 1:10 remaining and L.A. in field-goal range, on and on.
Phillips was replacing Derwin James, who is on injured reserve with a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his foot. Starting cornerback Michael Davis is out with a hamstring injury, as well. An All-Pro in 2018, Phillips was a versatile presence who could also play linebacker and was emblematic of the Bolts’ defensive depth, but is now symbolic of their dwindling numbers and prospects.
Demarcus Robinson stepped up in a big way with a giant thirddown catch early, taking advantage of a blown coverage in the slot for a 44-yard touchdown. Robinson made another terrific catch between two defenders that was called back for holding, then got free on a back side post for 43 yards. Robinson hit paydirt again in the second quarter, coming up with a contested 39-yard touchdown catch on a fade over Gareon Conley.
I keep thinking one of these will be intercepted and they just aren’t because Mahomes has a cannon. pic.twitter.com/Ry4ToWXm8y— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) September 16, 2019
Raiders banged up against Chiefs including tackle Trent Brown whose injured knee is being evaluated - Silver And Black Pride
They got beat up by the Chiefs on the scoreboard and on the field, with several players spending time down on the field, on the trainer’s table, and in the locker room.
Josh Jacobs swerving for 51 pic.twitter.com/MDGSI1nefs— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 16, 2019
Two starting caliber wide receivers? Psh, who needs that? The Raiders do. Desperately - Silver And Black Pride
With those picks, there were two wide receivers who would have been home runs in Marquis Brown and AJ Brown. There they were at pick 24 and Marquis Brown was still on the board. They went with Josh Jacobs instead and Brown went with the next pick.
The Dolphins are making no secret that they’re tanking, while the Steelers are trying to get better even after losing Ben Roethlisberger. Miami defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick has been traded to Pittsburgh, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
This night could not get much worse for the Jets. They began the Monday night game without linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin), defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (ankle) and quarterback Sam Darnold (mono).
Ben Roethlisberger injury: Steelers QB releases a statement on his future after landing on injured reserve - CBSSports.com
I’ve been informed that I need season ending surgery on my elbow to continue playing football at the level I expect. This is shocking and heartbreaking for me, to miss this much of a season and feel like I am letting down so many people. I can only trust God’s plan, but I am completely determined to battle through this challenge and come back stronger than ever next season. The Steelers committed three years to me this offseason and I fully intend to honor my contract and reward them with championship level play. I will do all I can to support Mason and the team this season to help win games. I love this game, my teammates, the Steelers organization and fans, and I feel in my heart I have a lot left to give.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport outlines two different surgery options for New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees [Video]
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports the latest on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ thumb injury and his surgery options moving forward.
Such a great situation for us to see Teddy get a legit shot at proving he can be a starter. Best tackle duo in football, elite overall OL. Weapons. Great coaching. https://t.co/ydJrt8IBuX— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) September 16, 2019
Brown’s first full week as a Patriot included a civil lawsuit filed against him by former trainer Britney Taylor, who alleged that she was the victim of several instances of sexual assault by Brown, including one in which Brown “forcibly raped” her at his residence in 2018. Taylor’s accusations are the most serious to be levied against Brown, but, as Sports Illustrated has learned, they are far from the only ones.
As hard as Al Riveron tried to whitewash that his officials blew it (again!) against the Saints, a blown call is a blown call is a blown call.
J.J. Watt says official told him “I saw him hold you, but I didn’t throw the flag” – ProFootballTalk
“The ref literally admitted to me that guy held me on one play, and he didn’t throw the flag. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that after a play. I look over at the ref and he says, ‘Yes, I saw him hold you, but I didn’t throw the flag.’
Was Hill flagging each guy for the dreaded “body-weight-on-the-quarterback sack?” Maybe, but neither was a good enough example of that to call. The Chubb call, with 24 seconds left in the game, was crucial. Denver led 13-12 and Chicago needed to gain about 35 yards to have a decent shot at the game-winning field goal. The Chubb call gave the Bears nearly half of that, 15 yards, to the Chicago 45. The Bears got to the Denver 35 with a second left, and Eddy Pineiro’s 53-yard field goal won it.
FOX’s Mark Schlereth was apoplectic about each call. “Garbage call, but that’s the world we live in today,” he said after the Goldman play. And post-Chubb, Schlereth noted: “I guess we’re gonna legislate contact out of a contact sport.”
The offense is loaded with gifted skill players who are dangerous with the ball in their hands. This is arguably the best “Yards After Catch” team in the league, which is further enhanced by Kyle Shanahan’s ability scheme up wide-open passes.
The Colts have talked Adam Vinatieri into sticking around. Amid widespread speculation on Sunday that the future Hall of Fame kicker would be retiring on Monday (and it was leaning in that direction), Vinatieri will stay with the team.
Lamar Jackson Shows He’s No 1-Week Wonder, Takes His Place Among NFL’s Elite QBs | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights
”I think wide receiver,” former team executive Bill Polian, now an ESPN analyst, said when asked what position Jackson should play. “Exceptional athlete, exceptional ability to make you miss, exceptional acceleration, exceptional instinct with the ball in his hand, and that’s rare for wide receivers.”