Oh, Broncos Country...
You’re in for a treat.
If you are too young to appreciate what once was one of the greatest rivalries in NFL football, this Ultimate Fan Guide will be a good start.
If you’re old enough to remember the good ol’ days of “they can’t stand each other...like good hates evil and evil hates good,” then 55below’s post will bring back some great nostalgic memories.
And if you are a fan from way back before the Broncos could compete with John Madden’s real football team, then you have the perspective to understand that this rivalry could be great again if we’re patient.
Either way, this is the perfect UFG to get your mind right for a Broncos-Raiders game. Just read his description of the Broncos regular season win over the Raiders in October 1977 about 100 times.
Bring on DAH RAIDUHS!
Week 9: Broncos at Falcons
MHR - Two comeback wins in a row was just too much to ask of the Broncos. What are your thoughts (feelings, tantrums) after last week’s loss to the Falcons?
55below: Sadness. Mostly. To see Albert Okuwegbunam go down was gut wrenching. Young man was showing some nice things, keeping his head down and working hard to be relevant.
As for the team, the game shouldn’t have come as close as it did. Facing Ryan, Jones, et al, without either starting CB nor a single starter along the D-line should have made this an easy W for the Falcons. It wasn’t.
In terms of the O and special teams, the mental errors were too much to overcome. Before they can beat other teams, they need to stop beating themselves.
MHR - The Broncos-Raiders rivalry is so storied it has its own Wikipedia page. Yet the rivalry hasn’t been much fun for about 20 years. Now that the formerly Oakland Raiders are the posh Vegas Raiders, will this rivalry ever be the same?
55below: No, it will not. I realized this after the loss in our final game at the Black Hole in 2018. I didn’t see one player or coach who behaved as though winning there mattered. If the players and coaches don’t care, there is no rivalry.
In truth, it had been on life support for years, but I failed to recognize it. Defeating the Raiders in their last game as Oaklanders on the play of a former Raider was kinda nice, though.
What transpires from here is a script unwritten. There is hope that players like Phillip Lindsay Dalton Risner, Courtland Sutton and the snubbed Jeudy might be able to wake the ghosts of this once-valued rivalry.
MHR - Shelby Harris is now in quarantine after testing Covid-positive. His absence was felt last week as the Falcons ran all over the defense. Will that be the same story this weekend. Will running back Devontae Booker get the best of his former team? Or the young RB, Josh Jacobs?
55below: Possibly. Good example of a player being in a scheme which takes advantage of his talents. Jacobs is of greater concern to me. He ran roughshod over the Broncos in his first ever pro game. That was pre Purcell/Johnson, however, but if Sly Williams can step it up a bit, our run D should mitigate either’s impact.
MHR - Broncos’ secondary could have A.J. Bouyé and maybe even Bryce Callahan back. How important will that be for stopping Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow and Nelson Agholor?
55below: Ruggs isn’t as much a concern as is the rejuvenated Agholor. Nelson benefits from Ruggs presence and is developing as a nice go-to option for Carr.
The receiver who bothers me most is that little cockroach Renfrow. He was unstoppable in Week 17, and were it not for Shelby’s big right paw, Renfrow woulda caught the game winner. Callahan on Renfrow is a big deal to me. Fangio and Donatell have plenty of experience defending fast guys. Guys just need to fulfill their assignments.
MHR - During the NFL Draft, a lot was made of the comparisons between Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy. Did both teams get future stars or did one team get the better end of the deal? Are you happy Broncos chose Jeudy and what do you think of his potential?
55below: Both teams did well. Raiders did not select Ruggs to be a WR1. He is a chess piece whose value will be determined by how well Gruden uses him. The pick reminds me of Al Davis and Cliff Branch. Cliff was a real factor for years even if his totals weren’t league-leading. Ruggs could be the same. Jeudy is more of a WR1a, WR2 three-down player. There are no limits on his future.
In terms of comparison I can’t help but consider the second WRs taken by both teams, KJ Hamler and Bryan Edwards. I thought so very highly of Edwards coming out but injuries have kept him from playing. K.J. Hamler can do virtually everything Ruggs can do but does something Ruggs cannot - Hamler can cut on a dime at all speeds. With Henry you get rounded routes. We haven’t even scratched the surface of what K.J. can offer, and the only unforgivable sin Lock can commit will be to get Hamler killed on passes over the middle. Used properly KJ can become as much of a game-changer as the guy selected No. 11 overall.
MHR - Derek Carr has been having a fantastic season. What does Fangio need to dial up with this defense in order to stop him?
55below: Carr is having the best year of his professional life. As a Grudenite, he has been untouchable versus Fangio. Embarrassingly so.
This is one game where No. 58 won’t be missed. Von Miller hasn’t shown up for a Raiders game since 2015, but in his absence, a largely unreported relationship between Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed is growing, game by game. There is something there. The two seem to feed off each other and with both Raider starting tackles out for the game these two guys could make things uncomfortable for Carr.
