What a strange game. Three quarters of putrid, penalty-filled football and one quarter that produced some of the most exciting and wacky moments I have every seen on a a field. We fans went from feeling bored to jubilant and finally to supremely disappointed.
For a team that has the second hardest strength of schedule (the first two games being two of the easiest), to start 0-2 is a death-stroke to any hopes of a reaching the playoffs in 2019.
Despite fans being ever optimistic to start season - and rightfully so - there wasn’t a lot of realistic hope that this would be a great team. Too many questions throughout the roster and an unproven coaching staff added to a brutal schedule didn’t leave many of us with a firm belief that this team could make any noise in 2019.
That said, as we look around the AFC and see that there are only three teams head and shoulders above the rest, it’s sad that the Broncos can’t take advantage. The Chargers - as usual - are so banged up they can barely field a full squad; the Steelers are a shell of their former selves, and Cleveland isn’t likely mature enough to make a real run this year. That leaves Baltimore, Kansas City and New England as the cream of the crop while the other three playoff spots are up for grabs. Sadly, Denver won’t be one of the grabbers.
As we discuss in the podcast, the loss against the Bears comes off as being a game where we should not feel totally defeated. There was a lot to like: Joe Flacco passed for 292 yards, 1 TD and 1 (brutal) interception, Emmanuel Sanders is a baller and deserves a contract yesterday, Courtland Sutton has stepped up and shown he can make big plays at big moments and Noah Fant looks slightly less slow than he did in the preseason. The running game wasn’t great but showed some promise with a few nice runs against a really good defensive front. The defense held the Bears to 16 points and Mitch Trubisky to 120 yards passing. Our new QB marched down the field and took the lead with two perfectly beautiful passes to Sanders. All nice things to talk about and look back on....
On paper, the outcome could have and maybe should have been different. But as I watched the game live, I truly felt like something was missing from this team. To my eyes they look hesitant and appear to be thinking rather than just playing. I also just don’t see a lot of spark from the defense. On offense, Sanders and Lindsay bring that spark that is enough to light the group on fire every now and then, and so far in 2019, there’s no one on defense who has seemed to do so. Jon Gruden and Matt Nagy figured out how to beat the Vic Fangio pass rush and though one week without success may mean little, two weeks straight could mean a lot.
In the end, this was never going to be a great team, and thanks to Elway’s stubbornness when it comes to never, ever rebuilding, the team could be headed for a few more years of losing football. Several of the star veterans will hit free agency next year and if No. 7 can’t find a way to either re-sign them or trade them for draft picks, the distant future could also be bleak.
When you are team that isn’t rebuilding, that has a veteran QB who is a below-average talent, a group of your best players are headed out the door and you had three or four years of bad drafting...you will need a whole heckuva lot to go right to get back to winning ways.
If the Broncos are a three- to six-win team in 2019, which appears to be likely, they must, MUST, give the quarterback job to Drew Lock.
The scary thing is that Elway almost certainly will ride with Flacco who almost certainly will look just good enough to keep his job and just bad enough to lose games - and after 2019 we will be left with a third-straight losing season, no idea about our future at QB and a roster that has far more questions than answers.
This season is over, and it’s not yet time to panic about 2020 and beyond, but it’s getting awful close.
Who was most to blame for the Week 2 loss?
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