Well, ultimate fans, this was supposed to have been Patriots week, then it was Patriots Monday Afternoon Football (because who doesn’t love MAF???) and then it was suddenly a Bye Week. Surprise!
But we are not whiners here, so Vic Fangio would be proud of us (well, we might have whined a teeny tiny bit initially, but now we’re over it and ready to handle whatever adversity comes our way.)
And proof of that is right here in the UFG, where ToddusCraig had just answered all my 137 questions, was set to be published and then the Patriots had to go and test positive and get our game cancelled and our bye week moved (see how well we’re doing with this, Vic?) But he has agreed to hold off another week, and our Bye Week contributor - aleighn - who is new to this gig, graciously stepped in immediately to make sure we don’t miss a UFG.
High-fives all around.
So that’s what we’re doing. Thanks to aleighn for this awesome sudden bye week edition. I might add that he also has some amazing taste in favorite (or almost favorite) all-time players (WE LOVE YOU, TJ!), and he has been a fan of this team longer than most of us, so kudos for being a diehard!
"We're all in this together."— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 11, 2020
Coach Fangio explains Broncos' mentality following #DENvsNE postponement » https://t.co/fsC67H1lUX pic.twitter.com/UpDGwazx1b
Week 5: A new Bye Week!
MHR - A bunch of players weren’t too happy about the sudden bye week, but Vic Fangio basically told the team to stop whining. What are your thoughts on making this a bye week so the Patriots can practice and play next Sunday?
aleighn: Vic would probably call me a whiner, but I simply have to admit that it doesn’t seem fair. I have no issue with the reaction of guys like Shelby Harris and Bradley Chubb, and I suspect they may even play harder with that little chip on the shoulder.
MHR - With the extra week, Drew Lock is now a much better chance for playing against the Patriots. Plus Phillip Lindsay will have another week before getting pushed around and there’s a chance Noah Fant, and maybe A.J. Bouyé, get to play. If we just have Lock, Lindsay and Fant back, how does that change our chances against Belichick and the Patriots?
aleighn: Having those three obviously makes us a better team (is wishing for A.J. too much to ask for?), but of course they may well have Newton and Gilmore back. And Lock might have a bit of rust; he has yet to get in a groove this year. Being the eternal optimist, I thought we had some hope for a win before all of the recent developments, but we could now be closer to having an even chance.
MHR - Yes, with the extra week, that also likely means the Patriots will have Stephon Gilmore back in the line-up. What kind of offense would you like to see from Shurmur to make it hard on the Patriots DBs?
aleighn: I’d of course like to see some deep stuff, but throws to backs like Gordon and Lindsay who have potential for yards after the catch could help keep them honest.
MHR - If Lock isn’t playing, what is your confidence level in Brett Rypien’s ability against a Bill Belichick-coached defense?
aleighn: I don’t think BB has that good of a book on Rypien yet, and his interceptions may have blurred any evaluation of his game. I think Brett would be O.K.
When #DENvsNE gets postponed vs. realizing Drew Lock has another week to get healthy pic.twitter.com/a6duUZKN0f— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 11, 2020
MHR - Melvin Gordon has had a solid season so far and had an outstanding game against the Jets. How do you expect him to perform against the Patriots’ run defense and how much does adding Phillip Lindsay to our ground game help for the rest of the season?aleighn: Bernd Buchmasser pointed out a bit of softness against the run in JoRo’s article, and I think Melvin will have a good day. And adding Phillip to the mix should be a big help to our QB, whether it’s Lock or Rypien.
MHR - Alexander Johnson has been playing lights out and Josey Jewell has sort of quietly put together an amazing first four weeks. What do you think of this linebacker duo and their individual performances so far?
aleighn: They’re doing a good job, probably a bit better than most folks expected.
MHR - Last week Fangio moved Bryce Callahan inside to play slot and put DeVanté Bausby in as boundary corner, providing an immediate improvement against the Jets. Do you see this configuration as a good idea moving forward against teams like the Patriots, the Chiefs, the Chargers who have dynamic receivers?
aleighn: It looks good, but the key is going to be whether we use the available personnel in the right places at the right times.
MHR - After the first quarter of the season, who are your MVPs for…
Offense? After a quarter like this, it’s hard to say, but Jeudy has to be up there.
Defense? Aame caution, but it might actually be Josey Jewell.
Special Teams? C’mon, man...
MHR - The Broncos’ punting performance in Week 1 was impressive, but it seems to have gone downhill from there. Is it time to get rid of Tom McMahon?
aleighn: Past time. I can see nothing positive his coaching has produced.
MHR - After one quarter of the season is over and about half the starters are hurt, what are your thoughts about how this season has gone and what you project it to look like 12 weeks from now. Surprises?
aleighn: This season has been nothing short of a disaster. In a sick way, we may have been lucky to have all these injuries in what’s going to be somewhat of a joke for the whole league. In 12 weeks? Well, 16-3 ‘til we ain’t.
There have been a few pleasant surprises, probably the biggest one being how well Rypien has showed up.
MHR - The Broncos’ first win wasn’t a pretty one but it was a win nonetheless. But the rest are going to be harder to come by. Are you all in for whatever wins are possible or on the ‘Tank4Trevor’ train?
aleighn: Tank for Anybody is completely unthinkable. I want a Broncos W no matter where we rank or what our draft status may be.
“I’m ready to get back out there and help my team get some wins.”@I_CU_boy is good to go for #DENvsNE. pic.twitter.com/Gus0mV2gBt— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 11, 2020
Season stat predictions for Drew Lock on number of TDs? 45
Which running back will emerge the No. 1 RB? Lindsay
Who will end up being the most targeted receiver? Jeudy
Longest FG for McManus this year? 58
Which offensive linemen will end up being our best OL? Bolles
Which defensive player will end the season with the most sacks? Chubb
Which defensive player will end the season with the most tackles? Johnson
Which defensive player will end the season with the most INTs/FF/FR The other A.J.
Denver’s final W-L record for 2020? 9-7
What year will Denver make it back to the playoffs? 2021
When will be the Broncos’ next Super Bowl? 2022
Favorite Broncos game EVER? Absolutely has to be XXXII
Team you hate to lose to the most? “Raiduhs”
Non AFC team you hate to lose to the most? Dallas
Team you love to beat? Patriots
Favorite time Broncos were the underdog and won? Probably 1967 preseason over Detroit - 1st AFL team to beat an NFL team.
Favorite game looking forward to this season? KC at home.
Toughest game on the schedule? KC in KC.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Hard - probably Lindsay.
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Have to admit it’s Mr. Elway—but Tom Jackson gets a vote too, doc! (*editor’s note: you rock!)
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Jeudy, so far.
Superstitions on game day? Use my old Planter’s Peanuts Bronco mug
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Cris Collinsworth
Favorite sports cliche? It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
Favorite sports movie? “The Natural”
Best sports GIF? None—not a fan of GIFs
How did you become a Broncos fan?
I was in high school (Denver North) when they started, so it was almost from Day One. What may have sealed it was a game I was listening to on the proverbial Transistor Radio, and there was a hit—a collision—that you could hear over the radio. The announcers were amazed...it was Gene Mingo. Another all-time favorite.