The recipe is simple. Beat up Carr, and you’ll beat the Raiders. If you can’t do this Carr will kill you with a thousand cuts.
MHR - Darren Waller is the kind of tight end that could spell trouble for the Broncos defense. How do we neutralize him and keep an eye on Ruggs et al?
55below: Tackle ‘em. They’ll get their passes. It’s what they do. Remove YAC, and your chances of winning rise.
MHR - Justin Simmons is quietly having some great games, and is keeping the Broncos defense competitive. How important do you think it is for the Broncos to try and keep him? How would you rank keeping him along with keeping Shelby Harris and Garett Bolles next season?
55below: Is Simmons the first tagged player Elway has not extended? I believe he is, which is troubling, especially when we have Simmons’ former agent, Rich Hurtado, as our lead negotiator. It doesn’t bode well for Justin’s future here, but I would hate to lose him. This defensive scheme plays to his strengths.
Garett is priority No. 1. We’ve spent four years developing him, and he could anchor the left side for the next five years. Add in time with Dalton, three more years of Glasgow and further development from LCIII, and we’ll have a continuity we haven’t had in a decade.
Shelby is a keeper. With Casey’s $13 million possibly coming off the books next season, there should be money. I don’t think Shelby will hold out for big money. I think he is at the stage where the security of a three, four-year deal may be more appealing.
MHR - Phillip Lindsay said this week that the team who runs the ball the best is the team that will win. Do you agree with that? How should the Broncos approach their run attack this week with conceivably both Lindsay and Melvin Gordon healthy?
55below: With Glasgow and Dotson, this duo went off for over 160 yards against a decent Chiefs D. Dotson is a no-go but Calvin Anderson and his thinly veiled texts now appear to have a chance to put up or shut up. If Anderson is up to the task, Phil and Gordo might make hay. Regardless, Graham’s presence on the interior should stem the mental mistakes we saw in Atlanta.
MHR - If you were Pat Shurmur and scripting the first 10 plays of the game, what would be your first three to help ensure a first down and getting Drew Lock into rhythm...and avoiding our recent M.O. of three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out?
55below: I have no earthly idea. I really don’t. I wouldn’t be offended to see a deep shot to KJ, though. At some point it needs to happen. A shot across the bow if nothing else.
MHR - Brandon McManus took a few shots at Special Teams coach Tom McMahon via Twitter this week. Is it time for McMahon to be replaced?
55below: This team is too young and too inexperienced to have to overcome the shortcomings of a poorly coached Special Teams unit. Outside of the season opener, special teams have had blunders in every single game under a coach who has had that job for three years. The head coach retained several veteran ST leaders, but the unit continues to hurt the team.
I’m of the belief McMahon is the smartest guy in the room when the job calls for the smartest guy on the sideline. Tom has grossly underperformed.
Wish Peyton was around to weigh in on McManus’ comment. Odd post from a tenured vet.
MHR - Who would be your MVP for offense, defense, ST so far?
Offense: Garett Bolles
Defense: The 100%ers. Simmons, Kareem Jackson, Josey Jewell (+ - ), Alexander Johnson
ST: One dropped punt drops Martin a notch below McManus. Martin has been outstanding as has the Kid.
Predictions? None. Don’t mean to be a stick in the mud but I’ve never viewed games this way. Perfectly content to let the game define itself.
Fair enough...final score? We win.
Favorite Broncos game EVER? SBXXXII
Favorite time Broncos beat the Raiders? October 16, 1977:
The defending World Champion Oakland Raiders riding the crest of a 17-game winning streak are overwhelming favorites to spank an upstart Denver Broncos team. The nation tuned in to see an old fashioned butt-whipping.
What they saw was an undrafted pitbull from the Merchant Marine Academy intercept Ken Stabler three times. A gifted cornerback from San Jose State defied gravity on a pick six that resembled ballet more than football. And a 35-year-old placekicker, black high tops and all, scored the only touchdown of his career. A lanky middle linebacker from Ohio State asserted himself as one of the best in the profession, and at game’s end a brash young David from Louisville stood toe to toe with one of the Goliaths of the game and told him, in no uncertain terms, “It’s all over, fat man”
That one game would define this franchise for the next four decades.
Team you hate to lose to the most? Historically, Raiders. Recently, Chiefs
Non AFC West team you hate to lose to the most?
Dallas. Growing up in rural Colorado we only got three TV channels. One was CBS which meant a never ending diet of Cowboy games. To this day, little in pro football brings me greater joy than to have the cameras zoom in on Jerry Jones skybox as his ‘Boys snatch yet another defeat from the jaws of victory. It is a gift which keeps on giving. Part of me thinks I should be a better person, but the other part of me says, “Nah. You’re cool.”
Team you love to beat? It will always be the Raiders.
Favorite game looking forward to this season?
I circled the Buffalo game once the schedule was announced. To my eyes they are the Broncos with a full year head start. I believe it will be an indicator of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.
Toughest game on the schedule?
The next one. No cliché. I learned very early on that winning is hard in this league. The Broncos team I fell in love with would usually win one game out of three. To a 10-year-old boy that meant a lot of pain, but those wins, oh my, those wins were as juicy as a personally plucked Palisade peach, as refreshing as a bowlful of chilled Delta cherries, as nourishing as a plateful of hot, steaming Olathe Sweet. Cherish the wins in a down year. It won’t always be like this.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster?
Although on IR, I hold Courtland Sutton in such high regard. He and Bradley were the first two picks following the Entitled Draft Class of 2017 and from their very first pressers I could sense there was something different about them. They share a closeness which is hard to define but is constantly reinforced every time I see those two standing side by side on the sidelines. Chubb is starting to become a more vocal leader and Courtland’s injury created a hole which I believe is reflected in our win-loss record. He is an Alpha, a leader by example as well as by words. His was the greatest loss this season.
Favorite Broncos player of all time?
It would be the men in the photo that heads this article.
Change the jersey numbers if you choose.
Change the names too if you want, but these guys have always been my favorite Broncos players. Guys who were told they weren’t good enough, who were too old or too slow or too limited. Guys who were told they weren’t good enough to be drafted or were late-round afterthoughts. Men with names like Charley Johnson, Richard Jackson, Costa, Rizzo, Mecklenburg and Kragen. Rookies named Watson, Smith, Sharpe and Nalen and others. Their names stick in our minds as well as gracing the Ring of Fame.
These are men who only asked for a chance and in Denver were able to show the content of their character.
Jerry, Shelby and Big Mike represent everything that is best about this team.
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team?
I’d be hard pressed to name a draftee who excited me more than Jerry Jeudy. I remember so many saying we needed to lose to the Raiders last season in order to draft a good WR? I do.
Superstitions on game day?
I’m a pacer, can’t sit still. I’ll usually get the Westwood One broadcast on the kitchen radio, the network broadcast on the tube and Dave Logan on the home computer. Due to different broadcast delays I’ll hear a play first in the kitchen, then hear it new again on the television , then for the third time hear it fresh from Dave. It’s fun knowing Dave will say “Here we go” before Dave does.
I will then visit the opponent’s gameday blog and watch them tear each other apart.
Least favorite game analyst/commentator?
Anyone not named Tony Romo. I have grown so very tired of those Mason Dixon line type guys with their practiced, scripted drawls that get twangier with each passing week. It comes across as phony far too often. And, for reasons I don’t understand, we now have their spawn foisted upon us every Sunday Night. In a country of 300 million people there have to be better options. I nominate Alexis Perry. She’s outstanding, and she doesn’t look like Collinsworth or Simms.
Favorite sports cliche?
“They’re a good team but we’re a good team, too “
Probably doesn’t rise to the rank of cliche but it remains my favorite Bronco quote. It was made by Red Miller when national reporters questioned his team’s legitimacy. I was reminded of this when someone questioned Fangio about why anyone would think Denver could beat NE earlier this season. His response was eerily similar. We are unfortunately not a good team right now. Too many self-inflicted wounds to qualify that statement, but one day soon…..
Favorite sports movie?
Is “Field of Dreams” a sports movie? If not, I’d choose “Hoosiers.”
[*editor’s note: 1) yes; 2) much better choice!]
Best sports GIF?
How did you become a Broncos fan?
There was a time when Broncos Country was readily defined by the reach of the mighty KOA on Sundays and the singular talent of Bob Martin.
I grew up in a small college town on the Western Slope. Four or five weekends each fall my buddies and our dads would be out in the mountains chasing deer and elk. We’d rise far ahead of daylight and hunt hard in the cold morning hours. Around game time we’d come dragging out of the hills for lunch.
The doors of the Jeep and the trucks would open as the radio broadcast of the game commenced. We’d say little, our ears focused on the pictures Bob would paint for us.
We’d quietly make sandwiches or chomp on a chilled gherkin as the game progressed. Once we reached sixteen years of age we were allotted one cold can of suds and we had the wisdom, even at that early age, to not belch-contest away this privilege.
Once the snows came we’d find ourselves indoors for the game We’d adjust the rabbit ears and turn on the old black and white television. If we wanted the game in color we’d mute the tube and turn on Bob on the radio.
How good was Bob Martin?
Every year when NFL Films would make its team-by-team season highlights, they’d hire a John Facenda or a Harry Calas or a Pat Summerall to do the voice over narration for every single team. Except one. Ed Sabol always contracted Bob Martin to narrate the Broncos season film. He was the only team broadcaster Sabol hired.